Basic requirements of honeybees
The survival of honeybees depends to a large extent on their hive, health and, in particular, their food.
Except in Scandinavia and parts of eastern Europe, bees have practically no chance to form colonies on their own in Europe's man-made environment. This is why honeybees in Europe are kept almost exclusively by beekeepers in man-made hives, of which there are many different types.
Since a bee colony can comprise up to 80,000 bees living in a very crowded space, good health is essential to the continuity of the population. Although propolis is a very effective means by which bees counter a variety of pathogens, the beekeeper does sometimes have to intervene. This applies in particular to cases of foulbrood disease, nosema disease and varroa mite infestation.
The special importance of food to bees can be illustrated by considering the stages in their development: during development from the egg to an insect, protein uptake is a key factor; for mature bees, by contrast (drones, worker bees and queens), energy supply in the form of carbohydrates takes precedence.