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Bee Faqs

Frequently Asked Questions About Honey Bees

Q. What is the scientific name for honey bees?

A. There are four major species of honey bees in the world; Apis florea (Small honey bee), Apis dorsata (Giant honey bee), Apis cerana (Eastern honey bee), and Apis mellifera (Western honey bee). Honey bees seen in North America are Apis mellifera.

Q. How did the honeybee get its name Apis mellifera?

A. Because their hind legs are specialized to collect pollen, these bees are classified into their own superfamily, Apoidea, Mellifera means honey bearing or honey producing. So roughly speaking, Apis mellifera means pollen collecting, honey producing.

Q. Why do bees sting?

A. Worker bees sting as a defensive mechanism to protect their colony. A worker bee can only sting once, then it dies. From personal experience, I have found that worker bees sting only as a last resort. While maintaining bee colonies, I find workers using their mandible or jaws to bite at the hair on my arms. Of course, if I upset them too much, they will sting. Queen bees sting to kill their competition in the colony. When a colony of bees finds itself with no queen, the workers will begin to raise new queens. These young queens emerge about the same time and then fight each other until only one remains. They use their stinger to kill other queens. Since the stinger is a modified ovipostor or egg laying device, Drones, or male honey bees do not have stingers and thus do not sting.

Q. How much does a bee weigh?

A. On average, a bee weighs a tenth of a gram.

Q. How much honey does one bee produce?

A. The average honeybee will make one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its

Q. What is the size of a honey bee?

A. On average, from 12 to 16 millimeters (about ½ to 5/8 inch for workers. Queens and Drones are longer.

Q. What makes the sound of the bee's 'buzz'?

A. The bees' buzz is the sound made by their wings, which beat 11,400 times per minute.

Q. What is the size of a honey bee?

A. On average, from 12 to 16 millimeters (about ½ to 5/8 inch for workers. Queens and Drones are longer.

Q. What is the habitat of the Honey Bee?

A. It is believed honey bees originated in tropical climates, so a forest environment is probably their original habitat. But since Honey bees have been kept by humans for thousands of years, today, you can find them all over the world in many types of habitats.

Q. What is the expected lifespan of a honey bee?

A. Life expectancy depends on the time of year and the caste of bee. Queens can live up to three years. Drones die when they mate or if they have not mated by the beginning of winter, they are ejected from the colony to die. During late spring, summer and early fall, a Worker will live only about 6 weeks. When born, Workers serve as nursery workers for some 2 weeks. After that they collect nectar and pollen until they die. Workers born in late fall, will live some 4 to 5 months, so that they can keep the Queen warm during the winter months.

Much of the above is compliments of Lousiana Cooperative Extension Service.

Updated January 1, 2017

© 2010-2017 Albert W. Needham