Honey Bee Characteristics | Habitat | Life Cycle | Species | Facts | Biology | Pictures | Food | Where Do They Live | Sexes and Casts | Killer Bee | Honey Bee | Bumble Bee | Bee Hives | Beekeeping | Body Structure | Diseases | Varroa Mites | ABPV | CCD | Amazing Facts | Grants for Beekeeping | Honey Bee Research | Promote Bee Cultivation | Mysterious Behaviors of Honey Bees | Washboard Behavior | Bees Festooning Behavior | Honey Bee Genome Project | Impacts of CCD | Polyandry |
Honey Bee Characteristics
The Bee is an insect of the superfamily Apoidea, order Hymenoptera, the suborder Apocrita. There are more than 20,000 species of insects in the suborder Apocrita. Our familiar honeybee is known as Apis and bumblebee as Bombus and Psithyrus. There are thousands of wasp-like and fly-like bees. Adult bees range from app 2 mm to 4 cm (0.08–1.6 inches) long in size.
Honeybees are social insects, habituated to live together in nests or hives. So, they like colonial life. The honeybees are amazing for the dancing movements they perform in the hive to communicate information to their fellow bees about the location, distance, size, and quality of a particular food source in the surrounding areas. Dancing is the language of bees to express their ideas.
The following sections will provide an overview of the different honeybee species, honeybee biology, characteristics, habitat, life cycle, and facts of honeybees.
Honeybee sexes and castes
Male and female are two sexes and female castes are known as workers, and queens. The workers and queens have stingers, but the drones are stingless. In the picture below the bees are shown as per their sexes and castes:
(a) Male or drone: Larger in size than female but smaller than the queen. They are usually present only in early summer and the drones are stingless. Usually, male bees are short-lived and not responsible to collect pollen. Also, they don’t have other responsibilities in the colony such as taking care and providing food for the young.
(b) Queen: The largest bee in a hive or colony, and Queen honey bees store sperm in a structure known as the spermatheca. This allows the queen to control the fertilization of their eggs and she can lay eggs either unfertilized or fertilized.
Male or drones are developed from Unfertilized eggs whereas fertilized eggs develop into females. These females may be either workers or virgin queens as per their pre-defined arrangement. There are two types of cells in the colony. Cells intended to hatch queen is larger and verticle than the usual or normal and the Eggs destined to become queens are deposited in queen cells. After hatching, the virgin queens are fed royal jelly which is a substance produced by the salivary glands of the young worker bees. Learn more: The Life Span of a Bee – Life Cycle of Honey Bee Diagram.
If not fed a diet consisting solely of royal jelly, (they are feed bee bread instead of royal jelly) virgin queens will develop into worker bees. If the existing queen becomes weak or if they miss the queen anyhow workers may lay unfertilized eggs, which give rise to drones. And this occurs during the swarming season.
(c) Female or worker bees: Smaller in size but most works done by them. They are females that do not attain sexual maturity.
Female or worker bees are assigned to do all the work of nest and combs making with wax. They naturally have special anatomical structures that assist them in carrying pollen and nectar. Such as they have one more stomach for carrying nectar and pollen carrying bags in the legs. Most bees gather pollen from a wide variety of flowers (polylectic), but some bees only from flowers of certain families, and others from certain colors. For example, Oligolectic bees collect pollen only from a few related kinds of flowers. Learn more: Types of Bees on the Basis of Gender, Species, Apiary, and Habit of Stinging.
The mouthparts of bees are naturally designed to collect pollen by adapting to different kinds of flowers. Also, pollen from flowers clings to the bee’s hair by a strong positive electrical charge they generate while flying. The worker or female bees have pollen-carrying baskets (called corbiculae) on their legs. To enjoy how they collect pollen and basket on their legs – watch this video>
Most bees carry only pollen or nectar on one trip, but a few carry both at the same time. A bee can carry pollen about half of her own body weight. While she is back at the beehive, the awaiting workers store the pollen into a predefined cell.
Bees are fully dependent on flowers for their food which consists of pollen and nectar. This nectar reformed as honey later on. There is no doubt that bees gather nectar and pollinate crops simultaneously. As bees fly from flower to flower pollen cling to their body and drop naturally to the flowers they visit. This is why cross-pollination often happens on plants.
They also have pollen bags in the legs and fill them to bring and store in the beehive. The actual value of bees as pollinators is far greater than the value of honey and wax. To see how the bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers watch the video above. Learn more about honey bee property management in different seasons.
Mysterious Behaviors of Honey Bees: Washboard Behavior and Festooning Behavior.
Expert beekeepers, researchers, or scientists are investigating closely the honey bee behaviors but still, now many of the things are unknown. They don’t find the reasons for washboard behavior, & the mysterious behavior of disappearing honey bees. Don’t be hopeless, they will continue to investigate and share their findings if they discover anything and we are waiting for that.
