Thursday, May 9, 2013

Honeybee Castes

HONEY BEES (LEBAH MADU in Malay) are a subset of insect as Bees in the genus Apis, primarily distinguished by the production and storage of sweet honey and the construction of colonial nests out of natrual bee waxs. Honey bees are the only extant members of the tribe Apini where all in the genus Apis. From my observation as a extension agent in bee activity for many years, there are known only seven recognised honey bees species with a total of 44 subspecies. However from six to eleven species have been recognised. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the the whole with approximately 20,000 known species of bees. Some other types of related bees produce and store honey, but only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees.

 Queen BeeThere is only one queen per hive. The queen is the only bee with fully developed ovaries. A queen bee can live for 3-5 years. The queen mates only once with several male (drone) bees, and will remain fertile for life. She lays up to 2000 eggs per day. Fertilized eggs become female (worker bees) and unfertilized eggs become male (drone bees). When she dies or becomes unproductive, the other bees will "make" a new queen by selecting a young larva and feeding it a diet of "royal jelly". For queen bees, it takes 16 days from egg to emergence.

Worker BeeAll worker bees are female, but they are not able to reproduce. Worker bees live for 4-9 months during the winter season, but only 6 weeks during the busy summer months (they literally work themselves to death). Nearly all of the bees in a hive are worker bees. A hive consists of 20,000 - 30,000 bees in the winter, and over 60,000 - 80,000 bees in the summer. The worker bees sequentially take on a series of specific chores during their lifetime: housekeeper; nursemaid; construction worker; grocer; undertaker; guard; and finally, after 21 days they become a forager collecting pollen and nectar. For worker bees, it takes 21 days from egg to emergence. The worker bee has a barbed stinger that results in her death following stinging, therefor, she can only sting once.

Drone BeeThese male bees are kept on standby during the summer for mating with a virgin queen. Because the drone has a barbed sex organ, mating is followed by death of the drone. There are only 300-3000 drone in a hive. The drone does not have a stinger. Because they are of no use in the winter, drones are expelled from the hive in the autumn.

Honeybee RacesCharacteristics of the most common races of honeybees are detailed on Races. Below are some info based on study by local researcher. Lebah Keran or Apis cerana probably the most common race of honeybees in Malaysia. Colonies are usually large during long dry season. This race are medium good honey production and usually gentle and non-aggressive.The swarming instinct is not especially strong and produce minimum propolis. The colony are able to keep a clean hive and are quick to get rid of the wax moth. The queens lay all year rounds with a large number of eggs. This race are yellow coloring with bands on the abdomen.

M Anem
Senior Agronomist
(30 JamadilAkhir 1434H)


1 comment:

  1. salam tuan..

    mana nak cari pengedar apis mellifera di selangor?..biasa nya berapa kos 1 haif lebah ni?.