About the Bees: The Queen, Workers and Drones
Bees are described as flying insects that are tightly associated to ants and wasps. These are
popular for their function in pollination, as well as producing beeswax and honey. Bees belong to the super family
Apoidea and are a monophyletic, currently categorized by the taxon name Anthophila. You may be surprised to know
that these animals have specific functions that they have to carry out for the rest of their lives.
There are about 20,000 known species of bees in 9 named families. These insects are present in every continent
on earth, expect for Antarctica. They are available anyplace where there are insect-pollinated flowering plants.
Bees are adapted to feed on pollen and nector. Pollen is fed on to acquire other nutrients and protein, while
nectar is fed on to get added energy. Pollen is used to feed larvae. Bees can be prey to various animals such as
the bee-eater bird, mockingbirds, bee wolves and dragonflies.
Bees have a long complex tongue called a proboscis which allows the insects to get nectar from flowers. Almost
all the bees have antennae that consist of 13 segments in males and 12 in females, which is usual for the super
family. All bees have 2 pairs of wings, the front pair is larger than the hind. None of them are wingless, although
there are some species that have short wings that limits flying.
The Trigona minima is the smallest known bee. It is stingless, with workers measuring only about 2.1mm long. The
biggest known bee is the Megachile Pluto. It is a leafcutter bee. The females of the Megachile Pluto can reach
lengths of up to 39mm. Sweat bees belong to the family Halictidae, which are the most common bee type in the
Northern Hemisphere. These are very small and are usually thought of as flies or wasps. The European honey bee is
the most popular bee species and produces honey, similar to other bee types. The management of bees among human
beings is called apiculture or beekeeping.
The Queen Bee
The queen bee is described as the adult mated female that lives inside the hive or honey bee colony. She is the
mother of most of the bees in the hive. The queen develops from larvae chosen by worker bees and are specifically
fed to become sexually mature. There is only 1 adult mated queen bee present in a hive. Other dominant reproductive
females in a eusocial bee colony may also be referred to as queen bees.
The queen bee abdomen is significantly longer compared to other worker bees. However, beekeepers can still have
some difficulty locating the queen in a hive of 60,000 to 80,000 bees. Some queens are marked with paint on the
thorax for quick identification. Beekeepers mate and raise queen bees in different ways. Some of the known
approaches are the mating yard, grafting, the Jenter kit and artificial insemination.
A worker bee is described as a female eusocial bee that does not have the complete reproductive capacity of the
colony's queen bee. Some of the functions of the workers include maintaining uniformity in the hive temperature,
especially in the brood area. Workers gather pollen via the pollen baskets located on their hind legs and carry
these back to feed the growing brood.
Workers strive to keep the hive temperature at about 34.4 degrees C. If the hive gets too hot, workers gather
water and spread it around as well as fan the air using their wings. They can gather together to produce extra heat
if the temperature drops. Worker bees never reproduce because they are infertile. These are still considered
genetically female. A larva can become a queen or a worker, depending on the type of food give after the initial 3
days of larval form.
Drones are described as male honey bees. These develop from eggs that are not fertilized. The main function of
drones is to prepare to fertilize the ready queen. Mating usually occurs near or inside drone areas. Drones do not
usually mate with a virgin queen belonging to the same hive because queens tend to move from one hive to another.
Mating occurs during flight. The drones can manage well because of their big eyes. The drone, after successful
mating, usually dies because the penis and related abdominal tissues are torn from the body during intercourse.