|Vivint Home Security|
|Vivint Home Security Gave us false and misleading information Provo, Utah |
|23rd of May, 2011 by User535708 |
|Joe Sandoval, sales rep for Vivint, presented Vivint to us as a "parent company" of the security service we currently had and when he was told that we had not been with this company a full two years. He stated this new system was a wireless upgrade with additional features that would be installed at no extra charge. It didn't register that something was not right until I checked my account and found that there was a charge for Vivint for $49.99 and Northstar for $39.99. When I called Northstar to inquire about their affiliation to Vivint, I was told this company is not their parent company and we are still under contract with them. We placed a call to Joe Sandoval. He didn't answer but a message was left for him to call. We have not heard from him. I e-mailed the company's and received a message from Howard Q Cooper that he had forwarded my message to customer service so they could assist me and I have not heard from them either.|
Mr Cooper did write that if we were not contacted by customer service, to let him know and he would follow-up with them. We are now obligated to two security companies now; Northstar for 48 mos and Vivint for42 mos. Etta
|Beekeeping (or apiculture, from Latin apis, bee) is the maintenance of honey bee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans. A beekeeper (or apiarist) keeps bees in order to collect honey and other products of the hive (including beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly), to pollinate crops, or to produce bees for sale to other beekeepers. A location where bees are kept is called an apiary or "bee yard".|
1 History of beekeeping
1.2 Wild honey harvesting
1.3 Domestication of wild bees
1.4 Study of honey bees
1.5 Invention of the movable comb hive
1.6 Evolution of hive designs
1.7 Pioneers of practical and commercial beekeeping
2 Traditional beekeeping
2.1 Fixed comb hives
3 Modern beekeeping
3.1 Movable frame hives
3.2 Top bar hives
3.3 Protective clothing
3.5 Effects of stings and of protective measures
3.6 Natural beekeeping
4 Urban or backyard beekeeping
5 Bee colonies
5.1.1 Mating of queens
5.1.2 Female worker bees
5.1.3 Male bees (drones)
5.1.4 Differing stages of development
5.2 Structure of a bee colony
5.3 Annual cycle of a bee colony
6 Formation of new colonies
6.1 Colony reproduction; swarming and supersedure
6.2 Factors that trigger swarming
6.3 Artificial swarming
7 World apiculture
8 Images of harvesting honey
9 See also
11 External links
History of beekeeping
There are more than 20, 000 species of wild bees. Many species are solitary,  and many others rear their young in burrows and small colonies, like mason bees and bumblebees. Beekeeping, or apiculture, is concerned with the practical management of the social species of honey bees, which live in large colonies of up to 100, 000 individuals. In Europe and America the species universally managed by beekeepers is the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera). This species has several sub-species or regional varieties, such as the Italian bee (Apis mellifera ligustica ), European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), and the Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica). In the tropics, other species of social bee are managed for honey production, including Apis cerana.
All of the Apis mellifera sub-species are capable of inter-breeding and hybridizing. Many bee breeding companies strive to selectively breed and hybridize varieties to produce desirable qualities: disease and parasite resistance, good honey production, swarming behaviour reduction, prolific breeding, and mild disposition. Some of these hybrids are marketed under specific brand names, such as the Buckfast Bee or Midnite Bee. The advantages of the initial F1 hybrids produced by these crosses include: hybrid vigor, increased honey productivity, and greater disease resistance. The disadvantage is that in subsequent generations these advantages may fade away and hybrids tend to be very defensive and aggressive.
Wild honey harvesting
Collecting honey from wild bee colonies is one of the most ancient human activities and is still practiced by aboriginal societies in parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. Some of the earliest evidence of gathering honey from wild colonies is from rock paintings, dating to around 13, 000 BCE. Gathering honey from wild bee colonies is usually done by subduing the bees with smoke and breaking open the tree or rocks where the colony is located, often resulting in the physical destruction of the nest location.
Domestication of wild bees
At some point humans began to domesticate wild bees in artificial hives made from hollow logs, wooden boxes, pottery vessels, and woven straw baskets or "skeps". Honeybees were kept in Egypt from antiquity. On the walls of the sun temple of Nyuserre Ini from the 5th Dynasty, before 2422 BCE, workers are depicted blowing smoke into hives as they are removing honeycombs. Inscriptions detailing the production of honey are found on the tomb of Pabasa from the 26th Dynasty (circa 650 BCE), depicting pouring honey in jars and cylindrical hives. Sealed pots of honey were found in the grave goods of Pharaohs such as Tutankhamun.
In prehistoric Greece (Crete and Mycenae), there existed a system of high-status apiculture, as can be concluded from the finds of hives, smoking pots, honey extractors and other beekeeping paraphernalia in Knossos. Beekeeping was considered a highly valued industry controlled by beekeeping overseers — owners of gold rings depicting apiculture scenes rather that religious ones as they have been reinterpreted recently, contra Sir Arthur Evans.
Archaeological finds relating to beekeeping have been discovered at Rehov, a Bronze- and Iron Age archaeological site in the Jordan Valley, Israel. Thirty intact hives, made of straw and unbaked clay, were discovered by archaeologist Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the ruins of the city, dating from about 900 BCE. The hives were found in orderly rows, three high, in a manner that could have accommodated around 100 hives, held more than 1 million bees and had a potential annual yield of 500 kilograms of honey and 70 kilograms of beeswax, according to Mazar, and are evidence that an advanced honey industry existed in ancient Israel 3, 000 years ago. Ezra Marcus, an expert from the University of Haifa, said the finding was a glimpse of ancient beekeeping seen in texts and ancient art from the Near East.
In ancient Greece, aspects of the lives of bees and beekeeping are discussed at length by Aristotle. Beekeeping was also documented by the Roman writers Virgil, Gaius Julius Hyginus, Varro, and Columella.
The art of beekeeping appeared in ancient China for a long time and hardly traceable to its origin. In the book "Golden Rules of Business Success" written by Fan Li (or Tao Zhu Gong) during the Spring and Autumn Period there are some parts mentioning the art of beekeeping and the importance of the quality of the wooden box for bee keeping that can affect the quality of its honey.
Study of honey bees
It was not until the 18th century that European natural philosophers undertook the scientific study of bee colonies and began to understand the complex and hidden world of bee biology. Preeminent among these scientific pioneers were Swammerdam, René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, Charles Bonnet, and the blind Swiss scientist Francois Huber. Swammerdam and Réaumur were among the first to use a microscope and dissection to understand the internal biology of honey bees. Réaumur was among the first to construct a glass walled observation hive to better observe activities within hives. He observed queens laying eggs in open cells, but still had no idea of how a queen was fertilized; nobody had ever witnessed the mating of a queen and drone and many theories held that queens were "self-fertile, " while others believed that a vapor or "miasma" emanating from the drones fertilized queens without direct physical contact. Huber was the first to prove by observation and experiment that queens are physically inseminated by drones outside the confines of hives, usually a great distance away.
Following Réaumur's design, Huber built improved glass-walled observation hives and sectional hives which could be opened, like the leaves of a book, to inspect individual wax combs; this greatly improved the direct observation of activity within a hive. Although he became blind before he was twenty, Huber employed a secretary, Francois Burnens, to make daily observations, conduct careful experiments, and to keep accurate notes over a period of more than twenty years. Huber confirmed that a hive consists of one queen who is the mother of all the female workers and male drones in the colony. He was also the first to confirm that mating with drones takes place outside of hives and that queens are inseminated by a number of successive matings with male drones, high in the air at a great distance from their hive. Together, he and Burnens dissected bees under the microscope and were among the first to describe the ovaries and spermatheca, or sperm store, of queens as well as the penis of male drones. Huber is universally regarded as "the father of modern bee-science" and his "Nouvelles Observations sur Les Abeilles (or "New Observations on Bees") ) revealed all the basic scientific truths for the biology and ecology of honeybees.
Invention of the movable comb hive
Early forms of honey collecting entailed the destruction of the entire colony when the honey was harvested. The wild hive was crudely broken into, using smoke to suppress the bees, the honeycombs were torn out and smashed up — along with the eggs, larvae and honey they contained. The liquid honey from the destroyed brood nest was crudely strained through a sieve or basket. This was destructive and unhygienic, but for hunter-gatherer societies this did not matter, since the honey was generally consumed immediately and there were always more wild colonies to exploit. But in settled societies the destruction of the bee colony meant the loss of a valuable resource; this drawback made beekeeping both inefficient and something of a "stop and start" activity. There could be no continuity of production and no possibility of selective breeding, since each bee colony was destroyed at harvest time, along with its precious queen. During the medieval period abbeys and monasteries were centers of beekeeping, since beeswax was highly prized for candles and fermented honey was used to make alcoholic mead in areas of Europe where vines would not grow.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw successive stages of a revolution in beekeeping, which allowed the bees themselves to be preserved when taking the harvest.
Intermediate stages in the transition from the old beekeeping to the new were recorded for example by Thomas Wildman in 1768/1770, who described advances over the destructive old skep-based beekeeping so that the bees no longer had to be killed to harvest the honey. Wildman for example fixed a parallel array of wooden bars across the top of a straw hive or skep (with a separate straw top to be fixed on later) "so that there are in all seven bars of deal" [in a 10-inch-diameter (250 mm) hive] "to which the bees fix their combs". He also described using such hives in a multi-storey configuration, foreshadowing the modern use of supers: he described adding (at a proper time) successive straw hives below, and eventually removing the ones above when free of brood and filled with honey, so that the bees could be separately preserved at the harvest for a following season. Wildman also described a further development, using hives with "sliding frames" for the bees to build their comb, foreshadowing more modern uses of movable-comb hives. Wildman's book acknowledged the advances in knowledge of bees previously made by Swammerdam, Maraldi, and de Reaumur—he included a lengthy translation of Reaumur's account of the natural history of bees—and he also described the initiatives of others in designing hives for the preservation of bee-life when taking the harvest, citing in particular reports from Brittany dating from the 1750s, due to Comte de la Bourdonnaye.
Lorenzo Langstroth (1810-1895)
The 19th Century saw this revolution in beekeeping practice completed through the perfection of the movable comb hive by Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, a descendant of Yorkshire farmers who emigrated to the United States. Langstroth was the first person to make practical use of Huber's earlier discovery that there was a specific spatial measurement between the wax combs, later called "the bee space", which bees would not block with wax, but kept as a free passage. Having determined this "bee space" (between 5 and 8 mm, or 1/4 to 3/8"), Langstroth then designed a series of wooden frames within a rectangular hive box, carefully maintaining the correct space between successive frames, and found that the bees would build parallel honeycombs in the box without bonding them to each other or to the hive walls. This enables the beekeeper to slide any frame out of the hive for inspection, without harming the bees or the comb, protecting the eggs, larvae and pupae contained within the cells. It also meant that combs containing honey could be gently removed and the honey extracted without destroying the comb. The emptied honey combs could then be returned to the bees intact for refilling. Langstroth's classic book, The Hive and Honey-bee, published in 1853, described his rediscovery of the bee space and the development of his patent movable comb hive.
The invention and development of the movable-comb-hive fostered the growth of commercial honey production on a large scale in both Europe and the USA.
See also: Beekeeping in the United States
Evolution of hive designs
Langstroth's design for movable comb hives was seized upon by apiarists and inventors on both sides of the Atlantic and a wide range of moveable comb hives were designed and perfected in England, France, Germany and the United States. Classic designs evolved in each country: Dadant hives and Langstroth hives are still dominant in the USA; in France the De-Layens trough-hive became popular and in the UK a British National Hive became standard as late as the 1930s although in Scotland the smaller Smith hive is still popular. In some Scandinavian countries and in Russia the traditional trough hive persisted until late in the 20th Century and is still kept in some areas. However, the Langstroth and Dadant designs remain ubiquitous in the USA and also in many parts of Europe, though Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Italy all have their own national hive designs. Regional variations of hive evolved to reflect the climate, floral productivity and the reproductive characteristics of the various subspecies of native honey bee in each bio-region.
The differences in hive dimensions are insignificant in comparison to the common factors in all these hives: they are all square or rectangular; they all use movable wooden frames; they all consist of a floor, brood-box, honey-super, crown-board and roof. Hives have traditionally been constructed of cedar, pine, or cypress wood, but in recent years hives made from injection molded dense polystyrene have become increasingly important.
Hives also use queen excluders between the brood-box and honey supers to keep the queen from laying eggs in cells next to those containing honey intended for consumption. Also, with the advent in the 20th century of mite pests, hive floors are often replaced for part of (or the whole) year with a wire mesh and removable tray.
Pioneers of practical and commercial beekeeping
The 19th Century produced an explosion of innovators and inventors who perfected the design and production of beehives, systems of management and husbandry, stock improvement by selective breeding, honey extraction and marketing. Preeminent among these innovators were:
Jan Dzier?on, was the father of modern apiology and apiculture. All modern beehives are descendants of his design.
L. L. Langstroth, Revered as the "father of American apiculture", no other individual has influenced modern beekeeping practice more than Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth. His classic book The Hive and Honey-bee was published in 1853.
Moses Quinby, often termed 'the father of commercial beekeeping in the United States', author of Mysteries of Bee-Keeping Explained.
Amos Root, author of the A B C of Bee Culture which has been continuously revised and remains in print to this day. Root pioneered the manufacture of hives and the distribution of bee-packages in the United States.
A.J. Cook, author of The Bee-Keepers' Guide; or Manual of the Apiary, 1876.
Dr. C.C. Miller was one of the first entrepreneurs to actually make a living from apiculture. By 1878 he made beekeeping his sole business activity. His book, Fifty Years Among the Bees, remains a classic and his influence on bee management persists to this day.
