Description and features
Everyone knows from the very childhood that honey is a healthy, nutritious and amazing product. It does not deteriorate, stored for centuries, heals from a huge number of diseases, contains with itself a whole set of essential for health substances and unique enzymes.
Also, every child knows that honey is produced naturally by insects, called bees. This substance is a nectar of flowers, specially transformed, that is, digested to a certain stage in the craw of these small honey creatures.
Just about bees — indefatigable insects in their diligence, supplying not only man, but also many other creatures on Earth with such a valuable and indispensable product, and our story will go.
The bee is an insect that has a value of about 3 cm. Its color attire is made up of black stripes that alternate with yellow-orange patches. These creatures are entirely covered with hairs that perform protective functions and play the role of organs of touch.
Their body is divided into three sections, fastened together by elastic thin membranes. The first is a small head; further follows the chest — the torso area is slightly larger; and the last department and the most significant in size is the abdomen.
All these links of the body perfectly show the bee’s photo. In addition, these creatures have six legs and are endowed with two pairs of thin, differing in size, wings that are connected together in flight by means of microscopic hooks.
The senses of the bee are extremely interesting and complex. First of all, they are the eyes, which in fact there are as many as five. Two complex eyes, clearly visible on both sides of the head, are built of small facets. Their number is huge, counting thousands of microscopic elements.
Simple eyes three, they are placed on the top of the insect. And all these components of the visual organs allow the bee to perceive polarized light and rays of the ultraviolet spectrum. These creatures are able to see blue and yellow colors, which can not be said about the shades of the red scale.
Antennae on their head serve as their sense of smell, in addition they help to feel cold and warm, to determine the humidity and concentration of gases in the air. The bees can hear their feet and some parts of the body. A long proboscis on the head allows them to collect floral nectar, and taste organs are located on it.
Bees belong to a large group of Hymenoptera. And they are related, with similarities to them on many grounds of structure, wasps. Also, ants are close relatives of the creatures described and their brethren in the detachment, although they do not belong to the category of insects, similar to bees.
Rather, on our honey creatures, some types of flies seem to look like, for example, so called a murmur. She also has a striped abdomen with orange-tinted patches, and also produces a similar buzzing. This is a vivid example of a simple, often described by biologists, mimicry.
That is, nature has endowed such a fly with the appearance of poisonous insects, to which the bee belongs, in order to protect itself. Therefore, with a superficial glance, a bee with a murmur is easily confused.
Types of bees
A large number of bees are known in total. In total, there are more than two tens of thousands of them all over the world. All bees fall into two categories: domestic and wild.
It’s no secret that people from the very earliest times bred these insects to get honey. But not only him, but also other valuable substances: propolis, wax and medicinal poison. But there are wild bees in nature.
They are somewhat smaller in size. Their color should be called primitive, its shades are not very bright, rather muted, and the color schemes are mostly monophonic. Breasts of savages are equipped with a protective shell.
The hairs on their body grow much thicker than those of domesticated brethren, playing the role of a fur coat of insects that saves them during periods of bad weather and cold weather.
Of the vast varieties of the bee kingdom, it is worth highlighting the most interesting. And the first ones to be mentioned are real bees. This is the name of the whole family, in which there are about five thousand varieties. Among them:
1. Honey bees — most breeds of such bees have long been used by humans and are therefore well known to them. At first, our very distant ancestors in the hollows of trees simply found the shelter of such insects and took away their honey. But gradually they began to breed, containing in the decks, either constructed of bark, or made of clay.
Much later they began to build houses for these honey creatures, called hives. And invented easy-to-use frames. From such structures it is very simple to extract honey together with honeycombs containing it.
2. Bumblebees are a whole line of bees in many ways similar to their honeycomb cousins. A total of about three hundred species of such insects are known. They live on all continents of the Northern Hemisphere. Among their relatives they deserve the glory of the most cold-resistant. By the way, this greatly increases their chances of survival.
Bumblebees have the opportunity to fly to the collection of nectar in the early morning, when the air has not yet warmed up the rays of the affectionate spring or summer sun. Thus, they are ahead of their competitors and collect all the most delicious from flowers and other plants.
The outfit of each species of bumblebees is different. Some of them have yellow stripes alternating with black ones, while in others they are orange or red. There are also completely dark varieties.
Among the representatives of this realm of insects there are real giants, which are noticeably larger than the bee to which we are all accustomed. A striking example of this are specimens of the genus megahil. And their size is really impressive, because the span of their wings can reach 6 cm. By the way, these bees are not capable of producing honey at all. They live in colonies and are famous for their special aggressiveness.
Lifestyle and habitat
Bees get accustomed in any areas of the planet where flowers grow. They are the main source of their nutrition. And it is from the nectar of plants, as already mentioned, these insects produce honey. It’s no secret that for flowers these creatures also play an important role of natural and most active pollinators. And many species of terrestrial flora without bees could not exist and successfully reproduce.
Where the home representatives of the realm of these insects live, it has already been mentioned — in beehives for bees. But their wild relatives try to settle down in wood hollows, crevices, burrows. If the climate of the area is soft enough, then the bee nest is most often simply suspended high on trees. Sometimes they are arranged between the walls or in the attic of houses.
