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Honey Bees

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Honey Bees are an important part of the natural landscape and valuable to the Texas economy. Unfortunately, honey bees become unwelcome guests when they nest around homes, schools and businesses. The presence of the Africanized honey bee in most Texas counties makes the risk of encountering bees even greater.

Honey bee colonies build a wax comb in which to rear their young and store food. Each bee colony contains one fertile queen, drone bees and worker bees. The queen is the only female that can lay fertilized eggs and she can live 2 to 5 years. The drones are male bees. Their function is to mate with new queens. Drones cannot sting. The number of drones is highest in the spring and summer. Most bees in a colony are workers. Workers are infertile females. They perform most of the functions bees are known for, such as making honey and defending the colony. There may be as many as 60,000 workers in a healthy, productive colony. The average number is 30,000.

Honey bees occasionally move all or part of their colony to new nesting locations. This behavior is called “swarming,” and is part of the colony’s normal reproductive process. Swarms occur most often in the spring and early summer and usally start as colonies become crowded. When a colony prepares to swarm, the bees produce a new queen. The old queen and about half the worker bees will the parent colony and form a new one, allowing a new queen to take over the remaining colony. When a swarm selects a new nesting sight, the bees begin building comb in which to store food and rear young. A new colony will become defensive within 2 to 4 weeks.

Also, it is true that honey bees can sting only once.


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