by PSI / Weds, 27 June 2018

The Honey Bee is undoubtedly the most beneficial insect in the world. Besides producing honey and wax, this insect is responsible for cross pollination of most of the fruit crops .Without this cross pollination, many of our fruit trees might never bear fruit.

Where once the bees in the wild provided this service, they have, for the most part, been eliminated and replaced by bee hives maintained by commercial beekeepers. There are many natural hives throughout Victoria. Any hollow wall in a building that can be entered may become such a natural hive.

A strong colony of honey bees may have as many as 60,000 workers. The colony will also have several hundred drones (males), and usually one sexually mature queen whose duty is to lay eggs. During the spring, in response to heavy nectar flow in fields, more workers are produced and the colony may become overcrowded. In response to this, a new queen will develop, and either the new queen or the old one will depart the colony with as much as one-half the worker force. They will leave in the form of a swarm. They may travel some distance looking for a suitable location to establish a new colony. If the distance traveled is considerable, they may stop for a few hours or a day or two to rest.

When these resting periods occur, the homeowner may find a swarm hanging from a tree, post or fence in the yard. This causes some alarm to residents of nearby houses who may fear being stung. However, in a short time the swarm will move on until they have located a permanent home. Generally speaking, the bees in a newly-emerged swarm are somewhat docile and will not readily sting ; however in a day or two they will become more aggressive

The stinger of the honey bee is barbed, and usually after the bee attacks, the stinger, venom sac and part of the abdomen are torn off in the flesh of the victim. In this case, the bee dies. Removal of the stinger should be accomplished by scraping it off with a knife blade. Removal of the stinger by pulling it out will usually result in squeezing the poison sac and forcing more venom into the flesh. The reaction of an individual to a bee sting will vary greatly, depending on the individual and past history of bee stings.

Most people who are repeatedly stung over a period of time will produce an immunity to the venom. The actual prick of the sting remains painful, but the resulting reaction is minimal. However, a few individuals do not develop immunity, and a small percentage develop a hypersensitivity to the venom, with each sting resulting in more severe reaction, to the point where a sting can result in death.

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