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Bees

Bees

It was maintained by certain demonologists that if a sorceress ate a queen bee before being captured, she would be able to sustain her trial and tortures without making a confession. In some parts of Brittany it was claimed that these insects were very sensitive to the fortunes and misfortunes of their master, and would not thrive unless he was careful to tie a piece of black cloth to the hive when a death occurred in the family, and a piece of red cloth when there was any occasion of rejoicing.

The Latin grammarian Gaius Julius Solinus (third centuryC.E.) wrote that there are no bees in Ireland, and even if a little Irish earth be taken to another country and spread about the hives, the bees would abandon the place, so fatal to them is the earth of Ireland. The same story is found in the Origines of Isodore. "Must we seek," says Pierre Lebrun, author of Critical History of Superstitious Practices (1702), "the source of this calumny of Irish earth? No; for it is sufficient to say that it is a fable, and that many bees are to be found in Ireland."

There are many ancient superstitions about bees. In biblical times they were thought to originate in the bodies of dead cattle, hence the riddle by Samson in Judges 14:8, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." In fact, the skeletonized rib cage skeleton of dead cattle provided a natural beehive. In Egyptian mythology, bees arose from the tears of the sun god Ra, while a Breton superstition said they came from the tears of Christ on the cross. In Hindu mythology, bees formed the bowstring of Kama, the Indian Cupid.

Popular folklore claimed that bee stings aided arthritis and rheumatism sufferers and recently bee venom has been revived as a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis.

In rural districts all over the world, the old custom of "telling the bees" persisted when there was a death in the family or someone left home. In Ireland, the bees also told secrets or advised on new projects. In ancient European folklore, bees were regarded as messengers to the gods, and the custom of "telling the bees" might have been a remnant of the idea of keeping the gods advised of human affairs.

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Bees

BEES

BEES were social gatherings that combined work with pleasure and often competition. They were named specifically for the task around which they centered. Apple-paring, corn-husking, quilting, wool-picking, house-raising, log-rolling, and other sorts of bees served to ease the labor of the individual.

Cooperative work for productivity and pleasure was an English custom that came across the Atlantic with early settlers. In the New England and middle colonies and on the early frontiers, various communal activities formed an important exception to the ordinarily isolated lives of American farm families. The motivation was both economic and social. Log rollings and barn raisings necessitated collective effort; corn-husking and threshing were most efficiently done by common endeavor. Quilting, sewing, and canning bees afforded women the opportunity to discuss family, friends, and community while they worked collectively. The cooperative nature of bees served as a basis for socialization. Bees roused the competitive spirit, making a sport of work. And the feasting, music, dancing, and games that followed the work itself provided courting opportunities for young people.

Machinery and specialized labor largely ended these practices. Some, such as the threshing ring, survive where farms are not large and farming is diversified.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Earle, Alice Morse. Home Life in Colonial Days. 1898. Stock-bridge, Mass.: Berkshire Traveller Press, 1974.

Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.

DeirdreSheets

See alsoToys and Games ; Work .

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Bees

40. Bees

See also 225. INSECTS .

apiarist
a person who tends bees.
apiary
a beehive or collection of beehives. apiarian, adj.
apiculture
the art and science of beekeeping. apiculturist, n.
apimania
an abnormal love of bees.
apiology
a specialty within entomology that studies honeybees. apiologist, n.
apiphobia, apiophobia
an intense fear of bees. Also called melissophobia .
melittology
Rare. apiology. melittologist, n.

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bees

bees
1. See APIDAE; APOCRITA; HYMENOPTERA; SPHECOIDEA.

2. (solitary mining bees) See ANDRENIDAE.

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bees

bees See Hymenoptera.

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Bees

Bees

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Bees belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, which includes wasps and ants. Its name is derived from Greek, meaning winged membrane, and it is the third largest group of insects with more than a hundred thousand species in the order. Ants and bees play vital roles in agriculture, ants being useful in aerating soil and bees in pollinating plants. Wasps play an important part as predators to other insect pests and bees are the source of honey and wax, which have been highly valued by human beings since antiquity.

