Take a look inside an active beehive!
European honey bees are were introduced to North America by humans in the 1600s. Since their arrival, they have become important pollinators and are moved across the country to help produce food. Unfortunately, many hives are failing and scientists along with farmers are investigating why this might be happening. Researchers are examining many factors such as diseases, parasites, pollution, or even stress from travel.
Bee hives have a complex social environment, consisting of one queen, several drones, and hundreds of worker bees. Different worker bees have different jobs, and the job of the worker bee changes over time as they age. Life in the hive is controlled by the seasons, and activity in the hive varies greatly with the outside physical environment.
Who is buzzing around our hive?
The queen is larger than the worker bees, and her thorax is shiny. She is usually in the section of the hive where new bees are developing, and if she is laying eggs, her abdomen may not be visible.
Most of the honey bees in our hive are female workers. They produce wax to build honeycomb, take care of developing bees, and leave the hive to gather nectar and pollen.
You might see drones, the only males in the hive, whose one task is to leave the hive and mate with a queen on her “nuptial flight.” After mating is over, the drone dies.