For centuries, honeybee beehives have produced honey, honeycomb, and beeswax much to the delight of us humans! The activity of honeybees and the demand for their harvests resulted in the birth of the art of beekeeping and the development of a large beekeeping industry (although several bee species still occur in the wild).
Honeybees are social and co-operative insects – a beehive is made up of three types of honeybees: workers, the queen, and drones.
Workers – these are the only bees that most of us ever see. These bees are females and forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the beehive, clean, circulate air by beating their wings amongst other functions within the colony.
The Queen – her purpose is to lay the eggs to spawn the beehive’s next generation of bees. If the queen dies, workers will create a new queen by feeding one of the female larvae an exclusive diet of a food called “royal jelly.” This elixir enables the worker to develop into a fertile queen.
Drones – these are the male bees whose primary role is to mate with the queen. Drones do not have stingers and do not gather nectar or pollen. Each beehive has several hundred drones.
During the winter months, honeybees live on stored honey and pollen and the larvae are fed from these stores and, by spring, the beehive is swarming with a new generation of bees!