Honey Bee


Actual Size: 1/2″

Characteristics: Golden brown and black with pale orange or yellow bands on their abdomen.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Live in hives with 20,000 to 80,000 individuals


  • Honey bees are most known for producing honey–a colony can produce up to 100 pounds of honey a year
  • Worker honey bees are the only types of bees people ever see
  • Male honey bees are called drones, which are the third class of honey bee

Honey Bees in The North Bay and East Bay Area

Honey bees are of course most known for their production of honey. They are also very important pollinators–nationwide, they pollinate more than 100 types of crops. Honey bees consume pollen and nectar that they collect from blooming flowers. In a single colony, there can be anywhere from 20,000 to 60,o000 members at any given time. They operate according to a caste system; this means each honey bee performs a specific role in the colony. Colonies can survive for years.

Queen honey bees are slightly larger than male honey bees, also known as drones. The two main honey bees we see here in the Bay Area are Africanized honey bees and European honey bees. The latter is much more aggressive than the former. Honey bees will swarm when the colony becomes too large for its hive, which is often when most people see these bees.

Honey Bee Habitat

Honey bees prefer to live in gardens, woodlands, orchards, meadows and other areas where flowering plants are abundant. Within their natural habitat, honey bees build nests inside tree cavities, rock crevices and under edges of objects to hide from predators. They can also be found in chimneys, wall cavities or roof spaces. They make their nests out of wax secreted from the abdominal glands of the worker honey bees. Workers sweep up a few flakes of wax from their abdomens chewing them until the wax becomes soft enough to mold into cells to form the hive. Their hives can contain many thousands of workers, making it very important to never approach a nest for any reason.

Honey Bee Behavior — Threats — Dangers

Even though they are not aggressive and rarely sting unless they feel threatened, most people still associate honey bees with stings. This is because their sting is known to be painful. When a honey bee stings, the stinger, venom sac and other parts of the bee become detached from the body, which causes them to die. Since the glands associated with the venom sac continue to pump venom into the victim even after the bee dies, the stinger should be removed immediately.

In addition to their stings, honey bees can damage homes and other structures when they build nests in wall cavities. As the nests expand over time, the size and presence of both honey and beeswax may cause the surrounding plaster and drywall to sag or become stained. If you notice a honeybee problem forming in or near your property, always contact your local bee control experts.