Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, known for their role in pollination and, in the case of the best-known bee species, the European honey bee, for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently considered as a clade Anthophila. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven to nine recognized families, though many are undescribed and the actual number is probably higher. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, in every habitat on the planet that contains insect-pollinated flowering plants.
Some species including honey bees, bumblebees, and stingless bees live socially in colonies. Bees are adapted for feeding on nectar and pollen, the former primarily as an energy source and the latter primarily for protein and other nutrients. Most pollen is used as food for larvae. Bee pollination is important both ecologically and commercially; the decline in wild bees has increased the value of pollination by commercially managed hives of honey bees.
Bees range in size from tiny stingless bee species whose workers are less than 2 millimetres (0.08 in) long, to Megachile pluto, the largest species of leafcutter bee, whose females can attain a length of 39 millimetres (1.54 in). The most common bees in the Northern Hemisphere are the Halictidae, or sweat bees, but they are small and often mistaken for wasps or flies. Vertebrate predators of bees include birds such as bee-eaters; insect predators include beewolves and dragonflies.
Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance produced by bees and some related insects. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants (floral nectar) or other insects (aphid honeydew) through regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation, and store it in wax structures called honeycombs. The variety of honey produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the best-known, due to its worldwide commercial production and human consumption. Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees, a practice known as beekeeping.
Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose, and has about the same relative sweetness as granulated sugar. It has attractive chemical properties for baking and a distinctive flavor when used as a sweetener. Most microorganisms do not grow in honey, so sealed honey does not spoil, even after thousands of years.
Honey provides 64 calories in a serving of one tablespoon (15 ml) equivalent to 1272 kj per 100 g. Honey is generally safe, but may have various, potentially adverse effects or interactions upon excessive consumption, existing disease conditions, or use of prescription drugs.
Honey use and production have a long and varied history as an ancient activity, depicted in Valencia, Spain by a cave painting of humans foraging for honey at least 8,000 years ago.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S.) or America (/əˈmɛrɪkə/), is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.[fn 6] Forty-eight states and the federal district are contiguous and located in North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km2) and with over 324 million people, the United States is the world's third- or fourth-largest country by total area,[fn 7] and the third-most populous. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city is New York City; twelve other major metropolitan areas—each with at least 4.5 million inhabitants—are Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Riverside.