Honey Bee

Honey Bee on goldenrod. Notice the pollen basket on its hind leg

The bee everybody is most familiar with is the domesticated one, the Honey Bee, from which we get honey and wax. This bee was brought from Europe by the settlers; there weren’t any honey bees in this continent before that time.

Honey bees vary in color from “blonde”, a light tan, to “brunette”, nearly black. Most are tan with darker stripes. They are fairly hairy and about the size of a house fly, between 0.4 to 0.6 in. The most distinguishing feature is the baskets that females have on the hind legs or third pair of legs. This basket, also called corbicula, is made of two rows of stiff hairs, called setae, forming a kind of basket around the flattened section of the leg. The bee can pack a lot of pollen in these baskets to carry home.

Honey Bees form large colonies, called hives, composed of a queen, many workers and some drones or males. The queen’s only function is to lay eggs and is assisted by workers all the time. The workers are all females, daughters of the queen. The drones don’t do any work around the hive nor gather pollen or nectar; their only purpose is to mate with new queens so new colonies can get started.

In addition to producing honey and wax, honey bees pollinate a wide range of flowers, many of them, such as almonds, very important for agriculture. It is said that their value as pollinators is as much as twenty times that of honey.

Habitat. Feral honey bees can be found in almost any habitat, but more commonly near farms, or even towns and cities.

Season. They start flying as early as March and last until October or even November. They can be seen in winter if the weather is mild.

Flowers. Many crops, peaches, apples, etc. They also visit many types of wildflowers that bloom in different seasons.

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One Response to “Honey Bee”

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Attracting Native Bees Says:

    […] 52. Honey Bee: by Beatriz Moisset, a profile of this introduced bee53. Of Bees and Honey. What is Honey for? “Only social bees make any significant amount of honey. The stored supplies sustain them through the winter, when there is no other food available.” by Beatriz Moisset […]

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