Hymenoptera are distinguished by having two pair of wings that are veined in cross angles creating a cell-like pattern. The rear wings are smaller than the front ones, and wing color ranges from brown with yellow markings to red, white, blue, or green marks. Male Hymenoptera have 13 segments in their antennae, while females have only 12. Most Hymenopterons have chewing mouthparts with a pair of mandibles, but bees have a long tongue (proboscis) to lap nectar. Bees have a complete, four-stage metamorphosis from egg, larva, pupa, to adult. Some species of bees, as well as ants and some wasps, form colonies under a caste system, while other species are solitary.

The more than 20,000 species of bees are assigned to the superfamily Apoidea, which includes eight families. The diversity of bees includes the yellow-faced, plasterer, oxaeid, andrenid, sweat, melittid, leafcutting, mason, cuckoo, digger, carpenter, bumble, and honey bees. The latter two are the most common and both belong to the family Apidae. Bees are characterized by the vein pattern on their wings and by the size of their tongues. Some have a short tongue and others a long, slender one. Bees are able to chew as well as suck with their mouthparts.

Bees mainly eat nectar and pollen, which they also store in their hives or nests for their larvae to eat. A segment of the rear legs of bees is enlarged and somewhat flattened and serves as a carrying device for the pollen they collect. Male bees have seven segments in the abdominal region, while females have only six. Hairlike setae densely cover the bodies of bees. Plants that bees pollinate include most fruits, numerous vegetables, and field crops like cotton, tobacco, and clover. While the bees that are most beneficial for commercial production of honey are social bees, many families of bees are solitary in nature. Bees are also diurnal, that is, they are active in the daytime.

Among the solitary bees, where each queen bee builds her own nest, there is sometimes evidence of a division of labor. Some of the bee families are more sociable than others and build their nests close to one another and may even share the same entrance to the nests. In such cases, a bee might stand guard at the entrance of the group of nests to protect them from predators. This is not the same social organization as the caste system established by true social bees, where there is only one queen bee laying eggs. Some species of solitary bees build nests, while some scavenge and use the nests of other bees or convenient crevices for laying their eggs. Nest building patterns among solitary bees vary from species to species.

Plasterer bees, members of the family Colletidae, get their name from a secretion they use to plaster the sides of their mud nests, which may be in the ground or in crevices of stones and bricks. Plasterer bees are black with light-colored body hairs. Yellow-faced bees, which belong to the same family as the plasterer bee, build nests in plant stalks and insect burrows. Yellow-faced bees feed their larvae on a mixture of pollen and nectar which is stored in their nests.

There are over 1,200 species of the Andrenid bee family found in North America. These yellow, white, or black bees make their nests underground in tunnels, which may include many branches and may house large groups of bees. Over 500 species of the sweat bee can be found in North America. Their sting is not painful, although sweat bees have a reputation for stinging persons who are sweating. They nest in clay and sand banks of streams. Some have metallic blue or green colorations, but they are mostly black or brown.

The leafcutting bee gets its name from its habit of cutting pieces of leaves to use as a nest. It places a ball of pollen on the cut leaf and then lays its eggs on top. It locates its nests in wood, under loose bark, or in the ground. It is closely related to the mason bee, a shiny, blue-green insect, that builds its nest under stones, where it builds clusters of small cells. Mason bees also like empty snail shells and the empty nests of other bees.

Digger, cuckoo, and carpenter bees belong to the same subfamily, Apidae, as the honey bee and bumble bee, but they are not social. The larger carpenter bees nest in open spaces in wood, while the smaller ones use the stems of bushes in which to build their nests. They are robust in build, as are the digger and cuckoo bees. The large ones look like bumble bees. Digger bees are much more hairy than other members of the bee family and they build their nests in burrows in the ground. Cuckoo bees look like small wasps and lay their eggs in the nests of other bees.

Honey bees and bumble bees are two of the 500 species of bees which are social. Their colonies or hives range in size from several hundred to upwards of 80,000 inhabitants. They are organized within a rigid caste system, where members of a caste carry out specific tasks. The social system consists of a queen bee, male drones, and worker bees. The queen bee is responsible for laying eggs, which the drones have fertilized, and the worker bees build the nest and care for the fertilized eggs and larvae.

