Honey bees – Apis mellifera

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This insect with a hairy body has an inconspicuous size. Its mouthparts are of the grinder-licker type . Its thorax has two pairs of wings which are attached together by hooks. This species has three castes: the queen, the workers and the drones.

The queen is the largest bee in the colony. It measures 16 to 20 mm long. Its pointed abdomen extends far beyond the wings and ends in a egg-laying organ.

The workers are all females. They are about 12mm long. Their legs are equipped with specialized structures for collecting and transporting pollen. Their abdomen carries glands that produce wax. It ends with a sting.

Drones are the males of the colony. They are 15 to 16 mm long. Their massive body ends in an abdomen with a rounded end. They have big eyes and no sting.

Life cycle

To found a colony, a queen must be impregnated by drones during a mating flight. She then begins to lay eggs. Each egg is placed in a wax cell. After three days, a small white larva emerges from the egg.

The larva molts five times and then turns into a nymph. A final moult gives birth to the adult. From egg to adult, there are 16 days for a queen, 21 for a worker and 24 for a drone.

A bee colony functions as a living entity that continues indefinitely, barring a major incident. New queens are produced as needed.

Geographical distribution

This bee was introduced to America from Europe. She is cosmopolitan and lives in temperate and tropical regions around the world.


This species lives mostly in human-made beehives. Sometimes colonies are found in the wild. It lives in cultivated areas, meadows, gardens, at the edge of forests and in urban areas.


The adult honey bee feeds on nectar, honey and pollen, sometimes on honeydew.

The queen and the drones are fed by the workers. The workers exchange nectar with each other. All the larvae are fed by workers. Those of queens eat royal jelly. Those of workers and drones are given royal jelly first, then pollen and honey.

Ecological roles

The honey bee is a major pollinator . Through its foraging, it also plays a role in maintaining plant diversity.

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