Bees

An average bee colony holds 20,000 to 30,000 bees. Throughout the year, one bee colony will collect 260 pounds of nectar from an area that can cover 40 miles.

In nature, the colony is usually located in a hollow tree or a cave. It is comprised of a series of parallel wax combs, which are normally about 10 mm apart. Each comb has a layer of horizontal hexagonal cells on either side. Both the food and the young are stored in these cells.

Each bee colony consists of a queen, several thousand females known as the "workers" and several hundred male bees known as "drones" at certain times of the year. The queen is the only fertile female in the colony.

The queen of the colony may lay as many as 2000 eggs per day. It is her only duty in the colony; she is fed by the workers and cannot tend to the young.

Aside from laying eggs, all of the other tasks are completed by the workers. The average worker bee lives 4-6 weeks in summer and can live up to several months during the winter. The duties of the worker include: feeding and caring for the brood, building and repairing the comb, foraging for food and defending the colony.

Drones are usually produced between May and July. The drones have no other function than to mate with the queens.

The "bee dance" is used to communicate with other bees about sources of nectar and will usually take place near the entrance of the hive in order to help other workers locate food. The dance has a figure-eight pattern and includes wing flutters. Other bees will close in around the dancer to gather news.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bees/dances.html

http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/

http://www.ibra.org.uk/

more on the bee dance