Honey Bee Beneficial Insect

Honey bee
Honey bee
Honey bee

Honey bees are important pollinators of vegetables, fruits, flowers and other plants. The honeybee is a beneficial insect.

Attract honey bees to your garden by planting flowers high in nectar and pollen including asters, cosmos, calendula, snapdragons, zinnias, foxglove, sunflowers, mints, lavenders, borage, rosemary, Echinacea, and sages. Also provide a water source in dry weather for bees.

To encourage the bee population in your garden, avoid spraying fruit trees or other plants when flowers are in bloom. If you must apply insecticides, spray in the evenings after bees have returned to the hive.

Adult honey bees are gold and black insects about ¾ inches long with translucent wings. Larvae are white grubs found in the wax combs inside bee hives.

There are hundreds of bee species including native bees, orchard bees, leafcutter bees, bumble bees and European honey bees. There are seven species of honey bees.

Honey bees commonly live in social colonies with as many as 20,000 members. (Some native bees live alone in ground nests.) Queen bees lay eggs in wax cells in hives; workers bees (females) feed and care for larvae. They pay special attention to those destined to become new queens. Male bees (drones) mate with new queens. New queens leave with a swarm to start a new colony.

Worker bees work in gardens and fields collecting pollen and nectar. Bees collect pollen in pollen baskets on their hind legs. Bees use the pollen as a protein source. Bees also collect nectar from plant glands; the nectar is used as an energy source by bees. As bees gather pollen and nectar moving from flower to another, they pollinate plants through the transfer of pollen and seeds.

Honey is a complex substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants and trees are gathered, modified, and stored in the honeycomb. Bees use honey for food.

Honey bees overwinter in hives, living on stored honey.

Bees are found throughout North America and most parts of the world.

Scientific name: Genus Apis

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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