Monday, 16 December 2013


Phylum: Arthropoda
Suborder:  Apocrita

1. Bees and wasps are closely related
Both belong to the order Hymenoptera. However bee and wasps behave differently and differ in their body shape and leg structure.  Bees are also closely related to wasps and ants. 

2. There are 20,000 species of bee
There are around 250 species of bee in the UK, including 24 species of bumblebees, 225 species of solitary bee and just a single honeybee species.Bees kept by bee keepers are the honey bee species, Apis mellifera. These honeybees turn plant nectar into honey.  They also collect pollen, which they use to feed their larvae, and natural resins (propolis) to waterproof and strengthen the hive. 

3. Bees live in large social groups
Each colony will house up to 40,000 bees consisting of worker bees, drones and a single queen bee. Most bees in the colony are female worker bees, but there are several hundred male drone bees whose role it is to mate with young queens. There is only one queen bee, who will lay up to 2000 eggs a day.  The worker bees tend and feed the larvae, construct and clean the wax comb cells, serve as guards at hive entrance and collect pollen and nectar from plants.

4. Bees have a critical role in pollination of our flowers.  

Bees gather pollen and sip on nectar from flowers and This is why you will often find bees near flowers.  A honey bee will visit up to 100 flowers during a collection trip.  Unlike wasps, bees produce honey and bees wax. 

5. Bees live in nests
They they live in geometric wasp nests made of hexagonal beeswax structures.  They store food such as honey and pollen in the cells, as well as using them to brood eggs, larvae and pupae.

6. You can keep bees in your garden
It is entirely possible to keep bees in your garden without disturbing your enjoyment or that of your neighbours. There are no laws against keeping bees in your garden and you do not need a large garden to keep them in. 

7. Bees are passive
They are less aggressive then wasps.  In fact the honeybee will die after giving a single sting, although most bees can sting multiple times. 

8. The bee is the only insect to produce food eaten by man
On average 20-40 lb of honey can be obtained from the hive in a season. Beeswax can be used for producing candles, soap, furniture polish and cosmetics.  And of course honey can be fermented into mead.

9. Colony's swarm
When a population of a bee colony becomes very large part of the colony will swarm.  The queen bee will leave the nest with about 60% of the worker bees. 

10. Colony's can collapse
Over the past few years bee keepers have experienced whole hives of bees suddenly dying off for no apparent reason. The cause of this is undefined, but it is believed that it could be a combination of factors including disease, use of pesticides and environmental conditions.

For related articles
Ant facts
Bee facts
Butterfly facts
How big is a giant earthworm?
Ladybird facts
Keystone species
Moth Facts
The false widow spider
What is a ladybug?
What is the difference between a butterfly and  a moth?
What is the difference between a bee and a wasp?
What is the difference between an insect and a spider?
What is the difference between a millipede and a centipede?
What is the difference between a wasp and a hornet?
Worm facts
World largest insect

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