Major Francesco De Hruschka was an Italian military officer who made one crucial invention that catalyzed the commercial honey industry. In 1865 he invented a simple machine for extracting honey from the comb by means of centrifugal force. His original idea was simply to support combs in a metal framework and then spin them around within a container to collect honey as it was thrown out by centrifugal force. This meant that honeycombs could be returned to a hive undamaged but empty, saving the bees a vast amount of work, time, and materials. This single invention greatly improved the efficiency of honey harvesting and catalysed the modern honey industry.
Walter T. Kelley was an American pioneer of modern beekeeping in the early and mid 20th century. He greatly improved upon beekeeping equipment and clothing and went on to manufacture these items as well as other equipment. His company sold via catalog worldwide and his book, How to Keep Bees & Sell Honey, an introductory book of apiculture and marketing, allowed for a boom in beekeeping following World War II.
In the UK practical beekeeping was led in the early 20th century by a few men, pre-eminently Brother Adam and his Buckfast bee and R.O.B. Manley, author of many titles, including 'Honey Production In The British Isles' and inventor of the Manley frame, still universally popular in the UK.
Other notable British pioneers include William Herrod-Hempsall and Gale.
Movable frame hives
In the United States, the Langstroth hive is commonly used. The Langstroth was the first successful top-opened hive with movable frames, and other designs of hive have been based on it. Langstroth hive was however a descendant of Jan Dzierzon’s Polish hive designs. In the United Kingdom, the most common type of hive is the British National Hive, which can hold Hoffman, British Standard or popular Manley frames, but it is not unusual to see some other sorts of hive (Smith, Commercial and WBC, rarely Langstroth). Straw skeps, bee gums, and unframed box hives are now unlawful in most US states, as the comb and brood cannot be inspected for diseases. However, straw skeps are still used for collecting swarms by hobbyists in the UK, before moving them into standard hives.
Top bar hives
A few hobby beekeepers are adopting various top-bar hives of the type commonly found in Africa. Top bar hives were originally used as traditional beekeeping a method in both Greece and Vietnam. These have no frames and the honey filled comb is not returned to the hive after extraction, as it is in the Langstroth hive. Because of this, the production of honey in a top bar hive is only about 25% to 50% with minimal management than that of a Langstroth hive.
Some of the most well known top bar hives are the Kenyan Top Bar Hive (KTBH) with sloping sides, the Tanzanian Top Bar Hive, which has straight sides and the Vertical Top Bar Hives such as the Warre or "People's Hive" designed by Abbe Warre in the mid 1900's.
The initial costs and equipment requirements are far lower. Often scrap wood or #2 or #3 pine is able to be used with a nice hive as the outcome. Top-bar hives also offer some advantages in interacting with the bees and the amount of weight that must be lifted is greatly reduced. Top Bar Hives are being widely used in developing countries in Africa and Asia as a result of the 'Bees For Development' program. There is a growing number of beekeepers in the U.S. using various top bar hives within the past 2 years or so.
Beekeepers often wear protective clothing to protect themselves from stings.
While knowledge of the bees is the first line of defense, most beekeepers also wear some protective clothing. Novice beekeepers usually wear gloves and a hooded suit or hat and veil. Experienced beekeepers sometimes elect not to use gloves because they inhibit delicate manipulations. The face and neck are the most important areas to protect, so most beekeepers will at least wear a veil.
It's worth noting that no amount of protective clothing will make the experience of a face-full of aggressive bees flying up from an opened hive pleasant for any beekeeper, and so it's rewarding to colonize kind bees as soon as possible.
Defensive bees are attracted to the breath, and a sting on the face can lead to much more pain and swelling than a sting elsewhere, while a sting on a bare hand can usually be quickly removed by fingernail scrape to reduce the amount of venom injected.
The protective clothing is generally light colored (but not colorful) and of a smooth material. This provides the maximum differentiation from the colony's natural predators (bears, skunks, etc.) which tend to be dark-colored and furry.
The 'stings' retained in the fabric of the clothing will continue to pump out an alarm pheromone that actually attracts aggressive action and further stinging attacks. Washing suits regularly, and rinsing gloved hands in vinegar will minimize attraction.
Bee smoker with heat shield and hook
Main article: Bee smoker
Smoke is the beekeeper's third line of defense. Most beekeepers use a "smoker" — a device designed to generate smoke from the incomplete combustion of various fuels. Smoke calms bees; it initiates a feeding response in anticipation of possible hive abandonment due to fire. Smoke also masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees or when bees are squashed in an inspection. The ensuing confusion creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the hive and work without triggering a defensive reaction. In addition, when a bee consumes honey the bee's abdomen distends, supposedly making it difficult to make the necessary flexes to sting, though this has not been tested scientifically.
Smoke is of questionable use with a swarm, because swarms do not have honey stores to feed on in response. Usually smoke is not needed, since swarms tend to be less defensive, as they have no stores to defend, and a fresh swarm will have fed well from the hive.
Many types of fuel can be used in a smoker as long as it is natural and not contaminated with harmful substances. These fuels include hessian, twine, burlap, pine needles, corrugated cardboard, and mostly rotten or punky wood. Indian beekeepers, especially in Kerala, often use coconut fibers as they are readily available, safe, and of negligible expense. Some beekeeping supply sources also sell commercial fuels like pulped paper and compressed cotton, or even aerosol cans of smoke. Other beekeepers use sumac as fuel because it ejects lots of smoke and doesn't have an odor.
Some bee keepers are using "liquid smoke" as a safer, more convenient, alternative. It is a water-based solution that is sprayed onto the bees from a plastic spray bottle.
Effects of stings and of protective measures
Some beekeepers believe that the more stings a beekeeper receives, the less irritation each causes, and they consider it important for safety of the beekeeper to be stung a few times a season. Beekeepers have high levels of antibodies (mainly IgG) reacting to the major antigen of bee venom, phospholipase A2 (PLA). Antibodies correlate with the frequency of bee stings.
The entry of venom into the body from bee-stings may also be hindered and reduced by protective clothing which allows the wearer to remove stings and venom sacs simply with a tug on the clothing.
This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2010)
There is a current movement that eschews chemicals in beekeeping, and feels that Colony collapse disorder can be most effectively addressed by reversing trends that disrespect the needs of the bees themselves. Crop spraying, unnatural conditions in which bees are moved thousands of miles to pollinate commercial crops, artificial insemination of queens, and sugar water feeding are thought to all contribute to a general weakening of the constitution of the honeybee.
Urban or backyard beekeeping
Related to natural beekeeping, urban beekeeping is an attempt to revert to a less industrialized way of obtaining honey by utilizing small-scale colonies that pollinate urban gardens. Urban apiculture has undergone a renaissance in the 2000s. Paris, Berlin, London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C., are among beekeeping cities. Until 2010, beekeeping was banned in New York City and punishable with a $2, 000 fine. Urban beekeeping is commonly practiced in areas that have a pesticide ban. This includes Paris, as well as 156 municipalities in Canada and 3 of 10 Canadian provinces. Beekeeping was illegal in Vancouver until 2003, for example, but by 2010 there were bees on the roof of Vancouver City Hall.
A colony of bees consists of three castes of bee:
a Queen bee, which is normally the only breeding female in the colony;
a large number of female worker bees, typically 30, 000–50, 000 in number;
a number of male drones, ranging from thousands in a strong hive in spring to very few during dearth or cold season.
The queen is the only sexually mature female in the hive and all of the female worker bees and male drones are her offspring. The queen may live for up to three years or more and may be capable of laying half a million eggs or more in her lifetime. At the peak of the breeding season, late spring to summer, a good queen may be capable of laying 3, 000 eggs in one day, more than her own body weight. This would be exceptional however; a prolific queen might peak at 2, 000 eggs a day, but a more average queen might lay just 1, 500 eggs per day. The queen is raised from a normal worker egg, but is fed a larger amount of royal jelly than a normal worker bee, resulting in a radically different growth and metamorphosis. The queen influences the colony by the production and dissemination of a variety of pheromones or "queen substances". One of these chemicals suppresses the development of ovaries in all the female worker bees in the hive and prevents them from laying eggs.
Mating of queens
The queen emerges from her cell after 15 days of development and she remains in the hive for 3–7 days before venturing out on a mating flight. Mating flight is otherwise known as 'nuptial flight'. Her first orientation flight may only last a few seconds, just enough to mark the position of the hive. Subsequent mating flights may last from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, and she may mate with a number of male drones on each flight. Over several matings, possibly a dozen or more, the queen will receive and store enough sperm from a succession of drones to fertilize hundreds of thousands of eggs. If she does not manage to leave the hive to mate — possibly due to bad weather or being trapped within part of the hive — she will remain infertile and become a 'drone layer', incapable of producing female worker bees, and the hive is doomed.
Mating takes place at some distance from the hive and often several hundred feet up in the air; it is thought that this separates the strongest drones from the weaker ones - ensuring that only the fastest and strongest drones get to pass on their genes.
Female worker bees
Almost all the bees in a hive are female worker bees. At the height of summer when activity in the hive is frantic and work goes on non-stop, the life of a worker bee may be as short as 6 weeks; in late autumn, when no brood is being raised and no nectar is being harvested, a young bee may live for 16 weeks, right through the winter. During its life a worker bee performs different work functions in the hive which are largely dictated by the age of the bee.
Period Work activity
Days 1-3 Cleaning cells and incubation
Day 3-6 Feeding older larvae
Day 6-10 Feeding younger larvae
Day 8-16 Receiving honey and pollen from field bees
Day 12-18 Wax making and cell building
Day 14 onwards Entrance guards; nectar and pollen foraging
Male bees (drones)
Drones are the largest bees in the hive (except for the queen), at almost twice the size of a worker bee. They do no work, do not forage for pollen or nectar and are only produced in order to mate with new queens and fertilize them on their mating flights. A bee colony will generally start to raise drones a few weeks before building queen cells in order to supersede a failing queen or in preparation for swarming. When queen raising for the season is over, the bees in colder climates will drive the drones out of the hive to die, biting and tearing at their legs and wings.
Differing stages of development
Stage of development Queen Worker Drone
Egg 3 days 3 days 3 days
Larva 8 days 10 days 13 days
Pupa 4 days 8 days 8 days
Total 15 days 21 days 24 days
|Structure of a bee colony|
A domesticated bee colony is normally housed in a rectangular hive body, within which eight to ten parallel frames house the vertical plates of honeycomb which contain the eggs, larvae, pupae and food for the colony. If one were to cut a vertical cross-section through the hive from side to side, the brood nest would appear as a roughly ovoid ball spanning 5-8 frames of comb. The two outside combs at each side of the hive tend to be exclusively used for long-term storage of honey and pollen.
Within the central brood nest, a single frame of comb will typically have a central disk of eggs, larvae and sealed brood cells which may extend almost to the edges of the frame. Immediately above the brood patch an arch of pollen-filled cells extends from side to side, and above that again a broader arch of honey-filled cells extends to the frame tops. The pollen is protein-rich food for developing larvae, while honey is also food but largely energy rich rather than protein rich. The nurse bees which care for the developing brood secrete a special food called 'royal jelly' after feeding themselves on honey and pollen. The amount of royal jelly which is fed to a larva determines whether it will develop into a worker bee or a queen.
Apart from the honey stored within the central brood frames, the bees store surplus honey in combs above the brood nest. In modern hives the beekeeper places separate boxes, called 'supers', above the brood box, in which a series of shallower combs is provided for storage of honey. This enables the beekeeper to remove some of the supers in the late summer, and to extract the surplus honey harvest, without damaging the colony of bees and its brood nest below. If all the honey is 'stolen', including the amount of honey needed to survive winter, the beekeeper must replace these stores by feeding the bees sugar or corn syrup in autumn.
Annual cycle of a bee colony
The development of a bee colony follows an annual cycle of growth which begins in spring with a rapid expansion of the brood nest, as soon as pollen is available for feeding larvae. Some production of brood may begin as early as January, even in a cold winter, but breeding accelerates towards a peak in May (in the northern hemisphere), producing an abundance of harvesting bees synchronized to the main 'nectar flow' in that region. Each race of bees times this build-up slightly differently, depending on how the flora of its original region blooms. Some regions of Europe have two nectar flows: one in late spring and another in late August. Other regions have only a single nectar flow. The skill of the beekeeper lies in predicting when the nectar flow will occur in his area and in trying to ensure that his colonies achieve a maximum population of harvesters at exactly the right time.
The key factor in this is the prevention, or skillful management of the swarming impulse. If a colony swarms unexpectedly and the beekeeper does not manage to capture the resulting swarm, he is likely to harvest significantly less honey from that hive, since he will have lost half his worker bees at a single stroke. If, however, he can use the swarming impulse to breed a new queen but keep all the bees in the colony together, he will maximize his chances of a good harvest. It takes many years of learning and experience to be able to manage all these aspects successfully, though owing to variable circumstances many beginners will often achieve a good honey harvest.
Formation of new colonies
Colony reproduction; swarming and supersedure
Main article: Swarming (honey bee)
A swarm about to land
All colonies are totally dependent on their queen, who is the only egg-layer. However, even the best queens live only a few years and one or two years longevity is the norm. She can choose whether or not to fertilize an egg as she lays it; if she does so, it develops into a female worker bee; if she lays an unfertilized egg it becomes a male drone. She decides which type of egg to lay depending on the size of the open brood cell which she encounters on the comb; in a small worker cell she lays a fertilized egg; if she finds a much larger drone cell she lays an unfertilized drone egg.
