Honey bee workers keep the hive temperature uniform in the critical brood area (where new bees are raised). Workers gather pollen into the pollen baskets on their back legs, to carry back to the hive where it is used as food for the developing brood. Pollen carried on their bodies may be carried to another flower where a small portion can rub off onto the pistil, resulting in cross pollination. Almost all of civilization's food supply (maize is a noteworthy exception) depends greatly on crop pollination by honey bees, whether directly eaten or used as forage crops for animals that produce milk and meat. Nectar is sucked up through the proboscis, mixed with enzymes in the stomach, and carried back to the hive, where it is stored in wax cells and evaporated into honey. Workers must maintain the hive's brood chamber at 34.4 degrees C to incubate the eggs. If it is too hot, they collect water and deposit it around the hive, then fan air through with their wings causing cooling by evaporation. If it is too cold, they cluster together to generate body heat. The life of all honey bees starts as an egg, about the size of a comma "," which is laid by the queen in the bottom of a wax cell in the brood area of a hive. A worker egg hatches after 3 days into a larva. Nurse bees feed it royal jelly at first, then pollen & honey for 6 days. It then becomes an inactive pupa.
The honeycomb has hexagonal cells on both sides of a vertical central wall. As shown in the photo, these cells are inclined upward, primarily to retain liquid nectar and honey. During its 14 days as a pupa, sealed in a capped cell, it grows into a worker (female) bee, emerging on the 20th day. In most species of honey bees, workers do everything but lay eggs and mate, though Cape honey bee workers can lay eggs. They build the comb from wax extruded from glands under their abdomen. They clean, defend, & repair the hive. They feed the larva, the queen, and the drones. They gather nectar, pollen, water, and propolis. They ventilate, cool & heat the hive.
When a colony absconds (all bees leave the colony) or divides and so creates a swarm and then establishes a new colony, the bees must regress in their behavior in order to establish the first generation in the new home. The most urgent task will be the creation of new beeswax for comb. Beekeepers take advantage of this by introducing swarms into new or existing colonies where they will draw comb. Comb is much more difficult to come by than honey and requires about six times the energy to create. A newly hived swarm on bar bars (top bar hive) or empty foundation (Langstroth box hive) will often be fed sugar water, which they can then rapidly consume to create wax for new comb (Mature hives cannot be so fed as they will store it in place of nectar, although a wintering hive may have to be fed if insufficient honey was left by the beekeeper.)
Brood cells must be cleaned before the next use - cells will be inspected by the queen and if unsatisfactory will not be used. Worker bees in the cleaning phase will perform this cleaning.
Propolis is also used to close off excessive ventilation and entrances.
Soldiers hang around near the entrance and attack invaders. They work in concert with entrance guards.
These inspect incoming bees to ensure that they are bringing in food and have the correct hive odor. Other bees will be rejected or attacked with soldier bees.
Outer guards may take short flights around the outside of the hive in response to disturbances.
The worker bee's stinger is a complex organ that allows a bee to defend itself and the hive from most mammals. Attacking bees aim for the face by sensing regions with high levels of carbon dioxide (like mosquitos.) Bee stings against mammals and birds typically leave the stinger embedded in victim due to the structure of flesh and the stinger's barbs. In this case, the venom bulb stays with the stinger and continues to pump. Upon losing its stinger, the bee will subsequently die since the portion where the stinger bulb was removed draws out part of its insides.
The barbs on the stinger will not catch on most animals besides mammals and birds. This means that such animals can be stung many times by the same bee.