Honey Bees live in big family groups called colonies. A full-sized honey bee colony at the height of the growing season contains an average of 60,000 individual bees. Honey Bees tended by beekeepers live in wood boxes called hives. Some well-managed honey bee hives in bee yards contain up to 80,000 individual bees.
The central structure of the honey bee colony is the wax comb. It’s made up of six-sided, white wax chambers or cells. The cells vary in size as reported by the purpose. Smaller chambers are for raising female worker bees, larger ones are for raising male drones. Queen chambers are the largest. The comb is made of beeswax, a substance secreted from worker bee abdominal glands.
The wax is secreted as tiny flakes, which are then chewed and molded into cells. Other construction in and around the honey bee hive is done with propolis, a sticky substance bees manufacture from tree and plant resin. The comb contains the stored honey and is home for the immature bees.
Honey Bees typically build their comb in a protected area or cavity with an access hole the size of a pencil eraser or larger. Wild (feral) honey bees nest in enclosed areas such as a hole in a tree when possible, but occasionally they’ll construct comb out in the open on a thick branch of a tree or under rock outcroppings. The elaborate exposed combs full of amber-colored honey they construct may be very beautiful.
African Honey Bees (AHBs) are far less selective than European Honey Bees (EHBs) about where they’ll set up a honey bee colony. They’ll occupy a much smaller space than the European Honey Bee (EHB) . They also seem to prefer to nest closer to the ground. Water meter boxes, mail boxes, animal burrows, trash, debris, even an empty soda pop can could be viewed as “home” to African Honey Bees.
Honey Bees move from site to site by swarming . A portion of the bees leave the honey bee colony with the old queen and take up residence in a new location. Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) tend to swarm more often than European Honey Bees (EHBs), and are also more likely to abscond. When honey bees ” abscond” they all take off to find a new nest, rather than just a portion of the workers leaving.
Bees typically abscond when they sense a threat to their colony or when foraging opportunities have nearly been exhausted in the present location. Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) have been selected over centuries to survive in areas where scarcity of resources is common and absconding is the only alternative if the honey bee colony is to survive.