European honey bee in exhibit

European Honey Bee

Scientific Name

Apis mellifera






Domesticated around the world


Meadows, open wooded areas, and gardens

Estimated Wild Population

european honey bee in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Not Listed IUCN Conservation Status: Not Listed

More Information

Physical Description

European honey bees are reddish-brown with black bands and orange-yellow rings across their abdomen. They have a hair-covered thorax, four wings, and a pollen basket on their hind legs. Of the two female castes, sterile workers are smaller than fertile queens. Males, called drones, are larger than workers but smaller than the queen. European honey bees feed on pollen and nectar from blooming flowers. Each hive has only one queen bee, who is tasked with laying eggs and choosing which eggs to fertilize. A fertilized egg creates a sterile female worker while an unfertilized egg creates a male drone.

Interesting Fact 1

European honey bee queens can live up to five years, while drones and worker bees only live six weeks.

Interesting Fact 2

Honey bees communicate through chemical signals transmitted by scent and taste. Each hive has a unique chemical signature that allow bees to recognize their hivemates.

Interesting Fact 3

Their eyes can detect ultraviolet and polarized light, which helps them navigate and see flower markings beyond the spectrum visible to humans.

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care. 

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

ADOPT an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.  

Browse the Wish List

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Learn More