Colonies

Honeybees live in colonies that are most often maintained by beekeepers. The modern beehive is made up of a series of boxes placed on top of one another. Frames are then placed in these boxes for the bees to build up the wax honeycomb. A colony generally contains one “queen” breeding female, a few thousand male “drones” and a large population of sterile female “worker” bees.

Colonies

Honeybees live in colonies that are most often maintained by beekeepers. The modern beehive is made up of a series of boxes placed on top of one another. Frames are then placed in these boxes for the bees to build up the wax honeycomb. A colony generally contains one “queen” breeding female, a few thousand male “drones” and a large population of sterile female “worker” bees.

The Queen Bee

The queen is the largest bee in the colony. She develops more fully than the sexually immature workers because she is given what’s actually called “royal jelly,” a secretion from glands on the heads of young workers. She emerges from her specially constructed cell to mate with 13 to 18 drone male bees, collecting millions of sperm cells that will last her the rest of her two- to five-year life. She’s the mother of all worker bees in the hive, and, although the name might imply it, a queen has no control of the hive. Her sole function is to serve as the reproducer, laying her own weight in eggs every couple of hours—up to 3,000 per day

The Queen Bee

The queen is the largest bee in the colony. She develops more fully than the sexually immature workers because she is given what’s actually called “royal jelly,” a secretion from glands on the heads of young workers. She emerges from her specially constructed cell to mate with 13 to 18 drone male bees, collecting millions of sperm cells that will last her the rest of her two- to five-year life. She’s the mother of all worker bees in the hive, and, although the name might imply it, a queen has no control of the hive. Her sole function is to serve as the reproducer, laying her own weight in eggs every couple of hours—up to 3,000 per day

Drones

Male bees, called drones, are characterized by eyes that are twice as big as worker bees and queens. Drones are stingerless but fly fast, as their main function is to be ready to mate with a receptive queen in flight. Drones usually live about 90 days and, in areas with severe winters, are driven out of the hive when it gets too cold.

Drones

Male bees, called drones, are characterized by eyes that are twice as big as worker bees and queens. Drones are stingerless but fly fast, as their main function is to be ready to mate with a receptive queen in flight. Drones usually live about 90 days and, in areas with severe winters, are driven out of the hive when it gets too cold.

Worker Bees

Workers, the smallest bees in the colony, are non-reproducing females. A colony can have 50,000 to 60,000 workers. The life span of a worker bee varies according to the time of year. Her life expectancy is approximately 28 to 35 days. Workers that are reared in September and October, however, can generally live through the winter. Workers serve to feed the queen and larvae, guard the hive entrance and help to keep the hive cool by fanning their wings. Worker bees also collect nectar and produce wax comb. The comb is composed of hexagonal cells, which have walls that are only 2/1000-inch thick but support 25 times their own weight. Honeybees’ wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.

Worker Bees

Workers, the smallest bees in the colony, are non-reproducing females. A colony can have 50,000 to 60,000 workers. The life span of a worker bee varies according to the time of year. Her life expectancy is approximately 28 to 35 days. Workers that are reared in September and October, however, can generally live through the winter. Workers serve to feed the queen and larvae, guard the hive entrance and help to keep the hive cool by fanning their wings. Worker bees also collect nectar and produce wax comb. The comb is composed of hexagonal cells, which have walls that are only 2/1000-inch thick but support 25 times their own weight. Honeybees’ wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.

Pollination

While honeybees are gathering nectar, they’re also fertilizing flowering plants. Pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the anthers of a flower to the ovules of another flower. This pollination greatly increases the quantity and quality of many crops like fruits, vegetables and nuts. In fact, according to a 2012 study, the increased yield and quality of agricultural crops as a result of honeybee pollination is valued at more than $17 billion a year.

Pollination

While honeybees are gathering nectar, they’re also fertilizing flowering plants. Pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the anthers of a flower to the ovules of another flower. This pollination greatly increases the quantity and quality of many crops like fruits, vegetables and nuts. In fact, according to a 2012 study, the increased yield and quality of agricultural crops as a result of honeybee pollination is valued at more than $17 billion a year.

Honey & Pollination

Why do bees make honey?

Honeybees collect nectar to create honey and store as food because it provides the energy for bees’ flight muscles and provides heating for the hive in the winter. Fortunately, honeybees will make more honey than the colony needs, so it is necessary for beekeepers to harvest the excess, which they bottle.