|Common Nicknames||Flower-makers, Bumblers|
Bees are a constant species of insect native to the world of Aloria. Known since its earlier days, their key role in pollination was quickly discovered and in the modern-day, they are kept in order to produce honey for the Ailor, Cielothar, and other peoples and nations. They vary in size, with several subspecies, and can be confused with Wasps. But for many, Bees are far kinder and pleasing to look at.
Bees have been common as a species of insect across much of Alorian history. Evidence of its earlier identification is with the Altalar, from a relatively early point of time as the species living in Daen was rapidly associated with Estel due to its role in pollination. Bees and the keeping of the insects grew in popularity for a time, but ultimately among many animals, them and their hives were consigned to a small but important area of all the Estel shrines and temples that lay strewn about the lands of the Allorn Empire. In other areas of Aloria, Bees came into the common consciousness gradually, and due to their role in the functions of nature, were often associated with gods, divine beings, and so on. Among the Ailor, bees often got tied to monarchs and royal lines, while on distant Farah’deen, there were several different Bee gods worshiped by the Qadir. Bees, due to their spread across Aloria, survived the Cataclysm remarkably well, though those species in more northerly regions did suffer large scale population damage due to the harsh effects of the Cataclysm on the landscape. Still, since that time the Bee has rebounded, and they exist on almost every landmass in Aloria, helping to pollinate nature and produce the honey that they are so often kept for.
There are several subspecies of Bee, each being quite distinguishable from the other in terms of appearance. That said, there are some basic characteristics that are present in all known varieties of Bee. Firstly, their body has three segments; the head, thorax, and abdomen, like other insect species. The head features large compound eyes, a pair of antennae, and a proboscis for feeding, though it is masked by a pair of mandibles that also sit on the face. Six segmented legs and a single pair of small, thin insect wings are attached to the thorax, which is the segment in between the abdomen and the head.
Bees have a rigid and obvious gender hierarchy based on their hives, which also manifests as obvious gender differences. In most of the species, there are three castes: the queen and her brood, workers, and drones. Queens hold the position of leadership and are larger than those Bees around them. They help the hive to reproduce, have different colored markings than those around them, and often stay fairly still while around them, while the wider hive scrambles in their work. From her, almost all members of the hive emerge, and when she creates offspring, she also creates “royal jelly”, a unique substance that denotes those larvae placed within it as future queens. Then there are the workers and the drones. Workers are females who tend to the hive and its expansion, feeding larvae, collecting pollen from flowers, and more. Drones meanwhile, are all male, and serve to fertilize the queen when it is needed but also to defend the hive. They are the ones to buzz around or near a hive constantly, on the defense, and also somewhat on the lookout for enemies. Below can be found a listing of the various subspecies of Bee in Aloria.
- Common Sunstripe/Common Bee: The Common Sunstripe, also known as the Common Bee, is the most well-recognized species of Bee in Aloria. Its key features include a large abdomen, a yellow and black striping pattern along said abdomen, in addition to a dark brown fuzz on the other two parts of their body. These are the most commonly depicted Bees as well, and they exist on most continents, likely originating from Oldt Era before being spread by Ailor and Elven movement.
- Anglian/Regalian Bee: The Anglian Bee, also known as the Regalian Bee, is a species native to the Regalian Archipelago. They are also a large species, but lack the same bright colors of the Common Sunstripe, instead largely existing in shades of brown and beige. They are also well known for being aggressive, being the most prone to swarming, but also for generally being the most dependant species. Extensively kept for some 400 years or more by Ailor, they do not clean or tend their hives as well as purely wild species, and so those in the wild can sometimes cataclysmically fail should parasites or diseases break out. They are found in Corontium, Essalonia, and some areas of The North Belt.
