Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bees (Worker)

Bees are amazing little creatures; there are multiple types of bees from Italian bees to African Killer Bees. It is very unfortunate that bees have a bad reputation - when a bee flies into a room the first thing people do is scream and hide or try and kill it. All the bee wants to do is find some pollen and take it back to the nest, it will not sting you unless it feels threatened or you are a threat to the hive. Bees have a social structure in the hive; they make honey, wax and glue, build cells to grow larva and so much more. There is so much information about bees but I am just going to go over the main things I think are interesting which is still a lot!

Bees (like ants) are a specialized form of the wasp; they have two wings, six legs, a head, a thorax and abdomen. Bees are usually black with yellow stripes and covered in a yellowish hair; they can be all black and other variations as well. There are three main different kinds of bees in a hive, the worker, the drone and the queen. There are two different kinds of worker bees as well, one that stays at the hive and builds cells, makes honey, nurses the larva, and repairs the hive as needed. The other worker bees are the ones that go out and find pollen, which they will do all day long.

The worker bees will go out and collect pollen from multiple flowers, they collect until their honey stomachs (a specialized stomach for carrying pollen and honey) are full. They can still fit more pollen on their legs, which have hair that pollen will stick to. Bees can only see certain colours and one colour they cannot see is red but they can see ultra-violet light so if the red flower reflects ultra-violate light than the bee will find it.

Once the workers bring back the pollen they will fill up the cells with honey, which they make by mixing pollen in their honey stomach with enzymes. Worker bees that stay at the hive make wax that they produce from the inner sides of the sternites (plates on each side of the body), they then chew it to make it soft and easy to work with than make cells with it. Worker bees take larva, put it in the cell that is filled with honey and seal it off with wax. When the larva is grown it will chew its way out. Worker bees also produce something called propolis (or bee glue) which is used to stick the hive to branches or other things, they will take debris that fell on the hive and glue it down somewhere else so it will not harm the hive.

Bees have a very unique way of telling other bees information. If a worker bee needs to tell other worker bees where flower are, they dance. They buzz, shake their abdomen and walk in certain figures to inform other bees of their information. If the dancing bee is misinforming other bees and another bee is aware of this, the knowledgeable bee will head-butt the misinformed bee to tell it to stop, this is yet another unique behavior. One more interesting fact about worker bees that all of them are female, not a single male be will ever be a worker bee, males have their lives pretty easy and simple.

Without worker bees going about their business collecting pollen from one plant or another (pollination) it is believed that we would not have as much as 60% of our crops (ie corn, soy, potatoes, garlic, etc…) so these are very important creatures and should be treated with respect.

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