Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants.
They are known for their role in pollination and, the western honey bee, for producing honey.
Of a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea.
They are presently considered a clade, called Anthophila.
Over 16,000 known species of bees exist in seven recognized biological families.
Some species of bees including: honey bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees live in colonies.
Some species of bees including: mason bees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, and sweat bees are solitary.
Bees are found on every continent except for Antarctica.
They exist in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.
The most common bees in the Northern Hemisphere are the sweat bees.
Sweat bees are small and often mistaken for wasps or flies.
Bees range in size from tiny bee species, whose workers are less than 2 millimetres (0.08 in) long, to the largest species of leafcutter bee, whose females can attain a length of 39 millimetres (1.54 in).
Bees feed on nectar and pollen.
Nectar is primarily an energy source.
Pollen is primarily a source for protein and other nutrients.
Most pollen is used as food for bee larvae.
Vertebrate predators of bees include birds.
Insect predators of bees include beewolves and dragonflies.
Bee pollination is important both ecologically and commercially.
There has been a decline in wild bees.
Bees are the most efficient pollinating insects.
Bees have the following characteristics:
A pair of large compound eyes which cover much of the surface of the head.
Between and above these compound eyes are three small eyes (ocelli) which provide information on light intensity.
The bee antennae usually have 13 segments in males and 12 in females.
Bee antennae are geniculate, having an elbow joint part way along.
Bee antennae house sense organs that can detect touch, known as mechanoreceptors, smell and taste; and small, hairlike mechanoreceptors that can detect air movement so as to functionally hear sounds.
Bee mouthparts allow chewing and sucking by having both a pair of mandibles and a long proboscis for sucking up nectar.
The bee thorax has three segments
Each thorax segment has a pair of legs, and a pair of membranous wings on the hind two segments.
In many species the hind legs bear pollen baskets, flattened sections with incurving hairs to secure the collected pollen.
The wings are synchronized.
Smaller hind wings connect to the forewings by a row of hooks along their margin which connect to a groove in the forewing.
The abdomen has nine segments.
The hindermost three being abdominal segment are modified into the stingers.
The largest species of bee can attain a length of 39 millimetres, while the smallest species may be less than 2 millimetres
In haplodiploid species, females develop from fertilized eggs and males from unfertilized eggs.
Male are haploid with only one copy of each gene.
Daughters are diploid, with two copies of each gene, sharing 100% of the father’s genes and 50% of their mother’s.
Daughters share 75% of their genes with each other.
So sisters are more closely related to than they would be to their own offspring.
Bee workers often do not reproduce.
Bee workers can pass on more of their genes by helping to raise their sisters as queens.
All bees are haplodiploid but not all are eusocial.
Among eusocial bee species many queens mate with multiple males, creating half-sisters that share only 25% of each-other’s genes.
Monogamy, reflecting queens mating singly, is the ancestral state for all eusocial species so far investigated.
Bees may be solitary or may live in communities.
Eusocial colonies are characterised by cooperative care and a division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive adults, plus overlapping generations.
This division of labor creates specialized groups called castes.
True honey bees are of the genus Apis, of which seven species are currently recognized and are highly eusocial.
True honey bee colonies are established by swarms, consisting of a queen and several hundred workers.
Bumblebee colonies typically have from 50 to 200 bees at peak population, which occurs in mid to late summer.
Nest architecture rarely last more than a year.
Solitary bees nest in the soil while others create nests in hollow reeds or twigs, holes in wood.
In the nest the female creates a cell with an egg some provisions for the resulting larva, then seals it off.
A nest may consist of numerous cells.
The last cells, which are those closer to the entrance, contain eggs that will become males.
The adult female does not provide care for the brood once the egg is laid, and usually dies after making one or more nests.
Solitary bees are either stingless or very unlikely to sting if ever.
Large groups of solitary bee nests are called aggregations, that distinguish them from colonies.
Multiple females share a common nest, but each makes and provisions her own cells independently.
A nest entrance is easier to defend from predators and parasites when there are multiple females using that same entrance on a regular basis.
The bee life cycle as a solitary or social species, involves the laying of an egg, several moults of a legless larva, a pupation stage during which the insect undergoes complete metamorphosis, followed by the emergence of a winged adult.
Most bees in temperate climates overwinter as adults or pupae and emerge in spring when increasing numbers of flowering plants come into bloom.
In spring males usually emerge first and search for females with which to mate.
The sex of a bee is determined by the presence or absence of fertilization.
Following mating, a female stores the sperm.
The female and determines which sex is required at the time each individual egg is laid, fertilised eggs producing female offspring and unfertilised eggs, males.
Tropical bees may have several generations in a year.
Solitary bees, lay each egg in a separate cell with a supply of pollen and nectar.
Social bee species feed larva regularly while it grows.
Nest structure varies from a hole in the ground or in wood, in solitary bees, to a structure with wax combs in bumblebees and honey bees.
Bee larvae are whitish oval grubs, and bluntly-pointed at both ends, with 15 segments and spiracles in each segment for breathing.
Over the course of a few days, the larva undergoes metamorphosis into an winged adult.
Bee’s wing beat flaps approximately 230 times per second.
Honey bees communicate by the waggle dance, in which a worker indicates the location of a food source to other workers in the hive.
Bees recognize compass direction in three different ways: by the sun, by the polarization pattern of the blue sky, and by the earth’s magnetic field.
Bees consume nectar and pollen, which require different digestion strategies by somewhat specialized bacteria.
Nectar is a mostly monosaccharide liquid sugar and and is easily absorbed.
Pollen contains complex polysaccharides: branching pectin and hemicellulose.
Approximately five groups of bacteria are involved in nectar and pollen bee digestion.
Three groups specialize in simple sugar digestion.
Two other groups digest complex sugars.
Digestion of pectin and hemicellulose is dominated by bacterial clades Gilliamella and Bifidobacterium, respectively.
Most bees collect pollen from a range of flowering plants, but some only gather pollen from one or a few species.
In rare cases, a plant species may only be effectively pollinated by a single bee species.
Beekeepers collect honey, beeswax, pollen, and royal jelly from hives.
Bees are also kept to pollinate crops and to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers.
They play an important role in pollinating flowering plants.
It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on pollination by insects, birds and bats, most of which is accomplished by bees.
Over the last half century, there has been a decline in wild bees and other pollinators, probably attributable to stress from increased parasites and disease, the use of pesticides, and a general decrease in the number of wild flowers.
Climate change probably exacerbates the problem of diminishing bees.
With the introduction of Varroa mites, feral honey bees declined dramatically, though their numbers have since recovered.
Bees may face increased risk of extinction because of global warming.
Honey is a natural product produced by bees and stored for their own use.
Honey bees are used commercially to produce honey.
Bees are partly considered edible insects: pupae and larvae found to be high in protein and carbohydrate, and a useful source of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and trace minerals iron, zinc, copper, selenium,
high in fat, most of the water-soluble B-vitamins including choline as well as vitamin C.
The painful stings of bees are mostly associated with the poison gland and the Dufour’s gland which are abdominal exocrine glands containing various chemicals.
The signs and symptoms and lab changes following a massive bee envenomation manifest by hypotension, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia myocardial and other muscle injury, renal failure, thrombocytopenia, and coagulopathy hours to days later.
Swarms of attacking these target and penetrate the nasal cavity, bronchial tree, esophagus, stomach, external ear canal, and eyelids.