How does a bee make its nest?

Written by linda st.cyr
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How does a bee make its nest?
(Wikimedia Commons)

Roles of bees in nest-building

Building a bees' nest takes a lot of work. Male bees have very little to do with anything in the bees' world, so it is up to the female bees to build up the colony. Female bees come in two classifications in the bee colony: the queen, or mother, bee and the worker, or daughter, bee. Male bees are only around to mate with the queen bee and have no role to play in the colony's organisation. Individual bees among the colony may have specialised tasks that they perform. Bee society is a highly functioning, complex, coordinated effort. Together they build the hive or nest that they will live in temporarily. It should be noted that most bee colonies are temporary because they die out in the autumn season. Only a fertilised queen bee can survive winter's harsh weather. As a colony, the bees set up defence tasks, food storage and collecting, reproduction and other organised tasks for their home.

How does a bee make its nest?
Three queen cells

What is a bees' nest made from?

Secreted wax from an individual bee mixed with its own saliva makes the mould for a bee's nest. This waxlike structure is made from many bees at the same time. The bees work vertically from top to bottom on each comb or floors of the nest. Each of these floors have cells or rooms that the bee's make. A bees' nest is often made in a tree hollow or in man-made structures that have a hollow area. Wax forms better at higher heat so the bees use this area to form a hollow cluster then begin construction. The best temperature for a bees' nest is around 35 degrees C. It should also be noted that a honey bees' nest will consist of cells that are angled upwards slightly. This is to prevent the honey they make from running out. For honey bees to survive the winter months, they must be able to contain at least 15.9 Kilogram of honey in the nest. Comparing a bees' nest to that of wasps, you will notice that a bees' nest is stronger and more solid than the wasps'. This is because a wasp produces thin paper, whereas the bee produces wax. Wax is produced in glands just underneath the bees' abdomen. The wax hardens over time because it must be able to support several times its weight.

How does a bee make its nest?
Bees wax

What kind of bees are there?

Finding bees is pretty easy, but identifying what type they are can be difficult. Most social bees are indistinguishable from one another unless you view them under a microscope. Bumble bees are noted for their black and yellow colouring and hairy appearance and are one of the easiest social bees to identify. Cellophane bees are hairless bees that look more like a small wasp than a bee. Sweat bees are small, dark bees that usually nest on the ground instead of in a tree hollow. Leafcutter and mason bees belong to a specific family of bees that carry pollen in hairs underneath their abdomen. Some other bees to look for are killer bees, orchid bees, honey bees, digger bees and carpenter bees.

How does a bee make its nest?
Bumble bee is just one type of bee

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