There are of course, many different types of bees. Honey bee, bumblebee, apidae, carpenter bee, sweat bees, adrena, colletidae, andrenidae, dasypoda, stenotritdae and maganomiinae are some of the lower classifications for the bee family. For the purpose of our documentation, we will focus on the swarm of bees of the honey bee.
The honey bee was primarily named because of it’s production and storage of honey. Honey bees are a member of the Apidae family of bees.
The best known honey bee is the Western Honey bee which were domesticated for honey production as well as plant pollination.
Bee fact: Did you know, that honey bees represent only a tiny fraction of the entire bee kingdom? There are roughly 20,000 known species of bees! If i had a test in this beekeeping 101 class, I would put this question on there.
Each member of the honey bee swarm plays a very important role for the overall beehive survival. In the following paragraphs we will take a quick look at each role of the swarm of bees.
A worker bee is defined as any bee that is female and does not have the reproductive capacity as the queen bee. The worker bees are by and far the busiest member of the swarm of bees due to the sheer amount of work they do to keep the hive running. Worker bees also have tiny baskets on the back of their legs that they use to haul pollen back to the bees nest. This pollen is used to feed the eggs that are growing in the hive. This key component is what many farmers utilize to pollinate the crops that they grow. Think of it this way, without bees, many types of crops would fail to produce causing a massive shortage of that food which could lead to far more dramatic outcomes if left unchecked. Save the bees!
The worker bee has several designated jobs that are typically based on age of the bee and overall need. It’s much like our real world jobs with the exception that you don’t typically get to specialize in something and stick with it for your entire career. You are simply born and placed where you are needed most as long as you have matured enough to do so.
Think of a beehive much like a manufacturing job. Each department has a leader, each leader has several workers and each line produces a useful product. Some job titles carried by worker bees include, drone feeder, attendant to the queen bee, pollen packer, comb builder, propolization specialist, mortician bee for dead bee removal, HVAC bee to keep the hive cool so called fanning bees, water carrier and front door guards to keep invaders from entering the bee hive. The guard bees act as a form of pest control!
With a list like that, it’s easy to see how the worker bee is the busiest of all the bees in the bee colony
The drone bee is the male member of the bee colony. The drone bee is born from an unfertilized egg. The sole job of a drone bee is to mate with a queen who is fertile. Drone bees to not have a stinger and they also do not gather or carry pollen or nectar. The are born simply for reproductive purposes for both the current queen and also a new queen or virgin queen once it is born.
The queen bee is the mother to nearly all if not the entire hive of bees. Each queen bee is developed by the worker bees through special feeding that will induce the ability for reproduction. Typically, each bee hive has only one active mature queen bee and as the name implies, she is treated like royalty. The entire swarm of bees will protect her and follow her with ferocity to keep her safe. Generally, the only exception to the one queen per bee colony guideline is when the current queen bee is about to perform a bee swarm. Swarming bees is the act of relocating to a new hive, or starting a new beehive colony. The queen lays a special egg in a specially designed egg cup and then leaves to with some workers and guards to set up a new colony.
That’s the quick and dirty version of how the swarm of bees in the bee hive works. For our purposes, that covers enough so you have a basic understanding of how the honey bee hive functions. Perhaps later I will add more detailed versions of these from a more scientific standpoint but since this is a beginners guide to beekeeping, I wanted to keep the sections as necessity packed as possible without boring the folks who aren’t here for the science.
In our next section, we will go over some more details on how to keep bees. Please click the arrow below to proceed!