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Basic Honeybee Biology

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Presentation on theme: "Basic Honeybee Biology"— Presentation transcript:

1 Basic Honeybee Biology
And other stuff


3 Placing Bees in the Animal Kingdom
Phylum Arthropod External Skeleton, Chitinous, Segmented, Invertebrates Class Insecta Hexapoda Six legged 3 major body parts, head, thorax, abdomen Order Hymenoptera 2 sets of joined wings connected by hooks, young develop through metamorphosis, ovipositor modified to stinger SubOrder Apocrita Ants, Bees, and Wasps SuperFamily Apoidea Bees Family Apidae Food exchange, pollen baskets, storage of honey & pollen Over 20,000 species SubFamily Tribe Apini Perennial, social colonies, highly eusocial Genus Apis Honeybees 4 Species (and counting) Species

4 Species ‘Apis’ A. dorsada – Asian, Large, Single Comb, Outside Dwelling A. floria – Asian, Small, Single Comb, Outside Dwelling A. cerina – Asian, Small, Parallel Comb, Cavity Dwelling A. mellifera – Africa/Europe/Mid-East, Parallel Comb, Cavity Dwelling Many Races!

5 Apis Distribution Map

6 Every heard of Honeyguides?

7 Distribution Map

8 India, 500BC

9 A. dorsada colonies

10 A. dorsada colonies

11 A. florea colony

12 South Africa

13 Spain 6000BC

14 A. Mmellifera colony

15 A. cerana Apis cerana is the natural host to the mite Varroa jacobsoni and the parasite Nosema ceranae, both serious pests of the Western honey bee. Having coevolved with these parasites, A. cerana exhibits more careful grooming than A. mellifera, and thus has an effective defense mechanism against Varroa that keeps the mite from devastating colonies

16 Note on Breeding Races in a species can breed successfully and bear fertile young. Breeding between species results in sterile young.

17 Races of species Apis mellifera
A mellifera mellifera – German A mellifera ligustica – Italian A mellifera carnica – Carniolan - Yugoslavia A mellifera caucasca – Caucasian – Caucasus A mellifera scutellata – African Hybrids Buckfast Starline …..

18 Genetic Traits of Races
Color Temperament Handling Ease Production Swarming Tendency Winter Hardiness Propolizing Disease Resistance Fecundity – Reproductive Rate Cleanliness Population of Hive Pollen Hoarding Honey Hoarding Conservation of stores Plant preference Tongue Length Whiteness of Cappings

19 Casts of Honeybee The Worker (female bee) does all the work of the colony.  A colony may have up to 60,000 workers.  The Queen (fully fertile female) specializes in producing eggs.  She will lay one egg per minute, day and night, for a total of 1500 in a 24-hour period and 200,000 in a year. The Drone (male bee) may number up to 500 in a colony in Spring and Summer.  Their ONLY purpose is to fly from the hive and mate in the air with queens from other colonies. 

20 You and Me

21 Honeybee Chromosomes

22 Genetics Females have 32 Chromosomes, 16 from mother, 16 from father
Males (Drones) have 16 Chromosome, 16 from mother – haploid - parthenogenesis NOTE: The Queen has control over whether an egg is fertilized when she lays it. Controlled Breeding Islands, Downs, Artificial Insemination

23 External Anatomy Head Thorax Abdomen


25 External Anatomy Worker bees produce Wax from glands under their abdomen. The bees first gorge themselves with honey and then sit idles for about 24 hours. This is one of the most difficult jobs bees do. While producing wax the Bees “join hands” called “festooning”. See page 18.





30 Bee Love


32 The Worker Bee The life of all honeybees starts as an egg, about the size of a comma "," which is laid by the queen in the bottom of a wax cell in the brood area of a hive. A worker egg hatches after 3 days into a larva. Nurse bees feed it royal jelly at first, then pollen & honey for 6 days. It then becomes an inactive pupa.

33 The Worker Bee During its 14 days as a pupa, sealed in a capped cell, it grows into a worker (female) bee, emerging on the 20th day. Workers do everything but lay eggs and mate. They build the comb from wax extruded from glands under their abdomen. They clean, defend, and repair the hive. They feed the larva, the queen, and the drones. They gather nectar, pollen, water, and propolis. They ventilate, cool & heat the hive.

34 Age Related Duties of Worker Bee - temporal polyethism

35 The Queen

36 What makes a Queen a Queen?
Feeding a female larva Royal Jelly for the entire larval stage.


38 The Queen Before an old queen dies, or departs to start another hive, she lays an egg in a large queen cell. The nurse bees feed the larva a diet of only royal jelly made from a gland on their heads. In only 16 days a new queen emerges. She seeks out and destroys any rival queens, because there can be only one queen per colony.

39 The Queen When 10 days old, a new queen takes a high maiden flight, pursued by drones from nearby hives. She mates with 7 or more of them, storing their sperm for the rest of her life of 2-5 years. She produces chemical scents which regulate hive activity. The queen will fly several miles to a “Drone congregation area”. She will typically take two mating flights and mate with 8-16 drones. The queen will not mate again for the rest of her 2-6 year life. She stores the sperm in a sac and dispenses the sperms one at a time as she lays eggs.

40 The Queen The queen lays about 1200 eggs per day, about 200,000 per season. This is necessary since worker bees only live 6 weeks in the summertime; and a colony needs to have 40 to 50 thousand bees at its peak. She is cared for by the worker bees. This queen has been marked with a red dot for easy identification. When the queen lays an egg she also adds one of her stored sperms to fertilize the egg. The resulting egg will be female. If however the wax cell is of a lager diameter, she will NOT add a sperm. This will result in a DRONE. Drones do not have fathers! If the workers want a new queen they move a fertilized egg into a special large wax cell and feed the larvae a special diet of Royal Jelly. This special diet results in a queen. The workers are really the boss of the hive. By creating larger cells they can increase the drone population. By moving fertilized eggs to larger cells and altering the diet, they can create new queens

41 The Drones Male bees are called drones. They emerge in 24 days, and are larger than the female workers. They have large eyes and wings and no stinger. Their sole purpose is to mate with a queen from any hive, thereby transferring the genetic traits of their mother. They die upon mating, or are expelled from the hive as winter approaches.

42 The Head

43 The Mouth Parts The tongue is like a mop.

44 Why do Bees make honey? Bees make and store Honey because they Eat it! It is a very compact, easily stored, high energy, low residue food. Nectar is Sugar Water (Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose) with some essential oils and tannins. Bees collect Nectar and Pollen and store it in cells in the Hive Water is evaporated out of the Nectar. When the ratio is sugar to water is 16% we call it Honey and the bees cap it over with wax. At this sugar density it will not ferment and will store indefinitely. Honey is 80% sugar, 16% water, 4% other stuff Pollen contains protein. The percentage of protein varies WIDELY! Honey = Carbohydrate, Pollen = Protein

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