The female worker bees differ in structure from the queen bee. They have pollen sacs in their rear legs, which the queen bee does not have. Workers also have wax glands and other differences in their head structure. Their life span, usually a season, is shorter than that of the queen bee, who lives on the average for several years. Worker bees are not capable of mating, but if a queen bee is not present in the hive, their ovaries do develop and they become capable of laying eggs that become drones. Drones are not constructed for collecting pollen. They are hatched from unfertilized eggs that the queen lays by withholding sperm. While the queen bee has a life span of several years, the drone dies when he has impregnated the queen.

Bumble bees are social bees and are characteristically black, yellow, and hairy. After mating in the fall, a queen will hibernate over the winter, while the workers and drones from the past seasons colony die before winter. In the following spring, the queen begins a new nest, lays her eggs, and spends her time protecting them and sipping from a honey pot. She is often compared to a mother hen hatching her eggs. A favorite nesting place for bumble bees is an abandoned mouse nest.

When the larvae mature in about 10 days, they construct a cocoon for their pupal stage. After several weeks, female workers leave their cocoons to take up the work of building the nest. Males and potential queens are hatched later in the season. Bumble bees are important for the pollination of red clover, which is an important field crop in agriculture. Plants that bloom eight to nine weeks before clover are planted near clover fields to lure bumble bees to the area with a supply of food before the red clover comes into bloom. This ensures the bumble bees will be present when it is time to pollinate the crop.

The stingless bee flourishes in Central and South America. Before European honey bees were introduced in the Western Hemisphere, these bees supplied honey and wax to communities in these regions. The wax was also used as casting material for the molding of gold jewelry. There are several hundred species of stingless bees in tropical regions and their colonies range from several hundred to as many as 80,000 individual bees. They use a blend of wax, resin, and mud to build their nests, which may have walls as thick as eight inches. Eggs are laid in the nest with a store of food and the cells are sealed. New nests are created in preparation for the departure of a new, young queen from the old nest, and workers and males follow to join her.

The social structure of honey bees is the caste system of queen, drones, and workers. Unlike the stingless bee, the honey bee queen is the one to leave the old colony to form a new one. The move to a new nest begins with a swarming of bees and ends when a suitable place, such as the hollow in a tree, is found to establish a new colony. A young queen will take over the old colony.

Of interest to entomologists is the so-called dance language of honey bees. A worker can communicate the location of a food source, how far away it is, and the type of flower that will be found. Some of this information is transmitted by the scent the flower has left on the messengers body, but there are other features to this communication. One is a circle dance that communicates sources of the nectar. The other dance involves wagging the tail and the abdominal region, which indicates the distance. The tail wagging is accompanied by wing vibrations produced at the same rate. The closer the source of the food, the more wags. Different species of honey bees follow different dance tempos.

Direction to the food source is shown by the angle of the bee to the sun when it is wagging its tail. Besides this dance communication, bees seem to know when flowers have a supply of nectar available. This built-in biological clock is not as well understood as their dance language. The person responsible for unraveling the dance language of honey bees was Karl von Frisch, who received a Nobel Prize in 1973 for this work.

Honey bees are susceptible to debilitation of their honey production by bee mites, a parasite that reduces their natural pollinating and honey-making activities. In the mid 1980s, 150 million honey bees had to be destroyed in several parts of the United States to eliminate the infestation of these mites. Other diseases that honey bees are susceptible to include foulbrood, which attacks larvae or pupae, stress diseases, such as sacbrood and nosema, which can shorten the lives of adult bees, and acarine disease, another mite disease. Animal predators that are dangerous to bees are mice, birds, bears, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and opossums. The first line of defense of a bee is, of course, its sting.

References to bees and honey can be found in early civilizations from the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hindus, Greeks, Romans, and Mayans in the warmer climates to Celts, Slavs, and Northern Europe in colder climates. Honey as a sweetener was valued even in areas where sugar was available. A number of these early civilizations held the bee and its honey in high regard, using the bee as a symbol for royalty and honey for anointing their kings and for embalming the dead. Besides using honey for a sweetener in food, it was also used medicinally during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe, where beeswax was also used for candle making and for molds to cast statues.

