Yellow and black in color, bees are a form of flying insects that are closely related to ants and wasps. These insects are seen as attractive by kids when they see it on pictures. However, apart from their attractiveness, bees are also known to have a lot of other characteristics and features. Interested to know more about these wonderful creatures? Read on.
Basically, bees are highly recognized with their role in pollination as well as for the production of beeswax and honey. Bees are the monophyletic lineage in the Apoidea superfamily,which is currently recognized as clade Anthophila. Bees are known to have just about 20,000 species in 7 to 9 considered families, though a lot of them are no yet described and their actual number is possibly higher. They have been located on each continent excluding Antarctica, in each habitat on earth that has flowering plants that are insect pollinated.
Bees are bespoke for feeding on pollen and nectar, the former basically for protein source and other essential nutrients and the latter basically as the energy source. The majority of pollen has been utilized as a food source for larvae.
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Bees hold a long complex tongue known as proboscis, which allows them to acquire the nectar from various flowers. Practically, they are supported with an antenna that is almost universally created from twelve segments for females and thirteen segments for males. It is common to the superfamily. All bees come with 2 pairs of wings, having the back pair being smaller among the two. In the very low number of species, a certain caste has fairly short wings, which make flight impossible or difficult, yet none of them are wingless.
Tiny stingless bee species are also found. They have the workers that are less than 0.079in or 2mm long. The biggest known bee that is found on earth is the Megachile Pluto. It is a leafcutter bee, having female species that can reach the length of 1.5in or 39mm. Members of sweat bees or the Halictidae family is known to be the most typical form of bee within the Northern Hemisphere, but they are small and normally mistaken for flies or wasps.
The most well known species of bees is the European honey bee. As its name suggests, this bee specie produces honey just like what other kinds of bees do. The human management for these species has been recognized as apiculture or beekeeping. Bees are the most preferred meals of a bee-eater bird with the scientific name of Merops apiaster. Some other typical predators of bees are mockingbirds, dragonflies, beewolves and kingbirds.
Evolution of Bees
The known bee ancestors were wasps within the Crabronidae family and so other insects’ predators. The exchange from an insect prey toward pollen might have lead from the prey insect consumption that were only flower visitors and were partly covered with some pollen on their feeding to a wasp larva. Similar evolutionary scene may have also taken place in the vespoid wasps in which the group termed as pollen wasps obtained evolution from such predatory ancestors as well.
The earliest flowers that were pollinated by animals had been pollinated by certain insects like beetles. Therefore, the phenomenon for insect pollination was pretty established long before the first appearance of bees. What made them different is due to the fact that bees have been specialized for insect pollination, with physical and behavioral modifications that particularly improve pollination. In addition to, there are normally more effective when it comes to accomplishing the tasks as compared with any other pollinating insects like flies, pollen wasps, beetles and butterflies. The looks of these floral specialists have been assumed to have triggered the angiosperms’ adaptive radiation, and in return, the bees themselves.
Among the groups of living bee, Colletidae, a short-tongued family of bees has conventionally been determined as the most “primitive, while sister taxon to the bees’ remainder. However, during the 21st century, a few researchers have asserted that the family Dasypodaidae being a basal group, the wasp-like mouthpart short of colletids as the outcome of the convergent evolution, instead of being indicative of the plesiomorphic condition. Such subject has still placed under debate, while the phylogenetic connections among the families of bees are still poorly understood.
Semisocial and Eusocial Bees
Bees might be solitary or they might live in different kinds of communities. One of the most advanced among these communities is known as the eusocial colonies, located among the stingless bees, honey bees and bumble bees. Many different kinds of sociality are assumed to have separately evolved a number of times in the bees.
In other species, clusters of females living together might be sisters, and when there is some sense of division of labor in the group, they are then considered to be in semisocial community.
Also known as Bombus Pratorum, Bombus Terrestris etc, bumblebees are eusocial within the way that is a bit the same to the eusocial Vespidae like hornets. Its queen initiates her own nest, which is different from other queens of stingless bees and honey bees that initiate their nests through swarms within the association of the big worker force. Typically, bumblebee colonies consist between 50 and 200 bees at the highest population that takes place in middle to late summer.
- Stingless Bees
Very different in behavior, stingless bees are all highly eusocial. They work with intricate next architecture, perennial colonies and mass provisioning.
- Honey Bees
Genus Apis is the original honey bees that are debatably the most complicated social behavior found among the species of bees. It is also a well known species, while being one of the mostly recognized among all insects.
Aside from eusocial and semisocial bees, there are also communal and solitary bees in the types of species. You may also feel interested to know more about nocturnal bees and cleproparasitic type of bees. The evolution of bees is continuously growing up until now. This makes studying and exploring more about the life and ways of bees really interesting. In fact, there is an implemented legislation such as the Bees Act 1980 of UK, which has been created to stop the extinction of bees.