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Honey Bee

Apis mellifera

Honey bees make honey from pollen and nectar collected from flowers. They live in large colonies with one queen, many sterile female workers and some male drones. In the wild, honey bees nest in hollow trees. Honey bees are very important flower pollinators. They fly astonishingly far distances to collect pollen; on average 2-3 miles from their hive.

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Queens live for several years, but summer-born workers live for only a few weeks. Those maturing later usually survive the winter by huddling together, with the queen, and eating stored food. Drones are turned out of the hive in autumn and left to die. Honey bees are the only bees to die after stinging; they will sting only when threatened or to protect the hive.

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When a new queen emerges, she embarks on a mating flight. On returning to her hive, with help from the workers, she kills the failing, old queen. Alternatively, before the new queen emerges, the old queen may leave with a swarm of workers to form a new colony.

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