Honey bees, although one of the most popular bees, represent only a small percent of bee species. They are known for producing and storing honey, or liquefied sugar, as well as building impressively large nests using wax secreted by workers in a particular colony. It is for this reason that honey bees are the species kept by Bee Keepers.
Honey bees measure about 15 mm long and are light brown in colour. Honey bees have an oval-shaped body with golden-yellow colours and brown bands. Although the body u of honey bees varies between species and some honey bees have predominantly black bodies, almost all honey bees have varying dark-to-light striations. These light and dark stripes serve a purpose for the survival of the honey bee: unlike other species that hide when they sense predators close by, the brightly coloured bodies of the honey bee act as a warning to predators or honey robbers of the honey bees’ ability to sting.
In the wild, honey bee hives are often located in the holes of trees and on rock crevices. The hive is made from wax from the special abdominal glands of worker honey bees. Workers sweep up a few flakes of wax from their abdomens and chew these flakes until the wax becomes soft. Workers then mould the wax and use it in making cells to form the hive. Unlike other bee species, honey bees do not hibernate during cold periods. Instead, they remain inside the nests huddled closely together, sharing body heat and feeding on stored food supplies. In urban areas honey bees will build colonies in hollow trees or in chimneys, wall cavities or roof spaces.
Honey bees are social creatures and live in colonies that number more than 30,000 individual honey bees. There is three types of adult honey bees reside in one colony: the queen, male drones and infertile female workers. In each colony, there is only one egg-laying queen, but there are thousands of workers. The queen honey bees mate with drones, establish new colonies and lay eggs. Queen bees lay eggs in the cells of the nest, and when they hatch, they become larvae. Each colony contains only one queen, who is capable of producing 2,000 eggs a day.
They are most visible in summer and late spring, when new queens leave their old colonies along with thousands of workers to build new nests. At this time, large groups of bees can be seen swarming together to find a new nesting place. It takes a swarm approximately 24 hours to locate a new nesting site. While most swarms are harmless, certain species of bees are extremely aggressive and may attack unprovoked.
Although honey bees serve a significant role in pollination and ecology, measures should be taken to ensure that hives do not exist in close proximity to your home, due to the possibility of getting stung. All honey bees can become defensive when provoked and can chase humans or animals hundreds of feet. Always contact a pest control professional before attempting to address an infestation.