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bee Honeybees

Identify It >   Invertebrates Section >   Honeybees >

Scientific name:  Apis mellifera

Size:  Up to 15mm

Distribution:  Found throughout the U.K.

Months seen:  March to October

Life Span:  Approximately 9 to 12 months

Habitat:  Meadows, parks, gardens, orchards and farmland.

Food:  Nectar and pollen

Special features:  Honeybees are social bees, living in colonies which can number up to 50,000 individuals.  They originally came from Asia, but are now well established in the UK countryside.  Wild colonies will sometimes build their nests in buildings, but more usually in hollow trees.  These wild bees are no more dangerous than those kept in domestic hives.

When a colony gets too crowded groups of honeybees can fly off in a swarm to form a new nest site.  Unlike wasp colonies, which die off in late autumn, part of the honey bee colony can survive through the winter by feeding on stored honey.  The queen can live up to five years, while the majority of the workers live for just a few weeks.

Locally produced honey is thought to help with the symptoms of hayfever.  The pollen in the honey helps the body to build up an immunity, but it needs to be taken all year round.

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