There are over 300 different types of bees in Alberta. Some of them are social bees and live in hives and some are solitary bees.
Social bees, like honeybees and bumblebees live in hives. There are three different types of bees in a hive: worker bee, drone bee, and the queen bee. Each type of bee has a different role to play, but all roles are important. The queen bee creates the larvae, and there is only one per hive. The abdomen of the Queen is longer than its wings and larger than the other bees. The drone bees help the queen bee to make more bees. Drones have wide and round abdomens. The worker bees feed the larvae, clean the hive, and find the pollen. Worker bees are the most common. Worker bees have many jobs. They fly from flower to flower collecting pollen and bring it back to the hive to feed the larvae and make honey. Pollen is mixed the bee’s saliva to create honey. Worker bees communicate the location of a good pollen source to other worker bees by doing a dance.
There are many aspects that make hive bees and solidary bees different. Solitary bees make homes in plants, soil, or other materials. Female solitary eggs lay their own eggs, so they do not have a queen bee. Solitary bees look different and act differently than social bees. They also do not need to make wax or honey. However, solitary bees still need our protection. It is important that we can identify the capped-off homes of the solitary bees and protect them until their eggs hatch, which will make sure there is a healthy population.
Next time you see a beautiful flower, thank the bees. Before there were bees, plants relied on the wind to pollinate. Once bees evolved to eat nectar and create honey, flowers evolved to attract them with vibrant colours and new shapes. More than the beauty of flowers, bees’ and their honey have given us so much throughout history, including the first antiseptic and natural sweetener. But, now bees need our help and there are so many ways you can help the bee population thrive!
Learn more about bees and how you can help locally at Edmonton & Area Land Trust.
Kids can help the worker bees find their way through the hive with this Worker Bee Maze Activity.
Kids can learn how to identify the three different types of bees with this colouring sheet.
For more information about what is happening this summer at the Musée Héritage Museum and St. Albert Heritage Sites go to Musée Héritage Museum