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Why are honeybees called worker bees?


Have you ever thought about the honeybee? Maybe not. We usually don't spend much time thinking about insects. Beetles? So what. Grasshoppers? Big deal. Flies? They are a pain, but who really cares? 

If we ever do think about insects, it's normally because they bug us. That's why we call them bugs. Mosquitoes suck our blood and spread diseases in the process. Termites eat our houses. Ants are persistently pesky. And don’t even get us started on cockroaches – gross!

But honeybees are different. They are fascinating! Learn all about these hard workers.

-- Honeybees make millions of pounds of honey every year. 

-- Honeybees pollinate crops for us. If it weren't for honeybees and their pollinating abilities, we would not get to eat oranges, apples, peaches, strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers or almonds … along with many other fruits and vegetables. 

-- They are organized, clean, efficient, productive little insects that do a lot of good. 

-- A beehive is an unbelievable place. Many insects live solitary lives, but a beehive is like a small city. A typical hive has about 50,000 bees living inside. And each of those 50,000 bees has a job to do. 

-- A hive has one queen. She is in charge of laying eggs, and she can lay up to 2,000 a day.
-- Meanwhile, many worker bees in the hive take care of things at home. They are fixing the hive, fanning their wings to keep air moving, creating new honeycomb to store honey, etc. 

-- Guard bees protect the entrance of the hive. The bees in a hive all have a certain smell. If bees from a different hive try to get in, the guards smell the difference and repel the intruders. 

-- Other worker bees are out in the fields gathering nectar and pollen and bringing it back to the hive. When a scout bee finds a new crop of flowers filled with nectar, it will fly back to the hive and do a special dance to tell other bees about it. Not only does the dance tell the other bees what direction to fly to find the flowers, it also tells them how far away the flowers are. 

-- Most bees make bee venom, also called apitoxin. There is a gland in the abdomen that makes and holds bee venom. The gland is attached to a stinger. A tiny amount of apitoxin causes a very sharp pain when the bee injects it under your skin. 

-- For most people, the pain is the only reaction, but a small number of people (about one out of 100) are violently allergic to bee venom. Their bodies react to bee venom by swelling and itching. Some people can die when their bodies completely overreact to the venom and go into shock.