As you already know, we can only enjoy delicious honey thanks to the bees. But be careful! Not all of them are able to produce honey! In Europe, we can eat this delicious product thanks to the Apis mellifera (from latin Apis, bee et mellifera, who bears the honey).
The honey bee lives in a colony and was domesticated already more than 4,000 years ago by the egyptians. You could say that they created the profession of the beekeeper. In the grave of the pharaoh Tutankhamun containers filled with perfectly edible honey were found – even after so many centuries.
Like in every society, a hierarchy is established where different tasks are related to the class the bees belong to. Therefore, in a colony you can find a queen bee, many worker bees and some drones.
The queen bee is the only one that can lay eggs and she dedicates her three years of life to it. You will recognize her based on the size: 1.5 to 2 cm compared to the size of a worker bee with 1 cm to 1.2 cm. As soon as the worker bees have become orphans or the queen bee has reached an old age, the worker bees feed some eggs with royal jelly, so that young queen bees can be born.
The worker bees are not fertile and cannot lay eggs. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of tasks to carry out in the beehive.
- Nursing bee: she takes care of the eggs and prepares the cells.
- Building bee: she builds cells from wax within which the honey is stored. Moreover, she produces honey from nectar and protects the beehive.
- Foraging bee: she collects nectar and pollen within a distance of up to five kilometers from the hive.
Around a hundred drones, or in other words, male bees, live in the beehive. They hatch out of unfertilized eggs. Furthermore, they are the gene carriers and have one single goal: to mate with the queen! Though this is not the toughest task to fulfill, it is very important: Through them, the different blood lines are crossed and strong worker bees can be born. During the nuptial flight, hundreds of drones from other hives fly next to the queen trying to seduce her. However, she mates only with the most agile ones. They, in turn, will fill her body with male gametes to produce fecundated worker bees eggs’.
Did you know?
- During the flowering season, a queen can lay around 1,200 eggs per day.
- While they are mating, the drones´ testicles blow up! This does not really matter, however, because they die just after mating the queen. The ones who have not reached this goal will be executed by the worker bees. As a drone, life is quite hard in a beehive … because one way or the other they never survive it.
- During winter, the bees stay in the hive to keep the temperature on a high level and to protect their queen.