There is evidence from an Egyptian tomb dating to 2400 BC that this culture had learned to raise bees in human-made hives and no longer had to rely on raiding beehives for their honey. In southern climates, a round type of beehive was constructed from hollow tubes made of mud or clay and baked in the sun. The bees then built their honeycombs in these early beehives. In the northern climates of Europe, a horizontal hive was developed that was made of wicker or straw. Other materials used were cane in China, cork in Spain, and hollow tree trunks in eastern Europe. The bees were smoked out from the hive in order to collect the honey, as they frequently are today, especially with bee colonies that are aggressive in nature.

A vertical beehive was invented by François Huber in 1792 that was made of wooden frames, hinged like a book, and with glass covering the end leaves so that the bees activities could be observed. Many other similar hives were developed, but they all shared the problem of becoming gummed together by the beeswax that was produced along with the honey. In 1851, a Pennsylvania minister solved the problem by establishing the correct measurement for bee space needed around the frames and other movable parts of human-made hives. This measurement is one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch or six to ten millimeters.

A subsequent innovation in beehive construction was the introduction of a fabricated wax honeycomb foundation on which the bees could accelerate the production of honey, since they did not have to spend time building the honeycomb. Further improvement in honey production was made after the introduction of a mechanical honey extractor.

Beekeeping is carried out by large-scale commercial beekeepers and by thousands of hobby beekeepers. It is estimated that the annual worldwide production of honey exceeds a million metric tons. Besides marketing honey as a product, beekeepers serve agricultural businesses by supplying bees for pollinating at least 90 commercially valuable crops, such as fruits, nuts, and field crops like alfalfa. Beekeepers often migrate from northern locations in the summer to southern ones in the winter. The largest honey-producing beekeepers are found in California, Florida, and Minnesota, but New York, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois also have commercial beekeepers. While a hobbyist might have only a dozen or so hives to tend, a commercial beekeeper often has thousands of hives.

KEY TERMS

Bee space The amount of room needed between the frames of a man-made hive for bees to move around freely.

Caste system A system among social bees where a hierarchy of activity exists, with members of a caste assigned to specific tasks within the social structure.

Parthenogenesis Asexual reproduction without the fertilization of eggs.

Pheromones Alarm chemicals produced as a response to an attack by predators.

Social bees Bees that organize themselves into colonies where they maintain a cooperative social structure with a caste system.

Solitary bees Bees that do not colonize, but engage in individual nesting.

During the mid-1950s, a hybrid Africanized honey bee was accidentally released in Brazil. This bee was more aggressive than the European honey bee and by the mid-1960s had gained the name of killer bee. The Africanized honey bee was introduced by Warwick Kerr in Brazil in an attempt to find a bee that was more suitable to the climate. This bee was found to be more productive than other bees and many beekeepers in South America use them for the production of honey. Because these bees are more aggressive, beekeepers must wear more protective clothing. By the late 1980s, the killer bees had migrated across the Rio Grande. While some entomologists fear that the killer bees will replace the European honey bee and upset honey production in the United States, others feel this will not happen.

By 2002, Africanized honey bees had spread throughout states bordering Mexico including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and regions in southern California. In 2005, Africonized bees were discovered in Florida. Whether the bees are present in intervening states including Alabama, Louisiana, and southern Georgia is not known.

A more northern spread may be likely, since Africanized bees may be capable of surviving cold northern winters. Indeed, the bees have bee detected as far north as the San Francisco Bay region and Kansas.

Resources

BOOKS

Bishop, Holley. Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey -The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World. New York: Free Press, 2005.

Flottum, Kim and Weeks Ringle. The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginners Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden. Bloomington: Quarry Books, 2005.

Horn, Tammy. Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006.

