Worldwide, there are close to 20000 species of bees which, regardless of their usefulness or of how dangerous they are, follow the same processes when it comes to hive administration and hive division.
A bee colony consists of:
One queen. She is essentially a fertile female bee and can produce up to 250.000 eggs during her 3-year productive cycle). The queen can be distinguished by the fact that her body is longer than the rest of the bees.
Drones. These are fertile male purposed with mating with a queen during her mating flight. They die immediately after mating. Also, drones are the largest bees in the hive.
Workers are infertile females. They constitute the biggest part of the colony and perform all the labours of the hive.
When a queen bee leaves the colony, she is followed by up to 60% of the worker bees. The resulting group of bees is called a “Swarm”. This usually happens only when a colony has produced a large enough population of individuals. Swarms are usually not aggressive, as their main purpose is to find a new location to establish a colony. Swarming is, for all intents and purposes, the means of natural reproduction for bee colonies. While in this state, the bees can starve to death if the nectar or honey that each of the individual stores in their stomach runs out. They actively search for places to build a hive and establish a new colony.
Even in the swarming cluster, there are bees with specific tasks and abilities. The scout bees are the foragers. They identify locations for potential nests (sites which are easily defended and are near a food supply) and then attempt to convince the other scouts to check the location out. Once almost 80% of the scouts agree to a single location, the bee cluster relocates and begins building a new hive. It is important to note the fact that a cluster will always prefer a site with abandoned honeycombs, as this will cut the effort required to build a hive and will allow the insects to focus on gathering food.
There are three types of bee in the US:
The European Honey Bee: Originally from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, this specie has become the most widely spread species of honey bee.
The Africanized Honey Bee: As the name suggests, this species is a result of the cross breeding of the African honey bee, with different European species of bees. The result is a more aggressive, more dangerous type of bee. Apart from their behaviour and slightly different appearance (the Africanized Honey Bee has slightly darker patterns than the normal bee), they function as normal bees would, pollinating and producing and storing honey.
The Carpenter Bee: Their name is an indicator of their nesting behaviour. Carpenter bees do not build traditional hives. Instead, they burrow into hard organic material, such as wood, or even the ground. They do not produce honey and are not particularly aggressive when compared with the honey bees.
Honey bees, European of Africanized, usually build their nests in high places such as: on tree branches, under the roof of a house, in attics and on the outside walls of a building, provided that the roof can cover the nest as well. There are cases where bees have also built nests in the panelling of a house, provided that they have an easy way of getting in and out, or under cars which have been stationary for a long period of time. Carpenter bees, on the other hand, burrow into the any kind of dead wood, such as broken branches or different parts of log houses. Some carpenter bee species also dig hives into the ground. The hives built by carpenter bees usually have more than one entrance, they start with a perfect hole and have their tunnels build at 90 degree angles, usually against the grain of the wood. Also, they prefer wood that is greater than two inches.
While bees are largely passive, they can become a risk to you, your family, or your house. From honey bees, which usually build hives in various locations around the house which are protected from the elements, sometimes regardless of human presence, to the carpenter bees which can, in time, weaken the structure of a house, by digging into its wooden elements, they should always be treated with appropriate equipment.