There are about 20,000 different bee species found all over the world. Although they all have unique characteristics, they all have a few things in common. Every colony consists of a queen bee, worker bees, and drones. Worker bees are always female and take care of every aspect of the hive, including raising the offspring. The queen bee is also female, but her only job is to lay eggs. All that the male drones do is mate with the queen.
Bumblebees play an important role in pollinating plants, so they are usually considered “good insects” despite their painful sting. Measuring up to an inch in size and characterized by their black and yellow stripes, bumblebees often strike fear in people because they defend their nests aggressively and can sting an invader more than once without dying. Bumblebee nests are usually found underground, but are sometimes built under decks or in attics.
Carpenter bees are about one inch long and have a blue-black color. They do not live in large colonies, but reside in solitary nests with just a few “family members.” They get their name because they make their nests by burrowing into soft woods and creating tunnels up to 10 feet long that link several rooms. Although they are known to sting multiple times and their nests can cause damage to wooden houses, carpenter bees are considered a beneficial insect because they pollinate plants that other bees ignore.
Honeybees are very important to farming in the United States because they pollinate over 100 different types of crops. And while they do sting, they can only do so once. The golden yellow and brown Honeybees are smaller than other common bees, measuring only ½ inch, but they make up for their size by living in huge colonies. A honeybee colony can survive for quite a few years because the “family” huddles together during the winter and eats honey stored during the spring and summer months.
Killer bees, also known as the Africanized Honeybee, have venom that is no more lethal than that of an everyday honeybee. They are only considered more dangerous because they attack in larger numbers, which can increase the victim’s chance of having an allergic reaction. They are also rather aggressive, known to chase people for up to a mile once they get excited, but they can only sting once before dying. Killer bees are ½ inch long and golden yellow with brown bands. They build their nests in strange places like tires, empty cars, and boxes. They are most often found in the western and southern parts of the United States, as well as South America.