All the time that the queen is fertile and laying eggs she produces a variety of pheromones which control the behavior of the bees in the hive; these are commonly called 'queen substance' but in reality there are various different pheromones with different functions. As the queen ages she begins to run out of stored sperm and her pheromones begin to fail. At some point, inevitably, the queen begins to falter and the bees will decide to replace her by creating a new queen from one of her worker eggs. They may do this because she has been damaged (lost a leg or an antenna), because she has run out of sperm and cannot lay fertilized eggs (has become a 'drone laying queen') or because her pheromones have dwindled to a point where they cannot control all the bees in the hive anymore.
At this juncture the bees will produce one or more queen cells by modifying existing worker cells which contain a normal female egg. However, there are two distinct behaviors which the bees pursue:
Supersedure: queen replacement within one hive without swarming
Swarm cell production: the division of the hive into two colonies by swarming
Different sub-species of Apis mellifera exhibit differing swarming characteristics which reflect their evolution in different ecotopes of the European continent. In general the more northerly black races are said to swarm less and supersede more, whereas the more southerly yellow and grey varieties are said to swarm more frequently. The truth is complicated because of the prevalence of cross-breeding and hybridization of the sub species and opinions differ.
Supersedure is highly valued as a behavioral trait by beekeepers because a hive that supersedes its old queen does not swarm and so no stock is lost; it merely creates a new queen and allows the old one to fade away, or alternatively she is killed when the new queen emerges. When superseding a queen the bees will produce just one or two queen cells, characteristically in the center of the face of a broodcomb.
In swarming, by contrast, a great many queen cells are created — typically a dozen or more — and these are located around the edges of a broodcomb, most often at the sides and the bottom.
New wax combs between basement joists
Once either process has begun, the old queen will normally leave the hive with the hatching of the first queen cells. When she leaves the hive the old queen is accompanied by a large number of bees, predominantly young bees (wax-secreters), who will form the basis of the new hive. Scouts are sent out from the swarm to find suitable hollow trees or rock crevices and as soon as one is found the entire swarm moves in, building new wax brood combs within a matter of hours using the honey stores which the young bees have filled themselves with before leaving the old hive. Only young bees can secrete wax from special abdominal segments and this is why there tend to be more young bees than old in swarms. Often a number of virgin queens accompany the first swarm (the 'prime swarm'), and the old queen is replaced as soon as a daughter queen is mated and laying. Otherwise, she will be quickly superseded in their new home.
Factors that trigger swarming
It is generally accepted that a colony of bees will not swarm until they have completed all of their brood combs, i.e. filled all available space with eggs, larvae and brood. This generally occurs in late Spring at a time when the other areas of the hive are rapidly filling with honey stores. So one key trigger of the swarming instinct is when the queen has no more room to lay eggs and the hive population is becoming very congested. Under these conditions a prime swarm may issue with the queen, resulting in a halving of the population within the hive, leaving the old colony with a large number of hatching bees. The queen who leaves finds herself in a new hive with no eggs and no larvae but lots of energetic young bees who create a new set of brood combs from scratch in a very short time.
Another important factor in swarming is the age of the queen. Those under a year in age are unlikely to swarm unless they are extremely crowded, while older queens have swarming predisposition.
Beekeepers monitor their colonies carefully in spring and watch for the appearance of queen cells, which are a dramatic signal that the colony is determined to swarm.
When a colony has decided to swarm, queen cells are produced in numbers varying to a dozen or more. When the first of these queen cells is sealed, after eight days of larval feeding, a virgin queen will pupate and be due to emerge seven days after sealing. Before leaving, the worker bees fill their stomachs with honey in preparation for the creation of new honeycombs in a new home. This cargo of honey also makes swarming bees less inclined to sting, and a newly issued swarm is noticeably gentle for up to 24 hours — often capable of being handled without gloves or veil by a beekeeper.
A swarm attached to a branch
This swarm is looking for shelter. A beekeeper may capture it and introduce it into a new hive, helping to meet this need. Otherwise, it will return to a feral state, in which case it will find shelter in a hollow tree, an excavation, an abandoned chimney, or even behind shutters.
Back at the original hive, the first virgin queen to emerge from her cell will immediately seek to kill all her rival queens who are still waiting to emerge from their cells. However, usually the bees deliberately prevent her from doing this, in which case, she too will lead a second swarm from the hive. Successive swarms are called 'after-swarms' or 'casts' and can be very small, often with just a thousand or so bees, as opposed to a prime swarm which may contain as many as ten to twenty thousand bees.
Small after-swarms have less chance of survival and, depleting the original hive, may threaten its survival as well. When a hive has swarmed despite the beekeeper's preventative efforts, a good management practice is to give the depleted hive a couple frames of open brood with eggs. This helps replenish the hive more quickly, and gives a second opportunity to raise a queen, if there is a mating failure.
Each race or sub-species of honeybee has its own swarming characteristics. Italian bees are very prolific and inclined to swarm; Northern European black bees have a strong tendency to supersede their old queen, without swarming. These differences are the result of differing evolutionary pressures in the regions where each sub-species evolved.
When a colony accidentally loses its queen, it is said to be 'queenless'. The workers realize that the queen is absent after as little as an hour, as her pheromones fade in the hive. The colony cannot survive without a fertile queen laying eggs to renew the population. So the workers select cells containing eggs aged less than three days and enlarge these cells dramatically to form 'emergency queen cells'. These appear similar to large peanut-like structure about an inch long, which hangs from the center or side of the brood combs. The developing larva in a queen cell is fed differently from an ordinary worker-bee, receiving in addition to the normal honey and pollen a great deal of royal jelly, a special food secreted by young 'nurse bees' from the hypopharyngeal gland. This special food dramatically alters the growth and development of the larva so that, after metamorphosis and pupation, it emerges from the cell as a queen bee. The queen is the only bee in a colony which has fully developed ovaries and she secretes a pheromone which suppresses the normal development of ovaries in all her workers.
Beekeepers use the ability of the bees to produce new queens in order to increase their colonies, a procedure called splitting a colony. In order to do this, they remove several brood combs from a healthy hive, taking care that the old queen is left behind. These combs must contain eggs or larvae less than three days old which will be covered by young 'nurse bees' which care for the brood and keep it warm. These brood combs and attendant nurse bees are then placed into a small 'nucleus hive' along with other combs containing honey and pollen. As soon as the nurse bees find themselves in this new hive and realize that they have no queen they set about constructing emergency queen cells using the eggs or larvae which they have in the combs with them.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An apiary in South Carolina; Langstroth hives on pallets.
An apiary (also known as a bee yard) is a place where beehives of honey bees are kept. Traditionally beekeepers (also known as apiarists) paid land rent in honey for the use of small parcels. Some farmers will provide free apiary sites, because they need pollination, and farmers who need many hives often pay for them to be moved to the crops when they bloom. Can also be a wall-less, roofed structure, similar to a gazebo.
3 See also
4 External links
Apiary (Bienenhaus) in Upper Bavaria, Germany
For pollination, apiaries are rarely set up; the bees are only present during the bloom period of the crop. But in a few cases, such as for organic farms, long term apiaries are established, with the rule of thumb being one hive per acre (4, 000 m²) of the crop that needs pollination.
In the USA there are beekeepers - from hobbyists to commercial - in every state. The most lucrative areas for American honey production are Florida, Texas, California, and the Upper Midwest. For paid pollination, the main areas are California, the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes States, and the Northeast. An apiary may have other hive management objectives including queen rearing and mating. In the northern hemisphere, east and south facing locations with full morning sun are preferred. In hot climates shade is needed and may have to be artificially provided if trees are not present. Other factors include air and water drainage and accessibility by truck, distance from phobic people, and protection from vandalism.
Depending on the nectar and pollen sources in a given area, the maximum number of hives that can be placed in one apiary can vary. If too many hives are placed into an apiary the hives compete with each other for scarce resources. This can lead to lower honey and pollen yields, higher transmission of disease and robbing. The maximum size of a permanent apiary or bee yard may depend on the type of bee as well. Some honey bee species or races fly farther than others. A circle around an apiary with a 3-mile foraging radius is 28.27 square miles (18, 093 acres). A good rule of thumb is to have no more than 25 - 40 hives in a permanent apiary. Although, migrating beekeepers may temporarily place one hundred hives into a location with a good nectar flow.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Africanized honey bee)
"Killer bee" redirects here. For other uses, see Killer bees (disambiguation).
Africanized honey bee
HYBRID (see text)
Africanized honey bees, known colloquially as "killer bees, " are hybrids of the African honey bee, A. m. scutellata, with various European honey bees such as the Italian bee A. m. ligustica and A. m. iberiensis. These bees are far more aggressive than the European subspecies. Small swarms of AHBs are capable of taking over European honey beehives by invading the hive and establishing their own queen after killing the European queen.
2 Geographic spread
3 Morphology and genetics
4 Consequences of selection
4.2 Fear factor
4.4 Queen management in African bee areas
5 Impact on existing apiculture
5.1 Gentle African bees
7 Further reading
8 External links
The Africanized honey bee in the western hemisphere is directly descended from 26 Tanzanian queen bees (A. m. scutellata) accidentally released by a replacement bee-keeper in 1957 near Uberlândia, Minas Gerais State in the southeast of Brazil from hives operated by biologist Warwick E. Kerr, who had interbred honey bees from Europe and southern Africa. Hives containing these particular queens were noted to be especially defensive. Kerr was attempting to breed a strain of bees that would produce more honey and be better adapted to tropical conditions (i.e., more productive) than the European bees used in South America and southern North America. The hives the bees were released from had special excluder grates to prevent the larger queen bees and drones from getting out and mating with local (non-African) queens and drones. However, following the accidental release, the African queens and drones mated with local queens and drones, and their descendants have since spread throughout the Americas.
The African hybrid bees have become the preferred types of bee for beekeeping in Central America and in tropical areas of South America because of improved productivity. However, in most areas the African hybrid is initially feared because it tends to retain certain behavioral traits from its African ancestors that make it less desirable for domestic beekeeping. Specifically (as compared with the European bee types), the African bee:
Tends to swarm more frequently and go farther than other types of honeybees.
Is more likely to migrate as part of a seasonal response to lowered food supply.
Is more likely to "abscond"—the entire colony leaves the hive and relocates—in response to stress.
Has greater defensiveness when in a resting swarm, compared to other honey bee types.
Lives more often in ground cavities than the European types.
Guards the hive aggressively, with a larger alarm zone around the hive.
Has a higher proportion of "guard" bees within the hive.
Deploys in greater numbers for defense and pursues perceived threats over much longer distances from the hive.
Cannot survive extended periods of forage deprivation, preventing introduction into areas with harsh winters or extremely dry late summers.
Map showing the spread of Africanized honey bees in the United States from 1990 to 2003
As of 2002, the Africanized honeybees had spread from Brazil south to northern Argentina and north to Central America, Trinidad (West Indies), Mexico, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, and southern California. Their expansion stopped for a time at eastern Texas, possibly due to the large number of European-bee beekeepers in the area. However, discoveries of the bees in southern Louisiana indicate this species of bee has penetrated this barrier,  or has come as a swarm aboard a ship. In June 2005, it was discovered that the bees had penetrated the border of Texas and had spread into southwest Arkansas. On September 11, 2007, Commissioner Bob Odom of the Department of Agriculture and Forestry said that Africanized honey bees established themselves in the New Orleans area. In February 2009, Africanized honeybees were found in southern Utah. In October 2010, a 73-year-old man was killed by a swarm of Africanized honey bees while clearing brush on his south Georgia property, as determined by Georgia's Department of Agriculture. It is the first time state officials have recorded that such bees exist in Georgia.
In tropical climates they compete effectively against European bees and, at their peak rate of expansion, they spread north at a rate of almost two kilometers (about one mile) a day. There were discussions about slowing the spread by placing large numbers of docile European-strain hives in strategic locations, particularly at the Isthmus of Panama, but various national and international agricultural departments were unable to prevent the bees' expansion. Current knowledge of the genetics of these bees suggests that such a strategy, had it been attempted, would not have been successful.
As the Africanized honeybee migrates further north, colonies are interbreeding with European honeybees. There are now relatively stable geographic zones in which either African bees dominate, a mix of African and European bees is present, or only non-African bees are found (as in southern South America or northern North America).
African honeybees abscond (abandon the hive and any food store to start over in a new location) more readily than European honeybees. This is not necessarily a severe loss in tropical climates where plants bloom all year but in more temperate climates it can leave the colony with insufficient stores to survive the winter. Thus Africanized bees are expected to be a hazard mostly in the Southern States of the United States, reaching as far north as the Chesapeake Bay in the east. The cold-weather limits of the African bee have driven some professional bee breeders from Southern California into the harsher wintering locales of the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range. This is a more difficult area to prepare bees for early pollination placement in, such as is required for the production of almonds. The reduced available winter forage in northern California means that bees must be fed for early spring buildup.
The arrival of African honeybees in Central America is a threat to the ancient art of keeping stingless bees in log gums even though they do not interbreed or directly compete with the stingless bees. The honey productivity of the African bees so far exceeds the productivity of the native stingless bees that economic pressures force beekeepers to switch. African honeybees are considered an invasive species in many regions.
Morphology and genetics
The popular term 'Killer bee' has only limited scientific meaning today because there is no generally accepted fraction of genetic contribution used to establish a cut-off. While the native African bees are smaller, and build smaller comb cells than the European bee, their hybrids are not smaller. They do have slightly shorter wings, which can be reliably recognized only by performing a statistical analysis on micro-measurements of a substantial sample. One problem with this test is that there is also an Egyptian bee, present in the southeastern United States, that has the same morphology. Currently testing techniques have moved away from external measurements to DNA analysis, but this means the test can only be done by a sophisticated laboratory. Molecular diagnostics using the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) cytochrome b gene can differentiate A. m. scutellata from other A. mellifera lineages, though mtDNA (which is strictly maternally-transmitted) only allows one to detect an Africanized colony that has an Africanized queen, and not colonies where a European queen has mated with Africanized drones.
