Fun European Honey Bee Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Apr 28, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
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European Honey Bee facts about the bees that harvest nectar and pollen.

Have you ever wondered and thought about the life of a European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)? It is very commonly seen everywhere in our daily life.

These insects are the ones that provide us with tasty honey. But do you know how it is collected and stored? A Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) is a social insect that lives in colonies.

Honey Bees are domesticated for their honey and thereby harvested for it too. Honey Bees collect nectar and pollen from flowering plants and play an important role in spreading seeds through pollination across the world.

These creatures are susceptible to a variety of viral and bacterial infections like chalkbrood, Nosema, European foulbrood, and American foulbrood. Do you wish to learn more about it? Here are some fun facts on European Honey Bees. Afterward, do check our other articles on Africanized bees and bumblebees as well.

European Honey Bee Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a European Honey Bee?

The European Honey Bee or Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) is an insect that belongs to the Apidae family. It is one of the most common species of Honey Bees worldwide.

Western Honey Bees, like other Honey Bee species, create colonies like a caste system with a single fertile female or a queen bee, with some fertile males or drones and some female non-fertile ones or worker bees.

It is one of the domesticated insect species and is a primary species kept for honey collection and pollination. It is found on every continent except Antarctica.

What class of animal does a European Honey Bee belong to?

The European Honey Bee is an insect that belongs to the Insecta class. Its scientific name is Apis mellifera. ‘Apis’ means ‘bees’ and ‘mellifera' means ‘honey bearing’. It is one of the most common species found worldwide.

It is one of the first domesticated insect species and is primarily species kept for honey collection and pollination. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are known to feed on pollen and nectar.

How many European Honey Bees are there in the world?

There are no accurate estimates of the total number of European Honey Bees in the world. The western Honey Bee colonies are present in every continent except Antarctica. There is no extinction of these species as it is spread across the world. But they are susceptible to viral and bacterial infections like chalkbrood, Nosema, European foulbrood, and American foulbrood.

Where does a European Honey Bee live?

A European Honey Bee is found in every continent except Antarctica. It is believed to have originated or been produced in Africa or Asia and has spread to other continents.

These bees have adapted to the local environment as they have spread geographically. Honey Bee colonies are found near areas where flowers and plenty of food are available. These bees also have many subspecies that are spread across different places.

What is a European Honey Bee's habitat?

A European Honey Bee is seen in the local environments and is naturally adaptable. These bees are found near areas where flowers and plenty of food resources are available, including wooded areas, meadows, and gardens for their food requirements and typical diet of pollen and nectar.

They live in colonies numbering in the thousands. These bees also have subspecies that are known to be cross-fertilized.

Who do European Honey Bees live with?

European Honey Bees usually live in colonies with a lot of members. They are social insects. These bees follow a certain system. Their colony only has a fertile female called the queen bee, some non-fertile female bees or worker bees, and some fertile male bees or drones.

How long does a European Honey Bee live?

The European Honey Bee is a small-sized insect. The average lifespan of an adult worker bee is 14-28 days. A queen bee's life cycle ranges between one to two years. They are attacked by their predators as well as humans.

How do they reproduce?

European Honey Bees undergo a complete metamorphosis which includes four stages; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The mating takes place during the summer or spring, in proximity to beehives.

A queen bee forms a new colony by laying eggs inside the honeycomb. Fertilized eggs will grow into female worker bees and unfertilized eggs into drones or Honey Bee males.

A queen has to take care of her colony by laying eggs and finding food. Each colony has only a single queen that mates very early and collects more than 5 million sperm.

A Honey Bee has a mating flight and stores enough to lay eggs throughout its life. When a queen is no longer able to lay eggs or dies, another queen will take responsibility.

The new queen bee is created by adult workers by feeding one of the female larvae a diet of royal jelly, which is considered an elixir. The process of laying eggs is very quick and normally requires a few seconds and a single queen bee can lay up to 2000 eggs in a day.

What is their conservation status?

European Honey Bees are found in every continent except Antarctica. Western Honey Bees or European Honey Bees are listed under the Data Deficient status. Even though the population in Europe is slightly decreasing, it does not affect the total population as they are so widespread. Hence it does not face any extinction threats.

European Honey Bee Fun Facts

What do European Honey Bees look like?

