Please help keeping these websites open for everybody as long as possible
- Brief facts
- Developmental stages
- Anatomy of honey bee
- Body parts
- Africanized honey bees
- Protocols for studies of learning in the honeybee.
Bibliography (new page)
- Anatomy of honeybee's ovary
- Reducing honeybee queen fighting ability
- Sex determination in Apis mellifera
- Model of caste differentiation in Apis mellifera
- Waggle-dancing bees
- Asiatic honeybees understand European honeybees
- amTOR knockdown blocks queen fate and results in workers
- Modern honey bee diversity
- Honey Bee Colony Losses in the U.S., Fall 2007 to Spring 2008
cellular organisms - Eukaryota - Fungi/Metazoa group - Metazoa - Eumetazoa - Bilateria - Coelomata - Protostomia - Panarthropoda - Arthropoda - Mandibulata - Pancrustacea - Hexapoda - Insecta - Dicondylia - Pterygota - Neoptera - Endopterygota - Hymenoptera - Apocrita - Aculeata - Apoidea - Apidae - Apinae - Apini - Apis - Apis mellifera
DistributionApis mellifera is the most commonly domesticated species of honey bees, probably originated in Tropical Africa and spread from there to Northern Europe and East into Asia. Distribution of the species extends from northern Europe to southern Africa, and from the British Isles to the Ural Mountains, western Iran, and the Arabian peninsula. More than 25 subspecies are currently recognized including Apis mellifera scutellata, which after introduction into Brazil apiculture, colonized much of the western hemisphere in less than 50 years thus accomplishing one of most rapid and spectacular biological invasion known.
SpeciesStudy of geographic variation in the mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) of honey bees has revealed four lineages of mtDNA mitotypes: west European (examples: Apis m. mellifera Linnaeus, A. m. iberiensis Engel), east European (examples: A. m. carnica Pollmann, A. m. ligustica Spinola, A. m. caucasia Pollmann,A. m. anatoliaca Maa), African (examples: A. m. capensis Eschscholtz, A. m. intermissa Maa, A. m. lamarckii Cockerell, A. m. litorea Smith, A. m. monticola Smith, A. m. sahariensis Baldenspreger, and A. m. scutellata Lepeletier de Saint Fargeau), and Middle Eastern or Oriental (bees from southeastern Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel).
Social organizationThe honey bees are eusocial insects: they live in colonies that contain one breeding female, or queen; a few thousand males, or drones (the population of drones varies considerably) and a large population (up to and over 100,000) of sterile female worker bees.
Hive temperatureBees have behavioral control of temperature and are able to maintain the hive at 32+-0.6°C regardless of the outside temperature. When too cold, bees contract their flight muscles repeatedly without moving their wings; this behavior generates heat.
Economic valueThe honey bee's primary commercial value is pollination of various fruit and vegetable crops. Other valuable products of honeybees used by humans are honey, beeswax, and propolis. Honeybees are estimated to contribute billions of dollars a year in pollination services alone to the US economy.
Honeybee endangermentMost important honey bee's pathogens that incur great economic damage are the tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi, and the varroa mite, Varroa destructor. Since the 1980s, wild and domestic hives in United States have been decimated by a dual infestations. U.S. honeybee populations declined 50% for last 50 years.
Varroa destructor, parasitic mite of honey bee at MetaPathogen
Honeybee as a model organismHoneybee is a model for learning and memory; for studies of allergic disease; for gerontology research, as the long-lived, egg-producing queen is genetically identical to the much shorter-lived female workers; for studies of venom toxicology; and for studies of infectious diseases in dense societies.
VisionBees, like humans, posess trichromatic color vision, however, their visual spectrum is shifted toward shorter wavelengths, and their visual acuity is about 170 times poorer than that of humans.
