Bees

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Copied from a note near beehives in Cambridge Botanic Garden.

The European honey bee:
There are 20,000 species of bees in the world, but only seven make honey. The European honey bee, Apis mellifera, was originally a wild native species across Europe, but today most honey bees in the UK live in hives, where beekeepers look after them all year round.

What’s in a bee hive?
Inside a bee hive you wiil find a breeding female (the queen bee), a few hundred breeding male bees and up to 60,000 worker bees. The queen lays her eggs in wax honeycomb cells. The worker bees bring back nectar and pollen to the hive, to feed to the larvae when they hatch.

Make honey while the sun shines
Honey bee colonies survive all year round, unlike our wild native bumblebee colonies. To make sure that the colony has enough food for the winter, worker bees collect nectar from flowers and store it in the hive. This stored sugar is converted into honey – and in the UK we eat over £10 million worth of honey every year.

British native bees
There are 250 species of native bees in the UK. The biggest, and most recognisable, are the bumblebees. Bumblebee colonies only last one year, and in the winter the queen hibernates ready to start a new colony next spring.