Defense is one of the most important factors affecting life history. The relationship of defense to life history traits as well as its possible costs has been reviewed extensively for many groups, including plants. However, defense in social insects, such as honey bees, has never been examined from a trade-off perspective, although defense in honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), has been widely studied. In this review, we discuss the life history traits of honey bees, particularly traits related to defense. We then examine trade-offs in the context of resource availability. Lastly, we offer suggestions for future research on trade-offs in honey bees and other social insects.