European and Africanized honey bees resemble one another, but their habits and behaviors are very different: the Africanized honey bee is more aggressive than its European counterpart and has earned the popular nickname “killer bee.” They are known to respond to slight disturbances within a wide range of their hives. They swarm around their nests, attack in large numbers when threatened and have been known to chase perceived enemies for over a mile.
The number of individuals within a honey bee colony depends largely upon seasonal changes. A colony could reach up to 80,000 individuals during the active season, when workers forage for food, store honey for winter and build combs. However, this population will decrease dramatically during colder seasons.
Bees and their hives are the features of numerous cultures, religious traditions and mythology and they appear in religious imagery and their honey and pollen is used in religious observances. The Egyptians made the bee a solar insect born from the tears of the sun god Ra which landed on the desert sand. The Egyptians also placed bees and honey into tombs as offerings to the spirits of the dead. Sealed pots of honey were found in the grave goods of Pharaohs such as Tutankhamun. In middle Eastern, Asian and other ancient traditions bees, referred to as "beings of Fire", were considered as symbols of purity and represented souls.
Bees have been around an incredibly long time; the oldest known bee fossil is 100 million years old, bees evolved step by step long with flowering plants in the middle of the Cretaceous period.
Approximately one third of all the food Americans eat is directly or indirectly derived from honey bee pollination. Some crops pollinated are cucumbers, almonds, carrot seed, melons, apricots, cherries, pears, apples, prunes, plums, pluots, seed alfalfa, cantaloupe, seed onions, avocados, kiwi, blueberries, cranberries, etc.
On average, a worker bee in the summer lasts six to eight weeks. Their most common cause of death is wearing their wings out. During that six to eight-week period, their average honey production is 1/12 of a teaspoon. In that short lifetime, they fly the equivalent of 1 1/2 times the circumference of the earth.
Male bees are called drones—the third class of honeybee. Several hundred drones live in each hive during the spring and summer, but they are expelled for the winter months when the hive goes into a lean survival mode.
The queen's job is simple—laying the eggs that will spawn the hive's next generation of bees. There is usually only a single queen in a hive. If the queen dies, workers will create a new queen by feeding one of the worker females a special diet of a food called "royal jelly." This elixir enables the worker to develop into a fertile queen. Queens also regulate the hive's activities by producing chemicals that guide the behavior of the other bees.
Unlike Honey Bees, Bumblebees and several other Native North American Bees perform buzz-pollination, in which the bee grabs onto a flower’s stamen and vibrates her flight muscles, releasing a burst of pollen. This behavior is highly beneficial for the cross-pollination of blueberries, tomatoes, cranberries, peppers and other plants.
Most people tend to group all bees into one category, usually assuming that they all make honey and they all will sting. Not true! There are more than 30,000 species of native bees on our planet, and the majority do not sting or produce honey.