Apis mellifera is the western honey bee. Its native range is Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It is one of the only eusocial animal species on the planet, meaning that a colony of honey bees is a superorganism. No one individual bee can survive on its own.
There are over 16,000 species of bees in the world, about 4,000 of which are native to North America, and around 450 species of which are native to Michigan. Of those 16,000+ species, only around 8 species of bees produce honey. There are no native honey-producing bees in North America. Most bees are solitary bees and do not live in colonies.
Being a eusocial superorganism means that honey bees are divided into castes or physiologically different variations of the same species. The 3 honey bee castes are the queen, workers, and drones.
The queen is the only fertile female in the colony and lays all the eggs. She is the largest bee in the hive.
The workers are all sterile females who, as their name suggests, do all of the work inside and outside the hive including brood rearing, foraging for food, wax building, taking care of the queen, and many, many other tasks.
The drones are the male bees. They are larger than the workers and their only job is to fertilize virgin queen bees.
More Information: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Bees
Jen Haeger is a new master beekeeper and board member of A2B2.