The mystery of disappearing honeybees still remains unsolved. The researchers suspect greatly so far are pesticides and they also make liable the radiation from mobile phone base stations. But, it’s likely that sub-lethal effects due to Genetically Modified crops, mites infestations, and some other factors may change the bees’ behavior. All of these affect their memory and learning process or compromise their health and immunity each of which has a role to play.
Honeybees may be the most responsive pollinators for crops and plants. And some dangerous technologies are responsible for environmental pollution and honey bee diseases. So, when honeybees will disappear, we too shall follow shortly.
The washboard behavior of honey bees is very much familiar and continues to damage beekeepers’ imaginations. It’s one of the stimulating behavior of honey bees. Worker honey bees sometimes display a group activity known as rocking or wash boarding on the internal and external surfaces of the colony.
It’s likely and believed that general cleaning activity of bees. But actually, nobody knows about the age of worker bees for this activity and in what circumstances they engage, and what is the function of this behavior.
Because we know worker bees’ activities are naturally scheduled based on their age. To learn more about the worker bees’ duties are naturally scheduled and what they do, check here. Expert beekeepers and researchers investigated to find the reason, age, and time of the day for wash boarding behavior found nothing.
Bees Festooning Behavior
Bees festooning or hanging on to one another, leg to leg, like a bridge inside the frames. Although it’s very common, still now the reason remains unknown.
It’s assumed that they are making unity for the preparation to tackle some possible hard times in the near future. It’s another mystery of bee behavior. You can see this behavior during the spring comb-building season. Some say the structure of festooning acts like a scaffolding from which the bees build comb, some say bees can only produce wax from the festooning position, but none of these assumptions is scientifically proved.
Where do they live
Among the 7 species of bees Apis mellifera is only the domestic honeybee, also called the European honeybee or the western honeybee. Except for these species, there are also a number of subspecies and strains of Apis.
(1) Apis mellifera:
Apis mellifera is known as a western honey bee or European honey bee. Except for mellifera, all other Apis species are confined to parts of southern or southeastern Asia.
(2) Apis florea:
This species is found in southern Asia, where it builds its nests in trees and shrubs.
(3) Apis andreniformis:
This species of honeybee is native to forested habitats of southeastern Asia.
(4) Apis dorsata:
This giant honeybee also naturally occurs in southeastern Asia and sometimes builds combs nearly three meters (more than nine feet) in diameter.
(5) Apis cerana:
Also called Eastern honeybee, is native to southern and southeastern Asia. It has become domesticated in some areas. It is very closely related to the last 2 species of 6 and 7.
(6) Apis koschevnikovi, or Koschevnikov’s bee:
This species is found on Borneo and several other islands in Southeast Asia including on the Malay Peninsula.
(7) Apis nigrocincta:
Apis nigrocincta is native to Indonesia & Mindanao island in the Philippines.
A hybrid between a European subspecies and African subspecies of the honeybee is the so-called killer bee. In Brazil in 1957 during an attempt to create a hybrid the Africanized honeybee subspecies were accidentally developed. This hybrid was intended to adapt to tropical climates and produce large amounts of honey. They were flying northward some 200 to 300 miles or 320 to 480 km per year. In this way, they had reached Mexico in the 1980s and Texas by the 1990s. Today they occupy the greater part of the southwestern United States, including southern California, all of Arizona, and southern Nevada.
Also, Africanized honeybees have been increased in Florida. They have been reported responsible for hundreds of deaths. The size of Africanized honeybee is smaller than the European honey bee. And much less effective in the pollination of plants. They are not more venomous than the European honey bee but react much more quickly which leads to threats to the colony.
They attack in huge numbers, stay for a longer time, cover a greater distance, and take a longer time to calm down. Learn more: African Killer Bees Facts, Identification, Spreading & Its Wonderful Story!
Honey Bee and their Colony
Honey bees are one of Apis species, belong to the order Hymenoptera, known as social insects and popular for providing large amounts of honey, and favorite to commercial beekeepers. A colony of honeybees closely grouped together that functions virtually as a single organism. A colony in an apiary usually consists of 8 or 10 frames, one queen bee (a fertilized female capable to lay a thousand or more eggs per day), from zero to 1000 drones or males, and from a few to 60,000 sexually undeveloped females (worker bees). In most species, female bees are equipped with a venomous sting to tackle any threats. Learn more: Honey Bee Colony Structure | What They do in the Hive?
