Bee Basics

apis mellifera

apis mellifera

The western honey bee, apis mellifera, is one of the most common types of honey bee and often used for beekeeping in the United States.  Like all honey bees, the western is eusocial, which means that it creates colonies with a single fertile female. Individual colonies can number in tens of thousands and are organized by very complex communication between individuals. Dance and odor (pheromones) are used to communicate everything.

Social Classes of the Hive

The Queen

For every colony there is only one queen and her sole responsibility is to fertilize eggs into either female workers or male drones.

The queen can live up to 5 years and can  

The Worker

Most of the bees you see are females.  They run everything in from raising young, cleaning, foraging and protecting the hive. 

In the summer they often live for 6 weeks but in the winter they can live up to 1 year  

The Drone

Drone bees are always male and are kept around only for reproductive purposes. They do aid in the thermoregulation of the hive   They do not have stingers, thus they do not sting. 


Drones live for up to 

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