Your source for information on bees

Stinging Florida bugs such as bees are irritating to the average person and very dangerous to those who are allergic to them. Mosquitoes, wasps, and bees are usually responsible for a sting from a winged insect. Honeybees, species apis mellifera, which are common in Florida, produce a painful sting and usually do so in defense or if one of their nests has been disturbed. However, unlike wasps, hornets, or the increasingly problematic Africanized honeybee, honeybees do not attack in swarms and are not easily provoked. Honeybees are normally furry, and easily recognizable by the yellow and black bands on their abdomen. They are about a ½” in length, with a head, a thorax or mid section, and an abdomen. The thorax has six legs two wings, while the breathing sacs, poison gland and stinger are located on the rear of the abdomen. Bees die after they sting, leaving their stinger and venom sacs attached, which continue to release venom until the sac is emptied or the stinger is removed.

A beehive functions as a miniature society; they contain three specialized groups or castes. The castes consist of workers, drones and queens, and each has their own specialized function. There is only one queen per hive, which is the largest bee, and her main function is laying eggs. A hive may contain as many as 40,000 worker bees, which are all sterile females, and tend to be the smallest. The males, or drones, can number up to 2000, make up the remainder of the hive.

The queen lays her eggs in a cell in a wax honeycomb, produced and shaped by the workers, which hatch into larvae. The worker bees feed pollen and honey to the newborn larva, which undergo several moltings before spinning a cocoon within the cell and pupating. After 16-24 days a full-grown bee emerges from the cell.

Besides nurturing and feeding the larvae, young worker bees also make wax, build the honeycomb, and clean and guard the hive. They also collect the nectar and pollen, which they store in “pollen baskets”, or corbicula, that grow on their hind legs for this purpose. After this, they begin building comb cells. They progress to other within-colony tasks as become older, such as receiving nectar and pollen from foragers. Eventually a worker will leave the hive and typically spend the remainder of its life as a forager. Workers tend to have short life spans, usually several weeks, but a queen can live for several years. Most bee species have historically been cultivated for honey and beeswax by humans; of the two species that have been domesticated, the honeybee has been used for its natural resources since the time of the building of the Egyptian pyramids. Worker bees cooperate to find food and incorporate a pattern of ‘dancing’ (known as the bee dance or waggle dance) to communicate with each other; this dance varies from species to species, but all living species of this unique Florida bug exhibit some form of this behavior.

Honeybees are primarily floral visitors, and polinate a large variety of plants. Bees are basically the most important pollinators of native plants in Florida. Other insects such as butterflies, moths beetles, as well as birds, contribute to plant pollination as well, ensuring the reproductive success of native plants,. Of all the honeybee species, the aforementioned apis mellifera has been used extensively for commercial pollination of croips and other plants; the value of these pollination services is commonly measured in the billions of dollars.

If you are stung by a bee, the two greatest risks from most bee stings are allergic reaction (which can be fatal) and infection. If you are stung and can see the stinger still attached, try to scrape it out with a blunt-edge object rather than pulling it out, since the venom sac is still attached and can release more venom. Wash the area with soap and water and apply a cold or ice pack. Applying a paste of baking soda
and water and leaving it on for 15-20 minutes wil help reduce the pain and swelling. Dabbing a tiny amount of ammonia on the sting also helps.

You should seek medical attention if yoyu are stung in the mouth or nose as swelling may block airways. One should also seek emergency care if the following occurs:large areas of swelling, abnormal breathing, tightness in the throat or chest, dizziness, hives, fainting, nausea or vomiting, and persistent pain or swelling. If a child is stung and experiences any of
these symptoms, it is best to seek emergency care immediately whether an allergy to bee stings is known or not.

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