The bee is a hymenopterous vegetarian gatherer insect. It flies from flower to flower in search of nourishment, namely nectar and pollen. By doing so, it contributes to pollination, the transportation of pollen necessary to the reproduction of plants.
Some bees transform part of their harvest into honey, royal jelly or wax. They then stock these products in the cells of their hive, which is a very sophisticated nest.
Of the 50,000 to 80,000 bees living under the same roof, just one female – the queen – is responsible for reproduction. The various categories of bees in the hive include drones, who are entrusted with the task of fertilizing the queen, and worker bees, who care for the Young, build and clean the hive, and gather nectar.
Worker bees cannot reproduce. The queen seals their fate: she produces a chemical substance that prevents them from developing functional sexual organs. Worker bees are therefore condemned to build, clean and repair the cells and to watch over and feed the larvae.
Worker bees often choose to construct their wax dwellings in a hollow tree. Secreted by three tiny holes located below their abdomen, the wax is used to build a hive. Each small chamber or ‘’cell’’ of the hive is a hexagon whose symmetry is monitored by the extremely sensitive antennae and legs of the bees. The cells are used to store the honey and the pollen, or to receive the eggs.
Honeybees use a unique mode of communication to indicate the location of a new source of food. They dance! By tracing circles along the surface of the nest, they inform other bees that there are flowers close by. If the source of food is more than 100 meters away, the bees dance the figure ‘’8’’ by vibrating their hindquarters and folded wings. The orientation of the dance even communicates the location of the flowers in relation to the sun!
Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon in which bees suddenly disappear. In fact, for several years a strong decrease in the number of bees has been noted. An entire colony can disappear overnight! – and yet no bodies are found in the hive or nearby.
A number of theories have been put forward to explain this phenomenon (virus, parasite fungus, pesticides, etc.) but no satisfactory explanation has been found.
This phenomenon is worrisome for its economic and environmental impact; it is particularly a threat to the pollination of many commercial agricultural crops and fruit production, especially in the United States.