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Her Royal Majesty

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I'd like to start by introducing you to the Queen.

But first I think you should know something about the beehive...

You see, most hives are well-enclosed for protection from the harsh environment. Commercial hives are kept in cozy wood boxes. Wild hives are generally found in tree trunks, stumps or some other protected place.

Bees are very familiar with their hive and do quite well in the dark. They communicate by smell, vibrations, physical interaction with the other bees, and, probably most important: pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that bees give off to signal other bees. For instance, there are alarm pheromones that signal danger, and The Queen gives off Queen pheromones that signal the nurse bees to attend her. They also let all the other bees of the hive know that their Queen is well and ready to lead. Speaking of the Queen, let's go meet her!

May I introduce Her Royal Majesty The Queen Bee.

A queen honeybee is a very special creature. The queen is the mother of all the bees of the beehive. There is only one queen in a colony of honeybees that may number up to 80,000 members. She may live several years, but worker bees live only a few weeks to 50 days. Without constant egg-laying by the queen the bee colony would soon die. Genetically speaking, the queen is responsible for contributing her own characteristics, (along with the male drones), to the bees of the hive. Thus, the bees of the hive are, indeed, "made from the same mold" as the queen. One of the most important functions of the queen is to enforce the social order of the hive. She does this by her very presence! "Queen Substance" is a pheromone that the queen secretes to let the member bees know that all is well in the hive. 

Pheromones are chemical substances secreted by the body that like members of the same species recognize and respond to. Bees in a colony "share" the queen's pheromones among themselves, and thus recognize fellow members, as well as identify intruders. The absence of a queen causes obvious "distress" among bees of the colony. These bees are much different than bees in a hive with an active queen. What makes the queen so different from other members of the Hive?

Meet The Nurse Bee!

Meet The Nurse Bee!The Nurse Bees are Worker Bees. Worker Bees start out their lives as Cell-Cleaning Bees, who clean out old cells that have been used for eggs and larvae, cap cells that have been filled with Bee Pollen and Honey for storage, and generally do maintenance around the hive. This phase lasts for [...]

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Pity The Poor Drone!

Pity The Poor Drone!It may come as a surprise to you, but most of the bees in the beehive are females! The Queen is the one sexually active female of the hive, and the workers, who comprise most of the population, are all sexually inactive females. Males do exist, though in small numbers. They are called [...]

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See The Bee Dance!

See The Bee Dance!When the scout bee comes back to the hive he is anxious to share his find with the rest of the bees. The method that a bee communicates information is quite remarkable. He does so in the form of a Bee Dance. The dance communicates information such as the direction of the [...]

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The Nectar Collecting Bee!

Meet the Nectar Collecting Bee!The Collector Bees also collect nectar from the flowers, which they use to make honey (of course!). Flower Nectar is produced by secretory glands in the flowers called nectaries. Flower nectar is mainly composed of water with high concentrations of sugars--mainly sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Nectar also contains small amounts of amino [...]

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Meet the Housekeeping Bee!

Meet the Housekeeping Bee!Housekeeping duties are one of the first jobs that young honeybees are assigned. Housekeeping Bees clean up used cells that have been emptied, such as brood cells in the nursery that babies bees have hatched out of and storage cells that have stored bee pollen (bee bread) or honey, which have been emptied [...]

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The Answer is Royal Jelly

The Answer is Royal JellyBiologists interested in nutrition point to the queen as an example of how diet can make an incredible difference in the development of an animal. The only difference between a queen bee and a worker bee is that the queen eats Royal Jelly for the whole duration of her life, while [...]

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Meet The Babies!

Meet The Babies!There are three stages in the development of a Bee. The first is the egg stage. The queen lays an egg in the bottom of each cell. The egg is centered in the cell and one end is stuck to the bottom. For a worker bee larvae this stage last three days. When [...]

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Meet The Baby Queen!

Meet The Baby Queen!There are also three stages in the development of a Queen Bee. But the cell of the Queen Bee is different from a normal bee. It is larger, and, in domestic bee boxes, the Queen cell hangs down perpendicularly from the entrances of the other honeycomb cells. The outside of the cell [...]

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Meet the Scout Bee!

Meet the Scout Bee!The Scout Bee is a worker bee that has several specialized functions. First, the Scout Bee searches the area surrounding the hive for sources of pollen, nectar and propolis. Although the Scout may travel many miles in search of flowers, the average foraging radius is usually only a few hundred meters. When the [...]

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