The farmer's beehives sit in a field of tall, yellow sunflowers. The beehives do not look very fancy. They are made from stacks of wooden boxes. Each wooden box has a special bottom, like a screen, just perfect for a bee to build a home. An opening at the bottom of the hive is where the bees come and go.
This hive is home to thousands of honeybees. They live together in a colony. The honeybees make honey and beeswax that the farmer sells. They feed on flowers, trees, and vegetable fields on the farm. By feeding on the plants and carrying the plants' pollen from one flower to another, the honeybees help the plants to grow.
Honeybees start their lives as tiny eggs. In spring, the young bees begin to hatch. A honeybee does not have eyes, wings, or legs until it is at least two weeks old. At this stage it is called a larva. Until its body forms, the baby bee lives in a tiny, six-sided cell made from beeswax. These cells put together make honeycombs. The other bees in the hive must feed the baby bees while they live in these cells.
This baby bee is almost three weeks old. She is crawling out of her cell for the first time. To get out, she must eat a hole through one wall of her cell. It is hard work!
The newborn honeybee goes to work right away. She is born knowing what her job is in the hive.
The little bee crawls in and out of empty cells. She makes sure they are clean. The queen bee will only lay eggs in clean cells. Young female bees like this bee are called workers. They take care of the hive and gather food.
The queen bee is the only bee that lays eggs for the hive. And male bees help the queen to lay her eggs. The little bee will not leave the hive for three weeks. During this time, she is a "house bee." She helps clean the hive. She feeds baby bees. And she builds new cells in the hive with beeswax.
Beeswax is like cement. The little bee makes the beeswax with her body. She carefully takes bits of beeswax from her belly and builds new cells. Some cells will hold baby bees. Others will store honey and food for the colony. When the bees have made enough honey, the farmer will take some honey from the hive. He will leave enough for the colony to eat.
The young honeybee is growing. She is almost ready to leave the hive. She has one last job as a house bee, though. It is a very important job. She must guard the entrance to the hive. Other animals, even other bees, will try to steal honey from the hive.
As she stands guard, a robber bee from another hive tries to sneak past the little bee to steal food. The little bee touches the robber bee, and right away she knows the bee is not from her colony. The little bee pushes the robber bee away from the hive, and the stranger flies away. The hive is safe again!
To find out what happens next in "Little Honeybee," go to the next page.