Western Honey Bee

Apis mellifera

Western Honey Bee , Honey Bee

profile iconApis mellifera - Medicago sativa - Valingu
by Ivar Leidus (CC BY-SA 4.0)
1 of 10
A close up of Apis mellifera western honey bee
profile iconApis mellifera - Medicago sativa - Valingu
by Ivar Leidus (CC BY-SA 4.0)
1 of 10
Apis mellifera, more widely known as the Western Honey Bee, feed solely on nectar and pollen. It's proposed they were domesticated by humans for honey production around 10,000 years ago. Today, the species is found worldwide. A. mellifera now holds approximately 20 subspecies across the globe! Honeybees are incredibly social; living in colonies made up of several thousand individuals. There are three types of Honey Bee in a typical hive, including the queen, worker bees, and male drones. When the hive becomes too overcrowded, the old queen will leave the nest to begin a new colony. A new queen remains in the original location to take over the previous queens hive. This is what's known as swarming behaviour. A single honeybee will sometimes fly as far as five miles in a day, reaching speeds of 20mph.
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Traits

Excellent garden pollinators and the primary producers of honey!
May move into the lofts of homes during swarming behaviour.

Appearance

Adults: Honeybees have a 'wasp waist', meaning they have a narrowing between the thorax and abdomen. In comparison to bumblebees, honeybees are a lot thinner in shape. They possess golden-yellow hairs; the abdomen is shiny black with amber banding. If you get close enough, you might be able to spot the pollen baskets on the legs, which they use during foraging. They look like large bright yellow swellings when full, and when empty they're shiny flat plates with whisp-like hairs. Only the females have them. You can tell the males apart from the females using the eyes. The male's eyes are much larger, covering most of the head, with no gap between the eyes (unlike the females). Male drones need the best vision so that they can quickly spot a female to mate! Larvae & Eggs: These remain in the nest for most of their lives, along with the queen bee. Each has its brood chamber, where they're fed a mixture of pollen and honey.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Hymenoptera

Family

Apidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Worldwide

Biological treatment

Help bees by planting a selection of native plants. Leave grasses to grow for a little longer than usual, leaving a few select patches of native weeds.

Chemical treatment

Bees are incredibly vulnerable to poisoning from herbicides and pesticides. It is recommended to research before you spray any chemicals, altogether avoiding plants in flower. It's not advised to keep bees if you live close to a farm which uses pesticides on its crops.

Attracts

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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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