Honey Bees have hairy, yellow and black striped abdomens. The female workers have small sacs attached to them called corbicula or “pollen baskets”, to carry pollen.
Honey bees exist in colonies containing one breeding female, or queen, and thousands of males, or drones, and sterile female “workers”. They all work together in a highly social order, each carrying out specific duties to maintain and operate the hive. Colonies are perennial, usually surviving for several years. An average beehive can contain around 50,000 bees.
Each egg is laid in a single cell in a wax honeycomb that is produced and shaped by the workers. The cells will also be used to store honey and pollen. The brood comb is where the queen lays her eggs. The queen can lay over 1500 eggs per day and can live from 2-8 years. Larvae undergo several moltings before pupating. The drones’ sole purpose is to mate with a new queen. They have no stinger, and any left at the end of mating season are considered non-essential and will be driven out of the hive to die.
The workers, which make up a vast majority of the hive, have many functions. Young workers, called “house bees”, construct the comb, rear brood, tend to the queen and drones, clean and defend the hive. Older workers, called “field bees”, forage outside the hive to gather nectar, pollen, water used in hive construction.
They possess pollen sacs on their hind legs, an extra stomach for storing and transporting nectar or pollen, and a stinger that is used for defense. The worker can only sting once, as the stinger is left in the victim, causing it to die from a ruptured abdomen.
Colonies reproduce by swarming, which typically occurs in May or June. A swarm consists of the original queen and several thousand workers. A swarm will cluster on a branch near the original nest while scouts seek a new permanent location.
This cache has been placed with permission for the CREW Trust and
the South Florida Water Management District