Honey Bees

(European) Honey Bee

Scientific Name: Apis mellifera

European Honey Bee on Yellow Flower

Category:

Honey Bee

Conservation status:

Common

About:

The European honey bee, also known as the Western honey bee, is renowned for its production of honey. These highly social insects play a crucial role in pollination, contributing significantly to the production of fruits, vegetables, and other crops.

European honey bees exhibit a remarkable level of social organization and cooperation within their colonies. They communicate through a variety of signals and behaviours, including pheromones, vibrations, and dance language.

How to identify:

European honey bees are among the most recognisable insects due to their distinctive appearance and behaviour. Ranging in length from 15mm-25mm (1/2in to 1in). Workers, Drones and Queens, these bees have robust oval-shaped bodies with distinct thorax and abdomen.

In addition to their size, European honey bees are readily identified by their characteristic black and yellow banding pattern. The abdomen is typically black with yellow bands, and the wings are light brown with dark veins.

Nesting:

European honey bees live in highly organised colonies, typically inhabiting man-made hives, like the popular Langstroth Beehive or natural cavities like hollow trees. Within a colony, European honey bees exist in three distinct castes: queens, workers, and drones. Queens are responsible for laying eggs, workers perform various tasks essential for colony survival, and drones solely contribute to reproduction.

When to see:

All Year Round, but most prevalent from March to September

Distribution:

European Honey Bees are the most widespread of the between seven to twelve species of honey bees worldwide. Native to Europe, western Asia, and Africa, it has been introduced to other regions, including North and South America, Australia, and eastern Asia.

Habitats:

Woodlands, Grasslands, Orchards, Man-Made Hives, Gardens, Heathland.

Did you know fact:

The entire body of a European honey bee is covered in fine hairs, which serve a crucial role in pollen collection and navigation. In addition, well-developed hind legs with ‘pollen baskets’, are specialised structures for collecting and storing pollen.