Basic Beekeeping Sponsored by the Colonial Beekeepers Association Basic Honey Bee Biology Honey Bees are Social Under natural conditions they nest in cavities and build multiple combs. The honey bee is a highly socialized insect. – Apis mellifera L. • The scientific name for the honey bee. You will see the word honey bee spelled as two words and as a single word. But it is correct to spell it as two words like House fly, and bumble bee. Apis mellifera L. is the scientific name for the honey bee. The honey bee is an insect. Insects are classified as having • 3 body parts (head, thorax and abdomen) • one pair of antennae • three pairs of legs • compound eyes Queen - female Honey Bee Castes Workers - female Drones - male The inhabitants of the hive The Queen The queen is a mature female. She lays thousands of eggs during her life time. A queen has the longest live span in the colony living for years versus months. She is larger than the other bees in the hive and has a slim torpedo shape. She does have a stinger, but uses it to kill other queens. Under normal conditions a hive will have only one queen. Queen Profile • One queen (normally) • Only actively reproducing female • Can produce 1,500 eggs per day or more at the height of the M. Frazier brood season • Can live for 2-5 yrs • Pheromone Factory • She develops from a fertilized egg. • She mates with many drones to produce fertilized eggs. • She is the mother of all the bees in the hive. • Her role in the hive is to produce eggs and to release pheromone signals within the hive. Workers Worker bees are sexually underdeveloped females. They may number as many as 60,000 in a colony. The population depending on a number of factors such as: the egg laying ability of the queen, the space available in the hive (area where the bees live) and the incoming food supply. They are called workers because that is what they do. They collect food and water for the colony, build wax comb, do the housework, maintain the interior temperatures of the hive and guard the hive against intruders [in other words: they can sting]. Female worker bees under certain conditions can lay eggs but because they are not mated, they produce eggs that only develop into drones. Workers A worker bee spends its first 20 days in the hive performing various task – cleaning cells, feeding young larva, building wax comb, etc. • She defends the hive. She has a stinger, but can sting only once. She dies soon after stinging. • The worker bee also has pollen baskets on her rear legs to gather and collect pollen while she is foraging for nectar outside the hive. • Wax comes from 4 pairs of wax glands under the abdomen. Worker Profile • Female but typically not able to reproduce • A colony will have 20,000 - 60,000 • Live for 4-6 weeks in summer, 4-5 M. Frazier months in winter Division of Labor Among Workers • Based on two things: – The age of the bee – The needs of the colony • It’s highly elastic Nurse bees – 1 - 12 days – Self-grooming – Cell cleaning – Feeding brood House Bees – 10-20 days old – Comb building – Hive cleaning – Accepting nectar and pollen from foragers – Undertakers M. Frazier – Hive guarding – Climate control Field Bees – From about 20 days until death (30-45 days) – Collect • Nectar • Pollen • Water M. Frazier • Plant resins Meet the Drone bee Drones are the males in the colony. Note the general shape of the drone. Notice two things: 1) The head is large and the eyes predominate the head. 2) The rear-end of the drone is rounded --they have no stinger and can not sting. Some consider them worthless but they contribute to the continuation of one generation to the next generation. Drones • The drone is the male bee in the hive. • He develops from an unfertilized egg. Meaning he is passing on genetic material from his mother only. • He provides ½ of the genetic material in worker bees. • His life span depends on the health of the colony. During poor honey flows and honey shortages, drones may be driven from the hive. This happens at the onset of winter as well. • Drones can be created by laying worker honey bees. Biological Information • All honey bees come from eggs. • All honey bees develop into larva. • All honey bees go thru something called Metamorphosis. • The development times for all honey bees differ by caste. Lets look at each of these. Development Complete Metamorphosis Egg Larva Pupa Adult Dadant and Sons Beekeeping Math The development times for all honey bees differ by Cast and Gender Egg Larva Pupa Total Queen 3 5.5 7.5 16 Worker 3 6 12 21 Drone 3 6.5 14.5 24 Development M. Frazier All honey bees come from eggs • A queen honey bee can lay over 2000 eggs in a single 24 hour period. • If your math is good, multiply this by 10, 20, 30, and 40 days the general life span of worker bees. • Eggs are deposited into cells. All honey bees develop into larva • Larva in cells look somewhat like little worms. The body is composed of a head plus 13 ring-like divisions or segments. • It grows to fill the cell very quickly. Between the day it emerges from the egg until it reaches the fifth day of development, it will grow six times it’s body weight during each 24 hour period of development. • Healthy larva are white in color. Then a Pupa.. M. Frazier The cells of honey bees differ by caste Queen cells Worker cell Drone cells Beekeeping Math The development times for all honey bees differ by Cast and Gender Caste Hatch Cap Emerge Queen 3½ days 8 days +-1 16 days +-1 Laying 28 days +-5 Worker 3½ days 9 days +-1 20 days +-1 Foraging 42 days +-7 Drone 3½ days 10 days +-1 24 days +-1 Flying to DCA 38 days +-5 Fertilized Eggs Unfertilized Eggs Female Male Worker Queen Fertilized vs. Unfertilized Worker cells vs. Drone Cells Worker M. Frazier Drone Worker vs. Queen All fertilized eggs have the potential to become Queens S. Camazine Eggs and Larva When is a new queen made? Swarming – Normal hive reproduction. Swarming should be avoided. Supersedure – Replace an old or failing Queen Emergency – When something happens to the Queen??? In all cases these fertilized larvae are • Housed in larger cells • Fed large amounts of royal jelly M. Frazier throughout larval life Queen Cells Supercedure cells are queen cells found along the center of a given frame. Swarm cells are found clinging to the bottom of the brood frame and are used to rear a SECOND QUEEN In Swarming The old queen participates in the requeening process D. Sammataro In An Emergency Situation The old queen does Not participate in Re-queeing process M. Frazier NEW Virgin Queen • Seeks out cells and kills developing queens • If others queens have emerged, queens fight to the death • After a few days she makes her mating flight, mating with 7- 14 drones M. Frazier • Returns and after a few days begins to lay eggs What happens if the returning queen doesn’t make it Back? Introduce a NEW Queen Get a new queen or Make a new queen D. Sammataro If not, what happens... S. Camazine A colony of drones M. Frazier Any Questions ???
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