Bees are social insects. This means that they live together in colonies with different bees doing different jobs for the colony. Bees have two pairs of thin, veined wings with the front pair much bigger than the back pair. They have biting or sucking mouth parts. They undergo a complete metamorphosis. Their bodies narrow quite a bit between the thorax and abdomen.
There are three kinds of bees in a colony: a queen, a drone and a worker. The queen lays the eggs. She is the largest bee with a long pointed abdomen with a large egg-laying organ at the end of her abdomen. The queen can lay both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. Fertilized eggs become non egg laying worker bees. Unfertilized eggs become the males or drones. The queen becomes fertilized just once by the drone (male) and stores up the millions of sperm cells to be used over the rest of her life. There is usually just one queen bee per colony of bees.
The drones develop from unfertilized eggs. They are smaller than the queen but bigger than the worker bees. They have fat bodies. Big eyes and very powerful wings. Since they have small mouth openings, they are fed by the workers as their mouth openings are not big enough to get food for themselves. Although there are many drones, only one mates with the queen. When the supply of honey gets low, the worker bees don't feed the drones and they die off.
The workers make three kinds of things for the hive: wax, honey and propolis. The wax comes out of the bee's abdomen. It is made after the bee has eaten a lot of honey. Other workers take the wax, chew it and soften it and then use it for the honeycomb. The honeycomb is a structure composed of six sided cells that is used to store honey and a special bee food called beebread, which is a mixture of honey and bee saliva. The eggs are also placed in the honeycomb and later the larvae hatch and are cared for there. The honey from flowers' nectar is collected and stored in the bees' crops, also called honey stomachs. Propolis is a special kind of bee glue that is made from certain leaf buds. It is used to hold the hive together, to repair the hive and to even bury a dead animal in the hive.
Bees communicate by a series of dances that help them alert one another to where there is pollen and nectar.
The workers are females bees from fertilized eggs. They make up most of the bee colony. They cull nectar and pollen from the flowers. They build the hive and get the materials for the hive. They feed the queen, drones and larvae. They clean the hive, fan it and keep it cool.
Workers have a stinger at the tip of their abdomen that gives off a painful poison to its prey.
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