The name Bumblebee came from Humblebee, the family Apidae, order Hymenoptera, tribe Bombini. These are found in most parts of the world, but very common in temperate climates. Usually, they are not found in the lowlands of India and most parts of Africa. They are now introducing in Australia and New Zealand for helping the pollination of flowering plants. They have two genera: Bombus (our known bumblebees ) and Psithyrus (parasitic bumblebees). Also, there is another genus known as Bombias. In Great Britain, about 19 species of Bombus and 6 species of Psithyrus exist where 50 species of Bombus as well as Psithyrus in North America. Learn more: Honey Bee Vs Buble Bee.
A series of combs composed of two layers of six-sided cells is known as beehives. It’s made of wax produced and secreted by the worker bees. Food in the form of honey and plant nectar is stored in the cells. And so-called bee bread which is made from pollen is also stored. It can either be natural or artificial which is used in the apiary.
The bees make different types and shapes of a beehive in trees, abandoned garages, balconies, or any other places that are far from the human passage to avoid disturbance. The size mainly depends on the species of bees and the availability of food.
Beekeepers make the frame with a wax sheet or buy it from a reputed supplier and install it in their colony. They just make the base of the hive to help them complete the rest work within a short time. Usually, Beekeepers follow the bees’ lifestyle and help them what they need or want to do.
Beekeeping means keeping bees for honey or earning money. So, you can start beekeeping as a hobby, small business, or full business on large scale. Beekeeping is fun if you ignore bee stings and the hard work of harvesting honey. Beekeepers are happy to do this hard work because it’s the main product of beekeepers and a profitable business. Learn more: Honey Bee Guide for Advance Beekeepers | How to start a Bee Farm on large scale?
Honey is produced from the nectar of flowers which was nothing but the only form of sugar readily available to humans until the modern age. That is why honeybees were domesticated by humans for centuries. The art of caring for honey bees and managing bee colonies is known as beekeeping. Other than producing honey, honeybees play a vital role as pollinators of a wide variety of crops in agriculture. Learn more: Honey Bee Art – Bee Magic – How to Fun With Honey Bees.
You can start beekeeping as a hobby, or small business, or a full-time business on large scale. Learn more: Beekeeping for Beginners – Simple steps to start beekeeping for raising honey bees.
Grants for Beekeeping
For getting individual and national benefits from beekeeping, the government provides several grant programs that can benefit beekeepers and other related groups. Some enlisted organizations are authorized to distribute grant money among the qualified beekeepers, subject to they agree on terms & conditions applied by the government for that grants. To learn more about how to apply for grants money and who are qualified for getting grants, read the following 2 articles:
A unique way to Promote Bee Cultivation is through the tax code.
The American Bee Project seeks to attach owners of vacant land with business or commercial beekeepers in artistic ways. “By leasing their vacant land to apiculturists for legitimate commercial agricultural use, property owners could also be able to save on their property taxes, insurance, and alternative prices whereas serving to save the bees. Business or commercial beekeepers use the land to produce honey and reconstruct the health of their beehives.”
Perhaps the most important shift in cultivation within the U.S. over the last twenty years is that several beekeepers have moved into business or commercial pollination. This demands changes in honey bee management that are typically not compatible with those historically utilized in honey production.
Additionally, the large-scale fashionable agricultural model for several crops and animals doesn’t forever work further for honey bees used as business pollinators.
Finally, analysis and research are crucial or a vital issue that’s changing a lot within the modern bee cultivation surroundings or beekeeping environment. Though several beekeepers habituated to keep their eyes on gathering knowledge from researchers, there’s typically a tension that exists between these 2 teams.
A recent article provides a large-angle lens read of the hassle to revitalize the unwell honey bee via a variety of analyses and alternative organizations.
Honey Bee Research
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Agricultural Research Service is devoted to tracing out the CCD (colony collapse disorder) crisis through surveys, data collection, sample analysis, etc. They suggested a variety of possible causes such as chemical contamination, beeswax, pesticides poisoning, nicotine-based insecticides, lack of genetic diversity, infection of colonies by pathogens or parasites, parasitic fungus, Nosema ceranae, and the invasive Varroa mite.
- Honey Bee Research: What Scientists and Beekeepers Want?
- Where Do You Find the Research Centers on Honey & Honey Bee?
As per multiple studies, CCD might be the result of simultaneous exposure to a combination of two or more pathogens (stressors). And the combination of pathogens has a synergistic effect. Usually, bee colonies are found to be infected with pathogens and parasites. And pathogens implicated in CCD include:
(1) Acute Bee Paralysis Virus, Israeli acute paralysis virus, Kashmir bee virus,
(2) Chalkbrood disease,
(3) Black queen cell virus,
(4) Chronic bee paralysis virus,
(5) deformed wing virus, invertebrate iridescent virus,
(6) Nosema species, American foulbrood, and sacbrood virus.
