Honey bee talk

This Tuesday there was a really interesting and informative talk presented by Pre Carbo and Jen Dyer from SRI on honey bees and their roles in the hive.

The talk started off with two quizzes – one where the group had to guess which of the animals on the screen were wasps and which were bees, and the second one where we had to decide whether the bees are workers, drones or queens. Hint: the drones (males) have bigger eyes and bodies.


The queen

So how can you tell which one is the queen bee in a hive? Well, it’s important to note that there’s only one queen per colony. They have a larger abdomen than other bees and their legs are red. Queen bees live for the longest in the colony – they can live up to 3-5 years! They are created, fed and groomed by workers and they can lay up to 2000 eggs per day.

A really interesting fact about queens is that the second they emerge from the cell they kill the other unhatched virgin queens in their cells and fight to the death with any other virgins queens hatched at the same time.

Apis mellifera, Queen Honey Bee, side view.

The worker

Workers are females from fertilised eggs. They can live up to 6 weeks during summer and 6 months in winter – this is due to the fact that they work much harder in the summertime. Their roles in the colony differ according to their age.

Workers actually die after stinging mammals because the sting gets caught in their skin and pulls out the bee’s insides when they fly away, but they can retrieve their sting with other insects.


The drone

Drones are males – but unlike workers, they are from unfertilised eggs. They are raised in spring and summer by workers.  Drones only live for a maximum of 25 days but they are likely to die earlier as they die as soon as they mate. Mating the virgin queen is the drone’s only role so if they don’t die before winter comes they are thrown out of the hive when food becomes scarce.


To end the talk, there was another interactive part where we looked at photos of bees from a ‘virtual hive’ and tried to identify various parts of them with our new-found knowledge.

The presentation was really fascinating and I’ve got to say I learned a lot of new information! These talks are a great way to find out more about a wide-range of topics and get involved so I would definitely recommend going along.

To find more events like this, visit our events page: http://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/events/.

The next session hosted by SRI on the 21st of Octoberhttp://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/event/sustainability-seminars-hosted-by-sri-the-road-to-paris-exploring-the-economic-case-for-climate-action-in-cities/.