Species: Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

Family: Bumble and Honey Bees (APIDAE)

Category: Insects (Other)

Location: NW

A. Insects (Other)

More extensive information on insects can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Bumble and Honey Bees (APIDAE)

The honey and bumble bees are social insects, whereas all other bees are solitary. Bumble Bees live in small colonies, often underground but they can be in dense terrestrial vegetation. Most of those seen in Spring and early Summer will be females, males appearing in late Summer. They have long antennae. There are 17-24 species of Bumble Bee depending on which entomologist is compiling the classification.
In former times, hives and bees were traditionally acquired by barter, or for gold or silver, for to exchange for cash was considered an unlucky transaction. It was considered bad luck to carry a hive across flowing water. Bees are said to be fussy about who manages them and will not produce honey for someone ill-behaved or of criminal tendencies, nor for someone quarrelsome or foul-mouthed. If bees suddenly quit a hive then death or ill-luck will visit the owner's house. If a bee owner dies the hives must be turned. If a funeral cortège passes, hives must be lifted until it has gone from view. For all significant family news the hives are tapped and the news whispered to the bees, or the bees may leave in disgust, or misfortune may strike. At weddings or birthdays a piece of cake is given to the bees; at funerals black crêpe is wrapped round the hives. A swarm of bees settling on a dead tree is a portent of death.

Note that various mason bees and mining bees have also been found in the Cemetery.

C. Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

This is an abundant species, seen from early Spring until late Autumn. There are lots of races, so their abdomen colours will vary from largely orange to almost black, but they can be identified easiest by the long, pointed, wing marginal cell that reaches almost to the wing tip. Most flower foragers will be the female workers. The male drones appear in the Summer, and they have fatter bodies and longer antennae. Queens, which emerge in Spring to establish colonies, never leave the hive to forage, but feed on royal jelly produced by workers. Female bees hatch from fertilised eggs, male bees from unfertilised eggs. Honey bees sting only once as the hooked stinger gets caught in the victim's skin, but bumble bees have smooth stingers so can sting more than once. Bee stings are acidic, so are best treated with Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda). Wasp stings are alkaline, and can be treated with lime, lemon, or onion juice, or with vinegar.


Honey Bee

The Honey Bee is an abundant species, seen from early Spring until late Autumn.

Honey Bee

Most flower foragers will be the female Honey Bee workers.

Honey Bee

Honey bees sting only once as the hooked stinger gets caught in the victim's skin.

Honey Bee

The hind leg of the Honey Bee has a triangular tibia and, below that, an almost rectangular joint. This basitarsus is unlike that of any other British bee.