There are two lineages of African bees in the Americas: actual matrilinial descendants of the original escaped queens and a much smaller number that are African through hybridization. The matrilinial descendants carry African mtDNA, but partially European nuclear DNA, while the bees that are African through hybridization carry European mtDNA, and partially African nuclear DNA. The matrilinial descendants are in the vast majority. This is supported by DNA analyses performed on the bees as they spread northwards; those that were at the "vanguard" were over 90% African mtDNA, indicating an unbroken matriline (Smith et al., 1989), but after several years in residence in an area interbreeding with the local European strains, as in Brazil, the overall representation of African mtDNA drops to some degree. However, these latter hybrid lines (with European mtDNA) do not appear to propagate themselves well or persist. Population genetics analysis of Africanized honey bees in the United States, using a materially inherited genetic marker, found 12 distinct mitotypes, and the amount of genetic variation observed supports the idea that there has been multiple introductions of AHB into the United States.
Consequences of selection
The chief difference between the European races or subspecies of bees kept by American beekeepers and the African stock is attributable to selective breeding. The most common race used in North America today is the Italian bee, Apis mellifera ligustica, which has been used for several thousand years in some parts of the world and in the Americas since the arrival of the early European colonists. Beekeepers have tended to eliminate the fierce strains, and the entire race of bees has thus been gentled by selective breeding.
In central and southern Africa, bees have had to defend themselves against other aggressive insects, as well as honey badgers, an animal that also will destroy hives if the bees are not sufficiently defensive. In addition, there was formerly no tradition of beekeeping, only bee robbing. When one wanted honey, one would seek out a bee tree and kill the colony, or at least steal its honey. The colony most likely to survive either animal or human attacks was the fiercest one. These hardy bees had to adapt to the hostile environment of sub-saharan Africa—surviving prolonged droughts and fighting for nectar. Thus the African bee has been naturally selected for ferocity.
African bees are characterized by greater defensiveness in established hives than European honey bees. They are more likely to attack a perceived threat and, when they do so, attack relentlessly in larger numbers. This aggressively protective behavior has been termed by scientists as hyper-defensive behavior. This defensiveness has earned them the nickname "killer bees, " the aptness of which is debated. Over the decades, several deaths in the Americas have been attributed to African bees. The venom of an African bee is no more potent than that of a European honey bee, but since the former tends to sting in greater numbers, the number of deaths from them are greater than from the European honey bee. However, allergic reaction to bee venom from any bee can kill a person, and it is difficult to estimate how many more people have died due to the presence of African bees.
Most human incidents with African bees occur within two or three years of the bees' arrival and then subside. Beekeepers can greatly reduce this problem by culling the queens of aggressive strains and breeding gentler stock. Beekeepers keep A. m. scutellata in South Africa using common beekeeping practices without excessive problems.
The African bee is widely feared by the public, a reaction that has been amplified by sensationalist movies and some of the media reports. Stings from African bees kill 1–2 people per year in the United States.
As the bee spreads through Florida, a densely populated state, officials worry that public fear may force misguided efforts to combat them.
“ News reports of mass stinging attacks will promote concern and in some cases panic and anxiety, and cause citizens to demand responsible agencies and organizations to take action to help ensure their safety. We anticipate increased pressure from the public to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas. This action would be counter-productive. Beekeepers maintaining managed colonies of domestic European bees are our best defense against an area becoming saturated with AHB. These managed bees are filling an ecological niche that would soon be occupied by less desirable colonies if it were vacant. ”
— Florida African Bee Action Plan
The much smaller and much more aggressive South American stingless bee Trigona spinipes does not interbreed and is known to kill or chase Africanized bees.
The sting of the Africanized Honey Bee is no more potent than your garden variety honey bee and they look pretty much the same. What makes AHBs more dangerous is that they are more easily provoked, quick to swarm, attack in greater numbers, and pursue their victims for greater distances. The AHB colony can remain agitated longer and may attack up to a quarter of a mile away from the hive.
Queen management in African bee areas
In Mexico, where African bees are well established, pollination beekeepers have found that a purchased and pre-bred non-African queen may be used to locally create a first generation of virgin queens that are then bred in an uncontrolled fashion with the local wild African drones. These first generation African queens produce worker bees that are manageable, not exhibiting the intense and massive defense reactions of subsequent generations. This offers a relatively economical method of safe local beekeeping conditions that would otherwise quickly lead to hazardous conditions.
Impact on existing apiculture
In areas of suitable temperate climate, the survival traits of African queens and colonies outperform western honey bee colonies. This competitive edge leads to the dominance of African traits. In Brazil, the African hybrids are known as Assassin Bees, for their habit of taking over an existing hive of European bees; this habit is most evident when the hive being attacked has a weakened queen, so not all hives are equally vulnerable, and overall rates of hive usurpation can reach 20%.
Gentle African bees
Not all African hives show overly defensive behavior; some colonies are quiet, which gives a beginning point for beekeepers to breed a gentler stock. This has been done in Brazil, where bee incidents are much less common than they were during the first wave of the African bees' colonization. Now that the African bee has been "re-domesticated, " it is considered the bee of choice for beekeeping in Brazil.
|Honey (English pronunciation: /?h?ni/) is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans. Honey produced by other bees and insects has distinctly different properties.|
Honey bees form nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation, and store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Beekeeping practices encourage overproduction of honey so the excess can be taken from the colony.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has approximately the same relative sweetness as that of granulated sugar. It has attractive chemical properties for baking, and a distinctive flavor that leads some people to prefer it over sugar and other sweeteners. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey because of its low water activity of 0.6. However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in the infant's immature intestinal tract, leading to illness and even death (see Health hazards below).
Honey has a long history of human consumption, and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener and flavoring. It also has a role in religion and symbolism. Flavors of honey vary based on the nectar source, and various types and grades of honey are available. It is also used in various medicinal traditions to treat ailments. The study of pollens and spores in raw honey (melissopalynology) can determine floral sources of honey. Because bees carry an electrostatic charge, and can attract other particles, the same techniques of melissopalynology can be used in area environmental studies of radioactive particles, dust or particulate pollution.
2 Physical properties
3 In history, culture, and folklore
3.1 Ancient times
3.2 Religious significance
3.3 In western culture
4 Collecting honey
5 Modern uses
5.1 As a food and in cooking
7.1 Floral source
7.1.4 Honeydew honey
7.2 Classification by packaging and processing
9 Distinguishing honey
9.1 Honey grading
9.2 Indicators of quality
9.3 In medicine
9.3.1 Osmotic effect
9.3.2 Hydrogen peroxide
220.127.116.11 In diabetic ulcers
9.3.5 Nutraceutical effects
9.3.6 For throats
9.3.7 Other medical applications
10 Health hazards
10.2 Toxic honey
11 Honey-producing countries
12 Gallery of honey harvesting
13 See also
15 Further reading
16 External links
Honey is produced by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when fresh food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. By contriving for bee swarms to nest in artificial hives, people have been able to semidomesticate the insects, and harvest excess honey. In the hive (or in a wild nest), there are three types of bee: a single female queen bee, a seasonally variable number of male drone bees to fertilize new queens, and some 20, 000 to 40, 000 female worker bees. The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. Leaving the hive, they collect sugar-rich flower nectar and return.
In the hive, the bees use their "honey stomachs" to ingest and regurgitate the nectar a number of times until it is partially digested. The bees work together as a group with the regurgitation and digestion until the product reaches a desired quality. It is then stored in honeycomb cells. After the final regurgitation, the honeycomb is left unsealed. However, the nectar is still high in both water content and natural yeasts, which, unchecked, would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment. The process continues as bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb, which enhances evaporation of much of the water from the nectar. This reduction in water content raises the sugar concentration and prevents fermentation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has a long shelf life, and will not ferment if properly sealed.
The physical properties of honey vary, depending on water content, the type of flora used to produce it, temperature, and the proportion of the specific sugars it contains. Fresh honey is a supersaturated liquid, containing more sugar than the water can typically dissolve at ambient temperatures. At room temperature, honey is a supercooled liquid, in which the glucose will precipitate into solid granules. This forms a semisolid solution of precipitated sugars in a solution of sugars and other ingredients.
The melting point of crystallized honey is between 40 and 50 °C (104 and 122 °F), depending on its composition. Below this temperature, honey can be either in a metastable state, meaning that it will not crystallize until a seed crystal is added, or, more often, it is in a "labile" state, being saturated with enough sugars to crystallize spontaneously. The rate of crystallization is affected by the ratio of the main sugars, fructose to glucose, as well as the dextrin content. Temperature also affects the rate of crystallization, which is fastest between 13 and 17 °C (55 and 63 °F). Below 5 °C, the honey will not crystallize and, thus, the original texture and flavor can be preserved indefinitely.
Since honey normally exists below its melting point, it is a supercooled liquid. At very low temperatures, honey will not freeze solid. Instead, as the temperatures become colder, the viscosity of honey increases. Like most viscous liquids, the honey will become thick and sluggish with decreasing temperature. While appearing or even feeling solid, it will continue to flow at very slow rates. Honey has a glass transition between -42 and -51 °C (-44 and -60 °F). Below this temperature, honey enters a glassy state and will become a noncrystalline amorphous solid.
The viscosity of honey is affected greatly by both temperature and water content. The higher the humidity, the easier honey will flow. Above its melting point, however, water has little effect on viscosity. Aside from water content, the composition of honey also has little effect on viscosity, with the exception of a few types. At 25 °C (77 °F), honey with 14% humidity will generally have a viscosity of around 400 poise, while a honey containing 20% humidity will have a viscosity of around 20 poise. Viscosity increase due to temperature occurs very slowly at first. A honey containing 16% humidity, at 70 °C (158 °F), will have a viscosity of around 2 poise, while at 30 °C (86 °F), the viscosity will be around 70 poise. As cooling progresses, honey will become more viscous at an increasingly rapid rate, reaching 600 poise around 14 °C (57 °F). However, while honey is very viscous, it has rather low surface tension.
A few types of honey have unusual viscous properties. Honey from heather or manuka display thixotropic properties. These types of honey enter a gel-like state when motionless, but then liquify when stirred.
Unlike many other liquids, honey has very poor thermal conductivity. Melting crystallized honey can easily result in localized caramelization if the heat source is too hot, or if it is not evenly distributed. However, honey will take substantially longer to liquify when just above the melting point than it will at elevated temperatures.
Since honey contains electrolytes, in the form of acids and minerals, it exhibits varying degrees of electrical conductivity. Measurements of the electrical conductivity are used to determine the quality of honey in terms of ash content.
The effect honey has on light is useful for determining the type and quality. Variations in the water content alter the refractive index of honey. Water content can easily be measured with a refractometer. Typically, the refractive index for honey will range from 1.504 at 13% humidity, to 1.474 at 25%. Honey also has an effect on polarized light, in that it will rotate the polarization plane. The fructose will give a negative rotation, while the glucose will give a positive one. The overall rotation can be used to measure the ratio of the mixture.
Honey has the ability to absorb moisture directly from the air, a phenomenon called hygroscopy. The amount of water the honey will absorb is dependent on the relative humidity of the air. This hygroscopic nature requires that honey be stored in sealed containers to prevent fermentation. Honey will tend to absorb more water in this manner than the individual sugars would allow on their own, which may be due to other ingredients which it contains.
In history, culture, and folklore
Honey use and production has a long and varied history. In many cultures, honey has associations that go beyond its use as a food. Honey is frequently used as a talisman and symbol of sweetness.
Honey collection is an ancient activity. Eva Crane's The Archaeology of Beekeeping states that humans began hunting for honey at least 10, 000 years ago. She evidences this with a cave painting in Valencia, Spain. The painting is a Mesolithic rock painting, showing two female honey-hunters collecting honey and honeycomb from a wild bee nest. The two women are depicted in the nude, carrying baskets, and using a long, wobbly ladder to reach the wild nest.
In ancient Egypt, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, and was used in many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern peoples also used honey for embalming the dead. Pliny the Elder devotes considerable space in his book Naturalis Historia to the bee and honey, and its many uses. The fertility god of Egypt, Min, was offered honey.
The art of beekeeping appeared in ancient China for a long time and hardly traceable to its origin. In the book "Golden Rules of Business Success" written by Fan Li (or Tao Zhu Gong) during the Spring and Autumn Period, there are some parts mentioning the art of beekeeping and the importance of the quality of the wooden box for bee keeping that can affect the quality of its honey.
Honey was also cultivated in ancient Mesoamerica. The Maya used honey from the stingless bee for culinary purposes, and continue to do so today. The Maya also regard the bee as sacred (see Mayan stingless bees of Central America).
Some cultures believed honey had many practical health uses. It was used as an ointment for rashes and burns, and to help soothe sore throats when no other medicinal practices were available.
In Hinduism, honey (Madhu) is one of the five elixirs of immortality (Panchamrita). In temples, honey is poured over the deities in a ritual called Madhu abhisheka. The Vedas and other ancient literature mention the use of honey as a great medicinal and health food.
In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashanah. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashanah greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the new year.
The Hebrew Bible contains many references to honey. In the Book of Judges, Samson found a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of a lion (14:8). The Book of Exodus famously describes the Promised Land as a "land flowing with milk and honey" (33:3). However, the claim has been advanced that the original Hebrew (devash) actually refers to the sweet syrup produced from the juice of dates. Pure honey is considered kosher even though it is produced by a flying insect, a nonkosher creature; other products of nonkosher animals are not kosher.
