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Explain in brief the social organization in honey bees.

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The social organisation of Honey bee:

A colony of honey bee shows of high-grade social organisation and division of labour.

A colony of honey bees consists of three kinds of individuals or Castes –

1. Queen:

  • In the whole colony, there is only one adult queen of large size.
  • The queen arises from a fertilized egg and when larva especially fed on royal jelly.
  • It is only fertile female in the beehive, having huge developed ovaries.
  • The function of a queen is only of reproduction i.e it lays eggs.

2. Drones:

Drones developed from Unfertilized eggs i.e., parthenogenetically. The function of drones is only to mate with the queen fertilize the eggs.

3. Workers:

  • They are sterile females who develop from unfertilized eggs. Their number varies from 3000 to 6000 or more.
  • The worker bees are of three types:
  • Sanitary bees – These bees clean the chambers of the hive.
  • Nurse bees – These workers look after the queen & hive.
  • On the basis of ages, they are of 3 types –
  • Foster mother: They are the nurse workers of 4 to 6 days.
  • They feed a mixture of honey & nectar to the infants.
  • The nurse workers of 7 to 11 days.
  • They secrete royal jelly which is secreted by maxillary glands.
  • Nurse workers of 12 to 15 days.
  • They secrete wax from the wax glands during this period of 4 days.
  • This wax is used to repair & reconstruct hive.
  • The wax glands get functional up to 12th day.
  • They secrete propolis which is a gumlike substance.

These nurse workers are of 4 types –

  • Fanning bees – They fly stationary near the nest to maintain airflow.
  • Sentinel bees – They act as a guard of the nest.
  • Soldier bees – They protect the hive intruders. They also check the honey collected by the bees.
  • Retinue bees – They clean the queen & queen chambers. They also feed royal jelly to the queen & transfer eggs to other chambers.

4. Scout bees:

  • They are also called as field or foraging bees.
  • They search for new food sources & collect nectar & pollens.
  • They collect food 7 to 15 times a day.
  • They also collect water.
  • The water requirement of a hive is to 2 litres per day.

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