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Bees are other insects that are related to wasps and ants. Western bees are famous for making honey and renowned for pollination.
The honeybee (Apis) and bumblebee (Bombus and Psithyrus), as well as hundreds of other wasplike and fly-like, resemble bees, make up the suborder Apocrita (order Hymenoptera), which includes the familiar honeybee (Apis) and bumblebee (Bombus and Psithyrus). Adults are roughly 2 mm to 4 cm (about 0.08–1.6 inches) in length.
Here is the bee identification: let’s look at types of bees and their unique identification.
There are eight families in the Apoidea: Colletidae, a primitive family of wasplike bees with five or six subfamilies, 45 genera, and about 3,000 species.
Andrenidae, which includes several parasitic species, are medium-sized solitary mining bees. Dialictus zephyrus, one of many so-called sweat bees that are drawn to perspiration.
Mining bees or burrowing bees, the best-known of which is Dialictus zephyrus, sweat bees attracted to perspiration; Oxaeidae are giant, fast-flying bees with anatomical similarities to Andrenidae.
Melittidae is a family of bees that represents a transitional form between lower and higher bees. Megachilidae (leaf-cutting and mason bees) are known for their intricate nest construction.
Anthophoridae (which includes carpenter bees and cuckoo bees) is a big family that contains three subfamilies that were formerly regarded subfamilies of Apidae; and Apidae (which provides for carpenter bee and cuckoo bees,long-horned bees, bumblebees, honeybees, and digger, or tawny mining bee).
Eucerina, also called long-horned bees, is one of the most diverse tribes in bee families(Apidae).
Anthidium maculosum belongs to the Megachilidae family, leaf-cutter, carder, or mason bees.
The female carder bees scrape and gather the soft downy hairs of fuzzy plants to use in constructing a nest for their offspring, hence the name “wool carder bees.”
4 Fascinating Facts About Bees
1. Bee Stings Are Not Always Deadly
Bee stings hurt. But did you know those stings are not always nasty, even though it hurts?
There is a toxin in bee venom known as melittin, which might help prevent HIV. Research has been going on regarding this aspect of bee venom.
2. Just Like Humans, Bees Have Personalities Too
We all know that in beehives, there are workers, queens, and shirkers. But did you know bees are thrill-seekers and pessimistic too?
A study from 2011 showed that honeybees could be pessimistic. Now, this led us to believe that bees might have feelings too.
3. Bees Can Solve Mathematical Problems
Well, bees are smarter than you think they are. Some researchers at the Royal Halloway University found that bees can solve confusing distance problems and fly the shortest route possible between flowers at great distances.
4. Bees Use Brilliant Navigation Techniques
Did you know bees use a brilliant navigation technique, that is, the sun as a compass? But what happens when it’s cloudy out there?
Well, bees have a solution for that as well. During cloudy days, they navigate by polarized light.
Bee Venom: The Next Breakthrough in Medical Science
Charles M. Carlsen, the Co-founder of DrSono Medical insights on bee venom’s medical potential, focusing on melittin for prevention:
“For centuries, bee venom has been used as a traditional medicine in many cultures across the world.
It’s known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties and [has] been used to treat conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis.
However, recent studies have shown that bee venom could have an even greater potential in [the field of] medicine, particularly when it comes to treating and preventing diseases.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the ongoing research regarding the potential medical applications of bee venom, with a focus on the role of melittin in HIV prevention.
Melittin is a major component of bee venom and is known for its strong anti-viral properties. Research suggests that it may [be able] to interfere with the entry of viruses into cells by disrupting the viral membrane.
One recent study found that melittin was able to reduce [reduced] the infectivity of HIV-1 by up to 99% while also causing minimal damage to healthy cells.
This has led to the potential use of melittin as a preventative treatment for HIV, where it could be used to coat vaginal gels or condoms and reduce the transmission of the virus.
Another area where bee venom [is showing] promise is in cancer treatment. Certain compounds in bee venom have been found to disrupt the growth and development of cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
One particular study found that bee venom was able to prevent the growth and spread of breast cancer cells in mice.
