Types of Honey Bees

Honey-bees are social insects, which live in large groups, called colonies. Each individual member of the colony has a definite role to play. In a bee- colony, a single queen bee exists and her only duty is laying eggs. The worker bees build hives, look after the young ones, collect food and defend the colony. They are sterile females. Male bees, exist in small number in a colony, whose only duty is to mate with the queen.

There are three castes or types of honey-bees: queen, drones and workers.

(i) Queen: In a beehive there is a single fully developed female bee, which is treated as the queen. A queen bee is larger in size. It has elongated abdomen but shorter wings. Queen does not have any organ required for the collection of nectar and pollen. It has a sting at the end of its abdomen, which is used as the ovipositor i.e., an egg laying organ. A queen remains alive about six to seven years and within this period it lays about one million eggs.

(ii) Drones: Drones are the male members of a bee society. A drone is shorter than the queen in length but its head is larger and abdomen is broader and blunt at the end. It can suck nectar but do not have pollen baskets in the legs and wax glands in the abdomen. They are very idle in nature. Drones live about three to four months. Drones are fertile males, who mate with the queen and die after mating.

(iii) Workers: The workers are sterile females, whose sex organs are not developed. These are the smallest but the most laborious members of the bee- society. Worker bees have some special body parts to perform some specific jobs. At the pointed end of the abdomen there is a sting; it is a weapon to protect the hive from enemies. Worker bee has a pollen brush and a pollen basket on each of its third pair of legs. When it visits flowers, pollen grains get stuck to its body. Every now and then the bee brushes the body with pollen brush and stores pollens in its pollen basket. In a hive, worker bees perform almost all duties. They build the nest, collect nectar and pollens, take care of the queen, look after the larvae, clean the cells and even fight against any enemy, who ever attacks their hive. Over work makes their life shorter. Worker bees live only four to six weeks.

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