Complexity of tasksHoneybee has brain that weighs less than a milligram and consists of fewer than a million neurons. Despite of this, honeybees learn to discriminate visual patterns and to generalize properties of the patterns (such as orientation and symmetry); they are capable of complex associative recall: colors can trigger recall of patterns, and scents can trigger recall of colors; they perform tasks in a context- and time-dependent manner; and they can count to a maximum of four objects presented sequentially or simulteneously.
CommunicationsHoneybees communicate information about important locations (food or nest sites) around the hive through ritualized body movements, called the "waggle dance".
A swarm's decision making relies on sensing a quorum (a sufficient number of scouts) at the one of the nest sites rather than sensing a consensus (agreement of dancing scouts) at the swarm cluster. By this hypothesis, a scout bees "vote" for a site by spending time at it.
Honeybee passes through 4 distinct life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The process is called complete metamorphosis.
- Egg The queen bee lays a single soft
white egg in each cell of the comb; the egg stage usually takes 3 days.
- Embryonic queen Eggs destined to become queens are laid in a larger cell.
- Embryonic drone Egg from which drone is going to hatch was not fertilized, thus, drones are haploid and carry only the chromosomes of the queen.
- Embryonic worker
- Hatching Egg generally hatches into a larva on the fourth day.
- Larval Larva is a legless grub that resembles a tiny white
sausage; the larva is fed a mixture of pollen and nectar called beebread;
larval stage takes place during days 4 through 9; larvae undergo several moltings
before brood cell capping and spinning a cocoon to become pupa.
- Larval worker Larval worker is fed a mixture of pollen and nectar called beebread.
- Larval drone Larval drones are fed royal jelly (a substance secreted from the glands in the heads of worker bees) and develop in a slightly larger cell than worker bees.
- Larval queen Larval queens are fed royal jelly only.
- Pupa On the ninth day the cell is capped with wax and the
larva transforms into the pupa; the pupa is a physical transition stage between
the amorphous larva and the hairy, winged adult; the pupa does not eat.
- Pupal worker Takes about 282 hours (11-12 days).
- Pupal drone Takes about 360 hours days (~15 days).
- Pupal queen Takes about 6 days.
- Adult worker Life span of worker bee
is about 20-40 days in summer and 140 days in winter; worker bees are sterile females;
during their adult lives worker bees undergo complex and drastic changes in behavior
and physiology; the transitions are on only partly genetically predetermined and
mostly are governed by environmental factors: they can be delayed, accelerated or
even reversed depending on the needs of the hive.
- Hive worker
- Cell-tending worker A young honey bee
first 2 days after
hatching who is responsible for cell
cleaning and capping, and keeping
- Feeding worker 3 to 11 days old honey
bee who is
responsible for feeding larvae and
- Housekeeping worker 12 to 17 days old
bee who is resposible
for producing wax, building combs, and
food handling (packing pollen, recieving
and transporting nectar within the hive.
- Guardian worker 18 to 21 days old bee
who starts with
ventilating and proceeds with guarding
the hive's entrance.
- Cell-tending worker A young honey bee first 2 days after
- Field worker 22 days and older bee who is visiting flowers, collects pollen, nectar, propolis, and water; the onset of foraging coincides with most remarkable transitions in bee's life style: from relatively constant arrythmic activity to diurnality, from homogeneous to highly heterogeneous environments, from darkness to light, from crawling to flight, etc. Forager bees specialize in the collection of either pollen (protein) or nectar (carbohydrates).
- Hive worker
- Adult drone Life span of drone is about 21-32 days in spring, 90 days in summer; it does not overwinter; drone is a specialized male bee who designed only for mating with the queen after which he dies; all living drones are therefore virgins.
- Adult queen life span of queen be can
take up to 2 years and depends on amount of sperm which she recieved during her
- Virgin queen Newly hatched queen destroys any other unhatched queens, fights to the death any hatched queens, may destroy her mother, and then takes her mating flights.
