A queen bumblebee sips nectar from a willow catkin. Bees are flying insects with round, furry bodies and narrow waists. They are closely related to wasps and ants. Many species protect themselves by using a sting on their abdomen, which injects painful venom. These stinging species usually have black and yellow stripes to warn other insects that they are dangerous. Bees feed on pollen and nectar, which they collect from flowers using their long tongue, called a proboscis. There are 25,000 known species of bee. Some types of bee live in colonies, while others are solitary.
Bees may nest underground or in hollow trees or other small spaces. They build hexagonal compartments, called cells, inside their nests. They use the cells to store their eggs, honey or pollen. A cluster of cells is called a comb.
The leafcutter bee makes cells from discs cut from leaves. It builds its nest in the ground or in crevices in trees or buildings. The mason bee makes its nest inside plants and constructs its cells out of mud. Honeybees build nests in crevices or hanging from trees. They use wax, produced by glands in their bodies, to make cells.
Red mason bees
Most bees have an average flying speed of about 15 km/h (about 10 mph). A bumblebee foraging for food may fly at more than 30 km/h (20 mph).
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