Welcome to this informative article about the study of honey bees, a subject commonly included in various educational curricula worldwide.
In this note, we will focus on the CDC syllabus of Nepal, making it a valuable resource for students and educators in the country. However, the knowledge shared here is applicable and useful for everyone interested in learning about these incredible insects.
Whether you’re a student, a beekeeper, an environmental enthusiast, or simply curious about honeybees, this article will provide you with valuable insights into their fascinating world and their crucial role in our ecosystem.
Honey bees are social insects. They are also known as colonial insects. They live together in large and well-organized groups. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. They are highly specialized insects. They work in coordination for completing a task. They feed on the nectars of the flowers and also produce honey by collecting the nectars of the flowers.
There are various species of honey bees around the world. Some of them are honey-producing bees whereas some of them are those that do not produce honey.
Classification of Honey Bee
External Structure of Honey Bee
The body of a honey bee is divided into the head, thorax, and abdomen. The head consists of a pair of antennae, a pair of compound eyes, and mouth parts. The mouth part of bees is the chewing and sucking type. Their tongue or proboscis helps in sucking the nectars from deep within the flowers. Their antennae contain fine hair-like structures that help in the detection of sound, smell, and taste. Thorax consists of three pairs of jointed legs and two pairs of wings. The abdomen is long, and broad, and consists of nine segments.
Castes of Honey Bee
As honey bees live in a colony, there are three castes(categories) of honey bees found in the colony. They are as follows.
i. Queen (Fertile Female)
ii. Drone (Fertile Male)
iii. Worker (Sterile Female)
The colony is classified as a strong or weak colony on the basis of the worker bees present in the colony. The three different castes of bees have their own unique morphological forms. Hence, honey bees are also said to be polymorphic species.
A queen is a diploid as well as a fertile female bee. There is only one bee in a colony of bees. Its body is divided into the head, thorax, and abdomen. It has a long narrow and narrow abdomen with a pointed end. It has a smaller head and proboscis. The wings of the queen do not cover their abdomen. The queen bee cannot produce honey and wax. Queen has a sting at the tip of the abdomen which serves as the organ of defense for themself. One can easily recognize the queen in the colony by observing the abdomen. The abdomen of the queen is usually longer and bigger than other bees.
What is the function of Queen Bee?
Queen Bee performs the sole function of reproduction by laying eggs in the colony from which drone bees, worker bees, and a new queen emerge in the colony. Queen bee also regulates the unity of the colony and also assists the worker and drone bees in recognizing the hive by secreting a specific chemical (pheromone) that has a typical odor.
Queen Bee mates with drone bees.
ii. Drone Bee
Drones are haploid and fertile males. A few hundred drones are found in a colony. They are smaller than the queen bee and larger than the worker bees. They can be identified by their larger eyes and hairy body. They develop from unfertilized eggs in the colony. The drone bee dies immediately after mating with the queen bee. Drone bees are stingless. They are also lazy and voracious feeders.
Voracious Feeders – which consumes large quantity of foodmeanings
What are the functions of Drone Bees?
The function of drone bees is listed below.
- The main function of the drone bee is to fertilize the female bee.
- They also help to maintain the temperature inside the hive.
iii. Worker Bees
Workers are diploid and sterile females. They do not take part in mating. The bees other than the queen and drones in the colony are the worker bees. They are shorter and more slender than queens and drones in size. Their legs are provided with a pollen basket to collect the pollen. They are also provided with a sting at the tip of their abdomen. When they inject their sting into the other animals’ bodies their sting gets torn off and hence, they die.
What are the functions of worker bees?
The followings are some of the functions of the worker bees in the colony.
- The main function of the worker bees is to collect nectar, pollen, and water for the colony.
- They also provide protection to their colony.
- They maintain their hive and guard the main entrance of the hive.
- They use their wings for ventilation.
- They construct the comb and manufacture the wax, which can be used for medicinal and candle manufacturing purposes.
- They help the young ones by feeding them.
Worker Bees perform the most functions in the colony.
Labor- Divison of Worker Bees
On the basis of the age of the worker bee, labor division is done. Here is the tabular labor division on the basis of the age of the worker bee.
|1 to 3 days||The infant bees help in cleaning the comb and provides the warmth to the hive.|
|4 to 6 days||They feed older larvae and themselves with honey and pollen.|
|7 to 11 days||They produce royal jelly and feed younger larvae and themselves with honey and pollen.|
|12 to 17 days||Secrete wax, make a new comb, and seal the cells where the larva grows into a pupa.|
|18 to 20 days||Wax gland degenerates, development of poison gland sting take place, guard comb from enemies.|
|21 days||Fly out of the comb to collect the nectar, pollen and water for other bees.|
Life Cycle of Honey Bee
The life cycle of a honey bee completes in four different stages. They are egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Read our complete notes on the life cycle of honey bees.
Importance of Honey Bee
Honey bees, the tiny creatures with a mighty impact, play a pivotal role in our ecosystem and economy. As the sweetest harvest producers, they gift us with the golden nectar, honey. Beyond this, they are vital pollinators, boosting agricultural output and enhancing biodiversity. Moreover, honey bees’ medical and industrial values, along with their recognition as a superfood, there is lot of importance of honey bees.
a. Sweetest Harvest Producers: Honey bees diligently collect nectar from flowers and transform it into honey, a delicious and nutritious natural sweetener cherished worldwide.
b. Major Pollinators: These industrious insects pollinate a vast array of crops, contributing to the production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, making them essential for food security and biodiversity preservation.
c. Economy Boosters: The global economic value of honey bee pollination services is in the billions, benefiting agriculture and ensuring the success of numerous industries.
d. Medical Value: Honey boasts medicinal properties, serving as a natural remedy for coughs, wounds, and allergies due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
e. Industrial Value: Besides honey production, honey bees contribute to beeswax and propolis production, both used in various industries, such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food.
f. Superfood: Honey and bee products, like royal jelly and bee pollen, are considered superfoods due to their rich nutritional content and potential health benefits.
As they traverse ecosystems to pollinate diverse plants, they ensure genetic variation and ecosystem stability. Protecting honey bees is not only crucial for agriculture and economies but also essential for maintaining the delicate balance of our planet’s biodiversity.
Apiology and Apiculture
Apiology is the scientific study of bees, especially honey bees, covering their behavior, biology, and ecological impact as pollinators. Apiculture is practical beekeeping, involving rearing and managing honey bee colonies to harvest products like honey, beeswax, and propolis. Additionally, apiculture aids in pollination services and supports agriculture and biodiversity.
In conclusion, honeybees exemplify the beauty of nature’s intricate social structures. As colonial, well-organized insects, they exhibit remarkable specialization and widespread distribution. The three distinct castes – queen, drone, and worker bees – each fulfill essential roles within their community. From the queen’s reproductive responsibilities to the worker bees’ tireless foraging and hive maintenance, their cooperation ensures the colony’s survival and success. Moreover, honey bees’ significance transcends mere honey production, as their pivotal role in pollination directly impacts agriculture, biodiversity, and global economies. Understanding and preserving these remarkable creatures through the study of apiology and careful apiculture is paramount for maintaining ecological balance and securing the future of our planet. Find more information about honey bees here.
Science and Technology Notes and Exercises
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