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Honey bee by Andy
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The female queen bee can be seen in the center of this picture close up on the right although the queen bee only mates once she can lay over a million eggs and live from three to five years. Sometimes beekeepers mark the queen with a non-toxic white paint on her thorax for easy identification and safe handling.

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Bee Keeper inspecting hive on a honeycomb.

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Pictures above show a breeding-comb with larvae and the larvae pupae cells which have been sealed with a wax cover by the worker bees. These cells will contain both worker and drone bees, the queen larvae cells are fed on a richer source of food called royal jelly.

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Queen Honey Bee bottom right.

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It’s the female worker bees which chew and mold the wax into a hexagonal shaped honeycomb cell. This pure wax can be collected by beekeepers to be used for candles and other beeswax products.

Honeybees (Apis Mellifera)

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The reason there are different coloured cells shown in the picture above is the nectar collected from different types of plants.

Bees are one of the most important insects due to pollination of wild and cultivated plants, now mostly domesticated by man using artificial habitats such as beehives. There is always only one queen in a hive and before a new queen emerges they communicate by squeaking to each other which excites the rest of the hive. Finally a large number of worker and drone bees gather around the old queen and almost half the community fly away to start a new colony which causes the large swarms of bees we often see hanging in trees which is then collected by a beekeeper to start a new hive. Sometimes there are smaller swarms of new queens cells called after-swarming. She will be followed by drones on her marriage flight if the hive becomes too low in numbers the young queen will be allowed to rip open the remaining queen cells and sting them to death this is the only time she will use her sting and is so docile can be handled by a beekeeper. But a worker bee will use there stings to protect the hive and once it has been used it detaches from the abdomen which eventually kills the bee.

The drones are fertile males the sole purpose is to fertilize the queen, it’s the sterile female workers that are responsible for looking after the hive. They have many tasks such as building and protect the hive and cleaning the hive, collecting pollen and nectar. (which is turned into honey.) The worker bees also care for the queen and tend to the young as well as controlling the temperature of the hive, worker bees only live for six weeks during the summer months. The hive community is kept alive during winter feeding on stored food.                   

   How do bees make Honey?

Honeybees collect pollen and nectar from spring flowers, they have a long proboscis for this purpose. The nectar is stored in the bees stomachs which mix with proteins and enzymes produced by the bees which then converts the nectar into honey which is then regurgitated into the hexagonal wax cells. This is repeated until the cells are filled the worker bees will fan their wings over the cells to evaporate and prepare the cells for long-term storage through the winter for food, before capping the honeycomb with wax. I think it is one of the most remarkable creations in nature.

Andy Newman Images©