BioKIDS – Kids’ Inquiry of Diverse Species, Apis mellifera, honey bee: INFORMATION

Apis mellifera

What do they look like?

generally, Apis mellifera are red/brown with black bands and orange yellow rings on abdomen. They have hair on thorax and less haircloth on abdomen. They besides have a pollen basket on their hind legs. Honeybee legs are by and large darkness brown/black .
There are two castes of females, sterile workers are smaller ( adults 10-15 mm long ), prolific queens are larger ( 18-20 millimeter ). Males, called drones, are 15-17 millimeter farseeing at adulthood. Though smaller, workers have longer wings than drones. Both castes of females have a stinger that is formed from modified ovipositor structures. In workers, the pang is barbed, and tears away from the soundbox when used. In both castes, the stinger is supplied with malice from glands in the abdomen. Males have much larger eyes than females, probably to help locate flying queens during mating flights .
There are presently 26 recognized subspecies of Apis mellifera, with differences based on differences in morphology and molecular characteristics. The differences among the subspecies is normally discussed in terms of their agrarian end product in particular environmental conditions. Some subspecies have the ability to tolerate quick or cold climates. Subspecies may besides vary in their defensive behavior, tongue length, wingspan, and color. Abdominal band patterns besides differ – some benighted and some with more of a desegregate between dark and faint band patterns.

Honeybees are partially endothermic — they can warm their bodies and the temperature in their hive by working their flight muscles. ( Clarke, et al., 2002 ; Milne and Milne, 2000 ; Pinto, et al., 2004 ; Seeley, et al., 1982 )

  • Other Physical Features
  • endothermic
  • ectothermic
  • heterothermic
  • bilateral symmetry
  • venomous
  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes shaped differently
  • Range length
    10 to 20 mm
    0.39 to 0.79 in

How do they grow?

Honeybees build a beehive out of wax secretions from their bodies, and queens lay their eggs in cells in the wax. The accelerate of subsequent development of the youthful is strongly affected by temperature, and is fastest at 33-36°C .
Honeybees are holometabolic insects, and have four stages in the life cycle : egg, larva, pupa, and adult .
A. mellifera eggs hatch in 28-144 hours, depending on their temperature. The larva that emerges is a small whiten grub. It stays in its wax cell, growing, and is fed and groomed by adult workers. The food that a female larva receives determines whether it will be a king or actor. At 34°C, larvae feed and grow for 4-5 days, queens for 6 days, and males for 6-7 days. At the end of that period their cell is sealed by adult workers, and the larva molts, spins a silk cocoon, and transforms into the pupa degree. Pupae undergo a massive metamorphosis that takes about 7-8 days for queens, 12 days for workers, and 14-15 days for males. once their final metamorphosis is dispatch, they chew their way out of the cell and begin their pornographic life. They will not grow or molt after emerging. Adult workers will live for 2-4 weeks in the summer, or a long as 11 months if they live through the winter. Males only survive for 4-8 weeks, and do not live through the winter. Queens hot 2-5 years .
. The adjacent stage is the larval stage where the larva is fed the royal jelly, pollen/nectar, and beloved combination. Next the larva goes into the pupa stage where it caps itself into its cell to metamorphose into the ripe stage .
Queens normally take 16 days to reach maturity, the worker bees take 21 days, and the drone takes 24 days to mature. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • Development – Life Cycle
  • metamorphosis

How do they reproduce?

The great majority of female A. mellifera in a hive are sterile workers. lone queens mate and put eggs. normally there is only a single generative queen in a hive .
During periods of appropriately balmy weather in spring and summer, males leave the hive and assemble at “ drone forum areas ” near the hive. Virgin queens will fly through these areas, attracting the males with pheromones. The males prosecute, and undertake to mate with the queen in fledge. Sometimes a “ comet ” forms, as a bunch of males forms around the female, with a string of other males trying to catch up. Each male who succeeds in mating drops away, and dies within a few hours or days. Males who do not mate will continue to loiter in the assembly areas until they mate or die trying. Queens will mate with up to 10 males in a one flight .
Queens may mate with males from their own beehive, or from other hives in the area. The queen ‘s copulate behavior is centered around finding the best invest to mate advance, by taking directional flights for a period of time, lasting no more than a copulate of days. Afterward, she leaves the beehive and flies to mate with drones in an forum area. This normally starts to occur after their inaugural week of parturition. The queen does this up to four times. After this congregate of copulate has occurred, she never mates again in her life. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 ; Tarpy and Page Jr., 2000 )