- Southern Bee: The Southern Bee is a unique subspecies for its lack of a stinger (instead biting those they perceived as hostile), but also for likely being the first species of Bee kept by the Races of Aloria for the production of honey, wax and more. They are also unique in that their caste system is not gender-exclusive, meaning that males can be workers and females, drones. They stand out for being a small species and for having a shiny, dark coloration to their bodies. A few even demonstrate dull greens or blues somewhat like that of Flies. They exist across Daen and Hadaria, as well as areas of Sendrass, primarily in the northeast.
- Farah Bee: The Farah Bee is a type of Bee unique as having been one of the few species of the desert continent to have survived the Great Storm. The insects are small, similar to the Southern Bee in size, but different in color. They possess tones of brown along their bodies, with workers having tones often in the lighter spectrum while queens and drones have darker colors. They are found in Farah’deen and are occasionally imported to other areas of Aloria, as their ability to survive in arid climates and yet still pollinate makes them useful in areas like southern Essalonia and distant Ithania.
- Sihai Bee: The Sihai Bee is the most odd out of all the Bee subspecies. It is entirely black, save for small dots of pale yellow on its wings and abdomens, which are said to glow each time the moon enters a new phase. They are also unique for exclusively setting up their hives within plant matter, dead or alive, and can even burrow into trees to accomplish this. Additionally, queens and their broods tend to live together for much longer than in other Bee species, while brood chambers (where Bees are born) do not exist in the standard hexagonal pattern of other Bees. Instead, they are square or rectangular and exist in tall narrow “posts” where the baby emerges to a bedding of pollen it rapidly eats and then matures on, breaking out and joining the wider hive afterward. The species is exclusive to Zhong and is one of the few creatures from that continent to not make the long sea journey into Aloria.
Life Span and Development
The different Bee subspecies have an array of different development cycles and periods of life, but they do share some commonalities. They are born as tiny white ovular eggs, and are placed into a cell of the hive structure by the queen who lays them, where they slowly mature and grow, being fed and cared for by the workers. They are most vulnerable at this stage, and other insects are known to enter and ingest them, causing death and reproduction for the offending creature. They form into larvae and then are sealed into their cell where they then morph into pupae before finally emerging as full-grown Bees. This process takes anywhere from one week to two, and at that point, the gender they were assigned at birth dictates their role in the hive’s survival. Queens live up to several years, while the other castes die around them when the winter comes, even in tropical or temperate zones. As a result, queens have a ravenous appetite when first awakened in the spring, resulting in more than a few being eaten due to a lack of care.
As demonstrated earlier, Bees have a complex mental state that while simple, is complex when it comes to insects. This most clearly shows itself in the workers as while the drones exist as defense and offense, and the queen for reproduction, workers possess far more complexity in terms of their role and activities. Their purpose is varied and they do a number of tasks daily, from feeding to building to collecting, all in a near-constant state of movement much like all Bees. Beyond that, Bees appear to be fairly mindless in their everyday tasks, with their “creativity” in building hives and honeycombs is moreso a development of nature, as the most efficient construct possible for their reproductive habits.
Territory and Groupings
Bees exist in hives, either naturally formed or largely manmade, in much of Aloria. Technically speaking, these hives hold colonies, the formal name for the group of Bees that form around a queen. These colonies do not formally control any space beyond the space of their hive and its structure, and even then Humans and other Races with the right training and tools are capable of approaching and extracting what they need. Most mature colonies number anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 Bees, but a few mega-colonies numbering as many as 100,000 were said to exist at the height of the Allorn Empire when the worshipers of Estel were unmatched in their ability in constructing perfect beehouses for the species to enter and then thrive in.
- The most skilled beekeepers in Aloria are the Cielothar, whose elegant hives of wood are rarely touched by raiding parties, for fear of releasing highly aggressive swarms of Bees. Close behind them are Ailor monks, often from the Regalian Archipelago’s Calem regions, whose command of the Regalian Bee shows their ancient heritage tied with the task.
- It is believed by some that imagery or jewelry of small Bees of yellow or gold eventually morphed into the modern Ithanian, and now general Ailor nobility symbol, known as the Fleur-du-lys.