Royal jelly is a honey-bee secretion used to nourish the larvae. Although it is marketed for its alleged health benefits, it may cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals.

European honeybees prefer habitats that have an abundant supply of suitable flowering plants, such as meadows, open wooded areas, and gardens. They can survive in grasslands, deserts, and wetlands if there is sufficient water, food, and shelter. They need cavities (e.g. in hollow trees) to nest in.

The project Status and Trends of European Pollinators aims to document declines in managed European Honey Bee populations and, though it focuses on pollinators, it aims to understand the drivers of decline in honey bees.

The honey bee's primary commercial value is as a pollinator of crops.

Neumann, P. and Carreck, N.L. 2010. Honey bee colony losses . Journal of Apicultural Research 49: 1-6.

Honeybees are subject to many types of predators, some attacking the bees themselves, others consuming the wax and stored food in the hive. Some predators are specialists on bees, including honeybees.

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest

The lifespan of workers varies considerably over the year in regions with long winters. Workers born in spring and summer will work hard, living only a few weeks, but those born in autumn will remain inside for several months as the colony clusters. On average during the year, about one percent of a colony's worker bees die naturally per day.[6] Except for the queen, all of a colony's workers are replaced about every four months.

Honeybees cool the hive by collecting water, spreading it, and fanning to increase evaporation.

Apis mellifera is native to Europe, western Asia, and Africa. Human introduction of Apis mellifera to other continents started in the 17th century, and now they are found all around the world, including east Asia, Australia and North and South America.

The ovipositor through which the queen lays her eggs in the wax cell, is modified in the workers to form a sting.

Winston, M.L. 1991. The Biology of the Honey Bee. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Managed colonies and therefore wild colonies are also impacted by many viruses (20 have been described to date) some of which are associated with and transmitted by Varroa destructor (e.g., Deformed Wing Virus), pathogens and parasites (Nosema spp. and Acarapis woodi (Honey Bee tracheal mite)), foulbroods and a range of other brood disorders (Moritz et al. 2010).

Generally, Apis_mellifera are red/brown with black bands and orange yellow rings on abdomen. They have hair on thorax and less hair on abdomen. They also have a pollen basket on their hind legs. Honeybee legs are mostly dark brown/black.

In relation to Honey Bee colony losses there are an increasing number of articles and special issues of scientific journals from the last decade dedicated to this topic. One of the most comprehensive was a study by Neumann and Carreck (2010) addressing the possible causes of colony losses in 16 countries. Many of these causes are briefly addressed in the threats section of this assessment.

Numerous studies indicate that A. mellifera has undergone significant declines in Europe; however, it is not clear if they refer to population reduction of wild or managed colonies.

The honey bee is a colonial insect which is housed, fed and transported by beekeepers. Honey bees do not survive and reproduce individually, but as part of the colony (also known as a superorganism).

Drones are the male caste of honey bees. The drone’s head and thorax are larger than those of the female castes, and their large eyes appear more ‘fly-like,’ touching in the top center of the head. Their abdomen is thick and blunt at the end, appearing bullet-shaped rather than pointy at the end as with the female castes (Fig. 5).

Potts, S.G., Roberts, S.P., Dean, R., Marris, G., Brown, M.A., Jones, R., Neumann, P. and Settele, J. 2010. Declines of managed honey bees and beekeepers in Europe. Journal of Apicultural Research 49(1): 15-22.

Biesmeijer, J.C., Roberts, S.P.M., Reemer, M.,Ohlemuller, R., Edwards, M., Peeters, T., Schaffers, A.P., Potts, S.G., Kleukers, R., Thomas, C.D.,Settele, J. and Kunin, W.E. 2006. Parallel declines in pollinators and insect-pollinated plants in Britain and the Netherlands. Science 313: 351–354.

Exactly what aspects of their feeding cause this is not known for certain. It may be the absence of pollen from the queen's diet, the cessation of royal jelly in the worker's diet, the super-abundance of food placed in the queen cells or a vitamin-like chemical fed to the queen larvae in the early stages. After three days, worker grubs cannot be reared as queens, even if they are placed in queen cells and fed on royal jelly.

Structure. The bodies of bees are divided into head, thorax and abdomen, with three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings on the thorax. The fore and hind wings on each side are linked by hooks and grooves so that they move together in flight.

