ALL ABOUT HONEY BEES

Honeybee belongs to the genus hymenoptera. They are highly developed insects originating from the areas of Africa, Europe and Middle East. Therefore, they are divided into African, Oriental and European subspecies. People have always been fascinated with bees, and many historical sources have been discovered, describing these tiny beings. Thus, Egyptians thought that bees were created from the tears of the Sun God Ra, and Greeks told that bees nursed Zeus as a child and fed him with honey.

The bee`s body is comprised of the head, chest and backside. The chest contains three pairs of legs and two pairs of thin wings. When a bee takes off, the wings merge, making flying easier. Bees fly from flower to flower, gathering plant nectar and pollen, and storing them into the beehive. The mouth is made of two parts: the front part used for biting and the back part used to suck liquids. The legs contain a basket, i.e. an indenture containing hairs used to store nectar.

Five eyes above the mouth are used by the bee to discern certain colors. They cannot see certain colors. Namely, bee sees only blue and yellow and ultraviolet, not visible to man. Regardless of the bad sight, bees succeeded in developing an extraordinary sense of smell. Through smell bees distinguish between themselves, since every community has a different smell. Scientists have established through research that bees` sense of taste is not very developed, since they gather sweet juices even when their taste is not good. The backside consists of nine rings and contains wax producing glands which secrete the liquid used to construct honeycombs. It terminates with a sting, which is the bee`s only means of defense. After delivering a sting, the bee cannot take the sting out, so it falls off, and the bee dies. The most toxic component of the venom released after a sting is melittin, and is very dangerous for humans, who are allergic to it. Bee community is one of the most organized societies in nature. It highly resembles human medieval society – it has a queen and the subjects. There are three types of bees within a bee community: worker bee, queen-bee, drone-bee.

Genetic code

In 2006, scientists have completely defined the bee`s genetic code. A surprising similarity between bees and mammals and man was revealed. Like humans, they moved from Africa to Europe. They are divided into two genetically separate populations. It is established that concerning their circadian clock, bees resemble mammals more than flies. The clock regulates multiple activities, such as: navigation, determining time and the bees` dance language, used to give information on food sources. Scientists from the University of Illinois confirmed 36 genes of the bee`s brain, 33 of which have been known earlier. Their report states that bees possess 10000 genes less than mosquitos or flies. Bees have more genes which determine smell, but fewer genes that determine taste.

Which bees comprise a bee community?

Queen-bee

The queen-bee is the only sexually mature female in a bee society. Her task is to lay eggs and look after the society, and to keep the society in the beehive by excreting pheromones. Fertilized eggs produce females (queen-bees and worker bees), while non-fertilized eggs produce males (drones). A bee society can have only one queen-bee. If there is more than one queen-bee, the society will divide by natural swarming. The queen-bee is fertilized by drones. She leaves the beehive only once, when mating, end exceptionally, during swarming. Fertilized queen-bee lays eggs in honeycomb cells. A queen-bee can lay 2500-5000 eggs daily. Queen-bee differs from worker bee in appearance, as well. Her body is wider, the legs are longer, and the back without hairs. She does not have any baskets for storing pollen on her back legs (like worker bees), and the sting`s shape differs from the worker bee`s. In a beehive, queen-bee moves in the direction of the movement of the sun. In the morning, she is in the eastern part of the beehive, at noon she is between mid-frames, and in the evening, on the western side.

Queen-bee is also called the queen of the beehive. She has to fight for the position. After 17 days in the egg, she hatches and her first task is to find and kill all the other queen-bees before they hatch. Afterwards, she has to fly out of the beehive to be fertilized. The queen bee mates with a drone, who does not survive, because his complete reproductive organs are left in the queen-bees body. After fertilization, queen- becomes a breeding machine, and is always surrounded by worker bees, feeding and guarding her. Which one of the bees will become the queen-bee is determined while the eggs are still underdeveloped. Such larvae feed on royal jelly. This results in them having a longer life span than worker bees (4-6 years).

In beekeeping, for easier identification, queen-bees are marked with a color. The colors are internationally acknowledged, for easier trading. Queen-bees are marked with white, yellow, red, green and blue. Each color stands for a certain year.

Drone

Drone is a male bee. His development lasts, at most, 32 days. He is very large and cannot feed himself, but is fed by worker bees. He takes his first flight after reaching sexual maturity. All the drones usually gather together in one spot in mid-air, and the queen-bee comes to them. Only the quickest will fertilize her, and afterwards he will die. Sometimes, if there is not enough food supply worker bees throw drones out of the beehives, after fertilization. But, if there is, drones remain to keep other bees warm with the size of their bodies.

Worker bees

Worker bee is also a female, but with an underdeveloped ovary, and if there is no queen-bee, she can lay eggs, but since they are not fertilized, only drones hatch. Since, she is not fed with royal jelly from the earliest days, her life span is quite short, being 30-45 days. In winter, she can live up to 6 months.

The types of bees

There are about 20000 varieties of bees on Earth, widespread in all areas of the world, except in Antarctica. The sizes of bees vary from 2mm to 4cm. They are mostly black or grey in color. There are different types of bees in Europe. They differ in color, ways their bodies are built, behavior, ability to gather nectar, pollen, etc. The best-known bee species are: Carniolan bee, Italian bee, Caucasian bee, Dark European bee, Dwarf honey bee, Giant honey bee, and Africanized bee. ...read more

How bees makes honey

To better understand what is honey and how do bees make it, we have to explain how the honey is created and how do bees contribute to its creation.
Main raw material that bees use when they make their sweet reserve, that we call honey, is nectar. Nectar is a sweet liquid that is produced by special glands placed in the flower and sometimes outside of the flower of the plant. Glands that secrete nectar are called nectarines.
Apart from flower and out of flower nectar bees also collect certain other sweet secretions from leaves and sweet matter that are created, as a consequence of activity of plant flees and some other insects that reside on plants. Honey produced in this way is called honeydew. ...read more