To learn more about the honey bee virus, read thoroughly the “Honey Bee Disease” chapter.
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
It’s changing into clearer that the whole honey bee population is truth be told one community, being infected by a panoply of problems that taken along are presently stated as “colony collapse disorder, or CCD. Most of those arise from humanity’s impact on the earth in varied ways that associated epoch referred to as the Anthropocene. Modern beekeepers ought to keep this in mind and understand that it’s typically best to manage honey bees and currently stated as “API-centric” cultivation.
The modern era has been referred to as the “managerial age.” we are able to now not scrutinize the earth’s resources as infinite, and instead, should learn to conserve them currently and for the future. The honey bee is a wonderful ecological model, as a result of the colony’s division of labor may be a classic example of effective nature that will use its resources.
Thus, while managing honey bee colonies, the apiculturist will learn an excellent deal concerning the relationships among living organisms on planet earth, as well as the human and natural worlds relate to every alternative.
Beekeepers have very little influence over several problems in modern cultivation. They’re nerveless to alter world honey costs, influence climate, or lower prevailing interest rates. However, they will actively manage their own and also the bees’ surroundings in many ways to extend productivity. Activity will continue to shift with time, however, it’s typically supported the time-frame chosen, which could be within the future.
This writing relies on conditions found at the top of the twentieth to initial a part of the twenty-first century. It consists of over a hundred pages of densely linked info. The simplest thanks to the table of contents.
The neonicotinoids imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam are included in the Pesticides implicated in CCD. These agents might be associated with atypical honeybee behavior and weaken immune function that may worsen preexisting pathogen infection, but regarding this matter, no causal link has been established yet.
The economic impact of CCD
Beekeeping is a critical part of modern agriculture. CCD threatens the beekeeping operations that provide pollination services and honey production. It also has a negative impact on the production of the many crops and vegetables that are dependent on honeybees for pollination. Beekeepers provide pollination services for commercially grown crops (more than 90), including many fruits and vegetables in the USA.
The total economic value of US crops that benefit from honeybee pollination was estimated at $15 billion annually in 2006. Due to the number of available colonies for crop pollination in the country in decline for CCD, the beekeeping industry faced a serious challenge in meeting the demand for pollination services.
In late 2006, the full sequence of the honeybee genome was published that was technologically advanced and could conceivably help in discovering the underlying cause of CCD. Knowledge of that sequence introduced honeybee genomics to the investigation of CCD and new molecular approaches. Moreover, scientists can study to find the impact of the possible causal agents on specific honeybee genes and colony health. Similarly, the next advance might help to identify new pathogens in honey bees and discover the complex effects of involving combinations of pathogens and environmental toxins.
Honey Bee Life Cycle
For all three genders of honeybees, eggs hatch within three days and then develop into larvae. The larvae are known as grubs. At first, all grubs are fed royal jelly, but only the grubs intended to make queens are continued on the diet. And then the grubs transform into pupae.
Queens come out (on average) within 16 days, where workers in about 21 days and drones in 24 days. After that, the new queens fight with each other until only one remains in the hive. By this time the old queen usually left the hive with the majority of her workers. And then the new queen establishes her position in the existing hive. In this way, the swarm which is populated during swarming may form two or more new colonies at different nesting sites with one queen in each. Learn more: Lifespan of a Bee.
Most of the Apoidea are nonsocial or solitary in habit means don’t like to live in colonies. In these species, usually, each female bee makes her own nest (a burrow in the ground) and furnishes it. There are no castes of these species. Most of the solitary bees are short-lived. Some species fly only a few weeks of the year and spent the rest of the time inside their cells as eggs, larvae, pupae, and young adults.
Solitary bees arrange and supply all of the food the larvae require to complete their development. But, social bees like the bumblebee and the honeybee feed their young incrementally.
The Apoidea has eight families:
(1) Colletidae: These are physically wasplike bees consisting of five or six subfamilies, about 45 genera, and some 3,000 species;
(2) Andrenidae: The medium-sized solitary mining bees, including some parasitic species;
(3) Halictidae: The best-known Dialictus Zephyrus (mining, or burrowing bees), one of the so-called sweat bees;
(4) Oxaeidae: A large, fast-flying bees that bear some anatomical similar to Andrenidae;
(5) Melittidae: Bees that mark a transitional form between the lower and the higher bees;
(6) Megachilidae: Leaf-cutting and mason bees noted for their elaborate nest structures;
(7) Anthophoridae: Carpenter bees and cuckoo bees, a large family that includes three subfamilies that were once considered to be subfamilies of Apidae; and
(8) Apidae: Bumblebees, honeybees, digger, or mining bees are in this species.
