Critter Corner - Honey Bee
DID YOU KNOW:
The honeybee is not native to
North America. It was brought here by European settlers.
Honeybees are social creatures, dependent upon the success of
the colony for their own survival. Each bee at different
life stages performs a job that is necessary for the survival of
the entire colony.
Adult honeybees eat pollen
feed their young pollen, nectar, honey and royal jelly, which is
produced in the bee's head gland. A queen bee is fed only
Honeybee eggs are laid by the
queen bee. She can produce 1,200 eggs per day and may lay
200,000 eggs during the honey season. Worker bees (sterile
females) feed the young in their larval state. When the
larva is big enough to fill the honeycomb wax cell, the adult
worker bee caps the cell over with wax. The larva bee
sheds its skin within the wax cell. Then the pupa changes
into an adult bee, emerges from the cell and starts the cycle
Honeybees prefer to build was
honeycombs in hollow logs and
enclosed areas, such as constructed beehives. The
honeybees must have a food source -- flowering plants -- within
eight miles of their hive, but closer is better.
Honeybees will usually sting
in defense of their hive. They are not likely to sting
when collecting food if they are not bothered. Worker bees
die when they use their stinger, so it is a last resort effort
to protect the hive from predators.
When the colony is too
large for the hive, the bees will hatch a new queen.
When she is old enough, she will leave the hive with about
half the worker bees, form a swarm, and locate a new place
to nest. Beekeepers often capture 'wild' honeybees at
Worker honeybees live
only about 6 weeks. They work so hard to gather nectar
and pollen that they have a very short life span.
(Photo credits: Portrait of
honeybee, US Department of Agriculture; Honeybee feeding on
Monarda, photographer Della Bell,
www.mo.gov; Honeycomb, Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, Ks; Bee swarm, photographer Pat Miller, www.mo.gov)