SPRINGSVALLEY HONEY SINCE 2015

Honeybee, (tribe Apini), any of a group of insects in the family Apidae (order Hymenoptera) that in a broad sense includes all bees that make honey. In a stricter sense, honeybee applies to any one of seven members of the genus Apis—and usually only the single speciesApis mellifera, the domestic honeybee. This species is also called the European honeybee or the western honeybee.

All honeybees are social insects and live together in nests or hives. The honeybee is remarkable for the dancing movements it performs in the hive to communicate information to its fellow bees about the location, distance, size, and quality of a particular food source in the surrounding area.

Honeybee sexes and castes

There are two honeybee sexes, male and female, and two female castes. The two female castes are known as workers, which are females that do not attain sexual maturity, and queens, females that are larger than the workers. The males, or drones, are larger than the workers and are present only in early summer. The workers and queens have stingers, whereas the drones are stingless.

Queen honeybees store sperm in a structure known as the spermatheca, which allows them to control the fertilization of their eggs. Thus queens can lay eggs that are either unfertilized or fertilized. Unfertilized eggs develop into drones, whereas fertilized eggs develop into females, which may be either workers or virgin queens. Eggs destined to become queens are deposited in queen cells, which are vertical cells in the honeycomb that are larger than normal. After hatching, the virgin queens are fed royal jelly, a substance produced by the salivary glands of the workers. When not fed a diet consisting solely of royal jelly, virgin queens will develop into workers. During the swarming season, in the presence of a weak queen or in the absence of a queen, workers may lay unfertilized eggs, which give rise to drones.

Life cycle

For all three forms of honeybees, eggs hatch in three days and then develop into larvae that are known as grubs. All grubs are fed royal jelly at first, but only the future queens are continued on the diet. When fully grown, the grubs transform into pupae. Queens emerge in 16 days, workers in about 21 days (on average), and drones in 24 days. After emerging, the queens fight among themselves until only one remains in the hive. The old queen and the majority of her workers typically have left the hive by the time the new queens emerge. The swarm, which typically reproduces during swarming, may form two or more new colonies at different nesting sites.

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