How Bees Work – Everything About Honeybee Social Structure

Honey bees are noted for their remarkable efficiency that is almost impossible for humans to replicate. These tiny insects work extremely well in groups. Each bee has a specific task to complete in the hive. So, have you ever thought about how bees work?

How bees work together?

The honeybee is a sociable insect, which means it lives in family groupings. This social group performs a wide range of sophisticated tasks that lonely bees are unable to perform. The hive consists of three types: Queens, workers, and drones.

  • Queen Bee

Each bee colony has a single queen bee and hundreds of drone bees. Pheromone chemistry and “dance” are hive management activities. It is common to determine the strength of a swarm by the size of the workforce, queen bee, and food reserves.

The queen bee’s primary function is reproduction. She produces both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. The queen bee’s ability to lay eggs and produce chemicals determines the quality of a colony. The best time to lay eggs is in the spring and early summer. A queen can lay up to a million eggs in her lifetime, which equates to 250,000 eggs per year. The queen bee has a life span of up to 5 years, with a productive life span of 2 to 3 years.

How Bees Work

  • Worker Bees

Worker bees are the tiniest and most numerous bees in a colony. They are in charge of nest building, brood raising, and food collection. A worker bee can live for up to 6 weeks during the summer and up to 6 months if reared in the fall. This helps the colony survive the winter and aids in the development of a new generation of bees.

The fragrance glands, pollen baskets, brood food glands, and wax glands of the worker bee make her excellent for some hive activities. The workers also handle tasks such as: clean and polish cells, care for the queen, guard hive entrance, remove debris, build wax combs, ventilate and air-condition the hive, and bring food to the hive.

  • Drone Bees

Drone bees are male bees that live in a bee colony. They are the largest and only appear in the late spring and summer. They lack pollen baskets, wax glands, and stingers. The Drones’ primary function is to fertilize the virgin queen.

After hatching, a drone takes a week to mature and dies after mating. They rely on worker bees for nourishment and can still feed themselves at the age of four days. Drones begin their flight drills when they are 8 days old. And they usually make flights from midday to 4pm. The drone’s life terminates after mating flights. However in queenless colonies, they can stay eternally.

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The swarming of Bees

Swarming occurs in bees when a hive has two queens or when a colony has grown so huge that it has outgrown a hive. In that event, a portion of the colony will split and relocate in search of a new location to establish a new colony. Bees that used to be foragers and free-agents will now become nurse bees.

What do honeybees eat?

Bees only consume two types of food: honey and pollen. The nectar is collected and stored in the honey stomach of the bee for transport to the honey-makers in the hive. The worker bee also has a valve that allows access to the nectar sac. This valve is open anytime she is hungry, allowing a small amount of the delicious nectar to flow into her stomach for rejuvenation.

How do bees make honey?

Sweet honey is still a valuable commodity in the current age and it used widely across many industries. But how is honey made?

  • Nectar extraction from flowers

Worker bees will collect nectar from flowers, store it in a specific stomach, and transport it to honey-making bees in the hive. Nectar should be constituted of at least 80% water, vital amino acids, and natural sugars. Nectar is extracted from between 150 and 1500 blooms.

  • Passing the nectar around

When a worker bee lands at the bee entrance, she delivers her honey stash to one of the indoor bees or honey-makers. They use their mouths to do this. As a result, the moisture content of the nectar drops from 80% to 20%. The transfer of nectar from bee to bee converts the nectar to honey.

Nectar will also be transferred directly into the honeycomb cells. The high warmth within the hive will evaporate the water content in the nectar, converting it to honey. The conversion of nectar to honey usually takes approximately half an hour, and the honey that results is resistant to molds, fungi, and bacteria. As a result, it can be stored for many years without needing to be refrigerated.

  • Storing honey

Once created, bees will store honey in storage cells and use wax to protect it until the neonates arrive. The bees also make an ingredient known as “bee bread”. It is a combination of pollen and nectar. This food is extremely nutritious and ideal for feeding newborn bees.

  • Hive aeration

The honey-making process necessitates optimal hive aeration and temperature. The bees collectively fan their wings to ensure that the hive is well-aerated. They will work ceaselessly, even at night, in order to create adequate air circulation within the hive.

  • Cleanliness is important

The worker bee will deposit the nectar and pollen, clean and care for herself, and then return to the bee colony to collect more nourishment. She will labor diligently for the rest of her life. Gathering nectar and pollen, transporting it to the hive, cleaning herself, and then beginning on new journeys.

FAQ

Q1: Do bumble bees make honey?

Bumble bees capture nectar and store it in honey pots back in the nest for a brief time. However, stored nectar must be used immediately after collection and must not undergo any transformation to produce honey.

Q2: Do other bees produce honey?

Yes, stingless bees produce honey, but not in the same quantities as honey bees.

Q3: How do bees make honey in the winter?

Honey bees do not forage in the winter when the weather is bad and there are few flowers; instead, honey serves as their winter meal. Honey stored in the honeycomb can be kept eternally for honey bees to eat when they are in need and unable to forage. Include winter flowering plants and bushes in your garden to aid bees.

Conclusion

Bees are well-structured, which is why they are able to do what they do. A single worker, drone, or queen bee cannot survive on its own for more than a day. The honeybee teaches us a lot about life. The honey-making process, in particular, is fascinating to witness or envision.

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