Honey Bee Pictures
Different types of bees are shown below:
To see more pictures of honey bees, natural and apiary beehives, visit Honey Bee Images: Natural Bee Hives, and Apiary Beehives.
Apis species or honey bee species
Scientists believe that this earth is the home of more than 20,000 bee species, from fluorescent-colored orchid bees to flower-besting squash bees. Bees are a diverse species that play a vital role in the life of the planet due to a large portion of pollination depending on the bees. Out of these 20,000 different bees, about 4,000 species of bees are native to the USA.
We mention here 7 species of honey bees that are very common and known to everybody:
(1) Apis mellifera:
They are known as western honey bees or European honey bees.
(2) Apis Florea:
They are found in southern Asia, build their nests in trees and shrubs.
(3) Apis Andreniformis:
They are native to forested habitats of southeastern Asia.
(4) Apis Dorsata:
These giant beehives are found in southeastern Asia and sometimes build combs nearly three meters in diameter.
(5) Apis Cerana:
Apis Cerana is called Eastern honeybee, native to southern and southeastern Asia.
(6) Apis koschevnikovi, or Koschevnikov’s bee:
Apis Koschevnikovi or Koschevnikov’s bees are found on Borneo and several other islands in Southeast Asia.
(7) Apis Nigrocincta:
They are found only in Indonesia & Mindanao island in the Philippines.
Bees are exactly similar to certain types of wasps. The principal biological difference between them is that bees feed their young a mixture of pollen and honey (except for parasitic bees), whereas wasps provide their young animal food. This difference in food preference establishes a structural difference. The most important is that wasps bodies are covered with unbranched hairs but bees have at least a few branched or feathered hairs. This arrangement helps them to pollen often clings and facilitate pollination.
Honey Bee Body Plan
Apis mellifera is about 1.2 cm (about 0.5 inches) long, and the size varies among the several strains of this species. The head and thorax, or midsection of this species are somewhat bristly and vary in color according to the strain. They have two large compound eyes and three simple eyes, or ocelli, located on top of their head. Keen eyesight is balanced by two sensitive odor-detecting antennae.
Honey Bee Diseases
Honeybee colonies are vulnerable to a variety of diseases and parasites. These are particularly highly destructive for colonies in Europe and North America such as Varroa mites, Tropilaelaps clear, and Colony collapse disorder (CCD) which was first reported in 2006 in the USA. CCD caused massive colony losses and became significant challenges for crop pollination, and the beekeeping industry in North America.
Bees are at risk of several diseases. As an experienced beekeeper or just starter, you’ll need to be aware of Prevention & Treatment For Honey Bee Diseases: Varroa Mite, Fungal Diseases, Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV) Etc. so that you can avoid them.
The best way to do that is to acquire bees from a reliable source with the proper protection of diseases and parasites to ensure the safety of your bees. Beekeepers should know who provides better resistance to prevent diseases like bee mites.
American Foulbrood, Stonebrood, ABPV, CCD, Varroa Mite, Fungal Diseases.
01. American Foulbrood
This assassin disease is caused by Paenibacillus larva, a spore-forming bacterium. This is the most dangerous of all the bee diseases. As the 3-day-old bee larvae ingest the spore present in their food.
This spore germinates in their hives and develops into a vegetative form. The bee usually dies after its cell is sealed; by this time the larva may contain up to 100 million spores. The spore is highly infectious and rapidly spreads throughout the brood chamber. The spores are not always deadly.
At an early enough stage, drug treatment is effective in preventing the development of the vegetative form. Terramycin is an antibiotic that can be a successful treatment of the above disease.
American Foulbrood, Acute Bee Paralysis, Store Brood Stonebrood, a fungal disease caused by Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus fumigatus. These fungi commonly live in soil and are also pathogenic to other birds & insects. The infection spreads into the whole honey bee brood to become mummified. Since it is hard to identify in the initial stages, when the bee larva ingests the spores, they may hatch in the stomach and produce a collar near the head.
After the bees die they become solidified and hence the disease’s name comes. As the fungus erupts, that may form false skin. Beekeepers should remove infected larva from the colony, and if this happens soon enough, the beehives may survive.
03. Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV)
ABPV is the short form of Acute Bee Paralysis Virus, a common source of infection for honey bees. It is similar to the Kashmir bee virus, the Israel sensitive paralysis virus, and the black queen cell virus. Once the bees become infected with this disease, the colony will suddenly collapse, notwithstanding the fact that it is often found in apparently healthy hives.
04. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
Colony collapse disorder or CCD: It’s characterized by sudden colony death, with a lack of healthy adult bees inside the hive, possibly one of the least implicit of bee diseases. In 2006 the beekeepers first witness it in North American bee colonies. It causes the sudden departure of the worker bees from the colony.
