The Buzz on Bees

Scientists map the genes of the honeybee, a key agricultural pollinator whose numbers are plummeting

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Inside a hive is a well-developed society, governed mainly by scent molecules, or pheromones. Each hive has one queen, about 500 male drones and up to 50,000 sterile female workers

DRONES Live about six weeks Born to a soft life, the stingerless male bees' sole purpose is to conserve their energy and mate with a queen

WORKERS Live about six weeks Literally worked to death, they care for young, clean and protect the hive, forage for food and die when their wings wear out

QUEEN Lives one to two years Lays up to 2,000 eggs a day or 400,000 a year. Each colony can have only one queen, so she seeks out and destroys any rivals Wax walls Nectar transformed into honey Hatchlings

Communication [This article consists of an illustration. Please see hardcopy of magazine.] The waggle dance, an elaborate figure-eight performance, tells nearby worker bees the distance to food and its direction in relation to the sun The number of waggles, or shakes, and the bee's pulsing sounds indicate to others how far to fly

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