There are thousands of species of bees and they occur in all continents except Antarctica. It is mainly the honeybee that we use for honey production, and we have done so for about 9,000 years. Honeybees are social insects and form societies.
A bee society i a hive consists of a queen, 200-300 drones and up to 90,000 workers. The queen is the only one in the hive that can produce fertilized eggs. The workers are also females but they are sterile. When the old queen in a hive is 2-5 years old, her egg production begins to decrease. The workers then arrange a spacious queen cell for one or several of the eggs.
When the egg is hatched, the larva is fed with extra nutritious food and the workers also warm the queen cell extra during the pupa´s development.15-17 days after the egg is layed, the new queen creeps out of the pupa. She then kills the old queen if she is still in the hive.
When the new queen is one week old, she flies away for a short while a couple of times and mates with 10-25 drones (males) from other bee societies before returning to her hive. She only mates during a short period of time but can thereafter lay up to 3,000 eggs per day for 2-5 years. This means that she can lay up to 500,000 eggs during her lifetime.
Bees are extremely important pollinators for many plants and they are absolutely necessary for us humans to be able grow many of the fruits and vegetables we depend on.