Although its reason is unknown but assumed that factors may include stressors caused by environmental changes, or a combination of pathogens, mites, transgenic crops, pesticides, or radiation emission from man-made devices like cell phones. The disorder appears to affect the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) only. From 2006 to 2011 total annual colony losses were estimated in the United States about 33% (average) and one-third of such losses were caused by CCD. And that losses seriously impacted the US economy.
Impacts of CCD on honeybee health
Colony stress might be resulting in CCD due to harming the bees’ immune systems and making them more likely to disease. And possible sources of stress include as follows:
1). Poor Nutrition:
(a) Poor nutrition may be caused by the lack of plants (sources of nectar and pollen), (b) Use honeybees to pollinate crops that have little or no nutritional value for the bees, (c) Overcrowding of honeybee colonies in a specific area,
2). Repeated transportation of colonies over long distances (for pollination or honey production),
3). Exposure of honeybees to pesticides and parasites.
So, colony stress may be reduced by improving honey bee health. And advanced or improved nutritional supplements can boost honey bee health during inadequate nectar and pollen, and unfavorable weather. Early warning signs of health issues may lead to CCD. We recommend beekeepers for improving honey bee health follow as bellow:
(a) Feed antibiotics to prevent Nosema infections,
(b) Use mites resistive genetic stock,
(c) Apply fumigants (formic-acid- or thymol-based products) only when necessary to control varroa mites,
(d) Avoid reusing equipment that had been used to CCD-infested colonies.
05. Varroa Mite
Treat varroa mite with Apistan while mites are at a low level, kill them to get rid of bee infestation. Place two strips of Apistan in the brood chamber of the colony for about 4 weeks.
These stripes can be used with the sticker and fine mesh screen on the bottom brood of the colony to capture mites if any. The sticky paper also catches cell cappings and debris. By this method, it’s possible to detect a low-level infestation.
These Apistan stripes can be found in any large beekeeping supply company. It can be used to detect mites and also treat Varroa infestation. If any colony is found infested, all the colonies of that site should be treated to successfully remove varroa mites.
06. Fungal Diseases
The larvae must consume the spores of the fungus for the infection to occur. It only infects larvae of three to four days old. No chemical treatments are necessary for this disease, instead, it can be controlled by bee propagation and good management.
The infected larvae are rapidly covered by the white cotton-like mycelium as shown in Fig. 1.
The fungus finally fills the entire cell as shown in Fig. 2. The white-grey accumulation soon hardens, forming a hard, dried-up mummy which is easily detached from the cell. The larva in the cell will look like a chunk of chalk. Thus, the name of the disease is chalkbrood shown in fig 3.
The presence of a Hygienic queen in the hive can reduce this disease. And Hygienic queens are available in professional queen breeders. Also warm and dry hive interior can reduce this disease as the fungus can grow on the wet surface with excessive moisture. Varroa control ultimately reduces the scope of fungus growing.
07. Mobile phones and bee decline
There have been widespread reports within the thought media that mobile phones could also be to blame for the decline of honeybees. The results are so surprising.
For details see Mobile Phones and Vanishing Bees and may be thought of within the context of the more and more clear proof that weak radiation from mobile phones and base stations do have harmful effects on the health of men and life Drowning within the ocean of Microwaves.
Honey Bee Genome Project – HBGP.
Honey Bee Genome Project: It is extremely fortunate that the Honey Bee Genome Project (HBGP) is now completed. Thanks must be given to Dr. Gene Robinson and his colleagues who developed the white paper that was the basis for DNA sequencing. Learn more about the honey bee genome project here. Potential expected results for supporting the HBGP, include the following:
Increased drug resistance by pathogenic bacteria has created an urgent demand for new antibiotics. Insects are among the more promising sources of novel antibiotics and honey bees likely offer a rich source because of their sociality. Usually, honey bees live in a social environment like humans with nearly ideal conditions for the growth and transmission of pathogens.
Humans show both antigen-specific and innate immune responses to important pathogens including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Streptococcus pneumonia. A better understanding of innate immunity can help counter these diseases, especially when vaccines have limited effectiveness.
Bee venom, anaphylaxis, and human allergic disease:
Honey bees protect their hive aggressively with both sophisticated behavioral and biochemical mechanisms. Bee venom has proved to work with a wide range of medically important and pharmacologically active compounds.
Honey bees are the foremost beneficial insect worldwide. While best known for honey, the honey bee’s more significant contribution to human nutrition is crop pollination, valued at nearly $15 billion/year in the US. Pollination increases the quantity and quality of fruits, nuts, and seeds, many of them increasingly recognized as sources of nutraceuticals. But parasites and pathogens compromise bee health and pollination activities. An HBGP will help to breed bees that resist disease and insecticides, pollinate more efficiently, but stingless.
