The hive structure inhabited by the honey bee consists of wax 'honeycombs'. Each honeycomb is made of small cells, which are used to store food or to rear the brood. The honey bee feeds on nectar and pollen taken from flowers, and stores of honey (regurgitated nectar) and pollen (gathered on the legs in special 'pollen baskets') see them through the winter (5). The honey bee has a complex system of communication; when a good supply of flowers has been discovered, a returning forager can convey the location of the food to other workers by means of special dances. The discovery of a good foraging location is announced by the 'round dance' in which the forager circles around rapidly, while the 'waggle dance', involving a rapid movement of the tail, contains information on the distance and direction of the flowers in relation to the hive, using the sun as a compass (5).
The queen is the only bee within the colony to lay eggs, while the workers care for the brood, and carry out many other duties for the hive, including foraging and cleaning (5). The queen mates just once, on a 'nuptial flight' during spring, and stores enough sperm inside her body to allow her to fertilise her eggs for the rest of her life. Eggs are laid from March to October. Each egg is deposited into a cell and a small, white larva emerges after around three days. Workers provide the larva with food. After six days the pupal stage will develop, and the workers cap the cells containing fully developed larvae with wax. The adult bee will climb out of the cell 12 days later. Drones (males) are produced from unfertilised eggs, and appear in the colony during spring and early summer. They take three days longer to develop into adults than workers, and are ejected from the colony later in the year by the workers (5). Both worker and queen bee larvae are fed on a rich liquid known as 'royal jelly' in the first days of life. Workers are then fed on pollen and nectar, but larvae that continue to be given royal jelly develop into queens. The first new queen to emerge may sting the other developing queens to death. After mating she may either take the place of her mother (who may have departed the hive in a swarm, taking half of the workers with her), or establish a new colony (5).