There are currently only seven official species of Honeybee with around 44 sub-species worldwide – and only one species of Honeybee in Europe. This is only a very small fraction of the estimated 20,000 known species of bee but they are thought to pollinate around one third of all food crops.
Manchester Honeybees are generally not aggressive and are too busy collecting nectar and pollen to be bothered by people or other animals. However, if they do sting it can be very painful and cause allergic reactions due to their venom gland. When a Honeybee stings a human its stinger is torn from its body along with the venom gland which continues pump poison even after the bee – which dies during this process – is gone!
Manchester Honeybees are social bees and live in groups called ‘colonies’. Each colony contains a single queen, worker bees and male bees (called drones). There can be as many as 60,000 bees in one nest! Generally only worker bees (sexually immature females) leave the nest, or hive, during the summer months. They collect the nectar and pollen to feed and expand the nest. The queen bee is busy laying eggs to create more bees and the males exist to fertilize new queens for the following year – they die immediately upon mating!
Manchester Honeybees produce honey from the nectar and pollen collected and this is used to feed the colony, including through the winter months. European honeybees produce such quantities – far more than the hive needs – that allows us to collect the honey for our own needs. European honeybees are found in man made hive across the world for this reason.
Manchester Honeybees are smaller and more slender than a bumblebee and do not have their ‘fuzzy’ appearance, although they are covered in hair. In fact, they look more like a wasp than a bumble bee!