Bees belong to the Apoid family. They are renowned for their production of honey and other delicious health foods, as well as for their role as great pollinators.
The particularities of bees
The vast majority of bees do not produce honey! However, they all feed on flower nectar. The bee is generally hairy. Because of their diet, scientists believe they appeared at the same time as flowers, more than 100 million years ago. Moreover, the first specimens were pollinators, but probably solitary.
Specialists noted that some bees were insectivorous, but they completely disappeared. All are now vegetarians and foragers. They collect nectar, propolis, honeydew and pollen. They have the particularity of transforming part of their loot into by-products, such as honey, wax or royal jelly.
These flying insects are round and hairy, but much smaller than bumblebees which also remain larger. Bees have 2 pairs of wings and are striped yellow and black. They generally measure 9 to 15 mm and weigh between 60 and 80 mg.
The different types of bees
There are at least 20,000 different species of bees in the world and 2,000 live in Europe, including 1,000 in mainland France. The most widespread is Apis Mellifera which is found in hives to produce honey and which is very useful for pollinating crops.
Bees are classified according to their lifestyle or their particularities.
It is mainly European bees that are used for beekeeping. They are also called domestic species. Although other bees produce honey, only Apis Mellifera provide sufficient quantities. In this category we also find stingless honey bees, but these are species endemic to America.
These bees live in colonies. Three castes coexist there: the queen, who is the only fertile one, the workers who are non-fertile females and the drones who are males whose sole role is to fertilize future queens. Hives can last for several years.
They live in burrows and represent the majority of the 20,000 species. They do not produce honey.
These bees are solitary and practice kleptoparasitism since they appropriate the brood of other species.
There are other families of bees, such as the sand bee, the plaster bee, the sweat bee, the cutter bee or even the breeches bee.
The disappearance of bees
Since the 1970s, we have seen a decline in bees worldwide. Some species have even locally disappeared due to viruses, fungi, but also through the fault of humans. The degradation of habitats (construction, etc.), the use of pesticides and global warming are the major causes of this scarcity.