Learn about Utah Honey Bees
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Honey bees are flying insects and close relatives of wasps. Honey bees have two sets of wings, three simple eyes on top of their head, and two antennae on the front of their heads. They have three pairs of legs for walking, grooming, and collecting pollen. Honey bees are found worldwide, but most of the bees in Utah are European honey bees (Apis mellifera) brought to North America by settlers.
Honey bees live in large colonies. A colony can have up to 60,000 bees at one time! The queen bee is the mother of all the bees in the colony. She is the only bee with fully developed ovaries (which produce eggs). There are also male honey bees called drones and female worker bees. Worker bees clean the hive, care for the young, and gather food.
Honey bees make their homes in hollow logs and trees. But today, most honey bees are kept in wooden boxes called hives. Hives have different sections called combs, where the honey bees store their honey and pollen, lay their eggs, and rear their young.
Honey bees feed on flower nectar and pollen. In addition to being used as food for developing broods, pollen can be mixed with nectar to make beebread, which provides carbohydrates and protein in a single food source. Honey bees also collect water for use in evaporative cooling of the hive and diluting concentrated nectar into usable honey.
Honey Bee Life Cycle & Reproduction
Honey bees undergo complete metamorphosis. They have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The honey bee life cycle begins when the queen lays an egg in a wax cell in the hive. The egg hatches after about three days into a worm-like larva. The worker bees feed the larvae a diet of pollen and honey for about six days. The larvae then spin silk cocoons around themselves and pupate. After approximately 12 days, adult bees chew their way out of their cells to continue the honey bee lifecycle.
Honey Bee Dangers
The honey bee is beneficial and essential to our environment. Honey bees are protected in Utah by law and should not be exterminated. Many beekeepers will gather and remove bee swarms from your yard (free of charge) when asked. Bee stings can be painful and sometimes dangerous or deadly if an individual has an allergic reaction.