Pollinator of the Month: Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

The western honey bee (Apis mellifera), also known as the European honey bee, is a eusocial species. This means the adults live in a group, have individuals caring for young that they did not give birth to, have a division of reproductive labour where not all individuals are capable of reproducing, and have overlapping generations. The queen bee is the only female in the colony that lays eggs. A queen bee is raised by feeding a female larvae royal jelly in addition to pollen and nectar. She can lay up to 15000 eggs a day. Male bees, also known as drones, are produced from unfertilized eggs (haploid) and have the role of mating with the queen. Worker bees are female bees, who are produced from fertilized eggs (diploid), and are only fed pollen and nectar, are responsible for the maintenance tasks in the hive, including raising the young and collecting the nectar.

Western honey bees are commonly 10-20 mm and have hairy eyes. Their abdomens have orange, brown and black stripes. They also have hair on their thorax, but tend to be less hairy than bumblebees. They also tend to be more slender than bumblebees.

Western honey bees were brought to North America from Europe in the 1600s for their agricultural capacity to produce honey and pollinate crops. Western honey bees are generalist species, foraging on a variety of flower species. They are currently still a managed species that is important for the pollination of crops and are rarely able to survive in the wild. However, the western honey bee likely outcompetes native bees by using too much nectar and not leaving enough for other bees to use. This negative effect that the western honey bee has on native bees may not be as prominent due to different flower preferences or feeding times, as scientists are still investigating competition patterns between European honey bees and native bee populations. Western honey bees may also negatively impact native bees by spreading diseases and infections to them.

To support native bees you can plant native flowers, including flowers with a variety of bloom times, shapes, sizes and colours. Additionally, you can try to add areas or materials that bees use to create habitats. This includes putting up bee hotels for solitary bees and leaving patches of bare ground for ground nesting bees.

Western honey bee on a pink and yellow flower

Publicado el octubre 26, 2023 06:42 TARDE por kiarra13 kiarra13


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