Apis mellifera

Honey Bee

Honey Bees on damp sand, Apis mellifera

Family: Apidae

Subfamily: Apinae

Tribe: Apini

Length: Queen 16 - 20 mm. Male drone 15 - 16 mm. Workers 12 mm.


The Honey Bees most commonly encountered are the workers, which are sterile females. One interesting trait of worker Honey Bees is how the legs are specialized for particular tasks. The rear legs are modified for for pollen collecting. The tarsi have pollen combs that help remove pollen from the middle legs and from the abdomen. Stiff hairs at the apex of the tibiae are used to clean the pollen combs and to push pollen into the corbicula or pollen basket. The front legs are specialized for cleaning the antennae (Arnett, 2000).

Apis mellifera is a Palearctic species that was brought into North America by early settlers, who kept hives for honey production. Of course, many bees have escaped domestication, so this species is found in the wild throughout much of North and South America.

The bees in the top photograph are taking water at damp sand, near Stonecoal Lake, West Virginia.

Second photo:  Honey Bees are sometimes attracted to lights.  Montagne de Kaw, French Guiana.

Third photo: Honey Bee photo from Presqu’île de la Caravelle, Martinique.

Bottom photo: Gathering nectar from a Passion Flower, Aruba.

Honey Bee at lights, South America, Apis mellifera

Honey bee photo from the West Indies, Apis mellifera

Apis mellifera photo on Passion Flower, Aruba

American Insects site