Honey Bees Introduction

When you think of bees, you probably think of honey bees. This is because these are the bees we usually see.

Bees are amazing insects. They live everywhere in the world except Antarctica.

There are more than 20,000 different kinds, or species, of bees, in the world. But honey bees are the most common – and they are the ones that make honey.

Honey bees have fascinated us for thousands of years. Cave paintings from 15,000 years ago show people gathering honey from wild nests, and the bees’ carefully constructed honeycombs must have amazed these Stone Age hunters. Today, we are intrigued by the way they seem to be constantly busy, so that the phrase “busy bee” has become a byword for hard work.

Yet the most extraordinary thing about honeybees is the way they organize their lives. Each hive (nest) of bees is really a hugely extended family made up of a single mother, called the queen, and her many offspring. All the bees have their own jobs to do, and they rely on teamwork for survival.

A queen bee, for example, is a champion egg producer, but she can not gather her own food or build her own nest. She depends on the help of her worker bees _ and she makes sure she gets it.

Exactly how she does this and what happens if she fails, are just two of the astonishing things about honeybee society. There are plenty more. How do honeybees know where to find nectar – rich flowers, and how do they use that nectar to make delicious honey? How they keep their nests cool in summer and warm in the winter, and how do they unite to defend their queen and colony (nest) from enemies?

We are going to take a closer look at how honeybee society works. We will find out what makes them some of the most successful insects on Earth.

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