Honey Bee

Actual Size: 1/2″

Characteristics: Golden brown and black with pale orange or yellow bands on their abdomen.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Live in hives with up to 80,000 members. Hives are often in trees, attics, or chimneys.

Habits:

  • During the winter, honey bee populations lay dormant
  • In the summertime, worker honey bees live for only about 5-7 weeks
  • Their stings can hurt and cause swelling at the sting site, followed by itching sensations

Honey Bees in Virginia

The honey bee is a social insect living in large colonies with populations ranging from 20,000 to 80,000 individuals. Honey bees are the only social bee or wasp that has a true perennial colony, surviving year after year. The honey bee is likely the most important beneficial insect in agriculture due to its role as a pollinator. Worker bees are the only honey bees that people ever see. Adult worker bees are approximately 1/2 inch long, golden brown, and black with a pale orange or yellow bands on their abdomen. The head of the honey bee is nearly black and their antennae and legs are covered with fine hairs. The legs of a honey bee have special bristles that form pollen baskets, allowing them to gather pollen from flowers while foraging.

Honey Bee Nests & Habitat

Honey bees often build their nests in tree crevices, but will occasionally build nests in attics or chimneys. Honey bees are most visible in summer and late spring when new queens leave their old colonies along with thousands of workers to build new nests in tree hollows or crevices. At this time, large groups of bees can be seen swarming together to find a new nesting place. It takes a swarm approximately 24 hours to locate a new nesting site. Africanized honey bees are less selective when considering a potential nesting site than European bees. They will nest in a much smaller volume than European honey bees and can be found in wall voids, water meter boxes, sprinkler valve boxes, old tires, house eaves, barbecue grills, cavities in the ground, and hanging exposed from tree limbs.

Honey Bee Behaviors & Threats

Honey bee stings are quite painful and even life-threatening to a small percentage of people who are allergic to the venom. Only female workers are capable of stinging and are not likely to sting when foraging for nectar and pollen in the back yard. Bee stings generally happen when these docile bees are provoked or accidentally crushed. Honey bees will sting to protect their hive but each bee can sting only once, and then it dies. The stinger of the honey bee, having barbs, will remain in the skin unless physically removed. The method of removing the stinger, either grasping with fingers, tweezers, or scraping from the skin, is not as important as removing the stinger as quickly as possible. Honey bee stings are quite painful and even life-threatening to a small percentage of people who are allergic to the venom.

If you notice a honey bee problem forming near your Virginia property, contact a professional bee control company.