How Bees Work?

June 7, 2019

Bees are flying insects that are usually feared by humans because of their reputation as stingers. They are related to wasps, and people are sometimes confused with them. There are more than 16,000 species of bees, and they are found across all continents save for Antarctica. Bees are actually known for their role in pollination and for producing the honey we enjoy now.

Bees are predominantly golden yellow with brown bands across their bodies. Their bodies are oval in shape and they have 6 legs. Their size is about a ½ inch in length and they have antennae. This antenna houses several sense organs that allow them to detect smell, taste, and touch. They have mouthparts that can chew and suck due to their mandibles and a long proboscis. They are like flies in that they have two large compound eyes, with three smaller, simpler eyes between them.


The bees begin life as eggs. The eggs are oblong in shape. After which they become larvae, which are white, oval in shape, and are bluntly pointed on both of their ends. They have fifteen segments in their bodies and no legs. Then they pass the pupation stage, and after a few days, it becomes the winged adult we all are familiar with.

Common Types Of Bees

Here are some of the bees that you would most likely see when you are outdoors:

Bumblebees - Bumblebees are social insects that live in a colony. Inside the colony, there lives a queen. Living with her are the worker bees which are actually her offsprings. There are also male bumblebees. The queen’s sole purpose in life is to lay as many eggs as she can. This is to ensure the survival of the colony. Her female offsprings are the worker bees. The worker bees do all the hard work, which includes foraging for food, protecting the colony, cleaning the nest, and caring for the young bees. The males are responsible only for mating with the queen.

There are more than 250 species of bumblebees, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Due to this immense number, there is no one particular standard size for the bumblebee. The largest is said to be the Bombus dahlbomii, whose queen can grow up to 4 centimeters long. They play a very important part of ecology because they help flowers and food to grow when they pollinate. Though many other animals are pollinators - like bats, butterflies, and birds - bees are said to be the most important pollinators in most ecosystems. In an interview with National Wildlife magazine, Rachel Winfree, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University, two-thirds of the world’s crops count on such animals and insects to transfer pollen between male and female flower parts.    

Bumblebees can beat their wings 130 times per second, as per the National Wildlife Federation. Because of this, combined with their large bodies, flowers vibrate until they release pollen. This is called buzz pollination, and this helps plants produce more fruit.

They are plump, fuzzy insects with stubby and short wings. Unlike the honeybees, they do not produce honey. They build their nests near the ground or even in abandoned nests by other animals.

Honey bees - Honey bees are another one of the more popular bees. They are flying insects that are closely related to wasps and ants. They feed on nectar and pollen. They have long and thin tongues called proboscis and this allows them to suck nectar from the blossoms. They have a pair of wings, a pair of antennas, and three segmented body parts.

Honey bees are social insects that live in colonies. The colony also consists of the queen, the worker bees, and drones. The queen’s responsibility is by assuring the survival of the colony by laying as many eggs as she can. In the hive, there is only one queen bee, and they can lay as many as 1,500 eggs in a day. She has long abdomens and short wings, she never leaves the hive and stays there all her life, unless they look for another home. Queens can live for 4 to 7 years. The worker bees are the ones who forage for food, protect the colony, clean their nests, and care for the young. The workers are all females. The stinger of the female bees are barbed, so when they sting, the stinger becomes lodged to the skin of their victims. They are like the Japanese kamikaze, they sting only to defend themselves or the colony.  They get stuck to the skin along with their stinger, and when they tear themselves apart from their stinger, they die. Honeybees are gentle, and they avoid stinging humans as much as possible.

The colony also has males that mate with the queen. The males die immediately after mating with the queen. If they do not get that opportunity, then they can live up to 90 days.   

Honey bees look for hollow trees or any hollow spaces where they can build a hive inside. They have a special wax, which they use to create small hexagon shapes inside their hives, which are called cells. In these cells, they store honey, or eggs, or pollen. They then seal their hives by combining beeswax, honey, and tree resins. This mixture is called propolis and is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It protects their hives from disease and from outside forces.  

Honey bees communicate either by dancing or by scent. Bees, like all other insects, release pheromones. These pheromones are released when the honey bee senses danger. When danger comes, the pheromones smell like bananas. When they are happy, they release a lemon smelling pheromone. When a bee finds a new source of nectar, the bee dances to alert all the other bees and follow her. Like the bumblebees, honey bees are very good and important pollinators.

Mason bees - These are small insects and they fly fast. They are metallic in color like blue, black, and green. They carry pollen in hairs in the underside of their bellies. Their name is derived from their habit of using mud to close nest cavities.  

The mason bee lays female eggs first at the back of the nests before laying the male eggs. After this, the mason bee will go out to forage for food which will help nourish her young. She will then use mud to cover or seal the nest.

In the spring, the males will emerge first and would be ready to mate with the females when they emerge. Mason bees are good pollinators and they visit different kinds of flowers. They are said to be good pollinators of spring, flowering nuts, and fruits.

Leafcutter bees -  This type of bees use leaves to seal their nest cavities, instead of mud like the mason bees do. The color of their bodies is black, with white hairs covering their thorax and bottom of their abdomens. They have huge heads and powerful jaws that can cut off leaves. And like the mason bees, they carry pollen on their abdomens. Leafcutter bees are very good pollinators of wildflowers, fruits, and vegetables. They sting only when being handled.

Blueberry bees - The blueberry bees are about the same size as the honeybees. They are very good pollinators of blueberries, and they also pollinate other plants. They nest near the ground where they are also near blueberry plants. They sting only when being handled. Otherwise, they just go on their merry way.

Squash bees - Like the blueberry bees, the squash bees have evolved into an expert in pollinating a type of plant. They pollinate squash and its relatives the pumpkin, and zucchini. They fly from pre-dawn until mid-morning. They then fly again at dawn right when the squash flowers open up.

Female squash bees nest in the ground, while the males' nest near a squash flower. They nest and mate in squash flowers.

Sweat bees - They are called sweat bees because they are attracted to human sweat. They are small in size but belong to a very large group. They are most active in October and November and are excellent pollinators. They are attracted to small flowers.

Are Bees Harmful?

Bees are not harmful, and they do not cause any harm to your property. They sting only when they are handled physically. Otherwise, they keep to themselves. If you see bee nests in your property, it is advisable to leave them alone since they are good for the environment. However, if their nests are in trees or bushes, you may consider having it relocated. You may enlist the services of the best pest control management in North Carolina, Go-Forth Pest Control, to have it relocated and not exterminated.  

However, if other pests are bothering you - like cockroaches, mosquitoes, or mice - then Go-Forth would be happy to get rid of them for you. The company has been around since 1959, and they have earned the trust of residents and businesses in North Carolina.

Contact us today, Go-Forth Pest Control is arguably the best pest control management in North Carolina.

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