Apis mellifera is considered to be one of the most important pollinators of crops and other plant species (Delaplane et al. 2000). 

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.There are 44 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Although the average lifespan of a queen in most subspecies is three to five years, reports from the German-European black bee subspecies previously used for beekeeping indicate that a queen can live up to eight years.[6] Because a queen's store of sperm is depleted near the end of her life, she begins laying more unfertilized eggs; for this reason, beekeepers often replace queens every year or two.

When a bee or wasp stings, it injects a venomous fluid under the skin of the victim (see photo). Honey bees have a barbed stinger. Only the honey bee leaves her stinger - with its venom sac attached - in the skin of its victim. It normally takes two to three minutes for the venom sac to inject all of the venom, so instant removal of the stinger and sac usually reduces harmful effects. (source: osu.edu)

De la Rúa, P., Galián, J., Serrano, J. and Moritz, R.F.A. 2001. Molecular characterization and population structure of the honeybees from the Balearic Islands (Spain). Apidologie 32: 417-427.

For illustrations to accompany this article see Insect Life-Cycles

Beekeepers use integrated pest management strategies to maintain the impacts of the numerous pest- and pathogen-related problems below an acceptable threshold. Some of these control methods include selecting appropriate apiary locations, supplemental feeding, trapping pests in colonies, replacing queens, preventative treatments, and chemical control.

Western Honey Bee

Some insects are predators in hives as well, including wax moth larvae (Galleria_mellonella, Achroia_grisella), and hive beetles (Hylostoma, Aethina), and some species of Formicidae. In their native regions these tend not to be important enemies, but where honeybees have not co-evolved with these insects and have no defense, they can do great harm to hives.

Honeybee workers are opportunistic. They will steal from other hives if they can. Hive-robbing can be dangerous, but a weakened or damaged hive may be raided by workers from other hives, especially when nectar flows in flowers are not abundant. Honeybees will also collect “honeydew,” the sweet fluid excreted by sap-feeding insects like aphids.

When the virgin queen emerged, she was thought to seek out other queen cells and sting the infant queens within; should two queens emerge simultaneously, they were thought to fight to the death. The queen asserts control over the worker bees by releasing a complex suite of pheromones known as queen scent.

Wild populations of Apis mellifera in Europe have been greatly impacted by: habitat loss (decline in availability of natural nest sites and food sources); displacement from food sources and nest sites by managed/feral colonies; disease and parasites originating from managed/feral bees; the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides; invasive alien species; detrimental beekeeping practices and the lack of adequate pest control.

Another use of melittin is in the treatment of cancer. A promising study, once again conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, involves the attaching of melittin to a different nanoparticle. The novel melittin-nanoparticle complex, named the “nanobee”, selectively targets tumour cells, thus avoiding healthy cells. Once attached to a tumour cell, melittin is able to break down the tumour by forming pores in the cell membrane (Loftus, 2009). 

Figure 13. Nuisance colonies of European honey bees, Apis mellifera Linnaeus. Left: worker honey bees at the entrance of a colony in the exterior wall of a house. Right: the underside of a carport roof has been cut away to expose the wax combs of a colony. Photographs by Anthony Vaudo, University of Florida.

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The queen lays all the eggs in a healthy colony. The number and pace of egg-laying is controlled by weather, resource availability and specific racial characteristics. Queens generally begin to slow egg-laying in the early fall, and may stop during the winter. Egg-laying generally resumes in late winter when the days lengthen, peaking in the spring. At the height of the season, the queen may lay over 2,500 eggs per day (more than her body mass).

The African honey bee was first introduced to Brazil in the 1950s in an effort to increase honey production; but, in 1957, 26 swarms accidentally escaped quarantine and, since then, have spread throughout South and Central America and arrived in North America in 1985.

The way western honey bees designate tasks is similar to ants and other social species. Future queens leave their nests only to mate with male bees, or drones, during mating flights and swarms. They lay eggs and place them individually into cells. Drones, which are the minority in a colony, are defenseless and incapable of feeding themselves. The only task of drones is to mate with virgin queens.

Generally, Apis mellifera are red/brown with black bands and orange yellow rings on abdomen. They have hair on thorax and less hair on abdomen. They also have a pollen basket on their hind legs. Honeybee legs are mostly dark brown/black.