European Honey Bees

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European Honey Bees Facts

  • European Honey bees live in very structured social colonies with one queen bee.
  • They can only sting once as they die after they sting.

Bee Photos

What Are European Honey Bees?

Apis mellifera Linnaeus, the European honey bee in the US, is our most beneficial pollinator. European honey bees can trace their lineage to a complex interbreeding of European honey bee subspecies introduced to the US by early American pioneers in 1622.

Feral European honey bee colonies.
In the 1950s, twenty-six African honey bee queens, imported to Brazil from South Africa escaped with swarms of local worker bees from Dr. Warwick Kerr’s experimental facility near San Paulo, establishing renegade colonies of Africanized bees in Central America, Mexico and Texas.

Since the 1990s, Africanized bees, nicknamed “killer bees,” have been interbreeding with feral European honey bees in the Southwestern United States, Tennessee and South Florida causing experts to believe that all feral honey bee colonies in the US have become Africanized. Entomologists advise homeowners to contact a professional pest control company, such as Truly Nolen, to address feral colonies and nests in order to keep people and pets out of harm’s way.

European Honey bees live in highly socialized societies.
European honey bees live in highly structured eusocial colonies. With a singular queen, who lays all of the eggs, male drones that fertilize the queen, then die, the majority of European honey bee colonies consist of sterile female worker bees. Yellow and about ½ inch in length, worker bees, though smaller than the queen and the drones, perform most of the work in the colony, as well as caring for and raising young bees.

Divided into two groups, young honey bees perform all the cleaning and cell construction duties in the hive, while adult bees process nectar into honey and raise the young bees. At some point, these newly developed adult bees move on to the field positions, collecting nectar to feed the colony and protecting the colony from intruders and predators.

An interest in professional beekeeping in the United States has increased since 2006, when a sudden decrease in honey bee populations, due to colony collapse disorder got the attention of the agricultural community, scientists, professional beekeepers and the general public as honey bee pollination directly affects the global food supply to a significant extent.

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