In Buddhism, honey plays an important role in the festival of Madhu Purnima, celebrated in India and Bangladesh. The day commemorates Buddha's making peace among his disciples by retreating into the wilderness. The legend has it that while he was there, a monkey brought him honey to eat. On Madhu Purnima, Buddhists remember this act by giving honey to monks. The monkey's gift is frequently depicted in Buddhist art.
In the Christian New Testament, Matthew 3:4, John the Baptist is said to have lived for a long period of time in the wilderness on a diet consisting of locusts and wild honey.
In Islam, there is an entire Surah in the Qur'an called al-Nahl (the Honey Bee). According to hadith, Prophet Muhammad strongly recommended honey for healing purposes. Qur'an promotes honey as a nutritious and healthy food. Below is the English translation of those specific verses.
And your Lord inspired the bees, saying: "Take you habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. (68) Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you)." There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think.
In western culture
A jar of honey with honey dipper
The word "honey", along with variations like "honey bun" and the abbreviation "hon", has become a term of endearment in most of the English-speaking world. In some places it is used for loved ones; in others, such as Australia, the Southern United States and Baltimore, Maryland, it is used when addressing casual acquaintances or even strangers.
Also, in many children’s books, bears are depicted as eating honey (e.g., Winnie the Pooh), though most bears actually eat a wide variety of foods, and bears seen at beehives are usually more interested in bee larvae than honey. In some European languages, even the word for bear (e.g. in Russian medvéd, in Czech medv?d, in Serbian medved, in Bosnian medvjed and in Croatian medvjed) is coined from the noun meaning honey and the verb meaning to eat. Honey is sometimes sold in bear-shaped jars or squeeze bottles.
Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from domesticated beehives. Wild bee nests are sometimes located by following a honeyguide bird.
Collecting honey is typically achieved by using smoke from a bee smoker to pacify the bees; this causes the bees to attempt to save the resources of the hive from a possible forest fire, and makes them far less aggressive. The honeycomb is removed from the hive and the honey is extracted from that, often using a honey extractor. The honey is then filtered.
As a food and in cooking
The main uses of honey are in cooking, baking, as a spread on bread, and as an addition to various beverages, such as tea, and as a sweetener in some commercial beverages. According to the The National Honey Board (a USDA-overseen organization), "honey stipulates a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance...this includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners". Honey barbecue and honey mustard are common and popular sauce flavors.
Honey is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead, which is also known as "honey wine" or "honey beer". Historically, the ferment for mead was honey's naturally occurring yeast. Honey is also used as an adjunct in some beers.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1, 272 kJ (304 kcal)
Carbohydrates 82.4 g
- Sugars 82.12 g
- Dietary fiber 0.2 g
Fat 0 g
Protein 0.3 g
Water 17.10 g
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.038 mg (3%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.121 mg (1%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.068 mg (1%)
Vitamin B6 0.024 mg (2%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 2 ?g (1%)
Vitamin C 0.5 mg (1%)
Calcium 6 mg (1%)
Iron 0.42 mg (3%)
Magnesium 2 mg (1%)
Phosphorus 4 mg (1%)
Potassium 52 mg (1%)
Sodium 4 mg (0%)
Zinc 0.22 mg (2%)
Shown is for 100 g, roughly 5 tbsp.
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Honey is a mixture of sugars and other compounds. With respect to carbohydrates, honey is mainly fructose (about 38.5%) and glucose (about 31.0%),  making it similar to the synthetically produced inverted sugar syrup, which is approximately 48% fructose, 47% glucose, and 5% sucrose. Honey's remaining carbohydrates include maltose, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates. As with all nutritive sweeteners, honey is mostly sugars and contains only trace amounts of vitamins or minerals. Honey also contains tiny amounts of several compounds thought to function as antioxidants, including chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase, and pinocembrin.[vague] The specific composition of any batch of honey depends on the flowers available to the bees that produced the honey.
Typical honey analysis.
Higher sugars: 1.5%
Its glycemic index ranges from 31 to 78, depending on the variety.
Honey has a density of about 1.36 kilograms per litre (36% denser than water).
Isotope ratio mass spectrometry can be used to detect addition of corn syrup or sugar cane sugars by the carbon isotopic signature. Addition of sugars originating from corn or sugar cane (C4 plants, unlike the plants used by bees, which are predominantly C3 plants) skews the isotopic ratio of sugars present in honey, but does not influence the isotopic ratio of proteins; in an unadulterated honey, the carbon isotopic ratios of sugars and proteins should match. As low as 7% level of addition can be detected.[dead link]
Honey is classified by its floral source, and there are also divisions according to the packaging and processing used. There are also regional honeys. Honey is also graded on its color and optical density by USDA standards, graded on a scale called the Pfund scale, which ranges from 0 for "water white" honey to more than 114 for "dark amber" honey.
Generally, honey is classified by the floral source of the nectar from which it was made. Honeys can be from specific types of flower nectars, from indeterminate origin, or can be blended after collection.
Most commercially available honey is blended, meaning it is a mixture of two or more honeys differing in floral source, color, flavor, density or geographic origin.
Polyfloral honey, also known as wildflower honey,  is derived from the nectar of many types of flowers. The taste may vary from year to year, and the aroma and the flavor can be more or less intense, depending on which bloomings are prevalent.
Monofloral honey is made primarily from the nectar of one type of flower. Different monofloral honeys have a distinctive flavor and color because of differences between their principal nectar sources. To produce monofloral honey, beekeepers keep beehives in an area where the bees have access to only one type of flower. In practice, because of the difficulties in containing bees, a small proportion of any honey will be from additional nectar from other flower types. Typical examples of North American monofloral honeys are clover, orange blossom, sage, tupelo, buckwheat, fireweed, and sourwood. Some typical European examples include thyme, thistle, heather, acacia, dandelion, sunflower, honeysuckle, and varieties from lime and chestnut trees. In North Africa, such as Egypt, examples include clover, cotton, and citrus (mainly orange blossoms).
Instead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew, the sweet secretions of aphids or other plant sap-sucking insects. Honeydew honey is very dark brown in color, with a rich fragrance of stewed fruit or fig jam, and is not sweet like nectar honeys. Germany's Black Forest is a well known source of honeydew-based honeys, as well as some regions in Bulgaria and Northern California in the United States. In Greece, pine honey (a type of honeydew honey) constitutes 60–65% of the annual honey production. Honeydew honey is popular in some areas, but in other areas beekeepers have difficulty selling the stronger flavored product.
The production of honeydew honey has some complications and dangers. The honey has a much larger proportion of indigestibles than light floral honeys, thus causing dysentery to the bees, resulting in the death of colonies in areas with cold winters. Good beekeeping management requires the removal of honeydew prior to winter in colder areas. Bees collecting this resource also have to be fed protein supplements, as honeydew lacks the protein-rich pollen accompaniment gathered from flowers.
Classification by packaging and processing
A variety of honey flavors and container sizes and styles from the 2008 Texas State Fair
Generally, honey is bottled in its familiar liquid form. However, honey is sold in other forms, and can be subjected to a variety of processing methods.
Crystallized honey is honey in which some of the glucose content has spontaneously crystallized from solution as the monohydrate. Also called "granulated honey." Honey that has crystallized over time (or commercially purchased crystallized) in the home can be returned to a liquid state if stirred in a container sitting in warm water at 120 °F (approx 49 °C).
Pasteurized honey is honey that has been heated in a pasteurization process (161°F (71.7°C) or higher). Pasteurization destroys yeast cells. It also liquefies any microcrystals in the honey, which delays the onset of visible crystallization. However, excessive heat exposure also results in product deterioration, as it increases the level of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and reduces enzyme (e.g. diastase) activity. Heat also affects appearance (darkens the natural honey color), taste, and fragrance.
Raw honey is honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining, without adding heat (although some honey that has been "minimally processed" is often labeled as raw honey). Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax. Local raw honey is sought after by allergy sufferers as the pollen impurities are thought to lessen the sensitivity to hay fever (see Other medical applications below).
Strained honey has been passed through a mesh material to remove particulate material (pieces of wax, propolis, other defects) without removing pollen, minerals or valuable enzymes.
Ultrafiltered honey is processed by very fine filtration under high pressure to remove all extraneous solids and pollen grains. The process typically heats honey to 150–170°F (approx. 65–77°C) to more easily pass through the fine filter. Ultrafiltered honey is very clear and has a longer shelf life, because it crystallizes more slowly because of the high temperatures breaking down any sugar seed crystals, making it preferred by the supermarket trade.
Ultrasonicated honey has been processed by ultrasonication, a nonthermal processing alternative for honey. When honey is exposed to ultrasonication, most of the yeast cells are destroyed. Those cells that survive sonication generally lose their ability to grow, which reduces the rate of honey fermentation substantially. Ultrasonication also eliminates existing crystals and inhibits further crystallization in honey. Ultrasonically aided liquefaction can work at substantially lower temperatures of approximately 35°C (95°F) and can reduce liquefaction time to less than 30 seconds.
Whipped honey, also called creamed honey, spun honey, churned honey, candied honey, honey fondant, and set honey (in the UK), has been processed to control crystallization. Whipped honey contains a large number of small crystals in the honey. The small crystals prevent the formation of larger crystals that can occur in unprocessed honey. The processing also produces a honey with a smooth, spreadable consistency.
Dried honey has the moisture extracted from liquid honey to create completely solid, nonsticky granules. This process may or may not include the use of drying and anticaking agents. Dried honey is commonly used to garnish desserts.
Comb honey is honey still in the honeybees' wax comb. It traditionally is collected by using standard wooden frames in honey supers. The frames are collected and the comb is cut out in chunks before packaging. As an alternative to this labor intensive method, plastic rings or cartridges can be used that do not require manual cutting of the comb, and speed packaging. Comb honey harvested in the traditional manner is also referred to as "cut-comb honey". In India, honey is harvested from forests in bee's natural habitat. It is said that honey will be consumed by the bees on the new moon day, so it is cultivated the day before.
Chunk honey is packed in widemouth containers consisting of one or more pieces of comb honey immersed in extracted liquid honey.
Sealed frame of honey
Because of its unique composition and chemical properties, honey is suitable for long-term storage, and is easily assimilated even after long preservation. Honey, and objects immersed in honey, have been preserved for decades and even centuries. The key to preservation is limiting access to humidity. In its cured state, honey has a sufficiently high sugar content to inhibit fermentation. If exposed to moist air, its hydrophilic properties will pull moisture into the honey, eventually diluting it to the point that fermentation can begin. Honey sealed in honeycomb cells by the bees is considered by many[who?] to be the ideal form for preservation.
Honey should also be protected from oxidation and temperature degradation. It generally should not be preserved in metal containers because the acids in the honey may promote oxidation of the vessel. Traditionally, honey was stored in ceramic or wooden containers; however, glass and plastic are now the favored materials. Honey stored in wooden containers may be discolored or take on flavors imparted from the vessel. Likewise, honey stored uncovered near other foods may absorb other smells.
Excessive heat can have detrimental effects on the nutritional value of honey. Heating up to 37°C (98.6°F) causes loss of nearly 200 components, some of which are antibacterial. Heating up to 40°C (104°F) destroys invertase, an important enzyme. At 50°C (122°F), the honey sugars caramelize. Generally, any large temperature fluctuation causes decay.
Regardless of preservation, honey may crystallize over time. Crystallization does not affect the flavor, quality or nutritional content of the honey, though it does affect color and texture. The rate is a function of storage temperature, availability of "seed" crystals and the specific mix of sugars and trace compounds in the honey. Tupelo and acacia honeys, for example, are exceptionally slow to crystallize, while goldenrod will often crystallize still in the comb. Most honeys crystallize fastest between about 50 and 70 °F (10 and 21 °C).
The crystals can be redissolved by heating the honey.
In the US, honey grading is performed voluntarily (USDA does offer inspection and grading "as on-line (in-plant) or lot inspection...upon application, on a fee-for-service basis.") based upon USDA standards. Honey is graded based upon a number of factors, including water content, flavor and aroma, absence of defects and clarity. Honey is also classified by color though it is not a factor in the grading scale.  The honey grade scale is:
Grade Water content Flavor and aroma Absence of defects Clarity
A < 18.6% Good—has a good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source and is free from caramelization, smoke, fermentation, chemicals and other odor causes Practically free—practically no defects that affect appearance or edibility Clear—may contain air bubbles that do not materially affect the appearance; may contain a trace of pollen grains or other finely divided particles of suspended material that do not affect appearance
B < 18.6% Reasonably good—practically free from caramelization; free from smoke, fermentation, chemicals, and other causes Reasonably free—do not materially affect appearance or edibility Reasonably clear—may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material that do not materially affect appearance
C < 20.0% Fairly good—reasonably free from caramelization; free from smoke, fermentation, chemicals, and other causes Fairly free—do not seriously affect the appearance or edibility Fairly clear—may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material that do not seriously affect appearance
Substandard > 20.0% Fails Grade C Fails Grade C Fails Grade C
Other countries may have differing standards on the grading of honey. India, for example, certifies honey grades based on additional factors, such as the Fiehes test, and other empirical measurements.
Indicators of quality
High-quality honey can be distinguished by fragrance, taste, and consistency. Ripe, freshly collected, high-quality honey at 20 °C (68 °F) should flow from a knife in a straight stream, without breaking into separate drops. After falling down, the honey should form a bead. The honey, when poured, should form small, temporary layers that disappear fairly quickly, indicating high viscosity. If not, it indicates excessive water content (over 20%) of the product. Honey with excessive water content is not suitable for long-term preservation.
