There are many different types of bees in the world, but they all have one thing in common: they pollinate plants. Bees play a crucial role by transferring pollen from plant to plant and fertilizing them. Some species of bee even produce honey for humans to eat!
Did you know that bees are not just those little flying bugs? There are several different types of bees, including carpenter bees. These large insects are named after the wood-destroying larvae they have inside their bodies. The female carpenter bee lays her eggs on a tree branch and then seals it with saliva to prevent them from drying out. When an egg hatches, the larvae starts to eat the wood it is in.
After a while, the larvae burrows into the wood and pupates. When it is time to become an adult, the carpenter bee chews its way out of the wood and flies to start a new life.
European Honey Bee
A European honey bee colony is made up of one queen and around 10,000 workers. Every year, the queen lays thousands of eggs to keep the colony alive. When an egg hatches into a larva, the worker bees feed it with nectar and pollen for two weeks until it reaches maturity. After that, they are fully grown and will work to help the colony grow and survive.
If the colony does not have enough workers, the queen will lay more eggs. If it has too many, some of them will be kicked out so that they can start their own colony elsewhere. The worker bees make honey combs called cells in which to raise the larvae that become juveniles and then adult workers.
Life isn't always easy for a bumble bee. Bumble bees have relatively low life expectancy compared to other species of bee, with most living only about 6 weeks in summer or 24 days in winter. During this time, they need to find food and produce offspring so that the colony will continue.
And that's not all: bumble bees do not build hives like other species of bee. Instead, they make nests underground or in abandoned rodent burrows. The queen lays her eggs on wax plates called "brood combs" which the workers use to feed the larvae. When it is time for them to leave the nest, they seal off the brood comb and start a new one.
These bees are found only in Brazil and pollinate orchids. The female bee carries pollen (which is sticky) on its back legs then flies to another flower to deposit it. These bees eat the pollen as a food source. They have been called "Orchid Bees" because they are specialized for pollinating orchid flowers.
Being specialists these bees can't survive in any other environment, and thus are considered endangered due to their habitat loss in the rain forests of Brazil. Also a parasite of the female bee causes it to lose its eyesight and become sterile. Some research has been done on this species by Dr. Monica Gagliano of the University of British Columbia in Canada.
Leafcutter bees are solitary in nature. They nest in the ground, but they don't make a hole like the other bees do. Instead, they scrape an irregular pocket into the soil and line it with plant material (leaves). The female bee will fill the cavity with eggs. When those eggs hatch, there is a "brood" of baby bees to take care of. The larvae feed on pollen and nectar brought back by their mother.
The female bee will continue this process until she dies (this could be one, two or more years). When the offspring are mature enough they will leave the nest through a hole that mommy has made in the ground above.
The neat thing about these bees is that they bring pollen back to the nest and lay it in a separate compartment from where the babies are. When the baby bees emerge you can get some very interesting looking bee nests as seen below:
Blue Orchard Bees
These bees are found throughout North America. They breed only in apple orchards, so they are also called "orchard bees". The bee begins nesting in an apple blossom.
When the male bee emerges from his cocoon he mates with a female who has just emerged and then they both begin collecting pollen (from that same blossom). After the nest is full of eggs, nectar, pollen and larvae. The female will seal up the nest until the offspring are mature enough to emerge.
Orchard bees are a great addition to an organic apple orchard because they don't have any interest in the actual apples and will not cause damage. They do however pollinate the blossoms, which then produce little green fruits (apples).
Plus these bees are active early in the spring when there is not much else going on in nature yet. They are a great way to attract wildlife and people to the orchard in hopes of seeing them (especially kids).
These bees have been called "mining bees" because they dig burrows in the ground where they raise their young. They use these nests to overwinter and to hibernate during hot dry periods of the year.
These bees look a lot like bumble bees, but they don't have the fuzzy body and all black legs. Instead of fuzz they have short hairs, which give them a sleek look. These bees are nocturnal (active at night) so you won't see them flying around during the day when you are out in your yard (and that's OK).
They will emerge at dusk and hunt for food (nectar). They will also go after the water in your irrigation system. These bees have been seen going after the water in swimming pools and they can get into fountains and drink the water that way!
The mining bee nests are a lot like honey bee nests with one exception - the cocoon of the mining bee is placed on the bottom of the cavity and not on top like a honey bee nest.
The advantage to having these bees around your home is that they will pollinate your night-blooming flowers (like jasmine) and then leave before it gets light out in the morning. This way you don't need to worry about having a bee get stuck in your hair or land on your breakfast (Yikes)!
The disadvantage to having mining bees around is that they dig their nests in the ground. This can be a pain if you have a green lawn and don't want these holes popping up everywhere. If you don't like this idea then make sure the holes stay filled up with dirt or pieces of concrete.
Orchard Mason Bees
These are native bees similar to blue orchard bees. They are easily distinguished from bumblebees in that they do not have pollen baskets on their hind legs. In the springtime, orchard mason bees will create nests out of clay and burrow into hard packed dirt to lay eggs. Once winter comes around, they will die unless a beekeeper saves them by moving them indoors where they will not freeze.
