Bees are one of the most familiar insects in the world. Bees have six legs, a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), a pair of antennae, compound eyes, jointed legs, and a hard exoskeleton.

There are about 20,000 species of bees worldwide. Bees can fly about 20 miles per hour. Only female bees have a defensive stinger, so male bees cannot sting. Some types of bees produce honey from flower nectar. They must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey. In the process of going from flower to flower to collect nectar, pollen from many plants gets stuck on the bee’s pollen baskets. Pollen is also rubbed off of flowers. This pollinates many flowers (fertilising them and producing seeds).

Their hives

Bees live in hives that may contain up to 80,000 bees. There are three types of bees, each with an important job in the hive. They are — queens, drones and workers. There is only one queen in a hive. Male bees in the hive are called drones. Female bees in the hive (except the queen) are called worker bees.

The main purpose of a queen is to make more bees. A queen lays all the eggs. For a queen to be born, the workers must feed the larva royal jelly. If a new queen is born, the old queen will kill it or leave with half of the hive colony.

The drones have big, strong wings. They make up 10 per cent of the hive colony. They use their strong wings for the mating flight. After the mating flight, the workers take care of the drones. Before winter, the workers bite the wings off the drones, and kick them out of the hive since they are of no more use. They are left to die.

During the first two days of its life, a worker bee cleans its cell. When they are three days old they feed the drones and larvae. Workers have glands that produce wax. They shape the wax into the comb. During their last days in the hive they guard the entrance. When the worker bee leaves the hive, during its travels it collects water, nectar, and pollen. A worker bee has ultraviolet vision which allows it to see patterns on flower petals which attract the workers to them.

Making honey

When a worker bee finds a flower, she takes her straw-like tongue and sucks up the nectar. She stores the nectar in her honey stomach. She goes back to the hive and gives the nectar to another worker bee. That worker bee gives the honey to another bee called a house bee.

The house bee stores the nectar in a honeycomb. She then fans the honey with her wings to evaporate most of the water from it. That is why honey is not runny. A seal of wax is put on the honeycomb to let it age and turn into honey.

Their food

Flower nectar and pollen are the two food sources used by honeybees. Bees are dependent on pollen as a protein source and on flower nectar or oils as an energy source. Adult females collect pollen primarily to feed their larvae. Honeybees refine and concentrate nectar to make honey. They make lots of honey and store it so they will have plenty of food for times when flower nectar is unavailable.

Life cycle

Bee goes through several stages in its life. They are egg, larva, pupa and adult. A queen lays soft white eggs in the comb. The egg stage takes place during days 1 through 3. In three days, the egg hatches into a larva. Workers feed it bee milk and bee bread. It spins a cocoon around itself. The larva stage takes place during days 4 through 9. In the cocoon, the larva turns into a pupa. It has eyes, wings, and legs that looks more like a bee. This stage is during days 10 through 23. Pupa becomes an adult on days 16 through 24, depending on what type of bee it is.