As I study for the Young Harris course, I'm learning some interesting bee biology facts:
- The bee is a highly efficient insect - each leg has a specific job - the hind leg has the corbicula (the pollen basket) on the tibia. While not a "basket," it is a concave region with hairs around the edges and a central bristle that anchors the pollen loads. The middle leg cleans the thoracic hairs and moves pollen from the front to the hind legs. (There's a blind spot on the middle leg that the bee cannot clean which often has pollen dusted on it as the bee returns to the hive). The front leg has hair on the basitarsus that cleans the dust, pollen, etc from the head. The foreleg has an antenna cleaner on it (a hook of sorts) that cleans the antenna
- When the adult bee emerges from the cell in which she has pupated, she attaches the capping to the side of the cell. Workers come along and recycle the capping on another cell!
- Bee brood has a good chance of survival. Drone cells on the outside edges of the frame
have a lower survival rate - since we know temperature is a factor, the edges probably are less warm. Also the workers remove brood that is the result of the queen mating with one of her brothers. This accounts for some of the empty cells you might see in an otherwise good brood pattern.
- Bees are "eusocial." To qualify for this term, bees must have cooperative brood care (bees take care of young that isn't their own), reproductive division of labor (sterile females take care of the young that the fertile queen produces), and overlapping generations (in the bee hive, this means that the older sisters care for their younger sisters).
- The queen larva is fed ten times as often as worker larvae. Winston says that "queens literally swim in a sea of brood food."
- How do bees signal that they want food from another bee? "The begging bee thrusts the tip of her tongue toward the mouth of another bee."
The feeding bee then opens her jaws (her mandibles) and pushes her own tongue toward the begging bee. Then the feeding bee brings a drop of liquid up from her honey stomach for the begging bee. This is called trophallaxis.