Bee: queen, types and curiosities about this insect

Owner of an impeccable organization inside her hives, the bee is considered older than the human race , considering that it appeared more than 100 million years ago on the Planet. This insect belongs to the order Hymenoptera and the family of Apoidea, sharing this group with wasps, for example.

Even, following the history of evolution, the bee appeared from the development of some species of wasps that stopped eating insects and mites and adopted a diet based on pollen and nectar.

Over time, this insect has become an essential part of human life because, according to the United Nations, approximately 70% of the food consumed by people has the direct or indirect influence of this animal.

Bees have been known for more than 40,000 years and those most suitable for pollination, honey production, royal jelly, propolis wax, pollen and apitoxin, are the bees that belong to the genus Apis. 

Types of bees

Bee on flower

One of the most common types of bees is the European bee (Photo: depositphotos)

Altogether there are 20 thousand species of bees in the world, some of which are better known than others. The most famous is the  Apis mellifera,  popularly called the European bee.

Another type of bee is the African , which is considered the most dangerous in the world. To give you an idea, this insect has already claimed more than a thousand fatalities in just five decades. This is because these last bees can chase a target for up to 1 km.

Curiosities about bees

Bee sting on skin

When they sting, the bees leave their sting on the skin, and end up dying (Photo: depositphotos)

  • When the worker bites a person, she loses the stinger. It gets stuck to the victim’s skin and pulls many of the insect’s organs with it. In this way, the bee ends up dying shortly afterwards;
  • Bees can fly at 25 km / hour, as their wings flap 180 times per second;
  • These insects have an odor gland in the abdomen that serves to identify them among other hives;
  • There may be 80,000 individuals in a hive;
  • The bee can fly up to 6 km beyond its hive, but will always know how to return;
  • To produce 1 kg of wax, these insects need to ingest 7.5 kg of honey.

Life and organization in the colony

Bee Swarm

In a hive there can be up to 80 thousand bees (Photo: depositphotos)

The bee’s social organization model is fascinating. Within the colony, each has its specific function, which is always performed for the benefit of the community.

The bee is a disciplined, hard-working insect that lives in an extraordinary organization system: in each hive there are 40,000 to 80,000 bees, depending on the queen’s activity. And each colony consists of a single queen, dozens of drones and thousands of workers.

Within the hive there are three classes:  the queen, the drones and the workers.

The queen bee

There is only one queen within each colony and she is the only female responsible for reproduction , laying up to three thousand eggs a day. Its life span is around five years.

The queen bee in a hive is easily identified, as it is noticeably longer than workers and longer than drones. Her movements are slow, always surrounded by a court of workers who serve her, feeding her with royal jelly.

It is born from a fertilized egg and a special shaped cell called a cell. This egg is treated with royal jelly by the workers to develop the reproductive system of the future queen, which takes 16 days to be born.

Nine days after her birth, she is chased and fertilized by drones. This moment is called the nuptial flight . This flight is several kilometers long and only the strongest and fastest drones can fertilize it. During the nuptial flight, the queen can copulate with up to 20 drones.

A queen bee lays two types of eggs: fertilized (worker) and unfertilized (drone). When their fertility falls, which occurs after 3 or 4 years, worker bees provide for their replacement, repeating the process.

Curiosity : In times when there is enough food, a productive queen lays 2 to 3 thousand eggs a day, equivalent to twice her weight.

Importance : The queen bee is very important to the colony, as it is the only female bee fertilized. Lay all the eggs necessary for the continuity of the family, maintaining the organization and union of the swarm.

Bee producing honey

Production of honeycombs (Photo: depositphotos)

The drones

Bumblebees are male bees, being wider and stronger than any other bee. They are born from the unfertilized egg, in the larger cells called zanganeiras. They have no sting, they do not collect pollen or nectar, they do not produce wax, they do not have odorous glands.

It is endowed by the nature of suitable organs to effectively fulfill its only function, which is to fertilize the queen (virgin princess), coming to die after the act. Its amount per swarm is a few hundred, depending on the amount of food available and whether it is mating season or not.

They usually gather in places close to the hives, waiting for the princess. When they discover it, they all go in pursuit to copulate in full flight, which always happens above 11 meters in height. Those who do not perform their duties well are expelled from the hive, dying shortly after hunger and cold.

