Why do bees make honey?
know that bees have been producing honey as they do
today for at least 150 million years. Bees produce honey
as food stores for the hive during the long months of
winter when flowers aren't blooming and therefore little
or no nectar is available to them. European honey bees,
genus Apis Mellifera, produce such an abundance
of honey, far more than the hive can eat, that humans
can harvest the excess. For this reason, European honey
bees can be found in beekeeper's hives around the world!
Honey bees are social insects, with a
marked division of labor between the various types of
bees in the colony. A colony of honey bees includes a
queen, drones and workers.
queen is the only sexually developed female in the hive.
She is the largest bee in the colony.
A two-day-old larva is selected by the
workers to be reared as the queen. She will emerge from
her cell 11 days later to mate in flight with
approximately 18 drone (male) bees. During this mating,
she receives several million sperm cells, which last her
entire life span of nearly two years.
The queen starts to lay eggs about 10
days after mating. A productive queen can lay 3,000 eggs
in a single day.
are stout male bees that have no stingers. Drones do not
collect food or pollen from flowers. Their sole purpose
is to mate with the queen. If the colony is short on
food, drones are often kicked out of the hive.
the smallest bees in the colony, are sexually
undeveloped females. A colony can have 50,000 to 60,000
The life span of a worker bee varies
according to the time of year. Her life expectancy is
approximately 28 to 35 days. Workers that are reared in
September and October, however, can live through the
Workers feed the queen and larvae,
guard the hive entrance and help to keep the hive cool
by fanning their wings. Worker bees also collect nectar
to make honey. In addition, honey bees produce wax
comb. The comb is composed of hexagonal cells which have
walls that are only 2/1000 inch thick, but support 25
times their own weight.
Honey bees' wings stroke 11,400 times
per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.
National Honey Board website, 5/8/2003