Though these findings are still preliminary and further research is needed, it’s possible that bee venom could be used as a complementary therapy for cancer treatment in the future.
Bee venom is also being studied for its potential use in treating autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
In these conditions, the immune system becomes overactive and attacks healthy tissues [in the body]. Bee venom has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties that can suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body.
This makes it a potential candidate for the treatment of [treating] autoimmune diseases, though much more research is needed to fully understand its effects.
Aside from its potential medical uses, bee venom is also being studied for its potential role in skincare. Certain compounds in bee venom have been found to increase collagen production and stimulate cell regeneration, leading to smoother, firmer skin.
Skin creams and serums containing bee venom are already on the market and [are] purported to help with [issues such as] fine lines and wrinkles, acne, and uneven skin tone.
Bee venom is a fascinating substance [that has been] used for centuries in traditional medicine. However, recent research has shown that its potential uses could be even greater than previously thought.
From its use as a preventative treatment for HIV to its potential as a complementary therapy for cancer treatment, bee venom could be the next big breakthrough in medical science.
While more research is needed, the findings [so far] are promising, and we look forward to seeing how bee venom could be used to improve our health and well-being.”
Different Types Of Bees: The Deadly Ones
1. Honey Bees
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are a few flying insects that are all unique to Eurasia, and these bees belong to the bees genus of the bee clade.
Honey bee hives are valued feeding targets for many species, including honey badgers, bears, and human hunter-gatherers, due to their construction of perpetual colony nests made of wax, the size of their colonies, and maximum production and storage of honey.
There are just eight extant honey bee species, with 43 subspecies, even though 7 to 11 were recognized. Honey bees are only a tiny part of the 20,000 species of bees that have been identified.
Apis mellifera, one of the species of the eastern honey bee, is the most well-known honey bee, having been known for honey production and pollination.
Other similar bees, such as stingless bees, make and store honey and have been kept by humans for this purpose, but only members of the genus Apis are natural honey bees.
Honey Bee- Pollen Collection
Honey bees carry pollen and nectar as nourishment for the entire colony, and they pollinate crops while they do so.
Bees carry pollen on their hind legs on the furry bodies of bees (hairy-footed flower bee): as bees fly through the air, their bodies become positively charged with static electricity, causing some pollen particles to stick to the static-charged hair covering the bee’s body.
The bee lands on flowering plants (bell-shaped blueberry flowers), thus resulting in inefficient pollinators, knocking pollen from the delicate anthers.
As a result, the bee carries pollen and uses its legs to wipe pollen from its body down to stiff hairs on the abdomen or back legs. These tufts of stiff hair are known as scopa, although they are also called pollen baskets on the hind legs.
Female and worker bees collect pollen and transport it to their nests; males bumble bee species do not collect pollen and do not have pollen baskets.
Unlike queen bumblebees, honey bees, queen bees, and worker bees collect pollen but only leave the colony to mate or start a new territory; they do not hunt for food for the rest of the bee colony.
2. Giant Japanese or Asian Hornet
The ‘huge sparrow bees’ are few bees called Asian Hornets and can be seen in Japan’s rural areas. Asian Hornets, as previously said, are not particularly violent and only attack humans when they feel threatened.
It can kill a person with just a single sting. Its venom is most commonly used to assault the neurological system. These are usually wild bees.
The yak-killer hornets are another name for them. The stinger of these bees is about 6 millimeters long. It includes compounds like cytolytic peptide or mastoparan, which is known to cause tissue damage in humans.
3. Africanised Honey Bee
Killer bees are a term used to describe Africanized bees. They are a cross between the Western honey bee and the Eastern honey bee.
Their ability to kill humans when assaulted is why Africanized honey bees are known as killer bees. It’s also known for being the most defensive of the bunch. Their swarms invade European honey bee hives and install their replacement queen when the European queen is killed.
They are always prepared to murder anyone who comes near their colonies. Their stings, which are widely dreaded by the general population, can kill one or two individuals per year on average.