A European Honey Bee or Western Honeybee is an insect that belongs to the Apidae family. It is one of the most common insect species found worldwide. The scientific name of the Western Honey Bee is Apis mellifera. They are social insects and live in colonies with thousands in number.

The size may vary accordingly but all of them are under one inch. They are yellowish and have black stripes along their abdomens. Their hind legs are used as a pollen basket.

European Honey Bee.

How cute are they?

European Honey Bees are small-sized insects that can be dangerous if somebody tries to go near the hive. They might not be as cute as they seem and sometimes can be gross.

How do they communicate?

They don’t use verbal communication since they are deaf. European Honey Bees communicate mainly through movement and smell.

They use dance as a means of communication for making requests and sharing information. The worker bee’s dance is known as the waggle dance to help each other to find food sources and water and tell the direction and distance of the food source.

The round dance is performed to convey that the nectar is near. There are also other dances like joy dance to celebrate, alarm dance to convey there is danger in food sources and others.

Another method of communication is through smell. Bees use pheromones to communicate with each other. Each type of pheromone conveys different messages. They rely on pheromones for all behaviors, including mating, alarm, defense, and food production.

How big is a European Honey Bee?

A European Honey Bee has an average length of 0.59-0.78 in (1.5-1.98 cm) and is a small-sized insect. It is much smaller compared to other insects.

How fast can European Honey Bees move?

European Honey Bees can move very fast up to 12 mph (19.3 kph). A European bee may collect honey from 50-100 flowers on every foraging trip.

How much does a European Honey Bee weigh?

On an average scale, a European bee weighs around 0.004 oz (0.113 g). They are small-sized insects and live for a short period.

What are the male and female names of the species?

As the European Honey Bee is an insect, its species is A. mellifera. Fertile male Honey Bees are called drones. Non-fertile female Honey Bees are called worker bees whereas a fertile female Honey Bee is called a queen.

What would you call a baby European Honey Bee?

European Honey Bees undergo complete metamorphosis. The worker bee has four different life stages: egg, larval stage, pupal stage, and adult stage. The baby European Honey Bee is usually called a larva.

What do they eat?

European Honey Bees are herbivores. They primarily feed on pollen and nectar. Their main predators are toads, opossums, and flycatcher birds. Main animals like bears and gorillas attack their hives for honey. Female larvae feed on a rich diet of royal jelly, pollen, and nectar and develop into queen bees.

Are they harmful?

European Honey Bees are usually harmful to humans as like all other bee species, they sting. They attack anyone who comes close to the hive.

The European subspecies are more sensitive to disturbance. Drone bees are there only to mate with the queen and do not have any other function plus they do not have any stingers. There is only one queen bee in each hive.

Would they make a good pet?

European Honey Bees are quite dangerous when they are in the process of collecting nectar from flowers. They are kept by humans for honey collection and pollination. They are kept as pets as these bees make for good pets if proper care is given.

Did you know...

The honeycomb of European Honey Bees is hexagonal. This hexagonal shape is the most efficient in the world. The pattern is in such a way that it does not allow any space within. The structure of hexagonal cells can hold a large amount of weight even though the wax is very thin and delicate.

There are more than 3,600 bee species that can be found across North America. Only the queen bee can lay eggs. Unfertilized eggs develop into male bees and fertilized eggs develop into female bees. These bees have pollen sacs attached to the hind legs that allow them to carry pollen back to the beehive.

When you compare European Honey Bee vs Africanized Honey Bee, the significant difference is in terms of their defensive response. An Africanized Honey Bee colony will send a significantly higher number of guard bees in case of an attack and will pursue the perpetrator for a longer distance as compared to European Honey Bee.

History of the European Honey Bee

European Honey Bees seem to have originated from Africa or Asia and it is spread through the Middle East and Europe. They were imported from Europe to North America in the 17th century.

Subspecies were also introduced to South America, Australia, New Zealand, and East Asia. Subspecies were introduced from Italy in 1859, and later from Spain, Portugal, and everywhere.

Are European Honey Bees invasive?

Yes,  European Honey Bees are invasive. They spread very quickly. In the US, the native pollinators have to compete for food and other resources due to the high number of western bees which is an invasive species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our northern paper wasp facts, and blue dasher fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable honey bee parts coloring pages.

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Sources

https://www.chesapeakebay.net/discover/field-guide/entry/european_honey_bee

https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/BEES/euro_honey_bee.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_honey_bee

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

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Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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