European honey bee in exhibit

European Honey Bee

Scientific Name

Apis mellifera

Class

Insecta

Order

Hymenoptera

Range

Domesticated around the world

Habitat

Meadows, open wooded areas, and gardens

Estimated Wild Population

n/a
european honey bee in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Not Listed IUCN Conservation Status: Not Listed

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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.

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