Workers are females which are not fully and developed sexually. They do the work of the colony a maintain it in good condition. Workers have special structures and organs which are associated with the duties they perform. There are many different species of bees. Most bees are solitary, but some are social. These live together inn colonies with a division of labor among the individuals.
The habit of visiting flowers makes all bees important as pollinating agents. All bees gather nectar and pollen from flowers, but only a few of the social bees store the nectar as honey. Of the bees that store honey, there are even fewer species that store it in sufficient quantity to make the effort of harvesting the honey worthwhile.
Although some "stingless" bees are robbed of their honey in tropical regions, bees of the genus Apis, the true honey bees, are the major producers of honey and other hive products. Apis mellifera, the western hive bee, has been introduced into most regions of the world for use in beekeeping.
The queen is the only female that is completely developed sexually. This is a result of a total diet of royal jelly during a developmental period. She is distinguished by her long, slender appearance, due to the full development of the ovaries in her abdomen. She has a sting without barbs. In the colony, she is found in the area of the brood nest.
In tropical regions, some species of stingless bees-- notably Trigona and Melipona- are robbed of their honey. All of these bees build their nests inside cavities. Even though these bees do not sting, they defend their colony by biting the intruder. Some secrete irritating substances along with the bite.
The brood comb of stingless bees is one cell thick and usually horizontal. These bees store honey in thimble-sized wax honey pots placed around the brood area of the nest. In some areas, these stingless bees are kept in gourds, clay pots, or hollowed logs. Honey is harvested by opening the nest cavity and removing the honey pots. The yield is very low, and marketing it is worthwhile only on a local level. Such honey is often highly prized locally for medicinal use.
Drones, the males of the colony, are produced from unfertilized eggs. (The queen can control whether or not the egg is fertilized as she lays it.) The body of the drone is larger than that of the worker or queen. The eyes are large and cover practically the whole head. The end of the abdomen is blunt and is covered with a tuft of small hairs. Drones cannot sting. As the sting is a modified structure of the female genitalia, drones do not have stings. They also do not have any of the structures necessary to collect nectar and pollen. A strong colony can have about 300 drones.
Apis : The True Honey Bee
There are four species in the bee genus Apis-- three which are native to Asia and one which is native to the Euro-African region. All of these are similar in appearance, though there are size and color differences. All build vertical combs that are two cells thick.
The giant or rock honey bee (Apis dorsata) and the little honey bee (A. florea) are found in Asia. Both of these bees build a single-comb, exposed nest. Nests are often seen hanging from branches of trees, roofs, or ceilings. The adult bees hang in curtains around the nest to control nest conditions. Brood and honey stores are in the same comb - the brood in the lower section and the honey in the upper section.
In some areas, methods have been devised for removing the honey section of the comb and reattaching the brood area; thus bee-having is practiced with these bees. The yields are often high enough (especially with A. dorsata) to make the effort well worthwhile for the farmer.
No methods of keeping either of these bees are known which are better than those currently practiced. The behavior of both species is unpredictable, and they will not live inside a hive. The giant honey bee is especially defensive of its nest. Therefore, there is little potential for development in the management of either species, though there is often potential for improving the quality of the honey by using more care in processing.
Two other species of Apis (mellifera and cerana) normally build multi-comb nests in enclosed cavities. These bees can be kept in hives, and methods have been devised to allow for a more rational utilization of their potential. It is with these two species that a potential for beekeeping development exists.
The western hive bee (Apis mellifera) is native to western Asia, Europe, and A-Africa. There is tremendous variation in this bee across its range, and at least twenty different sub-species or "races" are recognized, broadly divided into European and African groups. Several races of this bee are considered especially desirable for beekeeping.
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