Honey bee: Classification, Characteristics, Castes, and Pest Control


Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Hymenoptera

 Family: Apidae

Subfamily: Apinae

Tribe : Apini Latreille

Genus: Apis Linnaeus


The Honey bee is an insect, just like the praying mantis, cockroach, or butterfly. On the outside of their bodies, insects have a hard skeleton. The head, thorax, and abdomen are all covered by this skeleton. Insects have several distinguishing characteristics associated with these body parts. The thorax of an insect has six legs and four wings, as well as a pair of antennae atop the head.

Insects are further split into groups based on their characteristics. Bees, wasps, and ants have a lot in common. One of these characteristics is their willingness to work together. You’ve undoubtedly seen honey bees or ants working in big groups hunting for food or constructing a nest. Honey bees, ants, and wasps all belong to the Hymenoptera order of insects. Many Hymenoptera lives in big colonies extended family units. Honey bees only reside in hives with their families. Social insects include honey bees and several other Hymenoptera species. This is because each colony member has a distinct role that helps the colony function as a whole. However, not all Hymenoptera members live and operate in groups; many bees and wasps live and work alone.

Honey Bee


The physical characteristics of honey bees and other members of the insect order Hymenoptera are as follows:

1. Two pairs of slender, veined wings, the forewings being significantly larger than the hindwings. The bee’s wings are designed for fast-flying as well as to support the weight of the bee and its pollen and nectar load.

2. Mandibles (jaws) and chewing-lapping mouthparts with a long tongue or proboscis to sip nectar from flowers and chewing-lapping mouthparts with a long tongue or proboscis to manipulate wax or other materials

3. During development, complete metamorphosis

4. The head, thorax, and abdomen are the three major bodily regions. The antennae, mouthparts, and brain are all located on the head. The thorax is the part of the body that is responsible for locomotion (walking and flight). The thorax of the bee houses the legs and wings. The abdomen is the final bodily part. The digestive system, the honey stomach, the reproductive organs, and the sting are all located in this area.

5. The honey bee is covered in dense yellow and black hairs. The hairs tend to camouflage the bee’s “waist.”

Members of the colony of Bees (Caste system)

Honeybees are social insects that live in colonies with a well-organized system of labor division. There are three castes in each family: Queens (fertile females), Drones (males), and Labourers (sterile females). Each caste serves a distinct purpose in the colony. The Drones are males, the Workers are undeveloped females, and the Queen is a fully formed female. A good colony of bees in the summer will have between 50,000 and 60,000 workers, 1,000 or more drones, and one Queen.


The worker bee is a female with immature reproductive organs, she does not lay eggs. Workers are the tiniest bees in the colony, but they make up the majority of the colony.

Worker Bee

Worker Responsibilities

1. Make a comb out of wax gland secretions.

2. Feed royal jelly secreted by the hypopharyngeal gland to the immature larvae.

3. Feed bee-bread (pollen+ honey) to older larvae.

4. Attending to the queen and feeding her.

5. Drone feeding

6. Keeping the hive clean, ventilated, and cool.

7. Keeping an eye on the hive.

8. Honey storage and nectar evaporation


The Queen is a mother bee in every sense. Queen is the only female who is sexually fully formed from a fertilized egg. A Queen bee’s ovaries are fully matured, and she lays all of the eggs in the colony. She is the colony’s largest bee, with a long, pointed abdomen that is optimized for egg-laying.

Queen Bee

A Queen’s responsibilities include:

1. Being the only one who produces eggs in a colony (Mother of all bees).

2. In Apis mellifera, lays up to 2000 eggs each day while maintaining a thriving colony.

3. She mates with drones on one or more nuptial flights five to ten days after emergence.

4. Once her spermatheca is full of sperm, she will begin to produce eggs and will no longer mate.

5. She lives for three years and is replaced by one of the daughter queens when she becomes weak or unable to lay eggs.

6. Queen’s substance is the secretion of the queen’s mandibular gland.

7. If enough of the queen material is present, it performs the following activities.

a) Prevent swarming and colony absconding.

b) Prevent ovary growth in workers.

c) The colony’s cohesion is preserved.

8. Depending on the situation, the queen can lay fertile or sterile eggs.


Male Bees are known as drones. They have huge eyes at the front of their heads that meet. Their huge, massive bodies and large eyes distinguish them from the workers and the Queen. Their jaws are tiny, and they aren’t venomous.

Drone Bee

Drone responsibilities

1. One of their most crucial responsibilities is to fertilize the queen.

2. They also aid in the regulation of the hive’s temperature.

3. They lack a sting and are unable to collect nectar or pollen.

Honey Bees Pests and Their Control

Honey bees are fortunate in that few pests attack them. This is due in part to the fact that honey bees are not native to North America, yet they aren’t affected by many other species even in Asia, where they originated. A pest such as a bear or ants may be of some concern in a given location; wax moths, for example, ruin millions of dollars worth of bee comb each year, particularly in the warmer southern United States. This brochure discusses the pests that a beekeeper is likely to face and offers advice on how to deal with them. If you’re not sure what’s causing an issue, seek professional help before taking any control measures.


