Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science
Honey bees are less than an inch in length and have a hairy brownish thorax and a dull orange and black banded abdomen. A colony consists of three different kinds of bees: a queen, workers, and drones. Each colony has only one queen, whose sole job is to lay eggs. Most of the bees in the colony are workers, which are all female and do all the work around the hive. There are also a few drones (male bees) in the colony, whose main role is to mate with receptive queens.
Habitat and Range
Honey bees are found in croplands, orchards, gardens, fields, and woodlands. They were originally native to Europe, Asia, and Africa but were introduced to North America in the early 1600s. Today, they range throughout North America except the far north.
The main food source for honey bees is pollen and nectar from flowers, which they can convert into honey.
Behavior and Adaptations
The life cycle and activity of honey bees follows the seasons. In cooler months, egg laying and honey production decreases and may stop completely. The colony must survive cold temperatures with scarce resources. In warmer months, egg laying and honey production increases once again. Honey bee colonies are commonly maintained by humans who collect the honey and other products of the hive. This practice, known as beekeeping or apiculture, dates back thousands of years.