In jars, fresh honey should appear as a pure, consistent fluid, and should not set in layers. Within a few weeks to a few months of extraction, many varieties of honey crystallize into a cream-colored solid. Some varieties of honey, including tupelo, acacia, and sage, crystallize less regularly. Honey may be heated during bottling at temperatures of 40–49°C (104–120°F) to delay or inhibit crystallization. Overheating is indicated by change in enzyme levels, for instance, diastase activity, which can be determined with the Schade or the Phadebas methods. A fluffy film on the surface of the honey (like a white foam), or marble-colored or white-spotted crystallization on a containers sides, is formed by air bubbles trapped during the bottling process.
A 2008 Italian study determined nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy can be used to distinguish between different honey types, and can be used to pinpoint the area where it was produced. Researchers were able to identify differences in acacia and polyfloral honeys by the differing proportions of fructose and sucrose, as well as differing levels of aromatic amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine. This ability allows greater ease of selecting compatible stocks.
For at least 2700 years, honey has been used by humans to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, but only recently have the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey been chemically explained.
In Ayurveda, a 4000-year-old medicine originating from India, honey is considered to positively affect all three primitive material imbalances of the body. "Vaatalam guru sheetam cha raktapittakaphapaham| Sandhatru cchedanam ruksham kashayam madhuram madhu|| "It has sweetness with added astringent as end taste. It is heavy, dry and cold. Its effect on doshas (imbalances) is that it aggravates vata (air / moving forces), scrapes kapha (mucus / holding forces) and normalizes pitta (catabolic fire) and rakta (blood). It promotes the healing process." Some wound gels which contain antibacterial raw honey and have regulatory approval are now available to help treat drug-resistant strains of bacteria (MRSA). One New Zealand researcher says a particular type of honey (Manuka honey) may be useful in treating MRSA infections.) As an antimicrobial agent honey may have the potential for treating a variety of ailments. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect,  high acidity,  and the antibacterial activity of methylglyoxal.
Honey appears to be effective in killing drug-resistant biofilms which are implicated in chronic rhinosinusitis.
Honey is primarily a saturated mixture of two monosaccharides, with a low water activity; most of the water molecules are associated with the sugars and few remain available for microorganisms, so it is a poor environment for their growth. If water is mixed with honey, it loses its low water activity, and therefore no longer possesses this antimicrobial property.
Hydrogen peroxide is formed in a slow-release manner by the enzyme glucose oxidase present in honey. It becomes active only when honey is diluted, requires oxygen to be available for the reaction (thus it may not work under wound dressings, in wound cavities or in the gut), is active only when the acidity of honey is neutralized by body fluids, can be destroyed by the protein-digesting enzymes present in wound fluids, and is destroyed when honey is exposed to heat and light. Honey chelates and deactivates free iron, which would otherwise catalyze the formation of oxygen free radicals from hydrogen peroxide, leading to inflammation. Also, the antioxidant constituents in honey help clean up oxygen free radicals present.
C6H12O6 + H2O + O2 ? C6H12O7 + H2O2 (glucose oxidase reaction)
When honey is used topically (as, for example, a wound dressing), hydrogen peroxide is produced by dilution of the honey with body fluids. As a result, hydrogen peroxide is released slowly and acts as an antiseptic.
In diabetic ulcers
Topical honey has been used successfully in a comprehensive treatment of diabetic ulcers when the patient cannot use topical antibiotics.
The pH of honey is commonly between 3.2 and 4.5. This relatively acidic pH level prevents the growth of many bacteria.
The nonperoxide antibiotic activity is due to methylglyoxal (MGO) and an unidentified synergistic component. Most honeys contain very low levels of MGO, but manuka honey contains very high levels. The presence of the synergist in manuka honey more than doubles MGO antibacterial activity.
Antioxidants in honey have even been associated with reducing the damage done to the colon in colitis. Such claims are consistent with its use in many traditions of folk medicine.
Honey has also been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs and, according to recent research, may be an effective soothing agent for coughs.
Other medical applications
Some studies suggest the topical use of honey may reduce odors, swelling, and scarring when used to treat wounds; it may also prevent the dressing from sticking to the healing wound.
Honey has been shown to be an effective treatment for conjunctivitis in rats.
Unfiltered, pasteurized honey is widely believed to alleviate allergies, though neither commercially filtered nor raw honey was shown to be more effective than placebo in a controlled study of 36 participants with ocular allergies. Nearly 1 in 3 of the volunteers dropped out of the study because they couldn’t tolerate eating one tablespoon of honey every day due to the overly sweet taste. The official conclusion: "This study does not confirm the widely held belief that honey relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis." A more recent study has shown pollen collected by bees to exert an antiallergenic effect, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells. This inhibited mast cell degranulation and thus reduced allergic reaction. The risk of experiencing anaphylaxis as an immune system reaction may outweigh any potential allergy relief.
A review in the Cochrane Library suggests honey could reduce the time it takes for a burn to heal — up to four days sooner in some cases. The review included 19 studies with 2, 554 participants. Although the honey treatment healed moderate burns faster than traditional dressings did, the author recommends viewing the findings with caution, since a single researcher performed all of the burn studies.
Because of the natural presence of botulinum endospores in honey,  children under one year of age should not be given honey. The more-developed digestive system of older children and adults generally destroys the spores. Infants, however, can contract botulism from honey. Medical grade honey can be treated with gamma radiation to reduce the risk of botulinum spores being present. Gamma radiation evidently does not affect honey's antibacterial activity, whether or not the particular honey's antibacterial activity is dependent upon peroxide generation.
Infantile botulism shows geographical variation. In the UK, only six cases have been reported between 1976 and 2006,  yet the U.S. has much higher rates: 1.9 per 100, 000 live births, 47.2% of which are in California. Although honey has been implicated as a risk factor for infection, it is household dust that is the major source of spores. Therefore, the risk honey poses to infant health is small, if uncertain.
Main article: Bees and toxic chemicals#Toxic honey
Honey produced from the flowers of oleanders, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, sheep laurel, and azaleas may cause honey intoxication. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, excessive perspiration, nausea, and vomiting. Less commonly, low blood pressure, shock, heart rhythm irregularities, and convulsions may occur, with rare cases resulting in death. Honey intoxication is more likely when using "natural" unprocessed honey and honey from farmers who may have a small number of hives. Commercial processing, with pooling of honey from numerous sources, generally dilutes any toxins.
Toxic honey may also result when bees are proximate to tutu bushes (Coriaria arborea) and the vine hopper insect (Scolypopa australis). Both are found throughout New Zealand. Bees gather honeydew produced by the vine hopper insects feeding on the tutu plant. This introduces the poison tutin into honey. Only a few areas in New Zealand (Coromandel Peninsula, Eastern Bay of Plenty and the Marlborough Sound) frequently produce toxic honey. Symptoms of tutin poisoning include vomiting, delirium, giddiness, increased excitability, stupor, coma, and violent convulsions. To reduce the risk of tutin poisoning, humans should not eat honey taken from feral hives in the risk areas of New Zealand. Since December 2001, New Zealand beekeepers have been required to reduce the risk of producing toxic honey by closely monitoring tutu, vine hopper, and foraging conditions within 3 km of their apiary.
Honey output in 2005
In 2005, China, Argentina, Turkey and the United States were the top producers of natural honey, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Significant regional producers of honey include Turkey (ranked third worldwide) and Ukraine (ranked fifth worldwide). Mexico is also an important producer of honey, providing about 10% of the world's supply. Much of this (about one-third) comes from the Yucatán Peninsula. Honey production began there when the Apis mellifera and the A. mellifer ligustica were introduced there early in the 20th century. Most of Mexico's Yucatán producers are small, family operations who use original traditional techniques, moving hives to take advantage of the various tropical and subtropical flowers.
Honey is also one of the gourmet products of the French island of Corsica. Corsican honey is certified as to its origin (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) just as are French wines, like Champagne. Homolje honey (eastern Serbia) is certified as to its origin.
|Honey bees (or honeybees) are a subset of bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests out of wax. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini, all in the genus Apis. Currently, there are only seven recognised species of honey bee with a total of 44 subspecies,  though historically, anywhere from six to eleven species have been recognised. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the approximately 20, 000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.|
1 Origin, systematics and distribution
1.4 Africanized bee
2.1 Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
3 Life cycle
3.1 Winter survival
7 See also
9 Further reading
Origin, systematics and distribution
Morphology of a female honey bee
Honey bees as a group appear to have their centre of origin in South and South East Asia (including the Philippines), as all but one of the extant species are native to that region, notably the most plesiomorphic living species (Apis florea and Apis andreniformis). The first Apis bees appear in the fossil record at the Eocene–Oligocene boundary, in European deposits. The origin of these prehistoric honey bees does not necessarily indicate that Europe is where the genus originated, only that it occurred there at that time. There are few known fossil deposits in the suspected region of honey bee origin, and fewer still have been thoroughly studied. There is only one fossil species documented from the New World, Apis nearctica, known from a single 14-million-year old specimen from Nevada.
The close relatives of modern honey bees –- e.g. bumblebees and stingless bees –- are also social to some degree, and social behavior seems a plesiomorphic trait that predates the origin of the genus. Among the extant members of Apis, the more basal species make single, exposed combs, while the more recently evolved species nest in cavities and have multiple combs, which has greatly facilitated their domestication.
Most species have historically been cultured or at least exploited for honey and beeswax by humans indigenous to their native ranges. Only two of these species have been truly domesticated, one (Apis mellifera) at least since the time of the building of the Egyptian pyramids, and only that species has been moved extensively beyond its native range.
Today's honey bees constitute three clades.
Apis dorsata on Tribulus terrestris in Hyderabad, India
Apis florea and Apis andreniformis are small honey bees of southern and southeastern Asia. They make very small, exposed nests in trees and shrubs. Their stings are often incapable of penetrating human skin, so the hive and swarms can be handled with minimal protection. They occur largely sympatrically though they are very distinct evolutionarily and are probably the result of allopatric speciation, their distribution later converging. Given that A. florea is more widely distributed and A. andreniformis is considerably more aggressive, honey is –- if at all –- usually harvested from the former only. They are the most ancient extant lineage of honey bees, maybe diverging in the Bartonian (some 40 million years ago or slightly later) from the other lineages, but among themselves do not seem to have diverged a long time before the Neogene.
There is one recognised species in subgenus Megapis. It usually builds single or a few exposed combs on high tree limbs, on cliffs, and sometimes on buildings. They can be very fierce. Periodically robbed of their honey by human "honey hunters", colonies are easily capable of stinging a human being to death when provoked.
Apis dorsata on comb
Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, is native and widespread across most of South and Southeast Asia.
Apis dorsata binghami, the Indonesian honey bee, is classified as the Indonesian subspecies of the giant honey bee or a distinct species; in the latter case, A. d. breviligula and/or other lineages would probably also have to be considered species.
Apis dorsata laboriosa, the Himalayan honey bee, was initially described as a distinct species. Later, it was included in A. dorsata as a subspecies based on the biological species concept, though authors applying a genetic species concept have suggested it should be considered a species. Essentially restricted to the Himalayas, it differs little from the giant honey bee in appearance, but has extensive behavioral adaptations which enable it to nest in the open at high altitudes despite low ambient temperatures. It is the largest living honey bee.
Eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) from Hong Kong
These are three or four species. The reddish Koschevnikov's bee (Apis koschevnikovi) from Borneo is well distinct; it probably derives from the first colonization of the island by cave-nesting honey bees. Apis cerana, the Eastern honey bee proper, is the traditional honey bee of southern and eastern Asia, kept in hives in a similar fashion to Apis mellifera, though on a much smaller and regionalised scale. It has not been possible yet to resolve its relationship to the Bornean Apis cerana nuluensis and Apis nigrocincta from the Philippines to satisfaction; the most recent hypothesis is that these are indeed distinct species but that A. cerana is still paraphyletic, consisting of several good species.
European/Western/Common honey bee
Main article: Apis mellifera
Apis mellifera, the most commonly domesticated species, was the third insect to have its genome mapped. It seems to have originated in eastern tropical Africa and spread from there to Northern Europe and eastwards into Asia to the Tien Shan range. It is variously called the European, Western or Common honey bee in different parts of the world. There are many subspecies that have adapted to the local geographic and climatic environment, and in addition, hybrid strains such as the Buckfast bee have been bred. Behavior, color and anatomy can be quite different from one subspecies or even strain to another.
European honey bee originated from eastern Africa. This bee is pictured in Tanzania.
Regarding phylogeny, this is the most enigmatic honey bee species. It seems to have diverged from its Eastern relatives only during the Late Miocene. This would fit the hypothesis that the ancestral stock of cave-nesting honey bees was separated into the Western group of E Africa and the Eastern group of tropical Asia by desertification in the Middle East and adjacent regions, which caused declines of foodplants and trees which provided nest sites, eventually causing gene flow to cease. The diversity of subspecies is probably the product of a largely Early Pleistocene radiation aided by climate and habitat changes during the last ice age. That the Western honey bee has been intensively managed by humans since many millennia – including hybridization and introductions – has apparently increased the speed of its evolution and confounded the DNA sequence data to a point where little of substance can be said about the exact relationships of many A. mellifera subspecies.
There are no honey bees native to the Americas. In 1622, European colonists brought the dark bee (A. m. mellifera) to the Americas, followed later by Italian bees (A. m. ligustica) and others. Many of the crops that depend on honey bees for pollination have also been imported since colonial times. Escaped swarms (known as "wild" bees, but actually feral) spread rapidly as far as the Great Plains, usually preceding the colonists. Honey bees did not naturally cross the Rocky Mountains; they were carried by ship to California in the early 1850s.
