Honey bee

  • Scientific name: Apis mellifera
  • Type: Insects

Key information

Honey bees make honey from pollen and nectar collected from flowers. They live in large colonies with one queen, many sterile females workers and some male drones. In the wild honey bees nest in hollow trees.

When a new queen emerges, she embarks on a mating flight. On returning to her hive, with help from the workers, she kills the failing, old queen. Alternatively, before the new queen emerges, the old queen may leave with a swarm of workers to form a new colony.

Queens live for several years, but summer-born workers live for only a few weeks. Those maturing later usually survive the winter by huddling together, with the queen, and eating stored food. Drones are turned out of the hive in autumn and left to die.

Honey bees are important flower pollinators. They sting once and only attack when threatened. But, as with wasps, the 'smell' of a bee’s venom causes other bees to attack.

What they eat:

Nectar and pollen.


Up to 15mm long (queens about 20mm long)

Identifying features:

Natural habitats: Bog garden Flower border Hanging basket Hedge Herb garden Meadow area Nettle patch Patio Shrub Window box Woodland area

Where and when to see them

Throughout the garden collecting pollen and nectar from a variety of flowers and blossom. Also in parks, woods, orchards and meadows - anywhere with plenty of flowers.

You can see honey bees from spring until late autumn.

  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec