Honeybee colonies can include up to 60,000 bees, and while they look very similar, there are 3 distinct types of honey bee. They all have an important role in making sure the hive runs smoothly.
1.) The Worker Bee:
When you see a honey bee perched on a flower in your garden, you’ve spotted a worker bee. Just like their name implies, they work hard to keep the hive thriving by collecting pollen. Worker bees are female and are the smallest adult bee in the hive. Worker bees can travel up to 8km from the hive to collect pollen, nectar and propolis!
When a worker bee is younger, she may be a nurse bee. These bees are the mother hen of the hive, as they care for and feed the new-born bees, attending to them around 1300 times a day! Not only that, but they must also take care of the queen bee.
During their spare time, they take the pollen collected by the worker bees and make it into, you guessed it, honey.
The guard bees are the muscle of the hive, protecting it from unwelcome guests. These invaders can include: Bees from other colonies, wasps, other insects, mice, and other medium or large mammals after the honey. A guard bee uses its stinger to scare them away from the hive.
The amount of guard bees will depend on the season, and in turn how busy the hive is. They tend to be older bees, as their stingers are the most developed.
2.) The Drone Bee:
All drone bees are male and tend to be stockier than the other bees. Despite living around the hive, they will eventually leave to become part of a mating flight. This is when the drone bee flies around a specific area, just like a drone would, awaiting a queen bee’s arrival.
Their main purpose in the hive is to offer a wide gene pool, which can help to protect the hive from diseases. Apart from this, drone bees just relax, doing very little around the hive.
3.) The Queen Bee:
It is common to assume that the queen bee has the most power in the hive. However, she has very little say in the hives activities as the worker bees tend to have the final say. With little decision-making capability, the queen’s main role is to reproduce.
But being a queen does have its perks, as she will be fed rich royal jelly as a new-born. Also, her stinger is different to that of worker bees, meaning she can sting multiple times and survive. Queen bees are distinct due to their long bodies and larger size.