That one little word strikes
fear in the hearts of many.
Because they don't understand the creature they are dealing with.
I'm not scared of bees. I find them fascinating.
I am BY FAR no expert on Honey Bees, but will gladly share what I know.
SO WHAT'S THE
BIG DEAL ANYHOW?
Someone you might have heard of wrote,
"If honey bees become extinct,
the human race will become extinct from hunger four years later."
His name was Albert Einstein.
Honey Bees spend the majority of their days gathering nectar
and pollen from flowers.
As a side effect of their gathering from flowers, they carry pollen from flower to
flower, efficiently pollinating them in the process. Without Honey Bees, our farms'
fruit crops would be tiny. Next time you eat an Apple, an Orange, a slice of Cherry Pie,
or a Peach, thank a Honey Bee.
Back at the Hive, the bees regurgitate the Nectar they have
gathered. After some chemistry
and time, this becomes HONEY. They clean the pollen from their legs, and it provides the
Proteins they need to produce wax to make honey comb.
The nectar gathered by bees contains a large amount of water.
Honey Bees allow the
excess water to evaporate, leaving concentrated sugars and enzymes the bees have
added. These enzymes break down the complex sugars from the nectar into simpler
sugars found in Honey. The Bees also secrete antibodies into the nectar as they carry
it, and as a result Honey is resistant to most bacteria.
When the honey reaches the proper level of dryness, the bees
cap the cells, covering
them securely with wax. This keeps the honey in place, and seals it against contamination.
CAPPED HONEY STORAGE CELLS
A swarm usually contains from 1,500 to 30,000 bees. There are three types
bees in each hive: Workers, a Queen, and Drones.
The vast majority of the bees in each hive are Workers. Worker bees
30 to 45 days. They are genetically female, but do not develop sexually.
Worker Bees live up to their name, they do virtually all the work needed by
the hive. They serve as Air Conditioning, fanning with their wings to cool the
hive when it is too warm. When the hive is too cool, they shiver and produce
extra heat. Their bodies secrete wax, which they form into comb. This comb
serves as their Nursery, their Living Room and their Pantry.
Worker bees maintain the Brood (larvae, young bees), clean the hive, protect the
hive, and gather Nectar, Pollen and Water.
Each hive of bees has one Queen Bee. Her only job is laying eggs.
She is much
larger than the worker bees. Worker Bees see to it that she is kept clean, warm,
and well fed. A queen bee may lay up to 2,000 eggs a day and up to 1,000,000
in her lifetime. A Queen Bee only mates once in a lifetime, but that one mating
provides fertilization for a lifetime of egg laying. Queen Bees mate with Drone
Bees from other hives.
Drone bees make up a sparse few of the bees in the hive, and are the only male
bees. Their sole purpose in life is to mate with Queen Bees.
Worker bee upper left, Queen Bee lower right.
Notice the larger size of the queen bee.
When there is a need for a new queen, worker bees will select one of the
eggs to become the new queen. They build a larger cell in the Honey Comb for this
egg, and feed it a substance called Royal Jelly. This causes the bee to develop into
a Queen instead of a Worker.
When resources are plentiful, a queen bee lays more eggs than
needed. The worker
bees will respond to an overcrowded hive by making an extra queen.
When the new queen is old enough, a group of the bees from the
hive will gorge
themselves with honey and follow the Queen to a new home. They often rest
overnight in trees and bushes, a WONDERFUL opportunity for a beekeeper
to move them into a hive. Lacking a hive, the bees will find a home of their own,
preferably in a hollow tree, but sometimes in the side of someone's house.
PAGE2: LEARN MORE ABOUT BEES...