North American black bears can be a major threat to honey bee nests.

Control: Short of shifting bee colonies, bear control is tough. An Apiary can be protected by a robust electric fence before bear damage occurs. Alternatively, a solid wire cage can be built around groups of four or more colonies, or the bee colonies can be placed on sturdy bear-proof platforms. These precautions may not be sufficient once bears locate an apiary location. Fortunately, bear damage is uncommon, and in most cases, relocating colonies to a new place is possible.


Cattle, Horses, and Goats are not pests, but bees and livestock should be kept apart to avoid issues.

Control: Locate bee colonies outside animal enclosures or in an apiary.


 Various varieties of ants can be bee pests, ranging in size from small ants to big black carpenter ants. In the southeastern United States, fire ants are also a nuisance. Only a small percentage of ants steal honey or bee eggs. The underlying issue is that the ants are nesting within the warm, dry hive, obstructing the beekeeper’s colony inspection.

Control: Using a pesticide on the ants is dangerous because they may track it through the beeswax comb, producing toxic residues that injure the bees. Frequently, all a beekeeper needs to do to get rid of ants is deny the ant a closed place under a closely fitted cover.


 Termites are wood-infesting insects, and most beehives are built of wood, termites must be considered hive pests. Termites are primarily interested in wood, not honey or bees. If termites break the bottom board, the bees may lose their bottom entrance, making it more difficult to transfer the colony.

 Control: Termites prefer wood to consume and live in, so beekeepers should avoid placing wooden equipment near the ground. Termite assaults on active colonies on hive stands are usually avoided. Equipment should be kept safe.


Frogs and toads eat insects in general, with the occasional bee thrown in for good measure. They are rarely severe pests outside of Bermuda, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands. On these islands, a huge toad is a pest; the toad has been brought to Florida and may become an issue there.


Honey bees are eaten by a variety of birds, including shrikes, titmice, kingbirds, swifts, martins, thrushes, mockingbirds, and others. They only eat a few bees, and most bee colonies can lose a worker bee to a bird on occasion. Woodpeckers may become a nuisance in some areas. They normally only attack one or a few colonies in an apiary, rather than all of them.

Shrews, Mice, and Moles

Mice are a severe pest threat for bee colonies. In the fall, adult mice move into bee colonies and build their nest in the hive’s corner, away from the bee cluster. They may cause some disturbance to the wintering bees, but their nest is the main issue. To make a place for their nest, they chew comb and nibble frames.


Beetles are the most prevalent animals on the globe, it’s no surprise that some of them might be bee pests on occasion. Reduced hive entrance or a change in apiary location may be effective controls for these. The majority are after pollen and bee bread that has been stored, and if the bees are strong enough, they will keep the number of such beetles to a minimum. For wax moth management, stored equipment should be kept in tight stacks with PDB fumigation.


Adult dragonflies may be plentiful in some areas, and their feeding on bees may be considerable. Because most dragonfly species feed invertebrates smaller than honey bees, only giant dragonfly species are engaged. Due to Dragonfly adults feasting on bees, especially Queens flying to mate in and around the Apiary, Queen mating has been severely interrupted in some regions. The only practicable way of control is to move the apiary site.


Beetles are the most prevalent animals on the globe, it’s no surprise that some of them might be bee pests on occasion. Larger ground beetles, for example, may infiltrate the colony or feast at the colony’s entrance. Reduced hive entrance or a change in apiary location may be effective controls for these.


Mites are small insect relatives that can be a significant pest concern for bees. The honey bee tracheal mite dwells in the trachea, or breathing tubes, of worker honey bees. The mite was first detected in the United States in 1984 and has since spread throughout the world. Mite-infected bees live shorter lives, and strongly infested colonies do not survive the winter as well as uninfected colonies.

Control: Menthol fumigation and grease patties are only partially effective control strategies.

Important Questions about Honey bees

Question: Is Honey Bee a Type of Insect?

ANS: Yes

Question: What is Beekeeping?

ANS: Beekeeping is an art and skill of keeping bees in modern moveable frame hives for hobby or fascination, production of hive products (honey, bee wax, etc.), and pollination services or Beekeeping or Apiculture is the activity of growing bees.

QUESTION: What is an Apiary?

ANSWER: An Apiary is a location where the hives are kept.

Question: What is the average annual per capita consumption of bee honey in India?

ANSWER: The average annual per capita consumption of bee honey in India is 8.4 g.

Question: Only Honey bees die after stinging…WHY?

ANS: Because a honey bee can’t pull the barbed stinger out of a person when it strikes them. The honey bee dies as a result of the huge abdominal rupture.

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