The secret life of the honeybee

The secret life of the honeybee

Queen Bee

A honeybee colony is a superorganism of social insects working together for the benefit of all. Honey bees show just how efficient working together can be. Three sorts of bee are found in a colony: the queen, the workers and the drones.

The queen is the mother of the hive. There is only one queen and each day she has to lay the 1000 or so eggs that will develop into new honeybees. Her strong pheromones (body smells) keep the colony working together and prevent the worker bees from trying to lay eggs.

Drone Bee

The drones are lazy boys. Their only work is to mate with a queen – and only the fittest few will get this pleasure. Otherwise they sit around the hive being looked after by the workers or hang round on the bee equivalent of street corners waiting for a young queen to come by. All summer they luxuriate. But when the weather gets cold the workers drive these passengers outside to die. And yes, its true that when a drone mates with the queen he dies in the act – but he dies smiling.

Worker Bees

It is the thousands of worker bees who keep the colony going. From the day they are born they slave away without complaining; cleaning and guarding the hive, feeding the developing bee brood (babies), building the honeycomb, and collecting nectar to process into honey stores for the long winter when there are no flowers. The workers keep the hive cool in summer and warm in winter. And they communicate very efficiently too – they can tell their sisters where to find the best flowers, and the amount and quality of the nectar they will find there. They can tell if the queen is safe and if that new bee trying to creep in is a stranger from another hive coming to steal their precious honey.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.