As the name implies, the honeybee (Apis) is a type of bee that produces and stores honey in their nests. These animals are actually a subset of the bee family, although many people tend to think of them as just “bees.” It is important to remember that these bees are actually the only species that rely upon honey as well as nectar and pollen for survival. They may seem small, but these animals are actually one of the most advanced on the planet. They live in highly organized societies each bee is assigned a classification that it must adhere to throughout its lifetime.

The strict division of labor is quite remarkable, especially when one considers that each bee knows its duties and purpose with respect to the group. It can safely be said that honeybees are more social than humans even, due to the degree of dependency they share with one another. If we can learn anything from honeybees, it would be how cooperation can go a long way. Here are some facts about these wonderful animals, and how they benefit us humans.

The Life of a Honeybee

  • Every honeybee hive is divided into three classifications (with various sub-sets); the worker bees are all female, and they are the ones that will go out and collect nectar and pollen that is used to produce honey in the hive. The drones are all male; their role is simply to mate with worker bees from other hives. Drones rarely mate with the virgin queen in their own hive. The queen’s job is to lay eggs and direct all other honeybees in the hive via chemical communication. If a queen bee dies, a new one will be selected by the hive.
  • Beeswax is the substance that is used by honeybees to build the hive; it is secreted from the glands; humans have long used beeswax to make candles and furniture polish (among other products).
  • To become fertile, queen bees are fed a special substance called royal jelly; it consists of digested pollen and honey; royal jelly is expensive due to its high nutritional value. Many people will consume it as a B vitamin supplement.
  • Unlike other types of bees, honeybees are not aggressive. They will attack if they or their hive is threatened (the females are the only ones that attack, as the drones are not equipped with stingers).