Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Honey Bee.
Updated: 9/5/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The helpful Honey Bee is a mainstay in the world of agriculture and an icon of efficiency for many businesses.
Honey Bee occupations break down into one of three categories: the worker bees, the drones and the Queen Bee. Unlike wasps, they create hives out of wax (not a paper-like substance) and only swarm when they are reproducing. The old queen leaves with a portion of the hive while those that stay behind will work with a new queen born in the hive. A female larvae is fed a special diet by the workers, which makes her a fertile queen. Other female larvae are given a regular diet that renders them infertile.
Worker bees are sterile females that measure between 9 and 18mm while a queen bee can be 18 to 20mm in length. Male drones lack stingers and are kept until reproduction is complete. They are then killed and removed from the hive.
Working bees feature a nearly all-black head with a body coloring of golden brown and black with patches of a dull orange. Yellow bands are easily distinguishable on the abdomen and wings are clear. Their entire bodies are covered in tiny hairs with these being most notable on the head an body.
They are found throughout the United States and are also bred commercially. Currently, honey bee populations are disappearing from commercial hives for unknown reasons. Entomologists call this anomaly CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder. Honey bees are a super-pollinator for most fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption and a limited number of them can directly effect how much produce is harvested.
Honey Bees originally came to the New World from Europe when early colonists came to settle in America. Various subspecies originating from Russia, Italy and Slovenia are slightly different in color and personality (temperament), but all members of the species are used for their honey production. The Honey Bee's range now covers the entire North American continent, much to its benefit.