Vita Richman

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Bees

Bees

Bees belong to the insect order Hymenoptera, which includes wasps and ants . Its name is derived from Greek, meaning "winged membrane," and it is the third largest group of insects with more than a hundred thousand species in the order. Ants and bees play vital roles in agriculture, ants being useful in aerating soil and bees in pollinating plants. Wasps play an important part as predators to other insect pests and bees are the source of honey and wax, which have been highly valued by human beings since antiquity.

Hymenoptera are distinguished by having two pair of wings that are veined in cross angles creating a cell-like pattern. The rear wings are smaller than the front ones, and wing color ranges from brown with yellow markings to red, white, blue, or green marks. Male Hymenoptera have 13 segments in their antennae, while females have only 12. Most Hymenopterons have chewing mouthparts with a pair of mandibles, but bees have a long tongue (proboscis) to lap nectar . Bees have a complete, four-stage metamorphosis from egg, larva, pupa, to adult. Some species of bees, as well as ants and some wasps, form colonies under a caste system, while other species are solitary.


Bee families

The more than 20,000 species of bees are assigned to the superfamily Apoidea, which includes eight families. The diversity of bees includes the yellow-faced, plasterer, oxaeid, andrenid, sweat, melittid, leafcutting, mason, cuckoo, digger, carpenter, bumble, and honey bees. The latter two are the most common and both belong to the family Apidae. Bees are characterized by the vein pattern on their wings and by the size of their tongues. Some have a short tongue and others a long, slender one. Bees are able to chew as well as suck with their mouthparts.

Bees mainly eat nectar and pollen, which they also store in their hives or nests for their larvae to eat. A segment of the rear legs of bees is enlarged and somewhat flattened and serves as a carrying device for the pollen they collect. Male bees have seven segments in the abdominal region, while females have only six. Hairlike setae densely cover the bodies of bees. Plants that bees pollinate include most fruits , numerous vegetables , and field crops like cotton , tobacco, and clover. While the bees that are most beneficial for commercial production of honey are social bees, many families of bees are solitary in nature. Bees are also diurnal, that is, they are active in the daytime.


Solitary bees

Among the solitary bees, where each queen bee builds her own nest, there is sometimes evidence of a division of labor. Some of the bee families are more sociable than others and build their nests close to one another and may even share the same entrance to the nests. In such cases, a bee might stand guard at the entrance of the group of nests to protect them from predators. This is not the same social organization as the caste system established by true social bees, where there is only one queen bee laying eggs. Some species of solitary bees build nests, while some scavenge and use the nests of other bees or convenient crevices for laying their eggs. Nest building patterns among solitary bees vary from species to species.

Plasterer bees, members of the family Colletidae, get their name from a secretion they use to plaster the sides of their mud nests, which may be in the ground or in crevices of stones and bricks. Plasterer bees are black with light-colored body hairs. Yellow-faced bees, which belong to the same family as the plasterer bee, build nests in plant stalks and insect burrows. Yellow-faced bees feed their larvae on a mixture of pollen and nectar which is stored in their nests.

There are over 1,200 species of the Andrenid bee family found in North America . These yellow, white, or black bees make their nests underground in tunnels, which may include many branches and may house large groups of bees. Over 500 species of the "sweat bee" can be found in North America. Their sting is not painful, although sweat bees have a reputation for stinging persons who are sweating. They nest in clay and sand banks of streams. Some have metallic blue or green colorations, but they are mostly black or brown.

The leafcutting bee gets its name from its habit of cutting pieces of leaves to use as a nest. It places a ball of pollen on the cut leaf and then lays its eggs on top. It locates its nests in wood , under loose bark , or in the ground. It is closely related to the mason bee, a shiny, blue-green insect, that builds its nest under stones, where it builds clusters of small cells. Mason bees also like empty snail shells and the empty nests of other bees.

Digger, cuckoo, and carpenter bees belong to the same subfamily, Apidae, as the honey bee and bumble bee, but they are not social. The larger carpenter bees nest in open spaces in wood, while the smaller ones use the stems of bushes in which to build their nests. They are robust in build, as are the digger and cuckoo bees. The large ones look like bumble bees. Digger bees are much more hairy than other members of the bee family and they build their nests in burrows in the ground. Cuckoo bees look like small wasps and lay their eggs in the nests of other bees.


