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The Helpful Honeybee

By Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, entomology

Honeybees are natural-born pollinators. The come with hairy bodies and special baskets on their legs that can readily transfer pollen among flowers. They know the needs of their hive and use a special "bee dance language," to communicate the location of particularly good pollen sources, nectar or other materials needed by the hive. Individual honeybees visit only one type of flower as they forage.

All foraging honeybees are sterile female workers. They differ from the egg-producing queen only by food they get during development: the queen is fed the richer diet. Honeybees that forage in your flower bed are not aggressive but they will sting to defend their colony, when stepped on or when trapped in clothing. The great majority of bee stings in Colorado are caused by yellowjacket wasps, a very different type of insect.

Photo: Judy Sedbrook

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010