The workers

Hive

Worker bees are responsible for the production of honey (Photo: depositphotos)

The workers are the ones who maintain the hive , as they are responsible for the search for nectar and pollen and for transforming these materials into honey (a type of sugar with high energy value). The workers spread the nectar over the honeycombs so that the water can evaporate, thus assuming a thicker consistency, the honey. When honey is formed from the nectar of several different flowers, we have wild honey.

Although the workers are much smaller, they can support loads of 300 times more than their weight. In a single day, they can visit 50 to 1,000 flowers and end up living less, on average, a month and a half.

Although they constitute the largest number of population, between 50 and 80 thousand per swarm, they are the smallest in the family. Its body structure comprises: pollen basket, honey vesicle, cerigenic glands, odorous glands, poison glands, sting etc.

Distribution of services

They are responsible for all the work of the hive, obeying a rigid distribution of services according to successive transformations that take place in your organism during its lifetime. Thus, until the 21st day they stay inside the hive.

– From the 1st to the 3rd day : they clean the box and renovate the combs where they were born, receiving the name of cleaning ladies .

– From the 4th to the 14th day : they prepare food for the larvae. At this stage of life they have two pairs of glands that produce royal jelly . This jelly, food for larvae, is called bee bread.

– From the 14th to the 18th day : they are called carpenters . During this period they are concerned with building combs based on wax, produced by cerigenic glands, located in the abdomen. Each bee has four pairs of these glands. Carpenter bees need a lot of honey to produce wax: 1 kg of wax requires up to 7 kg of honey.

– From the 18th to the 20th : the workers are called guardians . In this phase they defend the family against enemies, prevent other bees from entering the hive to steal honey and attack even the unprepared beekeeper.

– From the 21st day until you die: they are called campeiras . On the first day of campeira they fly around the hive to get to know the place. From then on, they work collecting nectar and pollen from flowers.

The nectar brought by the peasants inside the crop or false stomach, is delivered to bees aged 4 to 14 days. These bees turn the nectar into honey, with ferments produced in the stomach. When the honey is ripe, the bees close the alveoli with wax caps called opercules.

The pollen brought by campeiras in the corbicles, serves as food for adult bees and young. They also bring water and resin to close cracks in the box. This resin mixed with the saliva of the bees results in the so-called propolis .

Characteristics of bee honey

Bee's honey

Honey is good for health as it has a high energetic value (Photo: depositphotos)

Honey consists essentially of various sugars, predominantly D-fructose and D-glucose, as well as other components and substances such as organic acids, enzymes, and solid particles collected by bees. The appearance of honey ranges from almost colorless to dark brown.

It can be fluid, viscous, or even solid. Its flavor and aroma vary according to the origin of the plant. Honey varieties can be identified by their color, taste, flavor and way of crystallization. In exceptional circumstances, the honey sediment is analyzed for the content of pollen grains.

Importance

Honey is a very rich food with a high energy value, consumed worldwide and of extreme importance for the health of the human organism when pure, as it has several properties: antimicrobial, curative, soothing, tissue regenerative, stimulating, among others.

Because it consists of simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose, its passage from the digestive tube into the bloodstream and from there into the cells where it is metabolized, does not require many transformations by juices, enzymes, etc., and its entry into cell metabolism is relatively fast.

The action of honey on the human organism is due not only to its high energetic action , but mainly to enzymes, vitamins and the presence of important chemical elements for the proper functioning of the organism, the trace elements. Honey has most of the essential mineral elements for us, especially selenium, manganese, zinc, chromium and aluminum.

It is considered the easiest bee product to be explored, it is also the best known and the one with the greatest commercialization possibilities. In addition to being a food, it is also used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, for its well-known therapeutic actions.

Beekeeping

Beekeeper watching hive

The beekeeper is responsible for raising bees in a rational way (Photo: depositphotos)

Because of the health benefits of honey, man was encouraged to raise bees in a rational manner, which today is known as beekeeping. The work of the bee is not only important for obtaining honey, through pollination there is the perpetuation of millions of plant species. Thus, with beekeeping, agriculture became the main beneficiary.

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