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Free images of  Bees

Note on large files:  Very large files may be bigger than your screen.  
Right click on any portion of the image showing and chose "save as".  

 

 

Bees are flying insects that are closely related to wasps and ants.  There are nearly 20,000 species categorized into seven to nine recognized families.  Bees are very important for pollination and are well-known for their production of honey and beeswax.  They are found on every continent (except Antarctica) that has a habitat in which insect-pollinated flowering plants grow.

There is a boreal bumble bee that lives within the Arctic Circle .  In the cold of the region, the young queen spends hours keeping her newborn warm.  She spends many hours covering her babies and transferring heat from her body by vibrating her flight muscles repeatedly.  Mothers spend many hours shivering to generate needed heat.

Download large 700 x 500 bee png image here.

 

Are Honey Bees Native to North America?

Honey bees are not native to North America.  They were brought here from Europe by European settlers who brought hives with them to establish apiaries.  An apiary is an area where beehives are kept.  This area also called a "bee yard". Thomas Jefferson once wrote that honey bees were unknown to Native Americans who called them "white man's flies".

It is believed that the first colonies of honey bees probably came from England arriving in Virginia around 1622.  The bees escaped domestication, formed swarms and set up homes in hollow trees, etc.  Honey bees swarm and are able to fly several miles to establish a new colony.  It was in this manner, that honey bees colonized all of North America .  They are now a very important part of our agriculture and we really can’t make do without them.

Did you know... 

that an estimated 80 percent of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honeybees?

 

Hives

Honey bees are social insects that live together in societies made up of adults and young bees.  They are dependent on each other and no individual honey bee can survive on its own.

The nests of all bee species are called "hives".  Some bees like to take advantage of existing holes and use those to make their nests.  They use clay to build walls between their cells are are called “mason bees”.  Some bees use leaves to line their nests and are known as “leafcutters”.  Bees that cut their own holes into wood are called “carpenter bees”.  Members of the Apidae, Andrenidae, Halictidae, Megachilidae and Colletidae make their nests in the ground. 

► Did you also know... 

that someone who raises bees for honey production is called a "beekeeper"?  Managing bees species is called "beekeeping" or "apiculture".

 

Bee Society

Queen Bee - In the hive live the female queen, female workers and male drones.  The only job of the queen bee is to lay eggs.  A queen honey bee lays about 1,500 - 2,000 eggs per day during the spring when she is expanding her nest.  Worker bees are eaten by spiders, bugs, birds, etc. and the queen must replenish the hive by laying more eggs each day during the foraging season. 

Worker bees - are all female and they do exactly what their name says - all the work.  During their short 35-45 day summer lifespan, they clean the comb, make honey, tend to the queen's eggs, feed the queen, pack pollen and nectar into hive cells, cap the cells, build and repair honeycombs, guard the hive and when the temperature rises, cool the hive.  Their working lives begin when the are one or two days old and they begin looking after baby larva and cleaning cells.  

The older bees work outside the hive gather nectar and pollen from flowers.  They also collect water and a sticky substance called "propolis".  The female worker bees work so much that they wear out their wings and sadly there comes a day when they are so worn out that they cannot return to the hive.  

Drones - The male bees are called "drones" and have nothing at all to do with nest building or finding provisions.  Their only job is to find a queen to mate with.  

While female bees rest inside the nest, while male bees can be found resting in a cluster on flowers or twigs.

 

Gathering Pollen & Nectar

Bees feed on nectar and pollen.  Nectar provides them with an energy source - after all, they do spend all their time flying back and forth to and from their nest.  The pollen provides them with protein and other nutrients.  Most of the pollen that they collect is used to feed the larvae.

Bees have long tongues that allows them to easily collect the nectar from flowers.  The tongue is called a "proboscis".  

► Did you know... 

that most bees have an electrostatic charge which helps them to carry the pollen?  Bees have pollen baskets either on their hind legs or under their bellies to transport their cargo back to the nest.  Bumble bees and honey bees have pollen baskets called “corbiculae” on their hind legs.  The pollen brushes or baskets of other bees are called “scopae”.  In honey and bumble bees, the tibia segment of their hind legs are flattened and they have rows of long strong hairs along these flattened parts.  This allows them to pack the pollen, mixed with nectar, into a tight ball.

 

Finding Flowers

Some bee species will gather pollen from many types of plants, while other species are picky and will gather from only one or a few types.  For example, the “squash bee” only likes the pollen from the flowers of vine crops.  They use smell, colour, patterns and a good memory to return to flowers with lots of pollen.

Did you know…

that flowers produce more nectar during the daylight hours?  While most bees are active during the day, there are bees known as “crepuscular bees” that are active only at dawn or dusk pollinating flowers that are open at those times.

The purpose of bees is to pollinate, however, some bees are “thieves”.  When a flower has a long throat, the nectar is far out of reach.  Bumble Bees will sometimes use their sharp tongues to slash open the bottom of the flower to get to the nectar.  The bee drinks the nectar but does not come near the pollen thereby defeating its purpose.

 

Bee Stings

Bees are known to sting, but honeybees are herbivores and are not aggressive by nature.  They only use their stingers if they feel threatened.  Most people are stung by the more aggressive yellow jackets or wasps.  Hence the saying:  

"If you let the bee be, the bee will let you be."

