Social Structure of the Bees

Author: Jiayi Chen

Editor: Shamsia Ahmed

Artist: Dora Gao

Bees are one of the few insects that demonstrate social structures. The major reason beekeepers can control bee populations is due to biological properties of bees that can be used to predict their characters. These properties are the social structures, swarming, and seasoning changes.

The social structures of the bees consists of Queens, workers, and drones. Queen bees were the most crucial part of the beehive not only because they are responsible for the reproduction of the bee eggs, but also because every beehive only has one queen bee at a time. Then when the queen bee is close to death she will start producing pheromones to make new queens. Worker bees were the nonreproductive female bees that were responsible for brood nurturing, food-collecting, pollen processing, and hive defending. Drones (genetic clones of queen bees) were the male bees that were meant to be produced for the queen to mate with and they are only produced when hives need to grow during the growing season of pollination. From here we can tell that the queen bees are the center of the beehives, and the beekeepers have to keep the queen bees alive.

The swarming feature of bees occurs when the old queen bee leaves the old hive and brings approximately one-half of the bees with it to find a place to build a new hive. After the new hive was built, all the bees will continue with their roles in their previous hives, but then the new queen bee will be created by eliminating other queen bees until there is only one queen bee left. Then the new hive will get into a population growing period after a week or so when the new queen bee starts to lay eggs.

Bees were also affected by different seasons due to the environmental changes. For example, in spring bees are abundant with pollen as food resources, so the bee population tends to be higher. The number of worker bees will increase, and these worker bees will gather a surplus amount of food storage for broods nurturing. In summer the bee population will reach its peaks, but at the same time the amount of nectar and pollen available for bees starting to decrease, and bees are gaining less food source that they need to consume the food storages. In the fall the Bee population started to decrease from its peak due to fewer food sources available. Lastly in winter bees will gather around their egg and broods to keep them warm, and this is when the bee population reaches its lowest point.

In conclusion, beehives were centered around the queen bee, and the safety of queen bees were most important to beekeepers. Bees also have a special way of reproduction, swarming, to create a new hive, and beehives were affected by the seasonal changes of temperature that reduced or increased their food sources.

Citations:

“Book Reveals Wild Honey Bees' Biology, with Insights for Beekeepers.” Cornell Chronicle,

news.cornell.edu/stories/2019/05/book-reveals-wild-honeybees-biology-insights-

beekeepers.

“Basic Honey Bee Biology.” Habitat Network, content.yardmap.org/learn/basic-honeybee-

biology. University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Bee Biology and Behavior.” © 2020 Regents of the University of California,

ucanr.edu/sites/sandiegobees/About/Biology/#hive%20maintenance.

bee-health.

“Hive Management (Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers) – Bee Health.” Https://Bee-

Health.Extension.Org/Hive-Management-Basic-Bee-Biology-for-Beekeepers/, 20 Aug.

2019, bee-health.extension.org/hive-management-basic-bee-biology-for-beekeepers.

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