Most bees are solitary and each female builds her own nest, although many bees may occupy a single site. Eggs are laid in cells provided with enough pollen-nectar paste to feed the larva until it becomes a flying, adult bee. Social bees (honey bees and bumblebees) live in a complex society of 10,000–50,000 members. Headed by the queen, whose function is to lay eggs (up to 2,000 a day), the community comprises female workers which collect pollen and build cells, and male bees, or drones, which fertilize the few young queens that appear each fall. Parasitic bees, not equipped to build hives, develop in the cells of the host working bees.
Royal jellyBoth queen and workers come from the same larval stock. The sexual development of the few grubs chosen to replace the queen depends on their being fed a "royal jelly" produced by special glands of the worker nursemaids.
Anatomy of the bee
LegsThe bee has three pairs of legs. With the first pair it continually brushes and cleans its antennae, whose extraordinary sensitivity would be impaired by the slightest speck of dirt. The second pair of legs is used almost entirely as a means of support. The pollen-basket and brush, are on the third pair of legs.
Crop or honey-stomachThe nectar collected by the bee from the flowers she visits is stored in her crop and carried back to the hive. In the crop, chemical changes take lace and the nectar is converted to honey. In the hive the honey is regurgitated and stored in the cells of the honeycomb.
Pharyngeal glandsThese glands secrete a liquid which the worker-bee regurgitates from its mouth to feed the larvae. Larvae that are destined to become queen-bees receive an extra large quantity of it.
SpiraclesThe bee, like other insects, does not breathe through its mouth, but through small openings situated along each side of the abdomen and thorax, called spiracles.
Dorsal blood vesselThe blood of the bee is a colorless liquid. The center of a bee's circulation is the dorsal vessel, a tubular sac which pulsates and so circulates the blood.
Ligula or tongueThe tongue of a bee is shaped like a trough and has a hairy pad at its tip, with which the bee sucks up liquids.
AbdomenThe abdomen contains the digestive organs and those of reproduction, respiration, and circulation. These connect with tubes called trachae, which conduct the air to all parts of the body, and into a kind of air sac which functions as a lung.
Mandibles (jaws) and maxillae (accessory jaws)These are used for chewing; for kneading the wax out of which the honeycomb is made; for opening the anthers of flowers; for cleaning out the hive; and for disabling enemies.
AntennaeThe antennae are important sense organs which are used by the bee to touch, measure, and smell.
OcellusThe oceli are three small eyes placed on the top of the bee's head and arranged in a triangle. They serve for vision at close quarters and in near darkness.
Compound eyesThere is a pair of compound eyes, situated one on each side of the head. They give a panoramic view of faraway objects, magnified 60 times.
StingWith its sting the bee injects a poisonous substance into the body of its enemy. It is used as a defense and is not normally dangerous to man. When it stings a person the bee often leaves the sting behind and so dies.
Related category ZOOLOGY
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