Saturday, 1 December 2012

Bees

Bees are flying insects, closely related to wasps and … ants.

They are adpated for feeding on nectar and pollen – nectar is an energy source and pollen is principally used as food for larvae.

The smallest bee is 2.1mm and is a stingless bee.  The largest is 39mm and is a leafcutter bee.

Bees either live in communities, where they perform different tasks, or they are solitary and do not produce wax or honey but are important pollinators of plants.

There are more than 20 000 species of bees divided into 7 or 9 recognised families.

Bees are found on every continent except Antartica.  2 500 species in Europe and between 950 to 1 000 in France.  In France, these are divided into 6 families with 15 sub-groups and more than 50 genuses.

  • Apis mellifera – European or Western honey bees
  • Xylocopa – carpenter bees – one of the largest in Europe
  • Andrena – sand bees – more than 150 species in France
  • Lasioglossum (Halicitidae) – mostly live in the ground
  • Megachile – leaf cutter bees
  • Bourdons – bumblebees

More than half of the bee species in France can be found in the Mediterranean area.

Other types of bees are : sweat bees, mason bees, polyster bees, squash bees, alkali bees, digger bees, cleptoparasitic bees, cuckoo bees and nocturnal bees …

About Bees – the History


Flowers and bees first live in 100 000 000 BC during the age of the dinosaurs.

In 20 000 000 BC honeybees and mammals emerged.

After the Ice Age, ancient people learned how to use smoke to calm bees.

Apiarists believe that the Egyptians were the first beekeepers.  They kept their bees in hives made of clay and mud.

The ancient Greeks studied new ways of raising and keeping bees.

Romans used melted beeswax and dye to paint pictures.

In the Middle Ages, beekeepers started using straw masks and hoods to protect them from bee stings.

Pilgrims brought the first honeybees to America.

There were honeybees in California by 1820.  Pioneers used boxes to trap bees – they followed the bee back to the hive and took the honey.

More recently, scientists have discovered the genes of a bee that lived 25 million years ago and bees have built a honeycomb in zero gravity on a Space Shuttle.

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