Honey Bee Facts

baby bobby bee

Honey bee Colony

  • Honey bees in a hive is called a Colony and will consist of a Queen and a number of drones (males) and workers (females).
  • During the laying season there will be between 20,000 to 80,000 bees in the colony.

Queen honey bee

  • The Queen honey bee is the largest bee in the hive and is female.
  • She can be recognised quite easily as her wings are only half as long as her body.
  • The worker bees surrounding the Queen always facing her in a circle around her.
  • Queen bee with workersIn a managed hive the queen will be identified with a coloured spot on her thorax.  The colour defines the year that she emerged.
  • She does have a sting which detracts into her body and is used solely to defend herself with from being attacked by other queens.
  • She mates only once with numerous Drones (males) in one go.
  • She can lay up to 2000 eggs a day.
  • She also has control of what sex comes from the egg.  If she fertilizes the egg it is female else, it will be a male.
  • She lives for between 5 and 7 years.

baby bobby bee

Drone bee

  • Drones are male bees and there aim in life is to mate with a queen and gorge on honey in the hive.
  • Around September most of the drones will be kicked out of the hive so that the hive’s honey stock is preserved for the queen and workers during the winter months.
  • A Drone is larger than a worker bee and slightly smaller than a queen.
  • A Drone has slightly larger eyes than a worker bee.

Worker bee

  • The smallest bee in the hive and is female.
  • Depending on the time of season, there will be between 20,000 to 80, 000 in the hive.
  • They look after the eggs that the queen lays.
  • They can also influence the sex of the emerging bee as they make larger cells for drones than for workers.
  • They are able to make new queens by feeding the egg with royal jelly.
  • They keep the hive clean, act as sentries at the hive entrance and forage for nectar and pollen.
  • They are famous for their ‘waggle dance’ that is a movement which they do to tells their mates where to find nectar and pollen.
  • Their life span is roughly 6 months if they are a winter bee and only 6 weeks if they are a spring/summer bee.  Spring/Summer bees literally work themselves to death collect food to enable the colony to survive in the winter.

baby bobby bee

A Nucleus

  • Consists of around 15,000 bees, a Queen on 5 frames containing a mixture of healthy brood and food stocks.

Hive

  • An enclosed structure in which honey bees live and raise their young.
  • To enable the brood to develop normally bees will keep the brood nest between 32 – 35 degrees centigrade.

Bee Species

  • There are approximately 20,000 species of bees in the world of which the honey bee is just one.

baby bobby bee

Honeybee Waggle Dance

When a worker bee returns to the hive with either nectar or pollen it passes on the location of where it has been by doing a figure of eight dance which has been named the waggle dance.   The direction the bee moves in relation to the hive is the direction and the duration of the dance indicates the distance from the hive where the food can be found.  If the bee moves vertically within the hive it indicates the direction is direct towards the sun.

14 thoughts on “Honey Bee Facts

  1. Super interesting! I kinda feel sad for the spring/summer bee’s – 6 weeks just isn’t enough time to enjoy this world! Also, excuse my naivete but what exactly is “Royal Jelly?”

    1. Hi Courtney, thanks for your feedback as it is much appreciated. If you look it up you will find that Royal Jelly is a health supplement and also an ingredient in most of the well know and prestigious cosmetics. It makes an ordinary bee into a Queen, so I suppose, that is what women hope too lol.

      Geoff

  2. Wow I didn’t know there were other females in the hive other than the Queen. Thanks for those fascinating facts. I love honey.

    1. Thanks for the feedback on the content, much appreciated.

      Geoff

  3. Don

    Geoff, honey bees are beautiful in nature. I remember as a youth growing up, we had a large side yard. My brothers and I, along with our friends, would play football in it. Our neighbor had honey bees and collect the honey from them. What’s interesting is that they were right next to us while we were playing and not once did we get stung. They never bothered us, as we never bothered them. They went about their business and we went about playing – co-existing with each other. Our neighbor would give us some of the honey WITH the cone! Those were the days! This is a great article. Brought back fond memories.

    1. Hi Don, thanks for the comments. I have a hive right next to the path that goes to my shed and I am always up and down past it and don’t get bothered at all. My weakness is that I have to stop and have a look to see what they are doing. It is fascinating to watch them coming in loaded down with pollen or nectar and getting greeted at the entrance by the workers on sentry duty before being allowed to enter.

      Thanks,
      Geoff

  4. Geoff, this information on the honeybees that make up a hive is so very interesting! My niece and her family have been beekeepers for a few years. Her kids love helping with this project! And the honey is delicious. You have certainly provided information that anyone interested in beekeeping could use to get started. Thanks!

    1. Hi Ann, thanks for the feedback and much appreciated. I hope the kids are enjoying it as they are our next generation beekeepers.

      Geoff

  5. Kristha

    Love the way you offer all the details about the honeybees! Really nice video, short and informative, it let me understand much better the efficient way they developed to communicate between each other. Thanks for sharing this information!!

    1. Hi Kristha, thanks for the great feedback about the video as it is the best way to explain this topic.

      Geoff

  6. Very interesting facts. I knew that there was 1 queen bee per colony, but the rest was very informative. I now know how to tell a queen bee ,she is larger and her wings are only half the length of her body. I guess it would be best to be a drone -have fun and gorge yourself on honey !!

    1. Hi Bert, thanks for the comment, much appreciated. We are coming up to the time of year when Drones are surplus to requirement in the hive and because they are typical males, they eat too much and are lazy, the workers are busy pushing them out of the hive where they end up dying so you definitely don’t want to be a drone lol. During the winter the workers and queen depend on the food stores that have been gathered during the summer so they don’t really want hungry male bees gobbling it all up and neither do they want hungry beekeepers taking it all else, you end up with a hive of dead bees come the spring.

      Geoff

  7. Cesar

    It’s interesting because all bees typically look the same, but they all have roles and do different things. These facts are interesting. Laying 2000 eggs a day is insane! I also didn’t know that drones got kicked out. It really is eye-opening seeing a hive.

    1. Hi Cesar, thanks for commenting on my site. I think that I had better include a page showing all different types of bees then you will realise that they are not all the same. The pictures currently on the site are all honeybees so except for their size they do look all the same.

      Geoff

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