  • Mating System
  • polyandrous
  • eusocial

Apis mellifera queens are the basal reproducers of the nest and all of the activities of the colony are centered around their generative behaviors and their survival. The queen is the lone fertile female in the colony. She lays eggs closely continuously throughout the year, sometimes pausing in belated fall in cold climates. A particularly fertile queen may lay vitamin a many as 1,000 eggs/day, and 200,000 eggs in her life. It takes a queen about 16 days to reach adulthood, and another week or more to begin laying eggs. Males take about 24 days to emerge as adults, and begin leaving the nest for assembly areas a few days after that .
queen honeybees can control whether or not an egg they lay is fertilized. Unfertilized egg develop as males and are haploid ( have alone one set up of chromosomes ). Fertilized eggs are diploid ( two sets of chromosomes ) and develop as workers or new queens, depending on how they are fed as larva. Queens may increase the ratio of male to female eggs they lay if they are diseased or injured, or in reply to problems in the colony .
Healthy, well-fed honeybee colonies reproduce by “ pour. ” The workers in the colony begin by producing numerous queen larva. concisely before the modern queens emerge, the nonmigratory, egg-laying queen leaves the hive, taking up to half the workers with her. This “ teem ” forms a impermanent group in a tree nearby, while workers scout for a desirable location for a new beehive. Once they find one, the teem moves into the space, and begins building comb and starting the march of food collection and replica again .
interim at the old beehive, the new queens emerge from their cells. If the population of workers is big enough, and there are few queens emerging, then the first one or two may leave with “ afterswarms ” of workers. After the teem is completed, any remaining new queens try to sting and kill each other, continuing to fight until all but one is dead. After her rival is removed, the surviving queen begins to lay eggs .
normally the pheromones secreted by a healthy queen prevent workers from reproducing, but if a colony remains queenless for retentive, some workers will begin laying eggs. These eggs are unfertilized, and sol develop as males. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Milne and Milne, 2000 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 ; Tarpy and Page Jr., 2000 )

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • iteroparous
  • seasonal breeding
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious ( sex discriminate )
  • sexual
  • induced ovulation
  • fertilization

    • internal
  • oviparous
  • sperm-storing
  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Colonies typically swarm once or twice a year, usually at the beginning of the season that provides the most nectar.
  • Breeding season
    Late spring until the winter months
  • Range eggs per season
    60,000 to 80,000
  • Average gestation period
    3 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    15 to 17 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    24 days

As in most eusocial insects, the offspring of fertile females ( queens ) are cared for other members of the colony. In honeybees, the caretakers are sterile females, daughters of the tabby, called workers .
Workers build and maintain the comb where young bees are raised, gather food ( ambrosia and pollen ) feed and tend larva, and defend the hive and its young from predators and parasites .
new queens inherit their hive from their mothers. Often several new queens emerge after the old queen leaves with a swarm to found a fresh colony. The new queens fight for restraint of the hive, and lone one survives the conflict. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization

    • protecting

      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth

    • provisioning

      • female
    • protecting

      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging

    • provisioning

      • female
    • protecting

      • female
  • pre-independence

    • provisioning

      • female
    • protecting

      • female
  • inherits maternal/paternal district
  • maternal military position in the dominance hierarchy affects condition of new

How long do they live?

Apis mellifera queens normally live 2 to 3 years, but some have been known to last for 5 years. Workers typically only live for a few weeks, sometimes a few months if their beehive becomes dormant in winter. Males live for 4-8 weeks at the most. ( Tarpy and Page Jr., 2000 )

  • Typical lifespan
    condition : godforsaken
    2 to 3 years

How do they behave?

