[AS.] A family of membrane-winged insects, of which the best known are the honey or hive bee and the humble or bumble bee. The hive bee is a busy and curious honey-gatherer, which lives in communities or colonies. A colony consists of males or drones, females or queen bees, and workers. A hive of forty or fifty thousand busy workers is all under one queen bee. She lays all the eggs, and the workers keep close guard over her. They also are females, but as a rule lay no eggs. The drones have no sting, and neither work nor defend their nest. They number about one-thirtieth part of a hive, and are all slaughtered by the workers during the latter part of summer. When well kept, bees collect more honey than is necessary for thems elv e s and their young, and the excess is the honey used by man. The queen nev e r works, but the workers gather the pollen and nectar from various flowers. (SeeHoney.) They have the sense of smell, for they scent the nectar or honey at great distances ; and, like other insects, they have curious compound eyes, composed of thousands of small eyes. The mouth of the bee is well adapted to the work. It has a long lip and a much longer tongue. With the latter it probes the flower-cups and licks up the nectar which in its honey-bag becomes honey. In the hive, bees gather in thick clusters, hanging from the top, the first suspended by its fore claws, and the others holding to one another by the legs. In twenty-four hours small scales of wax appear on their under parts. The workers shake the wax from their bodies or pick it out of their pouches with their feet; they then take it in their jaws, work it over with saliva, and from it build, cells in double rows. These cells are called the honeycomb. Artificial wax combs are sometimes used, and the bees fill them with honey. Pollen is also gathered Ifor bee-bread. The worker scrapes the pollen and packs it into little baskets at the middle joints of its hind legs. Bee-bread is pollen mixed with honey for ordinary food and to feed the young. Cells are hexagonal in shape, and so have strength and economize space. The cell of the drone is larger than the cell of the worker, and that of the queen bee is larger than either. The queen bee places a single egg in each cell - worker-eggs in worker-cells, and drone-eggs in drone-cells. The workers seal up these cells, leaving little holes for air to enter when the young shall be hatched, while honey-cells are always sealed tight to keep out the an-. The eggs become grubs or larvae, which spin about themselves silken cocoons, and in twenty-one days after the eggs are laid, full-grown bees, both workers and drones, come forth. The queen grubs remain still in their cells, and are guarded and fed by the workers. The old queen, jealous of these royal prisoners, becomes excited, and a large number of bees fill themselves with honey, and, joining the old queen, "swarm" or leave the hive, and settling on some branch, are put into a new hive.
Humblebee [Ger. hummel.] It is often called bumble-bee.
The Humble-Bee (L Bombus), having a longer tongue than the honey-bee, reaches the nectar of the red clover flower, and, carrying pollen from stem to stem, enables it to bear seed. The New Zealand farmer tried to raise clover, but failed till humble-bees were imported. The humble-bee and wasp have communities like the honey-bee, but the number of the males equals the females, and the males work actively and defend the nest. Bees fortify their nests against the sphinx moth and other enemies.
The carpenter bee is a solitary bee. She bores her nest in old wood in the shape of a tube, which takes a sudden turn and is continued down the trunk parallel to the grain of the wood. This tunnel she divides by sawdust partitions into cells, in each of which is placed an egg with a supply of food for the young larva. Large quantities of bees-wax are used for making candles, and also for artificial flowers and fruit.