Of the more than two million known species of insects, honeybees have been the subject of more studies than all of the rest combined. Man has invested many uncountable hours learning the ways of the honeybee. Much of this time was not spent in a laboratory, studying the bee as an organism for the sake of science. Rather this time was invested because honeybees, due to their products including honey and wax, were, and still are great commodities. The intertwining of the history of man and bee is rich in both lore and science. It was said by Democritus that bees could be created from the specially prepared carcass of a beaten ox. This obviously is not true, but it is a good example of the lengths people would go to create a healthy productive colony of bees. Honeybees are included as one of the few insects which are colonial, this group also includes some species of wasps, ants, and termites. Honeybees, though they have a feral counterpart, are often maintained by farmers similarly to any other product bearing livestock. Honeybees are a subset of bees which fall into the Order Hymenoptera and Suborder Apocrita. Of the roughly 20,000 known species of bee, four are classed as honeybees including Apis Florae, Apis Dorsata, Apis Cerana, and Apis Mellifera. The Western Honeybee (Apis Mellifera) is the most commonly kept bee within Europe and the Americas.
Bees have become the great interest of many, almost wholly due to the fact that they produce honey. Being less than twenty percent water, honey cannot support yeast, bacteria or microorganisms and is therefore a form of sugar that is completely resistant to spoiling. Honey is created by the refinement of nectar that the bees must collect from flowers. Once created, the majority of the honey is used as the main food source for the hive. Any extra honey can be harvested by the beekeeper and used for many tasks.
The life cycle of a honeybee exists in three distinct independent stages. After hatching from egg, the bee exists initial as a larval form. Soon after the larval form, the secondary stage as pupae is reached. Finally the pupae develop into the adult bee. The adult bee may take the form of a worker, a drone, or a queen bee. It is common for worker bees to live up to nine days if their main task in life is heavy foraging. Conversely, workers that do menial tasks in the hive will survive for around three weeks. Losing a forager from time to time does not have a crucial impact on the overall well being of the hive. A strong beehive has between ten and twenty thousand foragers at any given time. The queen also possesses the ability to replace any lost bees by laying up to 2,000 eggs a day. Developing brood, depending on the season and race of bee, can fill up to a full third of the hive.
Bees have the nearly unique task of keeping the world alive. Bees are the main factors within flower pollination. Without pollination, plants would be unable to reproduce and thereby would not be present for nourishing other animals within the food chain. Evolving from wasps nearly 100 million years ago, bees have become quite specialized in the tasks that they need to complete.