The nest of the honey bee is known as the bee-hive. The population of an average sized colony consists of 30 to 50 thousand individuals. A colony is termed ‘weak’ or ‘strong’ according to the number of worker bees it possesses. There are three types of individuals in a colony, namely the Queen, worker and drone. Due to the existence of several morphological forms, bees are said to be a polymorphic species.
The following is the description of each type of member of the bee colony,
The Queen bee
The following are the qualities of the Queen bee
- It is a diploid, fertile female.
- The presence of queen is a must in a colony
- The size of the body of queen is much larger than other castes of bees of the colony
- Her legs are strong as she always has to walk about on the comb
- The queen has a sting, curved like a sword at the tip of the abdomen, which is a modification of the egg-laying organ known as ovipositor. The sting serves as an organ of defense. She never uses it against anybody except her own caste
- The queen is responsible for laying eggs for a colony. She lays about 1000 to 1500 eggs every day and lives for about two to three years. She lays both fertilized eggs (from which females develop) and unfertilized eggs (from which males develop).
The Worker bee
The following are the qualities of the worker bee
- It is a diploid, sterile female.
- The size of a worker is the smallest among all the other castes but they constitute majority population of the bees in a colony.
The functions of worker bees are as follows,
- Collection of honey,
- Producing royal jelly for feeding the community,
- Raising larvae and young ones,
- Cleaning the comb,
- Making wax,
- Constructing the beehive,
- Defending and protecting the hive,
- Clearing the debris and dead bees,
- Maintaining the temperature of the hive
Worker bees are again of different types depending on the type of work they do,
Laying worker: These worker bees lay unfertilized eggs in the absence of the queen bee.
Nurse workers: They serve the queen with royal jelly, larvae and drones with honey and beebread.
House workers: They perform house cleaning, comb building, accepting nectar and pollen for foragers and finally guard the hive.
Field workers: They travel to distant places to collect the nectar, pollen grains and resin from the flowers.
The Drone bee
The following are the qualities of the drone bee,
- It is haploid, fertile male.
- The drones are born out of unfertilized eggs in the brood chamber.
- The males are larger than workers and are quite noisy.
- They have large wings, robust body and reduced mouthparts.
- They are unable to gather food, but they voraciously eat the food fed to them by the worker bees.
- They are stingless and their sole function is to fertilize the queen during the nuptial flight after which they are starved to death.
- The number of drones in a colony varies from 200-300.
- The drone develops parthenogenetically from unfertilized eggs.
- Drones live only for a short period of time.
- Write the names of different members of a bee colony. Also mention the types of worker bees.
- What are the characteristics of a queen bee?
- Mention important features of drone bees.
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