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What do you think of when you think of bees? You probably know that they sting, that they make honey, and that honey bees are different from bumble bees, but how much do you really know? This Useful Notes page is meant to inform you about bees and address common misconceptions.

     Biology 
Bees are flying insects that feed on the nectar and pollen of flowers. They get protein from the pollen and energy from the nectar. They also make honey, which they eat too. They have five eyes (two "compound" eyes, like the large eyes you see on a fly, and three simpler eyes) and can see all colours except red.

A bee makes honey by storing the nectar in her (only the sterile females known as "workers" make honey) "honey stomach", which is different from the stomach she digests food in, then flicks it on her tongue in a process known as "ripening". After being ripened, the honey is stored.

Bees also have "sacks" on their back legs which they collect pollen in.

Not all bees have stingers, but bumblebees and honeybees do. The stinger is situated at the tip of the abdomen and when a bee stings, its stinger pokes into the person/creature it's stinging and pumps venom into the area, which is what causes the pain, although bee stings are generally not serious unless a great deal of them sting one person, which might cause death, nausea, or seizures, or the person is allergic, which might cause anaphylaxis. Solitary bees and queen bees can sting more than once, but if a honey bee stings you, it dies because the stinger gets caught in the person's flesh.

Wax is made through pores on the abdomen and is made from the sugar components of digested honey (but is not poop because it's not waste. Poop is different and comes out the bee's anus).

Only queens can lay eggs. In colonies, there is one queen and all the other females (known as workers) are sterile and solitary bees have only drones and queens, and the larvae leave when they grow up. Queen bees are bred in specialized cells and their larvae are fed exclusively on a substance called "royal jelly" which comes from glands in the bee.

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     Bee-havior 
Solitary bees (which includes bumblebees) live in nests underground, while social bees (which includes honeybees) live in hives.

In a beehive, the queen lays eggs, the drones mate with her, and the workers do all the other jobs, including making honey, collecting pollen, feeding larvae (a worker who feeds larvae is known as a "nurse bee"), defending the hive, and cleaning the hive.

Bees might become defensive if someone directly attacks them or their hive. They defend by flying towards someone, and eventually stinging them. On rare occasions, bees might chase the invader, especially Africanized bees (the type known as "killer bees".)

Bees normally leave other beehives alone, but might steal honey from other hives if nectar is short, which will cause the bees being robbed to become defensive.

Swarming (a whole group of bees flying) is usually the result of breeding or bees trying to find a new home due to overpopulation.

Honey bees also dance to communicate. They generally dance in a circle without waggling their bottoms if the food is close, and add an increasing number of bottom-waggles the farther away the food is.

     Misconceptions 

Bees are very aggressive

Unless they are Africanized, their queen is lost, or they are robbing other hives (and then, they'll be more aggressive to bees than to you, but might be aggressive to you due to the "alarm pheromone" defensive bees make), bees will generally only attack if you directly attack them or their hive. And non-Africanized bees are generally unlikely (although they still might) to chase you down.

Bees can sting you heaps of times.

Only if they're a solitary bee or a queen bee, otherwise, they'd die if they stung you once. And while solitary bees can sting you a lot, they generally don't. It's mainly wasps who do that. As for queen bees, they generally don't interact much with humans anyway.

Male bees do work

Male bees are called drones, and they don't do much. Worker bees do work, and they're all sterile females.

You can escape bees by jumping in water

Bees don't chase you very often, but if they do, jumping in water won't help. They'll just wait until you come up for air.

All bees live in hives

Nope, some bees are solitary.

Bumblebees don't sting, but rather bite

Actually, they do sting.

Bumblebees don't make honey

They do make honey, just not enough for humans.

All bees sting

Actually, some of them don't.

All bees are yellow and black

Actually some of them are brown, just black, or blue. It depends on what sort of bee it is.

If a bee or swarm of bees attacks you, you should stay still or fight back.

Staying still might work if you are making an effort not to scare the bee/s, but if it's/they're already attacking you, you should run away. Fighting back is always a bad idea, and you should always avoid swatting at bees even if they're not attacking you.

If you find a bee and it seems sluggish but not injured, it's going to die

Actually, it's probably hungry/tired. Bees don't sleep, but if they are very hungry, they can experience symptoms similar to tiredness in a human. To cure them, feed them some water with sugar in it.
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