Main article: Africanized bee
Africanized bees (sometimes misnamed "killer bees") are hybrids between European stock and one of the African subspecies A. m. scutellata; they are often more aggressive than and do not create as much of a surplus as European bees, but are more resistant to disease and are better foragers. Originating by accident in Brazil, they have spread to North America and constitute a pest in some regions. However, these strains do not overwinter well, and so are not often found in the colder, more Northern parts of North America. On the other hand, the original breeding experiment for which the African bees were brought to Brazil in the first place has continued (though not as intended). Novel hybrid strains of domestic and re-domesticated Africanized bees combine high resilience to tropical conditions and good yields. They are popular among beekeepers in Brazil.
Main article: Beekeeping
Two species of honey bee, A. mellifera and A. cerana, are often maintained, fed, and transported by beekeepers. Modern hives also enable beekeepers to transport bees, moving from field to field as the crop needs pollinating and allowing the beekeeper to charge for the pollination services they provide, revising the historical role of the self-employed beekeeper, and favoring large-scale commercial operations.
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
Main article: Colony collapse disorder
Frame removed from Langstroth hive
Beekeepers in Western countries have been reporting slow declines of stocks for many years, apparently due to impaired protein production, changes in agricultural practice, or unpredictable weather. In early 2007, abnormally high die-offs (30-70% of hives) of European honey bee colonies occurred in the U.S. and Québec; such a decline seems unprecedented in recent history. This has been dubbed "Colony collapse disorder" (CCD); it is unclear whether this is simply an accelerated phase of the general decline due to stochastically more adverse conditions in 2006, or a novel phenomenon. Research has so far failed to determine what causes it, but the weight of evidence is tentatively leaning towards CCD being a syndrome rather than a disease as it seems to be caused by a combination of various contributing factors rather than a single pathogen or poison, though the Israel acute paralysis virus has recently emerged as a significant candidate.
Recent research (2009) has found that an indicator for an impaired protein production is common among all bees affected by CCD. It is conjectured that Dicistroviridae like the IAPV may influence the genetic material of the ribosomes, which are responsible for protein production of cells.
A queen bee: a coloured dot, in this case yellow, is added to assist the beekeeper in identifying the queen.
Honey bee eggs shown in cut open wax cells
Emergence of a black bee (Apis mellifera mellifera)
Eggs and larvae
As in a few other types of eusocial bees, a colony generally contains one queen bee, a fertile female; seasonally up to a few thousand drone bees or fertile males; and a large seasonally variable population of sterile female worker bees. Details vary among the different species of honey bees, but common features include:
1. Eggs are laid singly in a cell in a wax honeycomb, produced and shaped by the worker bees. Using her spermatheca, the queen actually can choose to fertilize the egg she is laying, usually depending on what cell she is laying in. Drones develop from unfertilised eggs and are haploid, while females (queens and worker bees) develop from fertilised eggs and are diploid. Larvae are initially fed with royal jelly produced by worker bees, later switching to honey and pollen. The exception is a larva fed solely on royal jelly, which will develop into a queen bee. The larva undergoes several moltings before spinning a cocoon within the cell, and pupating.
2. Young worker bees clean the hive and feed the larvae. When their royal jelly producing glands begin to atrophy, they begin building comb cells. They progress to other within-colony tasks as they become older, such as receiving nectar and pollen from foragers, and guarding the hive. Later still, a worker takes her first orientation flights and finally leaves the hive and typically spends the remainder of her life as a forager.
3. Worker bees cooperate to find food and use a pattern of "dancing" (known as the bee dance or waggle dance) to communicate information regarding resources with each other; this dance varies from species to species, but all living species of Apis exhibit some form of the behavior. If the resources are very close to the hive, they may also exhibit a less specific dance commonly known as the "Round Dance".
4. Honey bees also perform tremble dances which recruit receiver bees to collect nectar from returning foragers.
5. Virgin queens go on mating flights away from their home colony, and mate with multiple drones before returning. The drones die in the act of mating.
6. Colonies are established not by solitary queens, as in most bees, but by groups known as "swarms", which consist of a mated queen and a large contingent of worker bees. This group moves en masse to a nest site that has been scouted by worker bees beforehand. Once they arrive, they immediately construct a new wax comb and begin to raise new worker brood. This type of nest founding is not seen in any other living bee genus, though there are several groups of Vespid wasps which also found new nests via swarming (sometimes including multiple queens). Also, stingless bees will start new nests with large numbers of worker bees, but the nest is constructed before a queen is escorted to the site, and this worker force is not a true "swarm".
In cold climates honey bees stop flying when the temperature drops below about 10 °C (50 °F) and crowd into the central area of the hive to form a "winter cluster". The worker bees huddle around the queen bee at the center of the cluster, shivering in order to keep the center between 27 °C (80 °F) at the start of winter (during the broodless period) and 34 °C (93 °F) once the queen resumes laying. The worker bees rotate through the cluster from the outside to the inside so that no bee gets too cold. The outside edges of the cluster stay at about 8-9 °C (46-48 °F). The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes. During winter, they consume their stored honey to produce body heat. The amount of honey consumed during the winter is a function of winter length and severity but ranges in temperate climates from 30 to 100 lbs.
Foragers coming in loaded with pollen on the hive landing board
Main articles: Pollination management and List of crop plants pollinated by bees
Species of Apis are generalist floral visitors, and will pollinate a large variety of plants, but by no means all plants. Of all the honey bee species, only Apis mellifera has been used extensively for commercial pollination of crops and other plants. The value of these pollination services is commonly measured in the billions of dollars.
Main article: Honey
Honey is the complex substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants and trees are gathered, modified and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees as a food source for the colony. All living species of Apis have had their honey gathered by indigenous peoples for consumption, though for commercial purposes only Apis mellifera and Apis cerana have been exploited to any degree. Honey is sometimes also gathered by humans from the nests of various stingless bees.
Main article: Beeswax
Worker bees of a certain age will secrete beeswax from a series of glands on their abdomens. They use the wax to form the walls and caps of the comb. As with honey, beeswax is gathered for various purposes.
A forager collecting pollen
Main article: Pollen
Bees collect pollen in the pollen basket and carry it back to the hive. In the hive, pollen is used as a protein source necessary during brood-rearing. In certain environments, excess pollen can be collected from the hives of A. mellifera and A. cerana. It is often eaten as a health supplement.
Main article: Propolis
Propolis or bee glue is created from resins, balsams and tree saps. Those species of honey bees which nest in tree cavities use propolis to seal cracks in the hive. Dwarf honey bees use propolis to defend against ants by coating the branch from which their nest is suspended to create a sticky moat. Propolis is consumed by humans as a health supplement in various ways and also used in some cosmetics.
Apis cerana japonica forming a ball around two hornets. The body heat trapped by the ball will overheat and kill the hornets.
All honey bees live in colonies where the worker bees will sting intruders as a form of defense, and alarmed bees will release a pheromone that stimulates the attack response in other bees. The different species of honey bees are distinguished from all other bee species (and virtually all other Hymenoptera) by the possession of small barbs on the sting, but these barbs are found only in the worker bees. The sting and associated venom sac are also modified so as to pull free of the body once lodged (autotomy), and the sting apparatus has its own musculature and ganglion which allow it to keep delivering venom once detached. The worker bee dies after the stinger is torn from its body. As with other forms of life, warnings are given before an attack is launched. In the case of some honey bees species in the wild, this takes the form of a 'Mexican wave' which spreads as a ripple across a layer of bees densely packed on the surface of a comb when a threat is perceived, and consists of bees momentarily arching their bodies and flicking their wings. 
It is presumed that this complex apparatus, including the barbs on the sting, evolved specifically in response to predation by vertebrates, as the barbs do not usually function (and the sting apparatus does not detach) unless the sting is embedded in fleshy tissue. While the sting can also penetrate the flexible exoskeletal joints in appendages of other insects (and is used in fights between queens), in the case of Apis cerana defense against other insects such as predatory wasps is usually performed by surrounding the intruder with a mass of defending worker bees, who vibrate their muscles so vigorously that it raises the temperature of the intruder to a lethal level. It was previously thought that the heat alone was responsible for killing intruding wasps, but recent experiments have demonstrated that it is the increased temperature in combination with increased carbon dioxide levels within the ball that produces the lethal effect. This phenomenon is also used to kill a queen perceived as intruding or defective, an action known to beekeepers as balling the queen, named for the ball of bees formed.
Main article: Bee learning and communication
Honey bees are known to communicate through many different chemicals and odours, as is common in insects, but also using specific behaviours that convey information about the quality and type of resources in the environment, and where these resources are located. The details of the signalling being used vary from species to species; for example, the two smallest species, Apis andreniformis and Apis florea, dance on the upper surface of the comb, which is horizontal (not vertical, as in other species), and worker bees orient the dance in the actual compass direction of the resource to which they are recruiting.
|Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila. There are nearly 20, 000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families,  though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.|
Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae.
Bees have a long proboscis (a complex "tongue") that enables them to obtain the nectar from flowers. They have antennae almost universally made up of 13 segments in males and 12 in females, as is typical for the superfamily. Bees all have two pairs of wings, the hind pair being the smaller of the two; in a very few species, one sex or caste has relatively short wings that make flight difficult or impossible, but none are wingless.
The smallest bee is Trigona minima, a stingless bee whose workers are about 2.1 mm (5/64") long. The largest bee in the world is Megachile pluto, a leafcutter bee whose females can attain a length of 39 mm (1.5"). Members of the family Halictidae, or sweat bees, are the most common type of bee in the Northern Hemisphere, though they are small and often mistaken for wasps or flies.
The best-known bee species is the European honey bee, which, as its name suggests, produces honey, as do a few other types of bee. Human management of this species is known as beekeeping or apiculture.
Bees are the favorite meal of Merops apiaster, the bee-eater bird. Other common predators are kingbirds, mockingbirds, beewolves, and dragonflies.
1.1 Pollinator decline
3 Eusocial and semisocial bees
3.2 Stingless bees
3.3 Honey bees
3.4 Africanized honey bee
4 Solitary and communal bees
5 Cleptoparasitic bees
6 Nocturnal bees
8 Bees and humans
9 See also
10 External links
See also: List of crop plants pollinated by bees
Bees play an important role in pollinating flowering plants, and are the major type of pollinator in ecosystems that contain flowering plants. Bees either focus on gathering nectar or on gathering pollen depending on demand, especially in social species. Bees gathering nectar may accomplish pollination, but bees that are deliberately gathering pollen are more efficient pollinators. It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees, especially the domesticated European honey bee. Contract pollination has overtaken the role of honey production for beekeepers in many countries. Monoculture and the massive decline of many bee species (both wild and domesticated) have increasingly caused honey bee keepers to become migratory so that bees can be concentrated in seasonally varying high-demand areas of pollination.
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) collecting pollen
Most bees are fuzzy and carry an electrostatic charge, which aids in the adherence of pollen. Female bees periodically stop foraging and groom themselves to pack the pollen into the scopa, which is on the legs in most bees, and on the ventral abdomen on others, and modified into specialized pollen baskets on the legs of honey bees and their relatives. Many bees are opportunistic foragers, and will gather pollen from a variety of plants, while others are oligolectic, gathering pollen from only one or a few types of plant. A small number of plants produce nutritious floral oils rather than pollen, which are gathered and used by oligolectic bees. One small subgroup of stingless bees, called "vulture bees, " is specialized to feed on carrion, and these are the only bees that do not use plant products as food. Pollen and nectar are usually combined together to form a "provision mass", which is often soupy, but can be firm. It is formed into various shapes (typically spheroid), and stored in a small chamber (a "cell"), with the egg deposited on the mass. The cell is typically sealed after the egg is laid, and the adult and larva never interact directly (a system called "mass provisioning").
In New Zealand scientists discovered that three genera of native bees have evolved to open flower buds of the native mistletoe Peraxilla tetrapetala. The buds cannot open themselves but are visited by birds such as the tui and bellbird which twist the top of the ripe bud. That action releases a mechanism which causes the petals to suddenly spring open, giving access to the nectar and pollen. However, when observing the native bees in the Canterbury province in the South Island, the scientists were astonished to see the bees biting the top off the buds, then pushing with their legs, occasionally popping open the buds to allow the bees to harvest the nectar and pollen, and therefore aid in the pollination of the mistletoe which is in decline in New Zealand. Nowhere else in the world have bees demonstrated ability to open explosive bird-adapted flowers.
Visiting flowers can be a dangerous occupation. Many assassin bugs and crab spiders hide in flowers to capture unwary bees. Other bees are lost to birds in flight. Insecticides used on blooming plants kill many bees, both by direct poisoning and by contamination of their food supply. A honey bee queen may lay 2000 eggs per day during spring buildup, but she also must lay 1000 to 1500 eggs per day during the foraging season, mostly to replace daily casualties, most of which are workers dying of old age. Among solitary and primitively social bees, however, lifetime reproduction is among the lowest of all insects, as it is common for females of such species to produce fewer than 25 offspring.
The population value of bees depends partly on the individual efficiency of the bees, but also on the population itself. Thus while bumblebees have been found to be about ten times more efficient pollinators on cucurbits, the total efficiency of a colony of honey bees is much greater due to greater numbers. Likewise during early spring orchard blossoms, bumblebee populations are limited to only a few queens, and thus are not significant pollinators of early fruit.
