A honeybee is…
… a social insect that lives in a perpetual colony. They do not ‘hibernate’ in winter, but reduce their activity and overwinter as a cluster within their nest. They expand the colony size very rapidly each spring and summer, meaning they can go out foraging for pollen and nectar in force, earlier than other pollinators. They don’t think of themselves as individuals but live their lives with the sole aim of supporting their colony.
So how do they work together?
They are very complex creatures. They communicate with each other:
They are first class navigators and use landmarks and the position of the sun to find their way from their home to a source of forage and back again. They seem to have some sense of time as they will adjust the angle of the waggle dance to take account of changes in the sun’s position since their return to the hive.
Why are honeybees so important?
Since the arrival of Varroa (a parasitic mite of bees) in Europe and North America there has been a significant reduction in feral honeybee colonies. Competent beekeepers are therefore essential to manage and maintain healthy stocks of bees to provide pollination services to the agricultural and horticultural industries, as well as supporting the natural environment.
In short, bees need us but we need them far more!