Social bees

Honey bees and bumble bees are two of the 500 species of bees which are social. Their colonies or hives range in size from several hundred to as many as 80,000 inhabitants. They are organized within a rigid caste system, where members of a caste carry out specific tasks. The social system consists of a queen bee, male drones, and worker bees. The queen bee is responsible for laying eggs, which the drones have fertilized, and the worker bees build the nest and care for the fertilized eggs and larvae.

The female worker bees differ in structure from the queen bee. They have pollen sacs in their rear legs, which the queen bee does not have. Workers also have wax glands and other differences in their head structure. Their life span, usually a season, is shorter than that of the queen bee, who lives on the average for several years. Worker bees are not capable of mating, but if a queen bee is not present in the hive, their ovaries do develop and they become capable of laying eggs that become drones. Drones are not constructed for collecting pollen. They are hatched from unfertilized eggs that the queen lays by withholding sperm. While the queen bee has a life span of several years, the drone dies when he has impregnated the queen.

Bumble bees are social bees and are characteristically black, yellow, and hairy. After mating in the fall, a queen will hibernate over the winter, while the workers and drones from the past season's colony die before winter. In the following spring, the queen begins a new nest, lays her eggs, and spends her time protecting them and sipping from a honey pot. She is often compared to a mother hen hatching her eggs. A favorite nesting place for bumble bees is an abandoned mouse nest.

When the larvae mature in about 10 days, they construct a cocoon for their pupal stage. After several weeks, female workers leave their cocoons to take up the work of building the nest. Males and potential queens are hatched later in the season. Bumble bees are important for the pollination of red clover, which is an important field crop in agriculture. Plants that bloom eight to nine weeks before clover are planted near clover fields to lure bumble bees to the area with a supply of food before the red clover comes into bloom. This ensures the bumble bees will be present when it is time to pollinate the crop.

The stingless bee flourishes in Central and South America . Before European honey bees were introduced in the Western Hemisphere, these bees supplied honey and wax to communities in these regions. The wax was also used as casting material for the molding of gold jewelry. There are several hundred species of stingless bees in tropical regions and their colonies range from several hundred to as many as 80,000 individual bees. They use a blend of wax, resin, and mud to build their nests, which may have walls as thick as eight inches. Eggs are laid in the nest with a store of food and the cells are sealed. New nests are created in preparation for the departure of a new, young queen from the old nest, and workers and males follow to join her.


Honey bees

The social structure of honey bees is the caste system of queen, drones, and workers. Unlike the stingless bee, the honey bee queen is the one to leave the old colony to form a new one. The move to a new nest begins with a swarming of bees and ends when a suitable place, such as the hollow in a tree , is found to establish a new colony. A young queen will take over the old colony.

Of interest to entomologists is the so-called "dance language" of honey bees. A worker can communicate the location of a food source, how far away it is, and the type of flower that will be found. Some of this information is transmitted by the scent the flower has left on the messenger's body, but there are other features to this communication. One is a circle dance that communicates sources of the nectar. The other dance involves wagging the tail and the abdominal region, which indicates the distance . The tail wagging is accompanied by wing vibrations produced at the same rate. The closer the source of the food, the more wags. Different species of honey bees follow different dance tempos.

Direction to the food source is shown by the angle of the bee to the sun when it is wagging its tail. Besides this "dance communication," bees seem to know when flowers have a supply of nectar available. This built-in biological clock is not as well understood as their "dance language." The person responsible for unraveling the dance language of honey bees was Karl von Frisch, who received a Nobel Prize in 1973 for this work.

Honey bees are susceptible to debilitation of their honey production by bee mites , a parasite that reduces their natural pollinating and honey-making activities. In the mid 1980s, 150 million honey bees had to be destroyed in several parts of the United States to eliminate the infestation of these mites. Other diseases that honey bees are susceptible to include foulbrood, which attacks larvae or pupae, stress diseases, such as sacbrood and nosema, which can shorten the lives of adult bees, and acarine disease , another mite disease. Animal predators that are dangerous to bees are mice , birds , bears , squirrels , skunks , raccoons , and opossums . The first line of defense of a bee is of course its sting.