Morphology of a female honey bee
From 1972 to 2006, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of feral honey bees in the US, which are now almost absent. At the same time there was a significant though somewhat gradual decline in the number of colonies maintained by beekeepers. This decline includes the cumulative losses from all factors, such as urbanization, pesticide use, tracheal and Varroa mites, and commercial beekeepers' retiring and going out of business. However, in late 2006 and early 2007 the rate of attrition reached new proportions, and the term colony collapse disorder was coined to describe the sudden disappearances. After several years of research and concern, a team of scientists headed by Jerry Bromenshenk published a paper in October 2010 saying that a new DNA-based virus, invertebrate iridescent virus or IIV6, and the fungus Nosema ceranae were found in every killed colony the group studied. In their study they found that neither agent alone seemed deadly, but a combination of the virus and Nosema ceraneae was always 100% fatal. Bromenshenk said it is not yet clear whether one condition weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other’s destructive power. "They're co-factors, that’s all we can say at the moment. They’re both present in all these collapsed colonies." Investigations into the phenomenon had occurred amidst great concern over the nature and extent of the losses. In 2009 some reports from the US suggested that 1/3 of the honey bee colonies did not survive the winter,  though normal winter losses are known to be around 25%.
Apart from colony collapse disorder, many of the losses outside the US have also been attributed to other causes. Pesticides used to treat seeds, such as Clothianidin and Imidacloprid, have been considered prime suspects. Other species of bees such as mason bees are increasingly cultured and used to meet the agricultural pollination need.
Native pollinators include bumblebees and solitary bees, which often survive in refuges in wild areas away from agricultural spraying, but may still be poisoned in massive spray programs for mosquitoes, gypsy moths, or other insect pests. Although pesticide use remains a concern, the major problem for wild pollinator populations is the loss of the flower-rich habitat on which they depend for food. Throughout the northern hemisphere, the last 70 or so years have seen an intensification of agricultural systems, which has decreased the abundance and diversity of wild flowers.
Legislation such as the UK's Bees Act 1980 is designed to stop the decline of bees.
Bees, like ants, are a specialized form of wasp. The ancestors of bees were wasps in the family Crabronidae, and therefore predators of other insects. The switch from insect prey to pollen may have resulted from the consumption of prey insects which were flower visitors and were partially covered with pollen when they were fed to the wasp larvae. This same evolutionary scenario has also occurred within the vespoid wasps, where the group known as "pollen wasps" also evolved from predatory ancestors. Up until recently, the oldest non-compression bee fossil had been Cretotrigona prisca in New Jersey amber and of Cretaceous age, a meliponine. A recently reported bee fossil, of the genus Melittosphex, is considered "an extinct lineage of pollen-collecting Apoidea sister to the modern bees", and dates from the early Cretaceous (~100 mya). Derived features of its morphology ("apomorphies") place it clearly within the bees, but it retains two unmodified ancestral traits ("plesiomorphies") of the legs (two mid-tibial spurs, and a slender hind basitarsus), indicative of its transitional status.
The earliest animal-pollinated flowers were pollinated by insects such as beetles, so the syndrome of insect pollination was well established before bees first appeared. The novelty is that bees are specialized as pollination agents, with behavioral and physical modifications that specifically enhance pollination, and are generally more efficient at the task than any other pollinating insect such as beetles, flies, butterflies and pollen wasps. The appearance of such floral specialists is believed to have driven the adaptive radiation of the angiosperms, and, in turn, the bees themselves.
Among living bee groups, the "short-tongued" bee family Colletidae has traditionally been considered the most "primitive", and sister taxon to the remainder of the bees. In the 21st century, however, some researchers have claimed that the Dasypodaidae is the basal group, the short, wasp-like mouthparts of colletids being the result of convergent evolution, rather than indicative of a plesiomorphic condition. This subject is still under debate, and the phylogenetic relationships among bee families are poorly understood.
See also: characteristics of common wasps and bees
Eusocial and semisocial bees
A honey bee swarm
Bees may be solitary or may live in various types of communities. The most advanced of these are eusocial colonies found among the honey bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees. Sociality, of several different types, is believed to have evolved separately many times within the bees.
In some species, groups of cohabiting females may be sisters, and if there is a division of labor within the group, then they are considered semisocial.
If, in addition to a division of labor, the group consists of a mother and her daughters, then the group is called eusocial. The mother is considered the "queen" and the daughters are "workers". These castes may be purely behavioral alternatives, in which case the system is considered "primitively eusocial" (similar to many paper wasps), and if the castes are morphologically discrete, then the system is "highly eusocial".
There are many more species of primitively eusocial bees than highly eusocial bees, but they have rarely been studied. The biology of most such species is almost completely unknown. The vast majority are in the family Halictidae, or "sweat bees". Colonies are typically small, with a dozen or fewer workers, on average. The only physical difference between queens and workers is average size, if they differ at all. Most species have a single season colony cycle, even in the tropics, and only mated females (future queens, or "gynes") hibernate (called diapause). A few species have long active seasons and attain colony sizes in the hundreds. The orchid bees include a number of primitively eusocial species with similar biology. Certain species of allodapine bees (relatives of carpenter bees) also have primitively eusocial colonies, with unusual levels of interaction between the adult bees and the developing brood. This is "progressive provisioning"; a larva's food is supplied gradually as it develops. This system is also seen in honey bees and some bumblebees.
Highly eusocial bees live in colonies. Each colony has a single queen, many workers and, at certain stages in the colony cycle, drones. When humans provide the nest, it is called a hive. Honey bee hives can contain up to 40, 000 bees at their annual peak, which occurs in the spring, but usually have fewer.
Main article: Bumblebee
Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris, Bombus pratorum, et al.) are eusocial in a manner quite similar to the eusocial Vespidae such as hornets. The queen initiates a nest on her own (unlike queens of honey bees and stingless bees which start nests via swarms in the company of a large worker force). Bumblebee colonies typically have from 50 to 200 bees at peak population, which occurs in mid to late summer. Nest architecture is simple, limited by the size of the nest cavity (pre-existing), and colonies are rarely perennial. Bumblebee queens sometimes seek winter safety in honey bee hives, where they are sometimes found dead in the spring by beekeepers, presumably stung to death by the honey bees. It is unknown whether any survive winter in such an environment.
Bumblebees are one of the more important wild pollinators, but have declined significantly in recent decades. In the UK, 2 species have become nationally extinct during the last 75 years while others have been placed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan as priority species in recognition of the need for conservation action. In 2006 a new charity, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, was established in order to coordinate efforts to conserve remaining populations through conservation and education.
Main article: Stingless bee
Stingless bees are very diverse in behavior, but all are highly eusocial. They practise mass provisioning, complex nest architecture, and perennial colonies.
A European honey bee extracts nectar from an Aster flower
Main article: Honey bee
The true honey bees (genus Apis) have arguably the most complex social behavior among the bees. The European (or Western) honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the best known bee species and one of the best known of all insects.
Africanized honey bee
Main article: Africanized bee
Africanized bees, also called killer bees, are a hybrid strain of Apis mellifera derived from experiments by Warwick Estevam Kerr to cross European and African honey bees. Several queen bees escaped from his laboratory in South America and have spread throughout the Americas. Africanized honey bees are more defensive than European honey bees.
Solitary and communal bees
Most other bees, including familiar species of bee such as the Eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica), alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata), orchard mason bee (Osmia lignaria) and the hornfaced bee (Osmia cornifrons) are solitary in the sense that every female is fertile, and typically inhabits a nest she constructs herself. There are no worker bees for these species. Solitary bees typically produce neither honey nor beeswax. They are immune from acarine and Varroa mites, but have their own unique parasites, pests and diseases (see also diseases of the honey bee).
Solitary bees are important pollinators, and pollen is gathered for provisioning the nest with food for their brood. Often it is mixed with nectar to form a paste-like consistency. Some solitary bees have very advanced types of pollen-carrying structures on their bodies. A very few species of solitary bees are being increasingly cultured for commercial pollination.
A solitary bee, Anthidium florentinum (family Megachilidae), visiting Lantana
Solitary bees are often oligoleges, in that they only gather pollen from one or a few species/genera of plants (unlike honey bees and bumblebees which are generalists). No known bees are nectar specialists; many oligolectic bees will visit multiple plants for nectar, but there are no bees which visit only one plant for nectar while also gathering pollen from many different sources. Specialist pollinators also include bee species which gather floral oils instead of pollen, and male orchid bees, which gather aromatic compounds from orchids (one of the only cases where male bees are effective pollinators). In a very few cases only one species of bee can effectively pollinate a plant species, and some plants are endangered at least in part because their pollinator is dying off. There is, however, a pronounced tendency for oligolectic bees to be associated with common, widespread plants which are visited by multiple pollinators (e.g., there are some 40 oligoleges associated with creosote bush in the US desert southwest,  and a similar pattern is seen in sunflowers, asters, mesquite, etc.)
Solitary bees create nests in hollow reeds or twigs, holes in wood, or, most commonly, in tunnels in the ground. The female typically creates a compartment (a "cell") with an egg and some provisions for the resulting larva, then seals it off. A nest may consist of numerous cells. When the nest is in wood, usually the last (those closer to the entrance) contain eggs that will become males. The adult does not provide care for the brood once the egg is laid, and usually dies after making one or more nests. The males typically emerge first and are ready for mating when the females emerge. Providing nest boxes for solitary bees is increasingly popular for gardeners. Solitary bees are either stingless or very unlikely to sting (only in self defense, if ever).
While solitary females each make individual nests, some species are gregarious, preferring to make nests near others of the same species, giving the appearance to the casual observer that they are social. Large groups of solitary bee nests are called aggregations, to distinguish them from colonies.
In some species, multiple females share a common nest, but each makes and provisions her own cells independently. This type of group is called "communal" and is not uncommon. The primary advantage appears to be that a nest entrance is easier to defend from predators and parasites when there are multiple females using that same entrance on a regular basis.
Bombus vestalis, a cuckoo bee parasite of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris
Cleptoparasitic bees, commonly called "cuckoo bees" because their behavior is similar to cuckoo birds, occur in several bee families, though the name is technically best applied to the apid subfamily Nomadinae. Females of these bees lack pollen collecting structures (the scopa) and do not construct their own nests. They typically enter the nests of pollen collecting species, and lay their eggs in cells provisioned by the host bee. When the cuckoo bee larva hatches it consumes the host larva's pollen ball, and if the female cleptoparasite has not already done so, kills and eats the host larva. In a few cases where the hosts are social species, the cleptoparasite remains in the host nest and lays many eggs, sometimes even killing the host queen and replacing her.
Many cleptoparasitic bees are closely related to, and resemble, their hosts in looks and size, (i.e., the Bombus subgenus Psithyrus, which are parasitic bumblebees that infiltrate nests of species in other subgenera of Bombus). This common pattern gave rise to the ecological principle known as "Emery's Rule". Others parasitize bees in different families, like Townsendiella, a nomadine apid, one species of which is a cleptoparasite of the dasypodaid genus Hesperapis, while the other species in the same genus attack halictid bees.
Four bee families (Andrenidae, Colletidae, Halictidae, and Apidae) contain some species that are crepuscular (these may be either the vespertine or matinal type). These bees have greatly enlarged ocelli, which are extremely sensitive to light and dark, though incapable of forming images. Many are pollinators of flowers that themselves are crepuscular, such as evening primroses, and some live in desert habitats where daytime temperatures are extremely high.
Bee in mid air flight carrying pollen in pollen basket
In his 1934 French book Le vol des insectes, M. Magnan wrote that he and a M. Saint-Lague had applied the equations of air resistance to bumblebees and found that their flight could not be explained by fixed-wing calculations, but that "One shouldn't be surprised that the results of the calculations don't square with reality". This has led to a common misconception that bees "violate aerodynamic theory", but in fact it merely confirms that bees do not engage in fixed-wing flight, and that their flight is explained by other mechanics, such as those used by helicopters.
In 1996 Charlie Ellington at Cambridge University showed that vortices created by many insects’ wings and non-linear effects were a vital source of lift; vortices and non-linear phenomena are notoriously difficult areas of hydrodynamics, which has made for slow progress in theoretical understanding of insect flight.
In 2005, Michael Dickinson and his Caltech colleagues studied honey bee flight with the assistance of high-speed cinematography and a giant robotic mock-up of a bee wing. Their analysis revealed that sufficient lift was generated by "the unconventional combination of short, choppy wing strokes, a rapid rotation of the wing as it flops over and reverses direction, and a very fast wing-beat frequency". Wing-beat frequency normally increases as size decreases, but as the bee's wing beat covers such a small arc, it flaps approximately 230 times per second, faster than a fruitfly (200 times per second) which is 80 times smaller.
Bees and humans
Bee larvae as food in Java
Bees figure prominently in mythology and have been used by political theorists as a model for human society. Journalist Bee Wilson states that the image of a community of honey bees "occurs from ancient to modern times, in Aristotle and Plato; in Virgil and Seneca; in Erasmus and Shakespeare; Tolstoy, as well as by social theorists Bernard Mandeville and Karl Marx."
Despite the honey bee's painful sting and the stereotype of insects as pests, bees are generally held in high regard. This is most likely due to their usefulness as pollinators and as producers of honey, their social nature, and their reputation for diligence. Bees are one of the few insects regularly used on advertisements, being used to illustrate honey and foods made with honey (such as Honey Nut Cheerios).
In ancient Egypt, the bee was seen to symbolize the lands of Lower Egypt, with the Pharaoh being referred to as "He of Sedge and Bee" (the sedge representing Upper Egypt).
In North America, yellowjackets and hornets, especially when encountered as flying pests, are often misidentified as bees, despite numerous differences between them.
Although a bee sting can be deadly to those with allergies, virtually all bee species are non-aggressive if undisturbed and many cannot sting at all. Humans are often a greater danger to bees, as bees can be affected or even harmed by encounters with toxic chemicals in the environment (see also bees and toxic chemicals).
In Indonesia bee larvae are eaten as a companion to rice, after being mixed with shredded coconut "meat", wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed.
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