honey bees

When you think of bees (as one does occasionally), most people think of this species... the smaller, more slender type of bee: the Asian honey bee, pictured on the cherry blossoms of Kadoorie Farm in the spring.

All female honey bees have a special pollen basket (called a corbiculum) on the outside of their hind legs. These are social bees, and live in colonies consisting of an egg-laying queen, and sterile worker females who find food, look after the young, construct honey-combs, and provide defence. The males (drones) are produced only when the colony is about to divide, and they are not normal residents of the hive. Bees maintain a temperature of 30oC–33oC in their hive regardless of the outside temperature. The queen bee lives for about 2–4 years. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2,500 eggs a day. The worker honey bees, by comparison, only live for about four weeks in the spring or summer but this can be much longer during the winter when they are dormant.

INSECTS BEES HYMENOPTERA, EPIFAMILY: ANTHOPHILIA Note on ID: The oriental or Asian honey bees are tricky to tell apart from the other honey bees you may see which are Western honey bees. These have been introduced locally and have not adapted well; they are never found in natural settings; colonies only survive here because of man's help. The bees nest is an array of double-sided wax combs divided into hexagonal cells for rearing young and storing pollen and honey. Workers use a dance language to convey the distance, quality and direction of food. SEE THEM Very common on flowers wherever you are in Hong Kong. For a special treat, go and see the working hives at Kadoorie Farm, where you can also see them on the blossoming cherry trees.