~ Author unknown ~

► Did you know... 

that if you are stung by a bee, it was a female!? After she stings you, she will die.   Male drones don't have stingers!

 

Identifying Bees

Is it a male or a female?   Unless you are a bee, for us laymen, sex is difficult to distinguish, however, keep in mind that males do not carry pollen!

Identifying bee species can be most difficult since there are other insects that look very much like bees, and bees that look like other insects.  We have an image in our minds as to what the typical bee looks like, however, there are many bee species that look nothing like a typical bee.

The most recognizable bee species is the European (or Western) Honey Bee - Apis mellifera.

 Things to keep in mind when identifying an insect as a bee:

ë    Bees have 2 sets of wings – or four single wings – two on each side of the body.  (Note, flies only have one pair of wings, one wing on each side of the body.)

ë    Look for the pollen baskets on the hind legs or on the underside of the abdomen.

ë    Look at the colour of hairs on the hind legs and face of your specimen.

ë  Bees have five eyes - two are compound and three are tiny ocelli eyes.

Bees go through four stages of development which include:  The Egg, Larvae, Pupae and Adult Bee.  The cells of the honeycomb is used to raise babies, store nectar, honey, pollen and water.  Nectar is processed in a bee's stomach and regurgitated into the honeycomb cells.  Worker bees furiously fan the cells with their wings thereby removing moisture and the result is honey.

 

More Bee Facts - 

Bumblebees of the Eastern United States -
Download 104-page pdf here.

A product of the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership An excellent resource!  Bee body, bee leg, bee face diagrams, etc. © U.S. Department of Agriculture - Public Domain  

 

Bumblebees of the Western United States - Download 144-page pdf here.

Another in the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership series.  Includes the basics of what is a bumble bee, habitat, diet, life cycel.  © U.S. Department of Agriculture - Public Domain  

 

Fun Bee Facts 

- The queen lays about 1,500 - 2,000 eggs each day.

- Bees have two stomachs - one is for eating and the other is to carry nectar back to the hive.

- Bees are the only insect in the world that make food that humans can eat.  The average worker bee makes only about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

- Bees stock their nests with a mixture of pollen, nectar and saliva called a “bee loaf”.  The addition of saliva offers protection from bacteria and fungus infections.

 

Bee on purple phlox flower.

Bee - 1  Gathering pollen on a Phlox flower.

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 4608 x 3456 -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bee on purple phlox flower head.

Bee - 2  Gathering pollen on a Phlox flower.

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 4138 x 3104  -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bee on red echinacea flower Firebird.

Bee - 3   Gathering pollen on a "Firebird" Echinacea.

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 4608 x 3456 -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bee gathering nectar from pink phlox.

Bee - 4   Gathering pollen on a Pink Phlox.

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 2921 x 2190  -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bee on pink phlox flower.

Bee - 5   Gathering pollen on a Pink Phlox.

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 2214 x 2952  -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bees inside their hive.

Bees inside their hive - 1

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 4608 x 3456 -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bees working inside hive.

Bees in hive - 2

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 3264 x 2448 -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bees working on cells inside their hive.

Bees in hive - 3

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 3264 x 2448 -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bee on yellow Coneflower.

Bee - 6   Gathering pollen on a Coneflower.

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 2137 x 2850  -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

 

Bee on Coneflower seed head.

Bee - 7   Gathering pollen on a Coneflower.

Medium - 640 x 480  Right click on above image and chose "save as".

Large - 1763 x 1327  -  Still free, but now only available by email request.

 

Bee Image Pages  [1]   [2]   [3]

Please also visit the Beekeeping & Honey Page.

Back to Arthropod Gallery

Return to Main Photo Gallery Index

 

 

 

 

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Are You Baffled 
by Bugs ?

Did you know...

That all insects are bugs, but not all bugs are insects!

 

 

Insects have 3 body parts:  a head, thorax and abdomen.  They also have six legs and two antennae.

Spiders and Scorpions have eight legs and are not considered insects!

 

According to some sources, the total number of insect species is somewhere between 15 and 30 million!

There are 900,000 known species in the world.

 

Insane About Insects ?

 

Did you know...

Scorpions can live for more than one year without eating!

 

Mosquitoes have 47 teeth, but only the female mosquitoe bites using it's proboscis.

Fireflies, sometimes called Lightningbugs, are not true bugs or flies.  They are beetles!

 

Every year, insects eat about one third of the world's food crops.

Only male crickets can chirp.  They will chirp faster in warm weather.  

 

Most insects hatch from eggs.

 

The average bed contains 2-6 million dust mites!

 

Are You An Enthusiastic
Entomologist ?

Did you know...

Every year, the average person eats several insects while sleeping.  

Insects breath through a complicated network of air tubes called tracheae that open along the sides of the insects body.

 

 

Nearly all insect growth involves metamorphosis.

 

The average housefly lives only two weeks!

 

 

A female ladybug lays about 1000 eggs in her lifetime.

Honeybees fly at a speed of 13-15 mph.

Even though spiders have eight eyes, they still can't see very well.

A cockroach can live up to 9 days without its head!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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