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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Bee


BEE, noun An insect of the genus Apis. [See Apis.] The species are numerous, of which the honey-bee is the most interesting to man. It has been cultivated from the earliest periods, for its wax and honey. It lives in swarms or societies, of from 10, 000 to 50, 000 individuals. These swarms contain three classes of bees, the females or queen bees, the males or drones, and the neuters or working bees. Of the former, there is only one in each hive or swarm, whose sole office is to propagate the species. It is much larger than the other bees. The drones serve merely for impregnating the queen, after which they are destroyed by the neuters. These last are the laborers of the hive. They collect the honey, form the cells, and feed the other bees and the young. They are furnished with a proboscis by which they suck the honey from flowers, and a mouth by which they swallow it, and then convey it to the hive in their stomachs, where they disgorge it into the cells. The pollen of flowers settles on the hairs with which their body is covered, whence it is collected into pellets, by a brush on their second pair of legs, and deposited in a hollow in the third pair. It is called bee bread, and is the food of the larvae or young. The adult bees feed on honey. The wax was supposed to be formed from pollen by a digestive process, but it is now ascertained that it is formed from the honey by a similar process. The females and neuters have a barbed sting, attached to a bag of poison, which flows into the wound inflicted by the sting. When a hive is overstocked, a new colony is sent out under the direction of a queen bee This is called swarming.