4. Sweat Bees
Sweat bees are mostly striped green sweat bees, also known as halictids, most bee species, and genera in Missouri. None of them are significant, and none of them are violent. Sweat bees have the least painful sting as compared to all most bee stings.
The majority of this family’s members are black or brown. However, others are brilliantly colorful, particularly metallic greens and blues, even green metallic sweat bees for female bees.
Their patterns range from green to red to yellow, and they frequently have bands similar to honey bees. In comparison to other bee species, they all have short mouths.
The female sweat bee is green (green metallic), from head to thorax to abdomen. Most bees (male) are green on his head and thorax but not on his stomach; thus, these bees rarely sting humans.
To differentiate this group from other bees and separate the different sweat bees, specialists observe features such as wing venation, antennae structure, and other traits.
Sweat bees are known for their affinity to perspiration, which provides them with valuable moisture and hence why they are called sweat bees.
Sweat bees are mostly solitary bees, with only a few showing signs of social behavior. Solitary bees nest alone and must do everything alone, from foraging to nest construction.
In contrast, social bees, such as European honey bees, live in colonies and have a division of work, whereas social bees, such as European honey bees, live in colonies and have a division of labor.
Species like Halictus rubicundus, for example, may vary between solitary and gregarious behavior. Under anticipated climate change scenarios, researchers in the United Kingdom discovered that Halictus rubicundus enhanced social behavior.
This adaptability, combined with their generalist feeding techniques, might help this species survive as the environment changes.
Bee Advocate’s Guide: Nurturing Biodiversity and Sustainable Bee Habitats in a Changing World
Nicholas Adams, Chief Technology Officer at EcoMotionCentral.com, shares their experience based on working for sustainable energy and carbon footprint reduction:
“Bees are facing [a multitude of] threats, with habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change at the forefront. The loss of biodiversity due to monocultures and urban sprawl reduces forage options, impacting their nutrition and survival.
Pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, can be lethal or disrupt navigation and reproduction. Climate change also [plays a role in altering] flowering times and habitat suitability, leading to mismatches between bees and the plants they pollinate.[In my view], individuals can [make a significant] impact through a few key actions. Creating bee-friendly gardens with [a variety of] native, flowering plants provides bees with the necessary forage.
Avoiding pesticides and advocating for organic practices can reduce chemical exposure. Supporting local beekeepers and buying local honey helps sustain bee populations.
Lastly, engaging in citizen science projects and raising awareness are powerful tools for change.
Every small action counts. Planting a single bee-friendly flower is like adding a brick to a sanctuary for our buzzing friends. Together, we can build a fortress of biodiversity to shield them from the threats they face.”
5. Mason Bees
Mason bees are mostly native bees for north America. To maintain a mason bee, one must build artificial nests made of wood blocks, cardboard tubes, or lengths of reed and bamboo with a stem node intact on one end are reasonably straightforward.
Internal tunnel measurements for such artificial nests should be around 5/16 inches in diameter and 6 to 8 inches in depth.
To imitate a cluster of natural hollow cavities, these sorts of nests are bundled together and strung horizontally around the orchard beneath some rainproof cover.
Mason bees are vulnerable to various parasites and illnesses, which spread over time, mainly when the same nest materials are used for several seasons.
Tiny parasitic wasps are frequent parasites that attack growing bees if left in the field around June and July.
Mason bees are among the first to emerge each spring. Mason bee will be busy beginning in late February to early April over much of North America. Mason bee can withstand temperatures as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Red Mason Bees are a solitary bee species that flies in the spring and can be found in your yard or local park.
Red Mason bee is a member of the Meeting House Bees construct their nests in walls and line them with mud.
Female bees have a light-brown thorax, an orange-red abdomen, and two facial horns on their heads. Males have a prominent tuft of light hairs on their face and longer antennae than females.
Mason bee does not produce honey. They hunt for pollen and nectar throughout their lives. Because adult mason bees die before the weather turns cold and the species overwinters as pupae, there is no need to build food reserves. When the temperature warms up in the early spring, the pupae will emerge.
6. Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are the most significant native bees in the United States, along with bumblebee queens. Carpenter bees are found in various habitats, including tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones.
