bee

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bee

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Leaf-cutting bee (Anthidium)—M.W.F. Tweedie—Natural History Photographic Agency/EB Inc.

Any of some 20,000 insect species belonging to the superfamily Apoidea (order Hymenoptera), including the familiar bumblebee. Adults range in size from about 0.08 to 1.6 in. (2 mm–4 cm). Bees are related to wasps, but, unlike wasps, which can eat other insects, most bees are entirely dependent on flowers for their food. Male bees are usually short-lived and never collect pollen; female bees make and provision the nest and usually have special anatomical structures for carrying pollen. Most species are solitary. The so-called killer bee, an Africanized subspecies of Apis mellifera (see honeybee), reached the U.S. from Mexico c. 1990; killer bees react quickly and attack in number. See also Karl von Frisch.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on bee, visit Britannica.com.

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