Honey Bee

Honey Bee swarm ©Margaret Holland

Honey Bee

Honey Bee ©Nick Upton/2020VISION

Honey Bee

Honey Bees ©Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Honey Bee

Scientific name: Apis mellifera
The black-and-gold Honey Bee is well-known as a hive bee: semi-domesticated for thousands of years to produce honey for human consumption. It is also an important pollinator of flowers and crops.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 1.2cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

March to September

About

Famous for being kept in domestic hives to make honey, in the wild, Honey Bees may form colonies in wooded areas. As with other colony-living insects, the hive is split into a queen who lays eggs, the workers who look after the young and the drones who are reproductive males. The hive is made of wax 'honeycombs', each divided into a number of hexagonal cells that are used to rear young or store food such as pollen and honey (which is actually regurgitated nectar). The larvae pupate in the cell, which is capped by wax until they emerge. The first new queen to emerge may sting following queens to death; she will either take the place of her mother (who will leave with a swarm), or she will create a new colony.

How to identify

The familiar black-and-gold Honey Bee is almost unmistakeable. There are several species of hoverfly that look similar, but they have much larger eyes.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

A single bee hive may contain as many as 50,000 individuals. In winter, the hive goes into survival mode: the drones are expelled, the workers huddle together to keep warm, and the larvae are fed on stores of pollen and honey. In spring, a new generation of bees emerges.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.