To distinguish honeybees from other types of bees in our state, note the following: Workers carry pollen in pouches on their legs, and they have hair on their head and eyes. Their stingers are barbed and can only be used once; when the bee flies away, part of her abdomen tears out and remains attached to the stinger, and she dies within minutes.
Wild populations occur throughout Missouri. The single queen's only function is to lay eggs. She may live several years and produce many thousands of eggs. New queens are produced annually in healthy colonies. At this time the old queen leaves the nest with a swarm of workers to establish a new colony, while the new queen stays in the old nest with the remaining workers. Honey and pollen stored in nest cells nourish the adult bees in winter.
The honeybee is the major pollinator of many field crops and almost all tree fruits. It is the world's most beneficial insect and in 1985 was named the official state insect of Missouri.