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The mysteries of life cycle for honeybee

THE life cycles of insects vary but most hatch from eggs. Insect growth is constrained by the inelastic exoskeleton and development involves a series of molts.

Among different species such as honeybee, the immature stages can differ from the adults in structure, habit and habitat, and can include a passive pupal stage and this kind of evolution process is found mainly in those groups that undergo four stages of metamorphosis such as honeybee.

Zoologists define a honeybee as an insect which is primarily distinguished by the production and storage of honey and the construction of perennial, colonial nests from wax. History shows that honeybees evolved on Earth about 34 million years ago, the species which dwells in honey producing regions such as Tabora, Iringa, Njombe and Ruvuma are hybrids of European stocks and different African sub species.

At a certain time, the African bees descended from an ancestral stock of cave nesting honeybee species which split into two groups, one migrated into Asia and the largest group moved to East Africa where they become very aggressive to produce large amount of honey than their cousins in Europe.

Fossils records indicate that during the last ice age about 2.6 million years ago, there was a climate change which affected blossoming of flowers from different plants in different regions of the world including East Africa.

Like other species, African bees lead social life in a colony which is made by a bee queen, which is a fertile female and assumes the responsibilities of laying eggs, others are drones or fertile males and worker bees or sterile females which tirelessly work for the rest members of a bee hive.

Scientists say like other insects, bees are able to lay large numbers of eggs in short periods of time whereby one queen bee is capable to lay more than 1,500 eggs. Moreover, an egg is the organic vessel containing the zygote in which an animal embryo develops until it can survive on its own, at which point the animal hatches. An egg results from fertilisation of an ovum.

Eggs are common among invertebrates, including insects such as honeybee. Among honeybee that happen after the queens typically mate with multiple drones on more than one mating flight. Amid honeybees when the eggs are laid, the queen bee can either choose to fertilise the egg or not and that’s what decides what class the bee will belong to.

The class is the social structure that all honey bees follow, with each hive member having specific responsibilities they follow in order for the hive to run smoothly. Drones are slightly larger than worker bees, and so require a larger cell. Fertilised eggs become female worker bees, while unfertilised eggs become drones.

Three days after bee eggs are laid, they hatch, and the bees enter the larval stage. At this point for first three days, it depends on a lot of milk from the nurse. On the fourth day it begins to absorb honey and at this stage, bee larvae continue to grow and gain weight from 0.1 milligram to 150 milligrams.

If it is no longer fits under its nucleus, it moves to the exit with its head and puts it together. Bee larvae are small and white, growing rapidly.

In fact, they shed their skin five times during this stage in the bee life cycle. Zoologists define this stage as a distinct juvenile form whereby animals undergo before metamorphosis into a full adult stage meanwhile scientists say in some species of insects larvae are dependent on adults to feed them.

Some scientists say Bee larvae is not the same as adult insects and is quite different from that in the same way as a butterfly because an adult individual belongs to the free, cruel bee, while its larvae, on the contrary, is completely inactive and cannot take care of itself.

Thus, they are at different stages of the food chain and do not compete with each other for food, but use nearby resources. The larvae are essentially helpless, without legs or even eyes. They remain in the same cells where they hatched from the egg, and have to rely on worker bees to feed them. Bee larvae have voracious appetites and eat continuously throughout the day.

First, they start on a meal of royal jelly produced by nurse bees. Queen bees also feed on this same jelly. After a period of time, larvae go from eating royal jelly to eating a mixture of honey and pollen. After approximately five days of nonstop eating and growing, honey bee larvae are sealed in their cells with wax for the next stage.

Bee larvae can vary in size depending on the species, the baby has a large round body and they can only move by wriggling crawling. Within their sealed cell, the larvae enter the pupal stage of the bee life cycle. During the pupa stage, what was a small white larva starts to develop into the honey bee that you would recognize. The wings, legs, and eyes form.

After just over a week, the new adult bee chews its way out of the wax covering of its cell to enter the hive. The caste of honey bee determines how long the bee takes to develop in its pupal stage. Drones take the longest to develop in their pupal stage, followed by female worker bees, followed, finally, by the queen bee.

Adult honey bees emerge from their cells knowing exactly what their role will be in the hive. The strict class system is why honey bees are able to function so efficiently. The class of the adult honey bee also determines what size they’ll be. Queen bees are the largest, at around three-quarters of 20 millimeters, followed by drone bees and worker bees and these are usually around15millimeters in size.

In just under a month, honey bees go from being laid as eggs to emerging as fully formed bee adults. Like many other bees, honey bees operate in colonies. Each bee caste member, from drone to worker bee, plays an important part in a properly functioning colony.

Colonies are built around one fertile female bee or the queen bee who begins her life in the same way that other female workers start their lives. However, queen bees are never weaned off royal jelly to the mixture of honey and pollen that other bees receive. The queen bee will then develop a full reproductive tract, unlike the other female worker bees, which are sterile.

Despite the colony only having one queen bee, it can still be made up of thousands of bees or even tens of thousands of bees. The bees communicate through a variety of ways, including through pheromones and a complicated language relying on dance.

While bees are necessary to life on earth, and honey bees in particular are extremely important because of their ability to pollinate, they can pose a danger if threatened, especially to those that are allergic. People that are allergic to bee stings can react in just a few minutes.

Bees can be dangerous if threatened, but there are suggested guidelines to avoid stings since honey bees are important pollinators. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther of a flower to the stigma of a flower later enabling fertilisation and the production of seeds.

In this case pollination involves pollinators which are also called pollen vectors, meanwhile organisms that carry or move the pollen grains from the anther of one flower to the receptive part of the carpel or pistil of another. With this ability, honeybees are responsible for majority of the pollination for consumed crops.

Air pollution and deforestation in different parts of the world are forcing honeybees to go outside their traditional foraging zones in tropical forests in Africa, this also affects quantity and quality of honey collected from different woodlands in the world.

rstanslaus@yahoo.com

HER Excellency, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has ...

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Author: REGINALD STANISLAUS MATILLYA

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