How Honey Bees Work: Working Principles of Honey Bees

Bees serve us with their honey, pollen, milk, poisons and medicinal products. With the discipline and harmonious work among them, bees display good examples for us. Honey bees are divided into three parts as queen, worker bees and drones. The queen bee spawns to reproduce, its sting is poisonous, it only uses this poisonous sting while fighting against the opponent queen bee. Drones do not make honey, they use to match the queen, they are around 300 pieces in a hive and they are ready-to-eat eaters when they enter the winter, they are thrown out of the hive by worker bees. They have no needles, they cannot sting.

Worker bees do cleaning in the hive, make honey and bring pollen, and feed the eggs that are placed in the cell by the queen with their milk. There is a queen bee in the hive. If more than one is found, worker bees kill other queen bees, choosing the strongest among the queen bees, and bring the queen to one. Thus, there is a single queen bee in a hive. The newborn queen is matched within a week and has a fertilization period. Queen bee makes an announcement by making swirling, whirling, buzzing sound in the area where drones are present, in order to inform the drones. Since this match will be in the sky, the queen begins to fly in the air at full speed, and drones run after her.

The cells of the bees are made first. If there are pre-made cells, those cells are cleaned. The queen bee checks whether the cells are suitable for laying eggs and then releases the egg into the cell with its back. The laid eggs are fed with royal jelly by worker bees. The left egg turns into a larva within three days and the cell’s mouth is closed within fourteen days. After 21 days, the worker bee comes out of the cell. The queen is removed from the cell within 14 days. The more food the bee eats, the more the worker bee breeds. When there are many worker bees, the honey increases in the honey season. Newly grown bees first serve inside the hive. Worker bees make a division of labor among themselves. Bees that act as scouts. Bees keeping watch in front of the hive. Bees who are farmers. In the hive, they receive various services, including cleaning and wax embossing.

Bees that act as scouts fly to pollen or nectar areas up to 5 km away from the hive very early in the morning and reach the flower they are looking for through their special radar. They check the flower first, and if they like it, they sprinkle a liquid substance on the flower and then stick the dust in the flower with their brushes on their right and left feet. On their return to the hive, they describe the location of the flower or nectar they find to other bees by their movements. They pour the pollen they bring into the ready cell in the honeycomb and compress them so that they do not get air. They try to store the subsequent pollen in that cell.

When it is time to make honey, as in the discovery of pollen, they tell the bees in the hive where the nectar (honey) is. If there are 10 hives in a locality, each hive has a separate scout. Bees in each hive act according to the recipe description. Some bees of the row hive appear to bring flowers in red and others in white or yellow. The bee family is very attached to each other. They do not put a foreign bee in their hive. They know each other by the smells they emit as a recognition password. Bees recognize the foreign bee from its smell. If the foreign bee wants to enter the hive, they will throw it out. If the foreign bee enters the hive, they will kill him inside and they will throw his body out.

Honey Bees Work Based on Their Roles

As social insects, honey bees that maintain community life form families (colonies) in any nest. A bee colony consists of a queen, several hundred drones and 10-80 thousand worker bees. Of these three bees, which are apparently different from each other, the queen and worker bees are female. There are worker bees, queen and drones in a hive. The worker bees have undertaken all the jobs in the hive, and the moment they get out of the cell where they grew up, their duties within the hive change in proportion to their development. Worker bees have been involved in all kinds of jobs in the hive throughout their lives.

The first three days pass as hive cleaner. Male bees who do not make honey are stingless even though the queen and worker bees have stings. With the development of Queen eggs fertilized by the sperm of male bees, female bees are formed, and male bees are formed from the eggs of the workers. When the queen hatches, she is no different from other females; however, it becomes the mother of the bees after she is fed with the bee milk secreted by the salivary glands of the bees.

How the Queen Bee Works

Queen bee, also known as queen, is formed in a total of 16 days from egg to adult as a result of special feeding of a fertilized egg left in the queen bee cell with more frequent and richer food (royal jelly) than the larvae that will be worker bees. There is only one queen in each bee colony, and this queen bee is larger than other females. Its main task is to lay eggs.

Reproduction occurs only through queen bees, other females cannot mate with other males. Apart from ovulation, the queen also releases important substances that ensure the integrity of the colony and the functioning of the system in the hive. A good quality young queen can lay around 2000 eggs a day if other hives and extra hive conditions are also favorable.

