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Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Honey Bee



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The invaluable Honey Bee is a mainstay in the world of agriculture and an icon of efficiency for many businesses.



Updated: 01/25/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Occupations for a Honey Bee break down into one of three categories: worker bee, drone, or queen Bee. Unlike wasps, Honey Bees create hives out of wax (not a paper-like substance) and only swarm when they are reproducing. Swarms occur when the old queen leaves with a portion of the hive while those that stay behind work with a new queen recently born inside the hive. A female larva can be fed a special diet by the worker bees, which will make her a fertile queen. Other female larvae are given a regular diet that renders them infertile.

Worker bees are these sterile females and they measure between 9 and 18mm long while a queen bee can be 18 to 20mm in length. Male drones lack stingers and reside in the hive until reproduction is complete. They are then killed by the worker bees and removed from the hive.

Worker bees feature a nearly all-black head with a body coloring of golden brown and black with dull orange patches. Yellow bands are very visible on the abdomen and the wings are clear. The entire body is covered in tiny hairs with a dense amount sitting both on the head and the body.

Honey Bees are naturally found throughout the United States but they are also bred commercially. Currently, Honey Bee populations are disappearing from commercial hives for some known and still 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 directly effects how much fruit is generated on a fruit or nut tree, berry bush or vegetable patch.

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.




Known Diet of the Honey-Bee



honey, nectar, royal jelly, white paste


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Helpful insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hymenoptera
        Family: Apidae
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          Genus: Apis
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            Species: mellifera
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Apis mellifera
Category: Bee, Ant, Wasp and Similar
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 20mm (0.35" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red, brown, black, orange, yellow
Descriptors: striped, fuzzy, buzz, honey, furry, small, helpful, flying

Honey-Bee Video(s)




Honey Bees pollinating cherry trees.
Honey Bees in a squash blossom.
Honey Bee on stonecrop.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 9mm and 20mm
Lo: 9mm
Md: 14.5mm
Hi: 20mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
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State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
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State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
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State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Honey Bee may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Honey Bee. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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