Honey Bees

honeybeeworker

The honey bee Apis mellifera is native to Asia and has been introduced into Europe, North America and elswhere as a beneficial pollinator. Many commercial food crops in the United States are dependent upon honey bee pollination. About one-third of what we put in our mouths benefits directly or indirectly from honeybee pollination, according to the USDA.

Identification

honeybee

The honey bee is a light brown color with darker stripes on the abdomen. They are often found pollinating flowers or searching for flowers to pollinate. Their hives can be found in tree cavities and similar sized voids in buildings. Their hind legs often carry a package of yellow or organge pollen on their return to the hive.

Biology

The honey bee is a social insect with a hive containing as many as 80,000 bees. They are active pollinators that search for nectar and pollen and pollinate plants in the process. A single queen is present in the hive and can live for several years. If the queen becomes too old or the hive too large for her to control, it can divide into two sections. One section will depart with a new queen in a swarm looking for a new void. All the bees in the swarm engorge with honey before departing and they are more attached to the queen than they are concerned with foraging and hive protection.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) has recently been responsible for the death of honey bee hives. A large number of bees will be dead just outside the hive with no apparent cause. Bees that die of draught can be found dead throughout a large areas as they search for water.

Prevention of honey bee stings

Honey bees have a barb on the end of their stinger that lodges the sting into the skin and tears the bee apart. Thus only a single sting from a single bee. However, the bee marks the area of the sting with an alarm pheromone that alerts and attracts nearby bees to the same location where they continue to sting. The best course of action is to quickly and carefully evacuate the immediate area, run.

If you are allergic to honey bee stings or have a serious swelling at the site of a sting, then you want to prevent stings in the first place. There are a couple of things you can do in additon to being careful and aware of your surroundings. Bright flower patterns on clothes may attract bees to investigate. Waving arms wildly in the air may bring you in direct contact with a bee that will sting in self defense. Calmly and quickly leave the immediate area.

Control

Under normal conditions you do not want to kill honey bees. They are a beneficial insect pollinating many of the food crops that end up on the table. In those cases where nest is occupying a void and has built a nest within a structure, control is necessary. If you have a professional bee keeper in your area, contact them for assistance. As part of the process of removing the bees, the hive including the honey and the wax comb must be removed as well. This is important, if you kill the bees and leave the comb and its honey contents inside, eventually as much or more than 100 pounds of honey will drip from the comb and create secondary pests and structural damage.

If you see a honey bee swarm just moving into a void you can quickly try to relocate these bees without concern about leaving behind honey or comb.

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