Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants. There are slightly fewer than 20,000 known species of bee in nine recognised families. They are found on every continent except Antarctica.
Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former is primarily as an energy source and the latter for protein and nutrients. Most pollen is used as food Larvae.
Bees have long proboscis (a complex “tongue”) that enables them to obtain the nectar from flowers.
They have antennae almost universally made up of thirteen segments in males and twelve in females.
Bees also have two pairs of wings, the hind pair being the smaller of the two.
The best known bee species is the western 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 play an important role in pollinating flowering plants. Bees may focus on gathering nectar or pollen, depending on their greater need at the time.
It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of this accomplished by bees.
Highly social bees live in colonies. Each colony has a single queen, together with workers and, at certain stages in the colony cycle, drones. The home for a colony of bees is called a “hive”.
A honey bee hive can contain up to 40,000 bees.