Some types of mental illness, such as autism, involve problems with social integration. Bees illustrate a high degree of social integration, and their activities are highly dependent upon their ability to read social cues; identification of several well-defined sets of social cues make for unusually tractable experimental social systems.
An HBGP also may enhance the use of honey bees as environmental sentinels.
X chromosome diseases:
Mutations (the alteration of the nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism, virus, or extrachromosomal DNA) on the X-chromosome are responsible for many serious conditions, including Turner’s syndrome, Trisomy-X, Kleinfelter’s syndrome, hemophilia, colorblindness, and fragile-X syndrome, the leading cause of mental retardation.
Honey bees are “haplodiploid;” as each bee, the chromosome is an X-chromosome, i.e., one copy in the male and two copies in the female. An HBGP will enable comparative analyses to address questions such as: What control regions are important in gene expression, sexual development, and dosage compensation on the X? No haplodiploid animal has yet been sequenced.
The culture of honey bees and other social insects occupy Wilson’s second “pinnacle of social evolution,” with the complexity that rivals our own. Among the challenging similarities are extensive communication systems (including the only non-primate symbolic language); highly organized defense and warfare; complex architecture (including the insect equivalent of skyscrapers – 4-meter high termite nests in Africa); and expressions of personal sacrifice unheard of in most of the rest of the animal kingdom.
Bees accumulate nectar from flowers, a highly ephemeral food source, and have evolved sophisticated cognitive abilities to maximize foraging success. They are brilliant at associative learning, based on the need to associate a color, shape, scent, or location with a food reward. Honey bees also can learn theoretical concepts such as “similar” and “dissimilar,” and are able to negotiate complex mazes by using visual stimuli as direct or abstract “signposts” or by recognizing path irregularities.
Queens and their workers have identical genotypes but queens live two orders of magnitude longer. The implication of all differentially spoken genes responsible for these striking differences in lifespan, facilitated by an HBGP, undoubtedly has important implications for human longevity and aging.
21 Amazing Facts About Honey Bees
A hive is truly the contаiner in which the bees live and it can be natural or man-made. The beekeepers hаve invented the removаble frаme. You often see them in fields аnd orchаrds, white pаinted wooden boxes, occаsionаlly on pаllets. Bees nаturаlly build their honeycombs inside а cаvity, а hollow tree, аn upturned plаnt bаth or а sprinkler control box.
Honey bee nest
A honeybee nest is the combs, brood, eggs, honey аnd of course, аll the аdult bees which mаke up the colony. It’s whаt the bees build inside the hive, аlthough occаsionаlly in very wаrm аreаs they build their nest in аn exposed plаce, perhаps just protected from the elements by overhаnging brаnches.
Bee swаrm is а mаjor cluster of bees, in the order of 20,000 bees, аnd аlmost аlwаys with just one queen bee. It is а trаnsient thing. When а colony of honeybees becomes too crowded in their hive, they creаte а new queen. Just before the new queen comes out from her cell, the old queen leаves the hive аnd flies off with roughly hаlf of the worker bees.
Shortly аfter leаving the hive, they congregаte somewhere, often on the brаnch of а tree. They cluster there, sometimes just for а mаtter of а few hours, sometimes for dаys. Scouts аre sent out to look for the right plаce for the new nest.
Once they find а suitаble plаce, they tаke off flying in whаt looks like а hаphаzаrd or аrbitrаry cloud, аnd then they drift off to the new house. Within 20 or 30 minutes they will enter the hive аnd аlmost immediаtely the worker (female) bees will depаrt on forаging flights.
They collect pollen аnd nectаr to fuel the employees аs they begin the tаsk of building honeycombs in prepаrаtion for the queen to begin lаying eggs so thаt а new colony will be creаted.
21 Amazing Facts About Honey Bees That You Never Knew!
You may know about the benefits of honey from my other article Honey bee facts. I stated before, honey is used in several products as a prime ingredient. Honey itself is a rich food and valuable ingredient of many high-end foods and beverages.
It’s widely used in herbal medicine for natural remedies of health and beauty purposes. Here you’ll find 21 amazing facts about honey bees including the benefits of honey. Some of them may be the first time you heard.
01. History of the honey bee is very old – approximately for millions of years. Cave drawing and handbooks proved his ancient history.
02. Its scientific name is Apis mellifera (honey-carrying bee). They are environmentally friendly and vital for the pollination of fruits and crops.
03. They are the only insects capable to produce honey. You’ll not find any other insect or animal to produce honey. Honey is produced absolutely in a natural way. Beekeepers only help them to work fast and produce more honey.