The nests of the insects described are constructions from two-sided vertical honeycombs. And without them it is impossible even to imagine the life of a bee family (that is, a swarm, as it is customary to call such colonies).
Such cells are constructed, having a regular shape and having the form of a hexagon, from the wax allocated by the insects. Each type of bee honeycomb has its own specific size, usually corresponding to the size of the insects themselves.
And nest residents always carefully monitor their integrity. In fresh form, that is, initially, the cells have a white hue, but over time they darken.
These insects live in colonies, whose members are divided into castes. But the types that make up the bee family should be told in more detail.
1. Working bees — the most numerous caste, of whose representatives the bee’s nest basically consists. They are something we usually see in everyday life, when we are in nature. The number of such residents in the nest can reach 80 thousand.
What do bees do? They are engaged in basic work, that is, the search for suitable plants and the extraction of nectar from them. All working insects are underdeveloped females. They appear precisely and only from fertilized eggs.
2. Uterus — this being in a bee family is the only full-fledged special female. And all the other members of the swarm come from it. Because the uterus gives life to the whole community, it is in a revered position, so it feeds on worker bees and is carefully guarded by them.
This is natural, because without a uterus, family members are threatened with extinction. The fact that she is at the swarm, the rest will know by the smell coming from her. If this is not observed, it serves as a signal of alarm that the uterus has died and it is necessary to grow a new one.
3. Drones are males, whose purpose is the fertilization of the uterus, and they have no other duties. They are larger than the working members of the family and appear from unfertilized eggs. And food for their fattening goes much more.
Therefore, if there is no need for them, drones are mercilessly expelled by other members of the family. Sometimes they fall into other nests. But during the onset of cold weather, when the collection of flower nectar and active reproduction ends, they have nothing to do but die of hunger and cold.
The rest of the bees in winter are also strongly forced to change their usual way of life. The maintenance of domestic insects is taken care of by beekeepers. A wild brethren soaked in wax and propolis and climb into the cracks.
It is already clear that the most important product that these insects eat is honey. But the quality of this substance depends on many factors. For example, on how these little creatures survived the winter hardships. In addition, the taste of honey is strongly influenced by the species of plants from which nectar is extracted.
It is best that these representatives of the flora do not contain an excess of glucose, sucrose and carbohydrates, because such elements contribute to the accelerated crystallization of this product. And in this form, honey can not be fully used by bees.
And even having collected a considerable amount of this substance, they are quite capable of starving to death. Unwanted plants, for example, include mustard, heather, cotton and some others.
In cases where food is not high enough, the bee suffers. And all the members of the nest become susceptible to disease and do not feel well. Good apple trees include: apple, cherry, pear, willow, linden and many others.
Reproduction and life expectancy
Depending on the different intra-family circumstances, the bee swarm produces different one on the other in timbre and buzzing height. Therefore, experienced beekeepers on the sounds of the hive are fully capable of understanding what is happening inside the bee-house.
The noise of the nest makes it possible, for example, to find out that the insect inside it is cold. He also talks about other problems, because every caste of the family «sings» in his voice.
When the inhabitants of the hive are going to swarm, they also issue strictly defined sounds. This happens when the members of the nest have decided to split into two families. In this case, one part of the swarm flies with the old experienced uterus. And in the depths of the former a young female is grown.
For the development of the future uterus, special honeycombs are built by bees. This «queen» of the family appears from the fertilized egg. And when it turns into a larva, it is nourished with special milk. It depends on the quality of the feed: whether a normal working bee or uterus will leave the female egg.
The ability to reproduce the bee flock in the latter is already apparent at the age of ten. The queen bee for life has a great deal of contact with the drones. And they are calculated not even by billions, but by a figure with a huge number of zeros.
At the same time, the mass of eggs, which for a day is postponed by the successor of the bee genus, often exceeds its own live weight. But with the age of the uterus, the quality of the offspring varies. However, in the third year of life, more and more drones appear in the hive, and this is already bad for the survival of the family.
Working bees exist in the world usually no more than 40 days. But if they appear in the family closer to the autumn, then, including the passive winter period, they can live up to six months. The life of drones is even less. However, the uterus in this sense is the champion. She is able to live sometimes up to 4 years.
What to do if a bee has bitten?
The sting of this creature is placed on the end of the abdomen. It has a notch, because of which this insect is not able to survive after the attack of the enemy. The sting of a bee sticks in the body of the enemy, and the helpless creature loses it, which causes the death of the brave defender of the nest.
But the victim, who received a dose of poison, also gets additional problems from bee loss. After all, the sting can get stuck in the skin and continue to secrete harmful substances.
The poison of this insect is very effective in composition. First the victim of his action feels pain. Then the place of sting insertion turns red, then a very unpleasant edema appears, which drops only after a few (usually two or three) days.
In addition, foreign substances that get into the blood can cause an allergy attack. But at the same time, the bee sting can be useful. Because the poison of these insects in small doses is endowed with healing properties. It kills bacteria and besides harmful, contains many useful substances.
In case a person has been attacked by this insect, he should first remove the sting, and then treat the affected area with potassium permanganate or any other antiseptic. Cold compresses also contribute to healing. In addition, it is beneficial to drink plenty, as it activates the withdrawal of poisonous ingredients.