Le api: Chi sono le api
| Il ruolo dell'ape in natura
| Morphology and anatomy
A beehive is an enclosed structure in which some honey bee species of the subgenus Apis live and raise their young. Natural beehives (typically referred to simply as "nests") are naturally occurring structures occupied by honey bee colonies, whereas domesticated honey bees live in man-made beehives, often in an apiary. These man-made structures are typically referred to as "beehives". Several species of Apis live in hives, but only the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) and the eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) are domesticated by humans.
The beehive's internal structure is a densely packed matrix of hexagonal cells made of beeswax, called a honeycomb. The bees use the cells to store food (honey and pollen), and to house the "brood" (eggs, larvae, and pupae).
Artificial beehives serve two purposes: production of honey and pollination of nearby crops. Artificial hives are commonly transported so that bees can pollinate crops in other areas. A number of patents have been issued for beehive designs.
Swarm behaviour, or swarming, is a collective behaviour exhibited by animals of similar size which aggregate together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving en masse or migrating in some direction. As a term, swarming is applied particularly to insects, but can also be applied to any other animal that exhibits swarm behaviour.
Bees play an important role in pollinating flowering plants, and are the major type of pollinator in ecosystems that contain flowering plants. Bees either focus on gathering nectar or on gathering pollen depending on demand, especially in social species. Bees gathering nectar may accomplish pollination, but bees that are deliberately gathering pollen are more efficient pollinators. It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees, especially the domesticated European honey bee. Contract pollination has overtaken the role of honey production for beekeepers in many countries. Monoculture and the massive decline of many bee species (both wild and domesticated) have increasingly caused honey bee keepers to become migratory so that bees can be concentrated in seasonally varying high-eemand areas of pollination.
Continue with: Morphology and anatomy