04. A Honey bee has 6 legs, 2 compound eyes on both sides of the head, 3 simple eyes on the top of the head, 2 pairs of wings, and 2 stomachs. The specialty is that 2 compound eyes are fabricated with thousands of tiny lenses, and one stomach is used as a nectar pouch.
05. The Honey bee has 170 aroma receptors, whereas fruit flies have only 62 and 79 in mosquitoes. They have an exceptional ability to recognize family members, signals for social communication within the hive, and aroma recognition for finding food.
Their sense of fragrance is so accurate that they can differentiate hundreds of different flower varieties and tell whether a flower carries pollen or nectar from a few meters away.
06. A male bee is known as Drone, exists in the hive only to mate with the Queen. After mating his genital organ breaks out from his body and remains in the female organ. Since the genital is a sensitive organ, he dies afterward. The next male will open the genital, mate with the queen, and lose his one in the same way.
Some of them may return to the hive but are thrown out by the female (worker) bees because they exist in the hive only to mate with the Queen. So, without genitalia they are useless. Learn more: Why the drone or male bee can mate only one time in his entire life!
07. Honey is only the food that contains all the substances necessary to sustain life. It includes enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water. Also, it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, which is an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
08. One hive of bees can fly around 90,000 miles in total to collect 1 Kg of honey, which is equal to three orbits around the earth.
09. A bee can fly around the world with one ounce of honey as fuel. In one trip a honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers to collect honey. A honey bee can fly 15 miles per hour, up to 6 miles with a wings speed/stroke of 200 beats per second. Hence, it makes a distinctive sound from other insects.
10. The term ‘Honeymoon” came from an old custom in Northern Europe. A newlywed couple was supposed to eat mead for a moon month. Mead was an alcoholic beverage specially made with honey. So, the honeymoon came from there.
11. Although the bee is having an oval-shaped brain about the size of a sesame seed, they have a significant capacity to learn and remember things they experienced. They are also capable to make complex calculations on distance for traveling and measuring efficiency.
12. About 20,000 to 60,000 bees live in a colony. Most of them are female or worker bees, few males, and only one queen bee. The average life span is 6 weeks for worker bees.
13. The queen bee can live up to 5 years but is not capable to lay sufficient eggs over the whole life. While eggs are not enough to keep the colony healthy, the Beekeepers usually generate a new queen and discard the old one.
Workers bees also always keep eyes on the queen. While they feel the existing queen becomes weak, they make queen cells for larvae and feed royal jelly instead of bee bread to produce a new queen. A queen bee can lay eggs up to 2500 per day in summer. She lays eggs for male or female bees as per the colony requirement. While she uses stored sperm to fertilize the eggs, the larvae hatch as female.
When she left the eggs unfertilized, the larvae hatch as male. So, the female bees inherit genes from mother and father, while the male-only from mother.
A queen usually mates with many drones in one fly. This mating behavior is known as polyandry which increases genetic diversity within a colony and thereby improves colony population, fitness, and survival. The increased population size, foraging activity, and food supplies favor the production of new queens including the formation of new colonies.
15. Each honey bee colony has a distinctive aroma for members’ identification. So, they can recognize which colony a member comes from.
16. Only workers or female bees are habituated to sting while they feel vulnerable. The queen uses her stinger for her own defense only. About 1100 honey bee stings are estimated to be deadly.
17. The worker bees produce honeycomb from wax with hexagonal-shaped cells. They consume 6 to 8 pounds of honey (collected nectar from flowers) to produce 1 pound of beeswax. Their duties are scheduled naturally from the first day to the end of life.
Duties are assigned based on the age of worker bees. They spend full life with works until death. Although their life span is very short, they have the most saving tendency among all creatures of the earth.
18. An Average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her total lifetime. In the winter, they feed on the honey they collected during summer. Learn more about the duties of worker bees.
19. In winter they block all the unnecessary holes of the colony to make a tight shelter and keep them warm. In summer, they gather in line at the entrance and stroke their wings to throw out hot air from the colony. But in winter they stroke their wings in reverse mode intend to flow hot air from outside into the colony.
20. Their mode of communication is dancing. While they find any new source of nectar, they explain it to the fellow with dance, which indicates the distance and direction of the source.
21. They are very organized, and like colonial life which is the best example of unity. You’ll find your bees festooning (bees hanging on to one another, leg to leg, like a bridge) between the frames. Although it’s very common, still now the reason remains undiscovered.
It’s assumed that they are making unity for the preparation to tackle some possible hard times in the near future. Now you know that the bees have some special characteristics that any other insects don’t have. If you know your bees well you can play with them.
Sources of information
01. World Beekeeping Association,
02. Introduction to Managing the Honey-Bee Colony, by C. L. Farrar.,
03. American Bee Journal,
04. Experience of my own beekeeping project.