Social Bees



The Apidae family contains the highly social bees as well as some solitary and communal species. Included in this family are the well-known introduced honeybees and the smaller stingless native bees, which are often called 'sweat bees' or 'sugarbag bees'. Many bees have modified mouthparts in the form of a tongue that enables them to sip nectar, they also have hairy legs and pollen baskets.

Honeybee hive

Apis mellifera (queen and workers)

Honeybees are highly social insects and construct hives that consist of three types of individuals.

1. Queen: all hives have a queen whose primary function is to lays eggs.

2. Workers: the workers (sterile females) who build the nest and tend to the larvae.

3. Drones: the drones are fertile males who fly out at certain times of the year to mate with new queens.

Honeybee eyes

The hairy eyes of Apis mellifera

The introduced honey bees can easily be distinguished from most other native bee species by their eyes which are covered in dense hairs. Introduced honeybees are the only truly domesticated insect which humans gain benefit from without actually causing any harm to the animal. Bees are important as both a honey producer and a pollinator. Honeybees visit a wide range of native and introduced flowers and unfortunately they often compete with native bee species.

Honeybee on flower

For more social bee species visit the Australian Insect Common Names



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