Average lifespan in the wild: Up to 5 years
Size: 0.4 to 0.6 in (5 to 15 mm) (Workers)
Group name: Colony or Swarm
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in nine recognized families, though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.
What types of bees are there?
Bees in the Apidae family include the familiar honey bees and bumblebees, as well as the less well-known stingless and carpenter bees. This family includes some of the most highly socially organised insects on the planet outside the ant and termite species.
What does a bee eat?
Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae.
Why do flowers attract bees?
Bees play an important role in pollinating flowering plants, and are the major type of pollinator in ecosystems that contain flowering plants. Bees either focus on gathering nectar or on gathering pollen depending on demand. Bees gathering nectar may accomplish pollination, but bees that are deliberately gathering pollen are more efficient pollinators.
What are the various jobs of the honeybees?
Workers are the only bees that most people ever see. These bees are females that are not sexually developed. Workers forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, clean, circulate air by beating their wings, and perform many other societal functions.
The queen's job is simple. They lay the eggs that will spawn the hive's next generation of bees. There is usually only a single queen in a hive. If the queen dies, workers will create a new queen by feeding one of the worker females a special diet of a food called "royal jelly." This elixir enables the worker to develop into a fertile queen. Queens also regulate the hive's activities by producing chemicals that guide the behavior of the other bees.
Male bees are called drones. Several hundred drones live in each hive during the spring and summer, but they are expelled for the winter months when the hive goes into a lean survival mode.
How do bees survive?
Bees live on stored honey and pollen all winter, and cluster into a ball to conserve warmth. Larvae are fed from the stores during this season and, by spring, the hive is swarming with a new generation of bees.
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Bee Coloring pages
Print free Bee coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.