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The honeybee ( Apis mellifera L.) is a species of hymenoptera insects, belonging to the Apidea family, the Apis genus, which includes the species that produce honey. This species is found worldwide and is the most populous and most common representative of the Apis genus. The subspecies of the honeybee are divided into four groups based on the area of distribution and behavior: I) dark bees from Northern and Western Europe and North Africa, II) bees from the Balkans and related bees, III) oriental bees, IV) African bees.

Depending on the species, bee families consist of anywhere from several thousand up to 80 thousand individuals. All species of the Apis genus live in organized communities on constructed vertical wax honeycombs, which consist of hexagonal cells on both sides of a central wall. The bees raise their brood and store food supplies in these cells. They are able to maintain a constant hive temperature. Bees are polymorphic: aside from the typical female form – the mother (queen bee) and the male form – the drone, there is also a third form – the worker bee. The colony consists of a queen bee, tens of thousands of worker bees and several thousand drones. The main task of the queen bee is to lay eggs. The only task of the drones is to mate with the queen bee. Worker bees perform all the work necessary to sustain the bee family, and the type of work depends on the age of the individual bee (age polyethism). The bees form a colony due to the strong impact of the queen bee’s pheromones, regular changes in the glandular activity and communication by means of dances and sounds. The reproductive domination of the queen bee is also maintained due to the pheromones.

Bees are an extremely organized group of animals, specialized in the processing of the nectar and pollen collected on flowers and the coniferous and deciduous honeydew into food. The life of a single worker-bee as well as the entire family revolves around the daily completion of this task. Honeybees are a species strategically important for humans and the whole environment because during the collection of nectar and the flower pollens, they also pollinate entomophilus plants. It is estimated that the benefits provided by bees through the pollination of many cultivated and wild plant species exceed the value of all bee products (honey, beeswax, propolis, pollen, bee bread, royal jelly, bee venom) by a factor of several dozen.

Dr hab. Beata Madras-Majewska, prof. SGGW
(Warsaw University of Life Sciences)