Honeybees belong to the order Hymenoptera and to one of the Apis species. (For a complete discussion of honeybees, see the article hymenopteran.) Honeybees are social insects noted for providing their nests with large amounts of honey. A colony of honeybees is a highly complex cluster of individuals that functions virtually as a single organism. It usually consists of the queen bee, a fertilized female capable of laying a thousand or more eggs per day; from a few to 60,000 sexually undeveloped females, the worker bees; and from none to 1,000 male bees, or drones. The female of most species of bees is equipped with a venomous sting.
Beekeeping, care and management of colonies of honeybees. They are kept for their honeyand other products or their services as pollinators of fruit and vegetable blossoms or as a hobby. The practice is widespread: honeybees are kept in large cities and villages, on farms and rangelands, in forests and deserts, from the Arctic and Antarctic to the Equator. Honeybees are not domesticated. Those living in a man-made domicile called a beehive or hive are no different from those living in a colony in a tree. In antiquity people knew that bees produce delicious honey, that they sting, and that they increase their numbers by swarming. By the 17th century they had learned the value of smoke in controlling them and had developed the screen veil as protection against stings. From the 17th to the 19th century, the key discoveries upon which modern beekeeping is founded were made. These included the mystery of the queen bee as the mother of nearly all the occupants of the hive, her curious mating technique, parthenogenetic development, the movable frame hives, and the fact that bees rear a new queen if the old one disappears.
Given this knowledge, people were able to divide a colony instead of relying on natural swarming. Then the development of the wax-comb foundation, the starter comb on which bees build straight, easily handled combs, and the discovery that honey can be centrifuged or extracted from them and the combs reused, paved the way for large-scale honey production and modern commercial beekeeping. The identification of bee diseases and their control with drugs, the value of pollen and pollen substitutes in producing strong colonies, and the artificial insemination of queens have increased the honey-production efficiency of colonies.