Carpenter bees are around the same size as bumblebees and have a similar look. They don’t have the fuzzy look or golden coloring of bumblebees, and their gaster dorsum is mainly glossy black.
Carpenter bees, while relatively innocuous, increase the number of nests with time, inflicting visible damage to wood. With their excrement, they may also leave stains.
People are typically startled when they see carpenter bees crawling out of wood. Carpenter bees (Females) can sting, but only if they are disturbed, though harmless.
Although harmless, Carpenter bees (Males) seem hostile while flying near humans and lack a stinger.
The carpenter bees are further divided into small carpenter bees and giant carpenter bees.
Ceratina, the genus of small carpenter bees, is black with bluish-green or blue accents. On the forehead, thorax, and legs, they may have yellowish-white patterns. These bees are only 3/8 inch in length.
Xylocopa, the genus of giant carpenter bees that are black, metallic bluish or greenish-black, or purplish-blue in appearance, resemble bumblebees in size and hue.
7. Leaf-cutter- Bees
Leaf-cutter-bees may be found throughout the world, although they are especially prevalent in North America. Leaf-cutter- bees are roughly 63 distinct leaf-cutter- bees in Florida, divided into seven genera.
Leaf-cutter- bees are essential pollinators in North America’s natural ecosystem. Cut leaves are used to build nests in cavities.
They divide the nest into numerous cells, each containing a single larva and pollen for the larva to consume. Pollinators of wildflowers, fruits, vegetables, and other crops include leafcutting bees.
The majority of freshly created adult leaf-cutter-bees spend the winter in these nests. These adults chewed their way out of the nest the following spring.
Leafcutters, unlike honey bees, are solitary bees who do not dwell in big groups or colonies. Leafcutters, unlike honey or bumblebees, do not fiercely protect breeding sites.
Leaf-cutter- bees only sting if they are touched. The sting of a honey bee is considerably less painful than that of a bumblebee. Therefore they are not a severe threat to humans.
8. Squash Bees
The Squash bee is a frequent pollinator and widespread bee. Squash bees are sometimes confused with honeybees, although there are critical distinctions, such as the fact that they only pollinate plants in the Cucurbita genus.
If you don’t know what to look for, identifying squash bees might be challenging. Squash bees are awake and busy early in the morning until lunchtime, when cucurbit blossoms begin to wilt, unlike other bees.
Squash bees build their nests in the earth. Females dig vertical tunnels up to 45 cm long, with 3-5 lateral tunnels leading to a single brood chamber.
Females dig vertical tunnels up to 45 cm long, with 3-5 lateral tunnels leading to a single brood chamber.
The majority of the cells are 12 cm. Before being sealed off, each cell is provided with a pollen ball, and a single egg is deposited.
Depending on supplies, a single female may build many nests throughout July and August.
Squash bees males will be dashing between blossoms looking for a mate. They’ll be fast sleeping in the wilted petals by midday. Squash bee females seek pollen only from the blooms of squashes, pumpkins, and gourds.
9. Southeastern Blueberry Bee
The scientific name of the southeastern blueberry bee is Habropoda laboriosa, a native of the eastern United States. It measures about a half-inch long and resembles a tiny bumblebee.
As its name indicates, blueberry bee forages mainly on blueberry pollen and nectar, although it will also visit numerous other early flowering plants.
Blueberry bees are solitary nesters who dig chambers in sandy soils to build their nests. In terms of resemblance to other bees, blueberry bees are similar to worker bumblebees based on the wing size and markings.
Although an adult southern blueberry bee has a limited lifespan, it serves a critical function in the ecology.
These bees play a significant role in pollination, whereas honey bees produce honey which is very beneficial for skin and health as they have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Most species are dangerous and can have the ability to kill a person with their stings. However, not every bee sting is as difficult as we think of it. Some bee stings are also beneficial to human health, as we have mentioned before.
But to be on the safe side, never poke a beehive, or disturb them. You never know which bee is dangerous and which is not unless you have a keen eye for bees.
Guest Author: Saket Kumar