european honeybees are eusocial insects. They live in colonies that contain one generative female ( the queen ) and her young. Sterile female offspring of the queen ( the workers ) perform all the exploit of the colony and are by far the most numerous caste in the beehive. Males and queens spend all their feat on reproduction, see the Reproduction sections for information on mating behavior and egg production .
A. mellifera workers show what is called “ age polyethism. ” Their behaviors change as they get older. newly emerged workers clean cells, preparing them for a modern egg or for food storage. After a few days they shift to early hive maintenance work, removing waste and debris, fanning to maintain air circulation and temperature, processing ambrosia brought by foragers, and feeding the queen and larva from glands in their head and body. In their second week of adult life workers ‘ wax glands become active and they help build and repair the comb, while continuing to tend the queen and feed workers. Apis mellifera workers build a “ comb ”, a sheet of hexangular cells made of waxes they secrete. Each cell can family one larval bee, and cells are besides used as protected storage space for honey ( processed nectar ) and pollen .
between 12 and 25 days, workers take a turn guarding the hive, inspecting any bees that try to enter the beehive – driving off strangers and attacking any other creatures that try to enter. After about three weeks, the workers food and wax glands atrophy, and they shift to foraging duty .
Foraging alone occurs during day, but bees are active in the hive continuously .
In temperate climates, colonies store honey and pollen to feed on during the winter. During cold temperatures the workers and queen form a taut musket ball or bunch, working their flight muscles to generate inflame and keep themselves warm. In warm tropical regions, honeybees maintain smaller stores of food .
If a colony ‘s nest conditions become besides poor, the entire colony may move to a newly site. This is particularly common in tropical honeybees, that move in reply to seasonal drought. Beekeepers call this “ abscond ”, and workplace to prevent it in domesticate colonies .
Swarming is a behavior in a cuddle where a new queen is born that takes the place of the older one in that hive. The departing queen normally takes some of the workers with her. Swarming bees send out worker scouts to look for a suitable home to take the position of the matchless they left. The teem of bees is just impermanent. They normally swarm over a catch on or branch of a tree or anywhere that can be used temporarily as an intermediate nest. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • Key Behaviors
  • flies
  • diurnal
  • motile
  • hibernation
  • social
  • colonial

Home Range

Honeybees forage ampere near to the hive as possible, normally within a 3 kilometer radius around the hive ( i.e. an area of about about 2800 hectares ). If necessary, they can fly a far as 8-13 kilometer to reach food or water. ( Percival, 1947 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

What do they eat?

Apis mellifera feed on pollen and nectar collected from blooming flowers. They besides eat honey ( stored, saturated ambrosia ) and secretions produced by other members of their colony .
Workers forage for food ( nectar and pollen ) for the entire colony. They use their tongues to suck up nectar, and storehouse it in the front tooth section of the digestive tract, called the crop. They collect pollen by grooming it off the bodies and onto especial structures on their back stage called pollen baskets .
Returning foragers transfer the nectar they have collected to younger actor bees that in turn feed other members of the beehive, or process it into honey for long-run storage. They add enzymes to the honey, and store it in open cells where the body of water can evaporate, concentrating the sugars .
Young workers eat pollen and nectar, and secrete food materials, called “ imperial jelly ” and “ worker jellify ”, from glands in their heads. This material is fed to young larva, and the sum and type they get determines if they will be queens or workers.

Honeybees scrounge during daylight hours, but are equally active on cloudy or cheery days. They will not fly in grave rain or eminent winds, or if the temperature is excessively extreme ( workers ca n’t fly when they get below 10°C ). During the warm, calm weather the honeybees collect the most pollen even if it is cloudy. If the ignite saturation changes quickly, they immediately stop work and revert to the beehive. If it lightly rains, pollen collection stops, because moisture inhibits the bee ’ s ability to collect it. however, ambrosia collection is not inhibited by light rain. Wind besides affects the rate of pollen solicitation .
Honeybee workers are opportunist. They will steal from early hives if they can. Hive-robbing can be dangerous, but a weakened or damaged hive may be raided by workers from other hives, particularly when nectar flows in flowers are not abundant. Honeybees will besides collect “ honeydew, ” the sweet fluid excreted by sap-feeding insects like aphids. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Gonzalez, et al., 1995 ; Percival, 1947 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • Primary Diet
  • herbivore

    • nectarivore
  • Plant Foods
  • nectar
  • pollen
  • sap or other plant fluids
  • Foraging Behavior
  • stores or caches food

