Bees are insects

Bees live in a hive

Bees collect nectar from flowers

Bees collect pollen from flowers

Bees use nectar to make honey

Bees use pollen as food for new bees

In a bee hive
Bees make honey and keep it in wax storage cells to be food in winter when there are no flowers and therefore no nectar to eat. Bees are called social insects. This means they live in very organised groups called colonies. A bee colony has one queen, some drones and many workers. They do different jobs. A bee colony lives in a hive. It is totally dark inside the hive. Bees are almost deaf, so touch is the sense they rely on for communication. The humming sound we hear is the sound of their wings beating.

The queen is the largest bee in the colony and she is the only one that lays eggs. Drones are male bees. They do not work or sting. Their only job is to mate with a queen bee so that she can lay eggs

Worker bees are female and do all the work.There are about 55,000 worker bees in a colony. They produce wax and shape it into hexagonal cells called comb. Comb is very thin but the hexagons make it very strong.

Out of each egg a larva (a small grub) hatches, and each one is put into a comb cell. Some workers feed the queen and the larvae. Larvae are fed bee bread, a mixture of honey and pollen. Other workers guard the entrance to the colony's home, which is called a hive. They cool it by fanning their wings. Other workers collect nectar to make honey. Each worker bee has a stinger and uses it in defence. A bee stings once then dies.

Nectar is a sweet liquid in the centre of a flower. To reach it, a bee brushes against the part of a flower that produces a yellow powder called pollen. Pollen sticks to the bee's hairy legs and body before it flies to another flower of the same kind.

Hear a buzzing bee

Pollen from the first flower gets mixed with the pollen of the second flower. This keeps happening as the bee goes about from flower to flower. This mixing of pollen must happen so that seeds and fruit develop. This is how bees help plants.

Worker bees take the nectar to the hive and fill wax cells of the comb with nectar, then seal the top of each full cell with a wax lid. Inside the cell, the nectar becomes honey.

Here's a video about life inside a bee hive.

Inside the Bee Hive
More science games & videos on Insects at  

Producing a Queen Bee
Workers start feeding a two-day old larva with special food called royal jelly to make it develop into a queen bee, which has a large body with the ability to lay eggs. After eleven days, the queen is fully developed and comes out of her cell. She flies out of the hive, followed by the drones. She mates with about 18-20 drones, which will give her enough sperm to last her lifetime, nearly two years. Sometimes a queen will return to the hive and replace the queen that is there, but at other times she will fly away accompanied by a number of worker bees and form a new colony. A queen starts to lay eggs about ten days after mating, and lays about 3,000 a day. She never leaves the part of the hive where she lays eggs.

Close up of a bee's eyes
photo ©

Bee stings
A bee can only sting once. It stings, flies away and dies, but leaves the stinger behind. The stinger has tiny hooks and a poison sac. The stinger keeps on pumping poison until it is removed.

Find out about bee keeping (farming honey)

Go here to watch an animation about how bees make honey

Bees are at risk from disease and changes in the environment. Watch this video to find out why and how you can help.

Vanishing of the Bees - Trailer from Bee The Change on Vimeo.

Acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, Shirley & Thomas, Ron. Bees. [Online] (2012)

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