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The honey bee is a special creature of its kind. There are over 22,000 species that have been identified. Belonging to the class of insects, they are known for their role in plant pollination and are referred to as one of the most efficient animal agents for plants’ pollination. They are found in almost every part of the world except for the extremely cold regions. Depending on the species, bees can live for up to three years. Structurally, they are seen to possess a broad three body segment as is common to insects; the head, a thorax, and the abdominal region.
The Body Segment of The Bee.
- The Head
The head has contained on it, a pair of compound eyes which extend through most of the frontal part, with the presence of ocelli at the top and rear. Ocellis are used to gather information such as light intensity for the insect. Other features on the head include a pair of antennae, modified mouth parts for chewing of plants’ tissue (pollen) and sucking nectar. These mouth parts consist of structures known as mandible (for chewing) and an extended proboscis (for sucking nectar).
- The thorax
This region sustains three pairs of leg and is divided into three segments, with the last two segments holding a pair of light but strong membraneous wings. If you’ve noticed a bee, it is common to see that the legs have tiny hair like structures; these structures are called combs and are used by the bee for cleaning its antennae. When the insect takes off, flight movement by the wings occur in a manner in which the wings are synchronized with the smaller hind wings connecting to the fore wings by a row of hooks along the margin which is attached to a groove in the fore wing.
- The Abdominal region
Abdomen of the regular bee is into nine segments with the last three most posterior, been modified into a sting (for female bees). In the female also, the seventh abdominal segment is divided into two plates.
Different Colonies and Their Responsibilities
A typical bee colony may have up to fifty to sixty thousand bees, each of them with different specific roles. There are
They are charged with the responsibility of defending the colony, feeding the populace, and tending to the queen. In the process of defending the caste, worker bees are sometimes killed. And although they are sexually female, they are not in any way involved in reproductive activities. The workers continue to work inasmuch as they are agile. When food supply is limited, the workers tend to prevent others from gaining entry into the caste, by implication, starving them to death.
The queen in the colony ensures that sustainability of the populace is maintained. She is the only one that produces egg which becomes mature bee and this is almost her only role. After hatching of several potential queens in the caste, only one of them survivals eventually, after she must have killed every potential rival including those that are not yet hatched. She ensues that every other female remain sterile, by producing a hormone. the queen tends to live for the longest period of time
Drones are the male bees in the colony. While the female bee are hatched from fertilized eggs, the drone comes from unfertilized ones. They have a single function in the system; this is to mate with the queen. Upon mating, their “copulatory” structure is pulled off and they die. The drones does not live after mating for a single time.
Bee As A Pollinating Agent
It is interesting to note that bees possess a structure on their hind legs, in which they store and transport pollen grains; this structure is known as a pollen basket or corbicula. What they do is that, the bee goes to gather pollen from flowers, stores it up in its pollen basket and returns with it to the hive. The pollen is then fed to the young larvae, queen, and drones. The pollen basket is peculiar to bees of the specie bumblebee, orchid bees, stingless bees and the honey bee. Male bees do not possess this structure as well as a sting, so they are dependent on the female worker bee for food and protection; although their buzzing sound may disorientate a potential enemy.
The Behavioural Patterns of Bees
Bees are organized insects which carry out distinct behavioral patterns. Worker bees on sighting food, communicate and inform the others through the waggle dance. The waggle dance is a figure-eight form dance in which the bee waggles a distance and then circles to the starting point on the right, repeating it again but to the left; this occurs repeatedly. Indication of the food-source distance and direction is by three indicator ways: the sun, by the polarization pattern of the blue sky and by the earth’s magnetic field. Sometimes, individual bees take pride in directing the others, so if there are multiple bees doing the dance, each of them tries hard at convincing the rest to follow their lead.
How Bees Produce Honey
Bees evaporate nectar to produce honey which is consumed when food is scarce. So actually, the honey produced by bee is not a by-product, because it is intentionally produced as a food store for times of scarcity. The bee produces honey by extracting nectar from plants using its long tube-shaped tongue. It then stores it up in its extra stomach. In the stomach, the nectar is mixed with enzymes that are able to transform its chemical composition and pH, making it suitable for long term storage. The nectar is regurgitated into the mouth of another bee. This regurgitation occurs repeatedly, until it is finally stored in honeycombs. At this instance, the partially digested nectar is still a viscous liquid. Bees then set to remove excess water from it by fanning the honeycomb with their wings, to hasten evaporation. After all of these, the bees secrete a fluid unto the comb. It is this secretion that solidifies to become beeswax. Honey type would differ based on what flower-nectar is contained most in them.
The Stinging Effect of A Bee
Pheromone is a hormone produced when a bee stings an animal or man. When it is produced, other surrounding bees are prompted to attack as well. This same hormone is produced by the queen to render other females in the colony sterile. The bee sting is quite a painful one.
Interesting facts about the honey bee
1.The bee visits between fifty to one hundred flowers in one collection trip.
2.The bee has a brain which is just about the size of a sesame seed and is oval in shape. With this, they are able to make complex estimates of the distance they’ve traveled and are able to learn, remember things.
3.Honey bees are very organized creatures, and exhibit undaunting dedication according to their role in a caste.
4.Communication among them is by the waggle.
5.In animals such as man, an estimated 1100 bee stings could lead to death.
6.The honey bee colony has a distinct odor that identifies all the members of the colony. This odor is different from those of other colonies.
7.The queen bee can lay up to 2500 eggs in one day, she can live for up to 5 years.
8.The female bee have inherited traits from both father and mother, while the male has genes from only the mother. This is because the eggs that hatch into female are unfertilized.
9.The average worker bee does not produce much honey. It would produce only about 1/12 of a teaspoon in the whole of its life.
10.The buzz sound of the honey bee is actually the wing stroke as it flies. This stroke action is very rapid and the bee can fly as far as a distance of 15miles in one hour.
11.They have an excellent smell, thus they are able to detect non members of the caste which they chase away. They also use this sense of smell to detect pollen and/or nectar from a long distance.
12.Of all insects, the honey bee is the only one that produces edibles for man.
Wish you luck
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