Over 20,000 species of bees live on Earth, but only honeybees make honey. Besides making this sweet, delicious treat, honeybees have developed a remarkable system of organization. In a beehive, there are three kinds of bees – the queen, the workers and the drones. But that’s not all about honey bees, each has a special job.
The queen’s one and only job is to lay eggs. In fact, she spends most of her life inside the hive, lying around. The workers probably have the best, but hardest, job. They work together to build cells for the baby bees. They take care of the babies and keep the hive clean and tidy.
Worker bees also gather pollen and turn it into honey. The honey feeds the baby bees and also feeds the bees over the winter. Both the workers and the queen are female. Only the drones are male. The drones’ one and only job is to mate with the queen, which is the only bee that can lay eggs. Once the drone’s job is done, the drone has nothing to do.
If that sounds like a fun job, consider this: after the drone has mated with the queen, the workers don’t give him any food and he starves over the winter. The workers aren’t mean, but they can’t afford to feed members of the hive who don’t contribute.
Read on for more all about honey bees.
Fun Facts about Honey Bees for Kids
- Worker bees pick a few eggs to turn into queens. They feed the developing larvae royal jelly, which is a special type of honey that’s high in nutrients. The royal jelly is what turns an ordinary bee larva into a queen.
- Honeybees pollinate crops, such as apples, pears, watermelon and pumpkins. Without honeybees, these crops wouldn’t grow.
- Honeybees are gentle unless frightened. Beekeepers use smoke to calm them.
- Honey is high in nutrients.
Honey Bee Vocabulary
- System: pattern, method
- Hive: bee home
- Starve: to become ill or even die because of a lack of food
- Larvae: baby insects
- Nutrients: compounds in food that help you grow and stay healthy
Learn More All About Honey Bees
Watch this video documentary all about honey bees:
Many honeybees are dying and scientists are working hard to learn why. This video documentary will help you understand their life cycle.
Honey Bee Q&A
Question 1: Do the workers have special jobs?
Answer 1: Each worker has a role. Some are nursery workers. Some take care of the queen. Some are construction workers, building and repairing the hive. Some are the grocery shoppers of the hive, gathering food daily.
Question 2: How many eggs does a queen lay?
Answer 2: A queen can live for several years and lay up to 2,000 eggs every day.
Question 3: Can a honey sting more than once?
Answer 3: No once a honey bee stings it will die. When the bee stings it leaves part of its abdomen with the sting and it cannot survive. A wasp on the other hand can sting multiple times.
Question 4: Are honey bees aggressive?
Answer 4: Honey bees can be aggressive, but if left alone they are generally mild mannered. Late summer and into the fall is a time when the honey bee seems to show more aggression. Unless you are a trained bee keeper never ever disturb a honey bee hive, they will attack in large numbers to defend the queen.
Question 5: Why are honey bees important?
Answer 5: Our planets ecosystems relies hugely on bees. Did you know about one third of the foods we eat are pollinated by bees. Apart from our human consumption of food needing to be pollinated by bees, birds and many of our small mammals eat berries, seeds and fruits that are also pollinated. If you have a garden you should encourage Mom and Dad to have a range of flowers planted, this will help protect the bee population but also keep your favorite foods on the table.
Question 6: How fast can a honey bee fly?
Answer 6: Have you ever wondered how fast a honey bee can fly? Well the answer is up to 20 miles per hour, but generally around 15 miles per hour because they tend to be carrying water or nectar.
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