How Worker Bee Works

Beehive cleaning is very important for the health of bees and larvae. Bees carry everything they see as unnecessary in the hive, they also kill insects that are too big to be able to carry and enter the hive from the outside, and they cover it with a substance and do some sort of mummification. Also, bees use propolis in this process. The feature of propolis is that it does not contain bacteria. So it is an ideal item for mummification work.

Bees become nannies for a week after the third day. Upon the activation of some glands in their bodies, they turn to the care of larvae. Bees from 3 to 10 days take care of the whole care of the larvae. They feed some of the larvae with royal jelly and others with a mixture of honey and flower powder. Beginning from the 10th day, the wax glands in the workers’ abdomen begin to develop and become wax-making. Worker bees are now construction workers who build honeycomb with wax.

Bees continue honeycomb production for 10 days. But they change positions again on the 20th day of their birth. This time they do the guard at the entrance of the hive. There is a change in the bees’ body again and the needle glands start producing poison, and guard bees keep a watch at the hive door and prevent intruders from entering.

How Drones Work

They are large from females, but they have no needles, or organs that can collect food for themselves. Their only function is to fertilize the queen. Worker bees do all conceivable works such as honeycomb knitting in the hive, collecting food, producing royal jelly, regulating the heat of the hive, cleaning and defending. In a colony, bees live between 10,000 and 80,000. Despite a large number of bees living together, thanks to the perfect division of labor and discipline, there is no hitch or turmoil in the hive.

Bees are very similar in appearance. Despite this similarity, any foreign bees entering the hive are recognized and thrown out of the hive or killed. Each hive contains a chemical substance secreted by the queen, and this substance is known to all the bees in the hive. In addition, all the bees in the hive get this substance from the queen, that is, they have the same smell as the queen. Thanks to this substance, all individuals in the same colony easily know each other.

Bees become collectors searching for flowers for the rest of their six-week life. While the worker bees do all these jobs in the hive, the task of the queen bee is only reproduction. The queen is constantly laying eggs throughout her life, and all her needs are met by worker bees. The mothers can come to adulthood in 16 days, workers in three weeks, and drones in days after workers. Adult queen bees then fight fiercely until only one of them remains in the hive. This new mother attacks the old mother of the hive. And she leaves the hive with a flock to establish a new colony.

Why Honey Bees Dance When Working

When Austrian animal behavioral scientist (ethologist) Karl Ritter von Frisch published his book “Aus dem Leben der Bienen” (Dancing Bees) in 1927, he was doubted by his contemporaries. Whereas he was a scientist who carried out scientific studies literally beyond his age, and he had carried out magnificent studies on the sense of smell in bees, visual perception, direction finding, positioning with polarized light, sun tracking, internal clock, effect of magnetic field on honeycomb knitting and perception of vertical (or gravity).

Von Frisch, who was not quite understood at first, was reinforced with repeated denies, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1973, 46 years after his great invention. So what is this bee dance that is important enough to win Nobel? Honey bees are living beings that live in colonies working together and in communication. There is a division of labor within the colonies, and depending on the age, the worker bees first work in the hive and then they get the title we call the “fielder” and bring resources such as water, nectar, and pollen to the hive.

Now put yourself a farmer in the place of a bee. In the morning at sunrise, you come to the bucket and intend to find the sweet nectar of the most beautiful flowers of the day and bring it to the nest as soon as possible. But where exactly are these wonderful flowers? If you have no idea, there is nothing you can do other than hovering randomly and seeing an alluring heap of flowers or hooking the dizzying smell of nectar. You appreciate how time-consuming and laborious it is for a tiny bee to search for flowers in large areas.

But wouldn’t your job be much easier if one of your brothers in the hive told you the place where the most beautiful flowers were? Here bees do just that. When the fielder bees, who had previously discovered a good resource, returned to the hive, they ran to their brothers and gave them the good news about the place they have found. For this reason, they use bee dance, which is the only representative language we know except for the human language.

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Savaş Ateş

I like eating honey a lot. We have a huge interest in bees and how they make honey. I have visited honey farms. I have talked to a lot of honey sellers. I read a lot of books about them. I want to share my knowledge with you.

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