Bee is the common name for a winged, flower-feeding insect with branched body hairs. Bees are dependent on pollen as a protein source and on flower nectar or oils as an energy source. Bees range in size from tiny species – only 2 mm (0.08 in) in length – to rather large insects – up to 4 cm (1.6 in) long. Many bees are black, brown, or gray, but others are bright yellow, red, or metallic green or blue.
There are about 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees live in colonies that contain the queen bee, the worker bee and the drone. The worker bee and the queen bee are both female, but only the queen bee can reproduce. All drones are male. Worker bees clean the hive, collecting pollen and nectar to feed the colony and they take care of the offspring. The drone’s only job is to mate with the queen. The queen’s only job is to lay eggs.
Bees store their venom in a sac attached to their stinger and only female bees sting. That is because the stinger, called an ovipositor, is part of the female bee’s reproductive design. A queen bee uses her ovipositor to lay eggs as well as sting. Sterile females, also called worker bees, don’t lay eggs. They just use their ovipositors to sting.
Bees are the most important pollinating insects, and their interdependence with plants makes them an excellent example of symbiosis that is beneficial to both parties. Bees are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.
Different bee and wasp species have different nesting behaviors so it is important to have a positive identification before beginning treatment. Yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps make nests of paper. Honey bees and bumblebees make nests of wax.