The bee family is one of the most curious creations of nature. This is one big community. It has its own rules and procedures. Each insect knows its responsibilities and does its job clearly.
How the bee family works
For ordinary people not related to beekeeping, all the insects in the hive are exactly the same. In appearance, an inexperienced man in the street is almost impossible to distinguish one member of the community from another. At first glance, everything is simple.
The hierarchy in the family is rigid. The active half of the swarm is the queen, honeybees, and drones. Passive – brood. The number of bees in a family is on average about 70 thousand.
For swarms, a home is a very important element. The hive is an integral part of the family. Without a nest, members of a bee colony are not able to increase the number of their swarm, raise offspring, collect nectar and make supplies. All insects are so interconnected that they form a single organism.
A family of bees with one queen has its own specific features and characteristics of life. When the “queen” of the genus changes, the behavior of insects, the ability to collect honey, the protection of the hive, etc. change. The swarm functions perfectly only thanks to each individual.
Division is possible in a bee colony if it is strong. This happens most often after the final bribe. There should be enough honey for wintering. The presence of a second uterus is required.
A prepared family is divided in half, keeping an equal number of insects of all ages. The division is ideally combined with the movement of the apiary.
Characteristics and functions of the queen bee
A healthy “queen” of the hive is the only individual capable of laying fertilized eggs. There can be up to several thousand of them per day. The laying process begins at the end of winter and continues until autumn frosts. The first two years are considered the most prolific for the “main hive.” In the future, the masonry is reduced. Many unfertilized eggs emerge.
The average life expectancy of the uterus is up to 5 years. However, for the benefit of the family and a good honey harvest, beekeepers change the “queen” every second year.
The queen bees are constantly surrounded by nursing bees who support her with milk.
“Queen” is much larger than other insects. It usually weighs up to 300 mg. The young mother is ready for mating by the end of the first week after leaving the queen cell.
If, for some reason, contact with males did not occur, then she remains infertile. There is a risk of family death.
If the female is healthy, then by the first mating flight the glands begin to work. Substances with a specific odor attract drones. The uterus is capable of laying up to 200 thousand eggs per season.
It is quite difficult to find it inside the hive. There are always nurses around her. Caring bees surround the female, close her in a circle. Everyone’s heads are turned towards the object of attention and care. The place where she is looked after is built especially for her. At each departure, she is necessarily accompanied by a “retinue”.
In order to avoid related interbreeding, the female, following instincts, flies away from the “home”. Mating should be done with several drones. A diverse set of chromosomes greatly enhances the vitality of the family. The sperm is collected in the semen collection. It is gradually spent on fertilizing the clutch.
After two days, the uterus already lays the first eggs. The composition of each bee colony is controlled not only by the female, but also by the entire swarm.
The female should not allow other bees in the colony to lay eggs. It is for this purpose that pheromones are released from special glands. With this tool, she lubricates herself. When cleaning it, worker bees pass it on to each other by exchanging food. The substance acts on the hormonal system and blocks the possibility of masonry. And not only. The whole swarm takes on a “common” smell.
If there are problems with the queen, then the bees will find out about it within a few minutes and become nervous. Community members can quickly calm down if there is a mother in the “house”. In its absence, an emergency process of feeding the new “queen” is launched. The beekeeper must closely monitor the state of the family climate. Since the swarm left without a female and fertilized eggs may die in 2-3 weeks.
Stages of bee brood formation
The “Queen” carefully controls the quality of the masonry. Moving through the combs and finding an empty cell, he immediately lays an egg. When the uterus leaves unfilled “houses” and many unfertilized eggs, it is considered sick or weak. After laying the eggs, the larvae workers place food nearby. Having got out of the egg, they feed heavily.
The growth continues actively. When there is not enough space in the “house”, the cell is sealed and a pupa is formed. Closure is necessary for the development of the necessary organs:
- compound eyes;
- the mouth.
A white bee is forming. The body gradually changes color, darkens. The insect takes on “its” color.
All prepupal larvae are closely watched by adult family members. Up to approximately one and a half thousand visits per day. Honey and pollen are added to the diet on the second day.
At the final stage of formation, the nurse is inseparable from the larva. Growth is so fast that a new individual sheds its skin once a day.
A bee individual goes a long and interesting way from an egg to a fully developed insect in a short period of time thanks to careful care and enhanced nutrition.
Worker bees and drones. Characteristics and functions in the family
All bees-workers of the community are female. They number up to 90 thousand during the honey collection period and up to 40 thousand in the off-season. Worker bees have underdeveloped genitals and cannot lay eggs.
Functions of working insects:
- search for plants;
- nectar collection;
- taking care of offspring;
- control of the sanitary condition of the hive;
- maintaining the desired humidity level;
- construction of honeycombs;
- heating and protection of the nest.
The old worker bees are busy all the time. One group of young bees only works at night. The other is during the day. New individuals do internal work. Adults are outside the nest. They make excellent defenders.
In order not to provoke attacks from aggressive defenders, you need to know a few points. Bees are very irritated by odors:
- the smell of sweat, perfume, alcohol;
- bee venom.
Try not to meet bees in bad weather.
The males have a number of differences:
- no wax glands;
- there are no devices for collecting pollen;
- there is no sting.
Drones don’t build honeycombs. Not adapted to collect food and cannot feed themselves. They will not be able to provide themselves with protection. The only and main function of males is mating with a queen bee.
Worker bees take care of the drones during the active breeding season. In autumn, honey plants stop feeding them and are kicked out of the family. Therefore, they rarely live to the cold. This is possible in a nest where the queen bee is absent.
How the season affects the number of bees in the hive
The vital activity of the bee family is directly related to the external environment. Temperature jumps, changes in weather affect the performance and level of aggressiveness of insects. In regions with pronounced climatic features, two periods are distinguished:
In the spring the brood is reared in the nest, as fresh food appears. The egg production of queen bees increases. Old insects die. The number of new ones is increasing. Families are getting stronger. With the beginning of honey collection, up to 2 kg of individuals can be in the bee nest. After three to four weeks, their number doubles.
With a sharp increase in the number, there is not enough work for the inhabitants of the nest. If there are difficulties with collecting nectar, then the tension of life in the bee colony falls and an instinctive need for swarming arises. At the same time, the efficiency disappears:
- the number of departures is reduced;
- construction of honeycombs is suspended;
- bee brood decreases;
- the level of education of young animals is falling.
The duration of honey collection in the regions depends on weather conditions and plants. A strong family can collect up to 15 kg of nectar in one day in warm weather. Bee communities weighing up to 8 kg are capable of harvesting up to 150 kg of honey. Working honey plants die quickly in this mode of life. The number of insects after a bribe drops by almost 2 times.
The temperature in the nest during honey collection rises to +350… At rest – +150… It will rise only in the spring when the bee brood begins. On frosty days, carbon dioxide levels rise and oxygen levels fall. This mode conserves food supply as the metabolic rate slows down, allowing the insects to survive the winter.
How many bees live
The lifespan of a worker bee depends on several factors:
- swarm strength;
Working honey plants live less than others – up to 40 days in summer. Individuals bred in autumn – up to 180. The more they work, the shorter the lifespan. In nests where there is no brood, insects live for up to a year. A uterus with proper care can live up to 6 years. Alone, a bee will not survive even one day.