Bee Tree

Bee tree

The KU Natural History Museum is home to a live bee colony, housed in the model of a tree. Visitors can see the bees come and go from the hive, from an exit and entry tube on the east side of Dyche Hall. During the winter, the bees will mainly stay inside the hive. Don’t be afraid to peer inside the exhibit — you just may find the queen.  See our hive in action on a live bee cam.

The current colony was installed in the hive in May 2014, thanks to support from an anonymous donor. The bees have been so successful that they have split from the hive twice in the first three months because they ran out of room. 

Bee Facts:

  • Bees and other pollinators are responsible for about a third of the food we eat.
  • Many bees can sting — but when left alone, they are harmless.
  • Kansas designated the honeybee as the official state insect in 1976.
  • Wild bee populations were once abundant. Deforestation for farming and urban expansion have reduced their habitat. Bees also face threats from several parasites and diseases, as well as pesticides and herbicides.
  • Scientists are now studying how changes to climate may affect pollinators such as bees, including where organisms can live and thrive, their evolution and their behavior.

Honey bees are social insects that live cooperatively in highly structured hives. There are three different castes or types of honey bees — each with specific jobs to perform: the queen, the drones and the worker bees. A typical colony has up to 60,000 individuals.