The Biology of the Honey Bee - Paper Example

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Sewanee University of the South
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The relatively small invertebrate insects live in hives that contain the bee colonies. In there is a hierarchy of organization as per the role each type of bee plays in the particular colony. The largest of these bees is the queen of the colony and is usually just one in a colony. The queen is the only bee in the colony that reproduces, it mates with the males and lays the eggs for the future generation of the colony typically about 1500 eggs in a day. To ensure that she is the only one that can attract the males for mating, she produces a pheromone that keeps all the other females from mating.

The male drone bee. It is a seasonal bee not present in the hive all year round. Tasked with matting with the queen, this specialized bee does not fly about getting nectar for the hive; it stays in the hive to maximize the chance of mating with the queen with the peak mating seasons being in the summer and spring. Because of the process involved in coupling, the drones do not typically survive because they lose their endophallus and die, hence they life only lasts until they mate. Their numbers in the hive are also not so high they can be about 200 in the peak season or none at all in the winter.

In a typical hive it is evident that the number of bees at any given point in time is usually higher than 201, this means that the bulk of the population in the hive is made up of another type of bee which is The worker bee, numbering an upward of 20000 in a single colony, this vast, army of sterile females are responsible for keeping the buzz in the hive, they are the builders, the food fenders an also play the role of tending to the young brood of upcoming bees. The workers are the everyday bees seen flying around perching on flowers in search of nectar and pollen. Another aspect of their role is defense since they are sterile, they are equipped with a sting in place of the ovaries. The sting is what they use to defend the hive, but this defense is also detrimental to them, once a bee delivers a sting the loss of the endophallus leads to its death. Hence a worker bee either works to the point of its destruction or dies when playing the defensive role.

The work of the honey bee is not only crucial for the hive population but also for the human population. Production of fruits in trees, grains in the fields as well as flowers are dependent on pollination a process that is carried out to a large extent by the worker bees so human survival to some extent also relies on the role of the all-important honey worker bee.

Bee Decline History and Effects to Food Production

Winfree 2010. Conservation and restoration of wild bees. Conservation biology.

Hayes, J. Jr. Underwood, M, R Pettis J 2008. A survey of honey bee colony loss in the United States.

The role that bees play in the continuation of human survival is very vital, hence the survival of the human race depends on the survival of the bee and not only survival but keeping the population of the bees in check so as not to have them as one of the endangered species. The modern agriculture highly depends on the existence of bees but in the recent past there has been a decline in the number of bees that are living to their expected life span most of them die prematurely leading to loss of significant colonies, in some cases, the death of the worker bees can lead to the extinction of the whole hive. This loss dramatically affects the production of food in areas where pollination is highly facilitated by bees. The death of the bee colonies has been attributed to specific factors such as change in climate of regions with high bee colonies, lack of sufficient food in the territories that can be associated with a low number of worker bees per colony, The malnutrition can in turn lead to production of a substandard queen leading to the whole colony being made up of slightly weak bees that are not capable of reaching their full potential.

Colony collapse disorder is also a recently described phenomenon. In this case, colonies of bees are abandoned through no dead bees are found in the sighted colonies. This specific type of decline in population has a significant effect on the agricultural production in an area because all the bees that are responsible for pollination migrate leaving behind the incapable queen.

Though the real cause of this disorder has not been established, it has been attributed to use of pesticides in farming, as well as the modern systems employed in bee farming. The decline has led to farmers taking drastic measures such as transferring whole colonies of bees or hiring bees for pollination to sustain food production. Research has shown that the loss of insect pollinators contributes to the loss in the crop production amounting to millions of dollars meaning that a significant percentage of the population has the standard food supply interfered with.

A parasite, Nosema apis has been linked to the decline in the food production of specific regions as it is pathogenic to the bee leading to complete loss of colonies especially during the winter season, also associated with this parasite is the reduction of the amount of honey being produced by the worker bees although they are out feeding on the standard rate.

Conservation History and Honey Bee Recovery Efforts

Porter. C.R. 2017Survey was detecting the presence of Nosema in Texas bees and feral honey bees found in the farth county, Texas. Bee biology and conservation.

The knowledge of the biology of the bee and the understanding of the peak season for the activity of the bees has become vital for the conservation of the honey bee as well as to increase the population numbers where it has been dramatically affected. Farmers who are the direct beneficiaries of the pollinators have in the recent past been taught extensively how to carter for the survival of bee population in their local areas, activities such as cultivation of flowers, planting cover crops , this provides feeding grounds and habitats for the bees reducing their chance of migration or abandoning of their respective hives.

Pesticides used on the crops being produced have also been proven to drive away bees or lead to their death, efforts to ensure bee-friendly farming is being carried out, insecticides sprayed to plants should be done when the pollinators are not likely to visit the crops. It is during the blooming season that the bees tend to fly about and this is the period in which farmers need not apply pesticides to the plants in order not to kill the bees.

As the bees do not solely rely on the pollen and nectar from the flowers, availability of clean water is also vital for their survival, this should be free from the environmental pollutants for it to be suitable for the bees, in months where there is little rainfall, and farmers need to avail clean water to the bees artificially.

The efforts being put in place to ensure the survival of the bees is not only beneficial to the bees themselves but also to the human population. Measures such as guaranteeing the natural water sources are clean, planting of cover crops as well as using fewer pesticides, leads to less pollutant in the environment as well as curbing soil erosion. Hence the survival of the small bees is vital for the survival and well-being of our planet as a whole.


Hayes, J. Jr. Underwood, M, R Pettis J 2008. A survey of honey bee colony loss in the United States.

Porter. C.R. 2017Survey was detecting the presence of Nosema in Texas bees and feral honey bees found in the farth county, Texas. Bee biology and conservation

Winfree 2010. Conservation and restoration of wild bees. Conservation biology.

Winston, ML.1991. The biology of the honey bee. Bee biology.4-214

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