With nearly 20,000 species of bees around the world, they play a crucial role in pollinating plants. Intelligent insects, bees are highly social with many complex behaviors, from communication to the division of labor around their colony.
Common bee species include:
- Bumblebees: Bumblebees have a plump and densely furry appearance, as their abdomens are covered in soft hair.
- Honeybees: Honeybees are oval-shaped with golden-yellow and brown bands. Color can vary depending on the species, but almost all honeybees have varying dark-to-light striations.
Bee Eating Habits
Bumblebees and Honeybees require a diet consisting of nectar, pollen, and water in order to produce a variety of honey types necessary for the survival of their colonies.
- Nectar: This is the sweet water that collects on flowering plants and serves as a vital source of carbohydrates for bees. Nectar is transported to the hive where it’s used extensively for the production of honey. Nectar is the main dietary source of worker bees between the tenth and fourteenth day of their adult life.
- Pollen: This is a powder consisting of lipids, vitamins, and minerals that serves as a vital source of protein for bees. Pollen is most crucial for the first 5 or 6 days of an adult bee’s life.
- Water: This should be constantly available to bees in order for them to maintain normal behavior, brood rearing, composition, and nutritional levels.
In addition, honeybees also require sugar in various forms including:
- Honey: This is a bi-product of the nectar and pollen that bees collect from flowering plants. Honey makes up an important part of a bee’s diet and is consumed daily. Honey is easily digestible for bees and contains antibacterial properties that keep bees healthy.
- Sugar Syrup: Sugar syrup is a combination of sugar and water. Beekeepers will wait for the mixture to harden and then place it over the cluster and the brood nest so the bees can consume it, but should only do so when the hive is depleted of honey reserves.
- Dry Sugar: Beekeepers will feed bees dry sugar in emergency situations only, such as in the wintertime when honey production is stilted.
Bees organize themselves in colonies where tasks are accomplished by a division of labor. Bumblebees generally form underground nests in rodent burrows, mulch, or under logs and debris and consist of about 50 to 400 bees. Honeybee colonies consist of 20,000 to 80,000 bees which are most often found in hollow trees and rock crevices.
Bees are notorious for their powerful stings, which can cause severe allergic reactions in certain individuals, sometimes even resulting in death. However, the sting of the bumblebee differs from that of a honeybee in that a bumblebee can sting multiple times, as their skin is not barbed like that of a honeybee. Honeybees, on the other hand, have barbed stingers and can only sting once, as the stinger and poison stack will remain in the skin of the sting victim.
Bees can swarm and will attack when provoked, as worker bees attempt to protect their queen.
If you notice colonies, hives, or nests near your home, contact pest control services. Some bees are protected species, so always check with an expert instead of taking any action yourself.