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Honeybees are identical significant pollinators, and are the primary coil pollinator for many plants. Without honeybees, these plants have greatly reduced richness. In North America and Australia, where there are no native bee species with big colonies, honeybees can have particularly strong effects on native flowers, and on early pollinators such as lone bee species. Honeybees ability to recruit companion workers by “ dancing ” allows them to be more efficient than other pollinators at exploiting patches of flowers. This can create strong impacts on their competitors, specially nongregarious bees .
Like all sociable insects, honeybees are hosts to a assortment of parasites, commensal organisms, and infective microbes. Some of these can be good problems for beekeeping, and have been studied intensively. At least 18 types of viruses have been found to cause disease in bees, including Sacbrood disease. Several of them ( but not sacbrood virus ) are associated with parasitic mites. Bacteria infect bees, notably Bacillus larva, agent of american english Foulbrood disease, and Melissococcus batholith, agent of european Foulbrood. Fungi turn in bee hives, and Ascosphaera apis can cause Chalkbrood disease. One of the most common diseases in domesticate hives is Nosema disease, caused by a protozoal, Nosema apis. An ameba, Malphigamoeba mellificae, besides causes disease in honeybees .
In holocene decades, two mite species have spread through domesticated and feral honeybee populations around the universe. Acarapis woodi is a small mite species that lives in the trachea of pornographic bees and feeds on bee hemolymph. It was first discovered in Europe, but its origin is nameless. Infestations of these mites weaken bees, and in cold climates, whole colonies may fail when the bees are confined in the hive during the winter. A much worse threat is Varroa destructor. This might evolved on an asian honeybee, Apis cerana, but switched on to Apis mellifera colonies that were set up in east Asia. It has since outspread all around the global, except Australia. Juvenile mites feed on bee larva and pupa, and adult female mites feed and disperse on adult workers. This mite is known to spread respective viruses american samoa well. Infestations of V. destructor often wipe out colonies. about all the feral, untended honeybee colonies in north american are believed to have been wiped out by mite infestations, along with a large proportion of domesticated colonies. other touch species are known from honeybee colonies, but they are not considered harmful .
Another commensal or epenthetic species is Braula coeca, the bee worm. Despite the common name, this is actually a wingless fly, that apparently feeds by intercepting food being transferred from one bee to another .
Beetles in the genus Hylostoma and Aethina are found in african honeybee nests, where they seem to do little damage. however, the “ modest beehive beetle ”, Aethina tumida, has become a significant problem in European and North American hives. The larva feed all the contents of comb : honey, pollen, and bee eggs and larva. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Roubik, 1989 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • pollinates
  • keystone species

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host

  • Melissococcus batholith (agent of European Foulbrood)
  • Ascophaera apis (agent of Chalkbrood)
  • honey bee tracheal mite Acarapis woodi
  • a wax moth Galleria mellonella
  • a wax moth Achroia grisella
  • the small hive beetle Aethina tumida
  • Varroa destructor
  • bee louse Braula coeca
  • large hive beetles Hylostoma
  • small hive beetles Aethina

Do they cause problems?

Honeybee workers will sting humans and domesticate animals in defense of themselves or their beehive. A single sting is irritating but not dangerous unless the target is allergic to the venom, in which case it can be life threatening. otherwise, it takes about 20 stings per kilogram of body weight to be liveliness threatening .
Each subspecies of Apis mellifera has unlike behavioral patterns in regards to intruders near or around the beehive. The african subspecies are particularly aggressive. One of them, Apis mellifera scutellata, was unintentionally released in South America, and has spread north to the southern United States. This is the “ cause of death bee. ” It is luminary for having a much higher aggressive answer to disturbance — more workers attack than in other subspecies, and they pursue targets much longer than european bees do. The spread of these bees made beekeeping much more expensive and complicated, and the aggressive bees caused many deaths. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • injures humans

    • bites or stings
    • venomous

How do they interact with us?

Honeybees pollinate billions of US dollars worth of commercial agrarian crops around the world every year. They are authoritative pollinators for economically important godforsaken plant populations as well .
Honeybee hives provide honey and wax, and pollen, propolis, and royal jelly that are sold for medicines and cosmetics .
Honeybees are important study organisms for inquiry in the connections between aflutter system structure and demeanor .
Some research suggests honeybee venom may have medically useful applications in the treatment of auto-immune disease or inflammation. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Kang, et al., 2002 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • food
  • source of medicine or drug
  • research and department of education
  • pollinates crops

Are they endangered?

While the species as a solid is still very numerous, there is concern in Europe that widespread commercialization of beekeeping is endangering locally-adapted populations and subspecies. This, combined with higher mortality of colonies due to Varroa touch and tracheal mite infestations, and the late phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder in North America, has lawsuit significant concern for the health of the population. Colony Collapse Disorder ( CCD ) is a condition of commercial beehives, where there are sudden massive waves of deathrate among the workers. Beekeepers discover their hives merely evacuate of workers, with therefore few surviving that they can not tend the queen and brood. This stipulate has occurred chiefly in North America, and chiefly in big commercial apiaries. No single cause has been identified yet. ( Adjare, 1990 ; Sammataro and Avitabile, 1998 )

  • IUCN Red List
    No special condition
  • US Federal List
    No especial status
    No special condition
  • State of Michigan List
    No particular status


George Hammond ( author, editor program ), Animal Diversity Web, Madison Blankenship ( writer ), Radford University, Karen Powers ( editor program, teacher ), Radford University .


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