Honey Bee

Actual Size: 1/2″

Characteristics: Golden brown and black with pale orange or yellow bands on their abdomen.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Build hives with 20,000 to 80,000 individuals


  • During the winter, honey bee populations lay dormant
  • In the summertime, worker honey bees live for only about 5-7 weeks.
  • Their stings can hurt and cause swelling at the sting site, followed by itching sensations

Honey Bees in Vermont

The honey bee, or European honey bee, is a social insect living in large colonies with populations ranging from 20,000 to 80,000 individuals. Honey bees are the only social bee or wasp that has a true perennial colony, surviving year after year. The honey bee is likely the most important beneficial insect in agriculture due to its role as a pollinator.

Worker bees are the only bees that people ever see. Adult worker bees are approximately 1/2 inch long, golden brown, and black with a pale orange or yellow bands on their abdomen. The head of the honey bee is nearly black and their antennae and legs are covered with fine hairs. The legs of a honey bee have special bristles that form pollen baskets, allowing them to gather pollen from flowers while foraging.

Honey Bee Nests or Hives

Usually, honey bees build their hives in crevices in trees. However, they will occasionally build nests in attics or chimneys. Honey bees are most visible in summer and late spring, when new queens leave their old colonies along with thousands of workers to build new nests in tree hollows or crevices. At this time, large groups of bees can be seen swarming together to find a new nesting place. It takes a swarm approximately 24 hours to locate a new nesting site. This is when most people see these bees in action. While most swarms are harmless, certain species of bees, like the Africanized honey bee, are extremely aggressive and may attack unprovoked.

Honey Bee Habits & Stings

Many people fear bees because of their potent sting. Honey bee stings are quite painful and even life-threatening to a small percentage of people who are allergic to the venom. Only female workers are capable of stinging and are not likely to sting when foraging for nectar and pollen in the back yard. Bee stings generally happen when these docile bees are provoked or accidentally crushed. Honey bees will sting to protect their hive but each bee can sting only once, and then it dies.

Because their stinger gets lodged in your skin, it’s important to remove it. If you get a bad reaction to a honey bee, always contact a medical professional. If you have a honey bee nest in need of removal, promptly contact a licensed bee removal expert for assistance.