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* There are an estimated 211,600 beekeepers in the United States.
Types of Bees
The Worker Bee
The worker bee is always a female. She is created from the same egg that creates a queen bee. It is the quality of the food fed to the larvae that determines whether she will become a queen or a worker. As the name indicates, the worker bee was born to work and their schedule of work usually follows a set pattern.
The worker bee starts out as a "house" worker bee taking care of the tasks on the interior of the hive. Her progression of jobs includes cleaning cells, feeding honey and pollen to the older larvae, comb building, cell capping, and taking nectar from the "field" bees and placing it in cells. Worker bees also ventilate the hive by fanning their wings. This cools the hive and also removes excess moisture from freshly gathered nectar so that it can age into honey. Her final job as a "house" bee, at the tender age of 18-21 days old, is to guard the hive. At this age, her sting glands contain the maximum amount of venom, which makes her the perfect guard.
At 3 weeks of age the "house" worker bee becomes a "field" worker bee. She will never again return to her household duties but will be entrusted with the collection of nectar, pollen, water or propolis depending on the needs of the community. Worker bees have ultraviolet vision that allows them to see which flowers are full of nectar. The "field" bee sucks nectar from deep inside flowers and stores it in her honey sack. As she moves from flower to flower she collects pollen and stores this in pollen sacks on her back legs. When she reaches the hive the "field" bee will transfer the nectar to the "house" bee tongue-to-tongue. The "house" bee then spreads a drop of the nectar in a honey cell where it begins the drying process that converts nectar into honey. The "house" bee also takes the pollen and packs this into a pollen cell.
The Drone Bee
The drone bee is always male and his entire body is adapted to perform his sole function - mating. In fact, he has no sting or any of the other special body features of the worker bee that aid her in her work. Drones become sexually mature at about 10-12 days and fly out in the afternoons to "drone congregation areas" where they meet queens for mating. A queen will mate with several drones, who die in the mating process. Interestingly, queens and drones are fed only in the colony and normally never land to feed or rest in the field. The drone's flight is of limited duration - generally about 20 minutes.
There are no drones present in the hive in winter. They are reared in the spring when resources for the hive are plentiful and when they will not be taxing to the colony. Then in fall, the drones are no longer allowed to feed. When they are weak their bodies are dragged from the hive by the worker bees.
The Queen Bee
The queen bee is a very unique animal. She has 2 main functions in the colony. She lays all of the eggs for the entire hive and she maintains the social order of the community (through certain secretions produced from glands in her body). Biologists point to the queen bee as a remarkable example of how food can affect animal development since the worker bee and the queen bee come from the same egg. The simple fact that the queen bee is fed lavishly results in numerous anatomical differences between she and the worker. The most important difference is in their reproductive systems. Worker bees cannot mate, while queen bees are specially equipped to mate and can also store sperm for long periods of time - even years.
Queens live for about 5 years. When a queen is failing or dies the entire colony in is jeopardy. When a colony loses its queen the honeybees detect her death in a matter of a few hours. They immediately begin to enlarge a cell around an egg or day-old larvae and start to construct a special cell in which to rear the new queen. When the queen emerges from her cell she is not identified as the queen for several days, until she begins to emit her special secretions. Her first few days are spent feeding upon pollen and nectar. During this period, she will seek out other virgin queens and attempt to fight and kill them. She will even attack and destroy any other queen cells in the colony.
The queen bee will leave the colony only when mating or accompanying a swarm. At the age of 5-6 days old the queen will mate. She will mate over a period of 1-2 days with an average of 8 drones and begin to lay eggs 2-3 days later. This single mating period will provide the queen with the approximately 5 million sperm that will last her for the rest of her life. In fact, queens lose their mating capability after about 3-4 weeks of life.
How Bees Communicate
Honeybees have an extremely acute sense of smell through their antennae. They communicate by using chemical substances called "pheromones" which are secreted from a gland in one bee's body and elicit a specific response from other bees. Pheromones communicate alarm signals, mating signals, are used to mark food sources and to mark enemies. In fact when bees sting, the stinger is left in the enemy so that no matter where the enemy flees they will be marked with this special "enemy" odor.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of bee behavior is the dance performed by worker bees to tell others about food sources in the field. The dancers use more than physical movements to communicate their message. They also pause frequently to give their audience a taste of nectar or pollen. There are basically two types of dances. The round dance indicates that there is a food source within about 100 yards of the hive and that the others should seek it out. The wag-tail dance communicates information about the direction and distance of the food from the hive. These dances are remarkably simple and accessible to observers. In general the faster the dance, the closer the food source to the hive.
In the round dance the bee circles in one direction, turns and then circles back in the direction from which she came. In the wag-tail dance the bee dances a half circle in one direction, then turns and runs down the center line of the circle while wagging her tail. She then turns and dances a half circle in the other direction forming an "S" shape. The direction of the "run" tells the other bees the direction of the flowers in relation to the sun.
ANTHER - The area where pollen is developed and contained in a plant.
BEEHIVE - A place where a bee colony dwells.
COLONY - A community of tens of thousands of worker bees, usually containing one queen, with or without drones.
DRONE - A male bee.
EXTRACTED HONEY - Honey removed from the comb by a special machine called an extractor and sold in liquid or crystallized form.
HIVE - A man-made structure for bees.
NECTAR - The sweet secretion from flowers of various plants.
PISTIL - A flower's central organ that contains the stigma, style and ovary.
QUEEN - A sexually developed female bee.
STAMEN - The male part of a flower where pollen-producing anther are borne.
WORKER BEE - A sexually undeveloped female bee.
Facts about honey!
HISTORICAL HONEY BEAUTY SECRETS
* Madame du Barry, the infamous last mistress of Louis XV, used honey as a form of facial mask, lying down for a rest while the honey did its work.
Kinds of honey:
Most of us know honey as a sweet, golden liquid. But, in fact, honey can be found in a variety of forms.
* Comb Honey - Comb honey is honey that comes as it was produced - in the honey bees' wax comb. The comb, as well as the honey, is edible!
* Cut Comb - Cut comb honey is liquid honey that has added chunks of the honey comb in the jar. Also known as liquid-cut comb combination.
* Liquid Honey - Free of visible crystals, liquid honey is extracted from the honey comb by centrifugal force, gravity or straining. Because liquid honey mixes easily into a variety of foods, it's especially convenient for cooking and baking. Most of the honey produced in the United States is sold in the liquid form.
* Naturally Crystallized Honey - Naturally crystallized honey is honey that part of the natural glucose content has spontaneously crystallized from solution as the monohydrate.
* Whipped (or Cremed) Honey - While all honey will crystallize in time, whipped honey (also known as cremed honey or sugared honey) is brought to market in a crystallized state. The crystallization is controlled so that, at room temperature, the honey can be spread like butter. In many countries around the world, whipped honey is preferred to the liquid form.