Beekeeping

References to bees and honey can be found in early civilizations from the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hindus, Greeks, Romans, and Mayans in the warmer climates to Celts, Slavs, and Northern Europe in colder climates. Honey as a sweetener was valued even in areas where sugar was available. A number of these early civilizations held the bee and its honey in high regard, using the bee as a symbol for royalty and honey for anointing their kings and for embalming the dead. Besides using honey for a sweetener in food, it was also used medicinally during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe, where beeswax was also used for candle making and for molds to cast statues.

There is evidence from an Egyptian tomb dating to 2400 b.c. that this culture had learned to raise bees in man-made hives and no longer had to rely on raiding beehives for their honey. In southern climates, a round type of beehive was constructed from hollow tubes made of mud or clay and baked in the sun. The bees then built their honeycombs in these early beehives. In the northern climates of Europe, a horizontal hive was developed that was made of wicker or straw. Other materials used were cane in China, cork in Spain, and hollow tree trunks in eastern Europe. The bees were smoked out from the hive in order to collect the honey, as they frequently are today, especially with bee colonies that are aggressive in nature.

A vertical beehive was invented by François Huber in 1792 that was made of wooden frames, hinged like a book, and with glass covering the end leaves so that the bees' activities could be observed. Many other similar hives were developed, but they all shared the problem of becoming gummed together by the beeswax that was produced along with the honey. In 1851, a Pennsylvania minister solved the problem by establishing the correct measurement for bee space needed around the frames and other movable parts of man-made hives. This measurement is one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch or six to ten millimeters.

A subsequent innovation in beehive construction was the introduction of a fabricated wax honeycomb foundation on which the bees could accelerate the production of honey, since they did not have to spend time building the honeycomb. Further improvement in honey production was made after the introduction of a mechanical honey extractor.

Beekeeping is carried out by large-scale commercial beekeepers and by thousands of hobby beekeepers. It is estimated that the annual worldwide production of honey exceeds a million metric tons. Besides marketing honey as a product, beekeepers serve agricultural businesses by supplying bees for pollinating at least 90 commercially valuable crops, such as fruits, nuts, and field crops like alfalfa. Beekeepers often migrate from northern locations in the summer to southern ones in the winter. The largest honey-producing beekeepers are found in California, Florida, and Minnesota, but New York, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois also have commercial beekeepers. While a hobbyist might have only a dozen or so hives to tend, a commercial beekeeper often has thousands of hives.


Killer bees

During the mid-1950s, a hybrid African honey bee was accidentally released in Brazil. This bee was more aggressive than the European honey bee and by the mid- 1960s had gained the name of "killer bee." The African bee was introduced by Warwick Kerr in Brazil in an attempt to find a bee that was more suitable to the climate. This bee was found to be more productive than other bees and many beekeepers in South America use them for the production of honey. Because these bees are more aggressive, beekeepers must wear more protective clothing. By the late 1980s, the "killer bees" had migrated across the Rio Grande. While some entomologists fear that the killer bees will replace the European honey bee and upset honey production in the United States, others feel this will not happen.


Resources

books

Arnett, Ross H. American Insects. New York: CRC Publishing, 2000.

Hubbell, Sue. Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book ofBugs. New York: Random House, 1993.

Imes, Rick. The Practical Entomologist. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Morse, Roger. The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture. Medina, Ohio: A.I. Root Co., 1990.

Style, Sue. Honey: From Hive to Honeypot. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992.

Winston, Mark L. Killer Bees: The Africanized Honey Bee in the Americas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.


Vita Richman

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bee space

—The amount of room needed between the frames of a man-made hive for bees to move around freely.

Caste system

—A system among social bees where a hierarchy of activity exists, with members of a caste assigned to specific tasks within the social structure.

Parthenogenesis

—Asexual reproduction without the fertilization of eggs.

Pheromones

—Alarm chemicals produced as a response to an attack by predators.

Social bees

—Bees that organize themselves into colonies where they maintain a cooperative social structure with a caste system.

Solitary bees

—Bees that do not colonize, but engage in individual nesting.

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