- Mating queen Virgin queen flies to a congregation area where hundreds or thousands of unrelated drones await; the drones pursue the queen and several mate with her in flight; of the 90 million sperm deposited by several males in the queen's oviducts, a mixture of about 7 million are stored in a special pouch in her body called the spermatheca; these sperm will be used, a few at a time, during the queen's life to fertilize her eggs; fertilized eggs laid by a queen become female worker bees and new queens; the queen also lays some unfertilized eggs, which produce the drones.
- Laying queen The laying queen secretes a pheromone that spreads from body to body among the worker bees and keeps them uninterested in reproduction on their own; the queen lays about 1500 eggs per day.
- Adult worker Life span of worker bee is about 20-40 days in summer and 140 days in winter; worker bees are sterile females; during their adult lives worker bees undergo complex and drastic changes in behavior and physiology; the transitions are on only partly genetically predetermined and mostly are governed by environmental factors: they can be delayed, accelerated or even reversed depending on the needs of the hive.
- Stinging organs
- Stinger The stinger is composed of two barbed lancets that are connected to the venom sac; by pulling away from a stinging site the bee leaves her stinger, the venom sac and attached muscles in the stung individual's tissues, and subsequently, dies; the stinger continues to throb for 30 to 60 seconds, injecting additional venom and giving off alarm ordors for other bees; up to 100 µg of venom is injected per sting.
- Venom sac
- Venom Also, apitoxin; the bee venom is composed primarily of proteins; the active components include vasoactive and hemolytic substances such as mellitin, phospholipid A and hyaluronidase as well as small amounts of histamine, dopamine, and norepinephrine responsible for hypotension and tachycardia; 1.3 mg of the venom per kilogram of body weight (1000 stings or about 90 mg for an average adult) is considered to be a lethal dose.
- Some honeybees were taken from Africa (Tanzania) in 1956 to Brazil as part of a breeding program that would allow the European honeybees (EHBs) to adapt to hot South American climate while retaining their high honey production.
- In 1957, 26 swarms of the imported African bees escaped into the surrounding jungles and started to interbreed with local bees. African gene lineage started to replace European patri- and matrilines by several mechanisms, some of which are still poorly understood. Resulted bees began to take on the more aggressive behaviors of the African bees and become known as Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs). AHBs expanded rapidly and at some point contaminated US bee populations in Southern states (Texas around 1990, Arizona and New Mexico by 1993, and California by 1994).
- Many physiological, behavioral, and learning characteristics of AHBs render them survival and dispersal advantages, among them: greater emphasis on pollen collection and faster conversion of pollen into brood; apparent mating advantage of African drones; faster development of African virgin queens and their increased fighting ability, which gives them more opportunities to eliminate European rivals in queen cells; ability of worker bees to fly longer distances; higher reproduction rates that results in exessive swarming (6-12 times per year as opposed to 2-3 times per year); tolerance to harsh temperatures, and an extreme aggressiveness toward perceived intruders.
- Namely because of their heightened excitability and aggressiveness (not because they are more venomous) the AHBs are very dangerous: they are aggravated by minimal disturbances like the vibrations of a lawnmower, light-colored clothing, perfume, and many other stumuli; they pursue their victim relentlessly up to a distance of a quarter of a mile; they attack collectively and in great numbers. Once disturbed, the colony may remain agitated for 24 hours.
- The AHPs are about 10% smaller than EHBs. In contrast with native feral bees they tend to build colonies near populated areas.
- The recommendation for anyone who is attacked by AHBs is to outrun the bees to safety while protecting their eyes and mouth because the bees are attracted to dark moist openings. Diving is not recommended because swimming speed usually is not enough to get away from the bees who also will focus on stinging the head. The bees may even crawl down a tube used for breathing underwater.
Four main protocols are used for studying learning and memory in honebee.
- Conditioning of the approach flight towards a visual target in free-flying bees.
- Olfactory conditioning of the proboscis extension reflex in harnessed bees.
- Mechanosensory conditioning of the proboscis extension reflex in harnessed bees.
- Olfactory conditioning of the sting extension reflex in harnessed bees.
Apparel, postcards, mugs and other various household items with this design are available at GeoChemBio shop