There are many different species of orchard mason bees, but they all have the same general habitat requirements. Orchard mason bees will only live in areas with a lot of sun and dry ground near trees (typically apple and cherry trees).
Honey bees are one of two types of true social insects. In the case of honey bees, each individual female bee is born to lay eggs within the colony, but only one in ten thousand of these workers ("sisters") develops into a fertile queen bee.
The rest are sterile, and some species lack workers entirely and rely on hordes of fertile males (drones) for reproduction. Most worker bees are infertile females that never mate; they are typically unable to fly and have large eyes used for detecting invasion by other insects.
A female worker bee collects pollen grains ad spaces it out on the comb she is building. Pollen provides protein, minerals and vitamins for larva inside the hive. The workers feed the larvae a mixture of pollen and honey called "bee bread." The queen (only one exists in a hive) stays in the middle of the hive, laying eggs. The worker bees build the comb around her and feed her royal jelly to help develop her ovaries.
The drones are fertile male bees who do little for the hive except mate with new queens during swarming season. They have no stinger and their sole purpose is to mate with a new queen.
Bumblebees are not native to North America; they were imported here for crop pollination. It is very important that the queen bee be able to build her nest in a protected spot. Each bumblebee colony only lives for one season but it has enough time to produce up to 1500 new bumblebees!
Bumblebee nests can be hard to find because they are underground. Many people believe that bumblebees live in holes, but they actually nest in burrows, which are tunnels under the ground made from dirt and their own feces.
To make a bumblebee nest look like a hole, an insect or bird may have dug the nest out first! Bumblebee nests are underground and must be dark. The queen bee can fly up to a mile away from her nest in search of food. Her wingspan is around ¼ of an inch (6 mm).
Bumblebees have the ability to sting multiple times in defense, while honey bees die after stinging. Bumblebee colonies die out each year, where honey bees live through the winter. Bumblebees are not social like honey bees; one colony can only produce thousands of new bumblebees every season, while a honey bee colony may have 30 thousand new members during its lifetime.
These bees are found in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the southern part of the United States. You can tell if a bee is a stingless bee by the pattern on its abdomen. Stingless bees have black and yellow/orange stripes while honey bees (also in the Apidae family) have black and white stripes.
Stingless bees are very similar to bumblebees; they live in large colonies, gather nectar from flowers, build nests underground, and have a Queen that lays eggs as well as worker bees who never mate.
Blueberry bees are not native to North America. They were brought in from Chile and Argentina. This species of bee is an important fruit pollinator for many varieties of blueberries, peaches, beans, tomatoes, eggplants, squash and apples.
To make a nest under the ground they will use abandoned rodent burrows or dig new ones. They have all of the characteristics of a bumblebee, but they are slightly smaller.
Blueberry bees do not make their own wax for building hives; instead they gather it from dead insects and recycle what was already made by other animals to build with! Honey bees will help them out sometimes too.
What is a beehive?
A beehive is where the worker bees make honey and raise their young. Bees are social insects; they live in large communities called hives or colonies. These groups can include tens of thousands of individual bees! The main parts of any hive are a queen, female workers (daughters), drones (males), and larvae (young). The queen lays eggs continuously, but most eggs hatch into drones.
How long do bees live?
A honey bee will usually live for about six weeks. Worker bees have the shortest life span of one month; drones will die after mating with a new queen during swarming season; and a stingless bee queen can live for up to ten years. A bumblebee queen can lay over a thousand eggs in her lifetime!
What are bees good for?
Bees pollinate plants and flowers. Without pollination, most of the food that we eat would not exist! Bees can travel up to six miles away from their hive in search of nectar and pollen to bring back to their colony. One single bee will only gather about 1/12th teaspoon (1.5 g) for the whole colony.
Why do bees buzz?
Bees and wasps are in the order Hymenoptera, which means "membrane wings." Many insects have thin membranous wings that create a buzzing sound as they move them back and forth.
Bees don't make honey; how is it created?
Honey is actually bee vomit! When bees get nectar from flowers, they eat it and deposit some of the nectar into a second stomach. From there, enzymes in their stomach break down the nectar further and send it to two different areas in their body. One area absorbs water, while another known as the crop secretes a high-sugar solution that is used as food. The nectar that remained undigested in the crop creates honey!
Why do bees die after stinging?
When a bee stings, it dies because it leaves its sting and venom sac attached to whatever it was stinging. That means once the bee dies, they both have to be removed from the victim.
Why do bees collect pollen in their hair?
Pollen is collected on bee's legs as they brush against flowers and plants while gathering nectar. That way once a worker bee returns to the hive, she can transfer that pollen into cells for her Queen to lay her eggs on! The closest comparison humans would have is a hairbrush; they use it to brush their hair, then the rest of the hair gets stuck in it!
If all bees disappear, what will happen?
Bees are necessary to pollinate many plants that we eat. Without them we would lose apples, oranges, peaches, pumpkins and cherries just to name a few!
Bees are very important to the ecosystem; they pollinate plants and flowers. If all bees disappeared, many of our food sources would disappear as well. Having a healthy bee population is vital to humanity because without them, we will be in big trouble!