Honey bees are a vital part of horticulture because they pollinate the many fruits, vegetables, and other plants that humans and other animal species need for survival. Honey bees originally came from Europe and the ones in the Americas are from several types. Apis is the genus for all types of honey bees and there are more than 44 subspecies. All types of honey bees have three things in common:
- They make their hives out of wax
- They make honey
- They live in a colony with a queen
The Bee Story
There are more than 20,000 types of bees around the world, and they have been there for more than 80 million years. Today, there are seven living types of honey bees, and this list will give their behaviors and characteristics. Remember, there’s no fixed-in-stone characteristic for a bee, but these are the most commonly seen generalizations at best.
The black dwarf honey bee came out of the last Ice Age well-adjusted to a cold climate and thrives in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Scandinavia. It has bred with the prolific Italian bee which made it a bit aggressive, and it is rare to find a pure variety of this bee today.
The red dwarf honey bee has a wide distribution in South Asia. It has some unique defensive features, mainly because its nests are open and more exposed to predation than nests in tree cavities. These bees are important to agriculture in the area and are kept in some countries.
The giant honey bee is found in South East Asia and is larger than other species. They build huge honey hives under hanging trees and rocky cliffs. These bees cannot be domesticated in hives.
The eastern honey bee originated in South East Asia. It’s a small bee and produces less honey. It brought varroa mites to other types of honey bees that don’t have thousands of years of experience dealing with these pathogens.
The western honey bee is the most widely domesticated and distributed bee species in the world. Its colonies are large, originally in hollowed out dead trees it has been bred for 5,000 years to be conducive to domestication. Aggressive behavior has been bred out and honey production has been prioritized. Originally from Europe, it is commonly domesticated in the USA, South East Asia, and Australia. Due to selective breeding, there are many subspecies. The Italian bee is the most common subspecies and survived the Ice Age in the warmer climate of Italy. Even today, it does not tolerate cold climate.
The Koschevnikov’s honey bee lives in Malaysia and Indonesian Borneo. It is a slender bee with a reddish color and an extra-long tongue. They make small hives in tree cavities in the rain forests.
The Philippine honey bee lives on the island Mindanao of the Philippines and a few Indonesian islands. It prefers wet areas and if there are other species of bees in the area, it will compete for the best locations to start a hive.
The queen honey bee was designated Alabama’s official agricultural insect in 2015. The official insect is the Monarch butterfly.
When and How to Remove Honey Bee Hives
When bees live in hives in a forest or are kept by a beekeeper, they are a great benefit to the local agriculture. However, if bees build a hive in or near your home, it can become a nuisance at best and dangerous if anyone in your family is allergic to bee stings.
It may be tempting to think you can spray your hive away, but this is not the recommended solution, and some insecticides are illegal to use on bees. If you don’t know of a local beekeeper who will take the hive away, the most humane and environmentally friendly way to remove an unwanted honey beehive is to call a professional. They will know of any local beekeepers who would be willing to adopt the hive, or they can remove it to a wilderness location.
Removing the hive without killing the bees is the best way to help stop the global decline of all types of honey bees, and help them continue their important agricultural work.
Every trace of the hive needs to go. If any honey is left behind, it could attract other unwanted wildlife or insects depending on where you live.
Call Covenant Wildlife 24/7 and don’t live with unwanted bees or other wildlife in or near your home. Our professionals will know how to make sure your property is safe, and the bees don’t come back.