How Do Bees Make Honey?
Bees take nectar, which is the sweet sticky substance exuded by most, and mixes it with enzymes from glands in their mouth. This nectar/enzyme mix is stored in hexagonal wax honeycomb until the water content has been reduced to around 17%. When this level is reached the cell is capped over with a thin layer of wax to seal it until the bees need it. This capping indicates to the beekeeper that the honey can be harvested. One worker bee only makes ½ a teaspoon of honey in her short lifetime.
How Many Types Of Bees Are In A Honey Bee Colony?
There are three types: a single queen, thousands of female workers and, in the summer, hundreds of male drones. In early autumn, most of the drone bees are evicted by the workers.
Does The Queen ‘rule’ The Colony?
No, the queen is simply an egg-laying machine. However, her pheromones keep the colony in balance
How Long Does A Bee Live?
In the summer, a worker bee only lives for about 40 days. As very few young bees are raised over the winter months, the workers born in the autumn will live until the following spring. A queen can live up to 5 years.
How Many Bees Are In A Beehive?
Up to 50,000 bees in the peak of early summer and dropping to around 5,000 in the winter.
How Far Can Bees Fly?
It is possible for bees to fly as far as 5 miles for food; however an average distance would be less than a mile from the hive.
How Fast Can Bees Fly?
Normal top speed of a worker would be about 15-20mph when flying to a food source and about 12mph when returning laden down with nectar, pollen, propolis or water.
Why Do Bees Collect Pollen?
Pollen is mixed with honey and formed into a type of “bee bread” that is fed to the growing larvae. It provides a rich source of proteins and fat, while honey provides the carbohydrates. A bee hive collects about 50# of pollen every season.
Can A Bee See Color?
Yes, their eyes are sensitive more to the blue end of the spectrum and into ultraviolet. Flowers petals have ultraviolet markings that attract the worker bee to the flower nectaries. Bees see the color red as black.
How do you spell it: Honeybee or Honey Bee?
Honey bee is spelled as two words. In entomology, the rule for insect common names is if the insect is what the name implies, write the two words separately; otherwise run them together. The honey bee is an insect and is a bee; as compared to a butterfly.
Why Do Bees Make Honey?
Honey bees are special in that they over winter as a colony unlike wasps and bumble bees. The colony does not hibernate but stays active and clusters together to stay warm. This requires a lot of food, which is gathered during the prior spring and summer. Although a hive only needs 20-30# of honey to survive an average winter, the bees are capable, if given the space and forage, to collect much more.
How Much Honey Can One Beehive Produce?
One hive can produce 60# or more in a good season, however an average hive would be around a 25# surplus. Bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound of honey.
Do The Bees Miss The Honey That Is Taken?
No. A strong colony can produce 2-3 times more honey than they need.
Apart From Making Honey Are Bees Useful?
Yes, very much! The pollination benefit of bees is calculated to help the economy by millions of pounds per year. Certain crops yield up to 25-40% more if efficiently pollinated and farmers in some areas of the world pay beekeepers to put hives into their fields and orchards. In the USA alone bees pollinate about 19 Billion dollars worth of crops per year. In addition to pollination, bees produce wax for candles.
How Do Bees Make Wax?
The youngest bees cluster in large numbers to raise their body temperature. Wax producing glands under their abdomen slowly secrete slivers of wax about the size of a pinhead. Other worker bees ‘harvest’ these wax scales and take them to the part of the hive requiring the new wax.
What Causes Bees To Swarm?
A swarm is the natural way for bees to multiply and produce new colonies. This normally occurs in late spring and early summer when nectar is plentiful.
Do Bees Sleep?
No, but during the night most bees remain motionless reserving their energies for the next day.
Do Bees Hibernate During Winter?
No, bees overwinter as a strong colony clustered together and using their bodies to generate heat. This cluster is about the size of football, with bees taking turns to be on the cold outside. Our mild coastal Virginia winters do allow for some foraging on days above 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why Does A Bee Sting?
A bee only stings under two conditions: To protect the colony or when frightened.
Why Does A Bee Die When It Stings?
When a bee stings, barbs in the lance of the sting cause it to firmly stick into the victim, pulling out the venom sacs and glands when the bee is shaken off. The venom sac muscles continue to pump after these organs have been torn from the dying bee. Only the female workers and the queen can sting, the queen having a smooth stinger which she only uses to kill other queen bees.
What Do I Do If I See A Swarm Of Bees?
Don’t panic, bees in a swarm are universally in a good mood. They cannot easily sting even if antagonized as they have gorged themselves with honey and cannot get their bodies into the best position to sting. The local bee clubs have members who will collect the swarm and provide it a good home.
How Do Beekeepers Catch A Swarm?
A swarm is actively looking for a new home, so if the beekeeper puts a nice hive nearby, then it is easy to persuade them to take up residence. Normally a few bees are dropped into the hive and they then ‘fan’ their scent to the other bees once it has been ‘approved’. It is a dramatic sight to see a swarm ‘marching’ into a new hive.
Will I Get Stung If I Keep Bees?
Yes. A few people are allergic, but most will swell for only a short time and then gradually become more immune.
How Does A Beekeeper Find The Queen?
Sometimes with difficulty! She is normally close to the newly laid eggs and her long body and large legs make her stand out. Once found, many beekeepers put a small dot of paint on the back of the queen bee that makes her much easier to find the next time. The paint comes in five colors, each color representing a year. As Queens seldom live longer than five years, five colors are sufficient.
How Many Legs, Wings And Eyes Do Bees Have?
6 Legs: The rear pair are specially designed with stiff hairs to store pollen when flying from flower to flower and the front pair have slots for cleaning their antenna.
4 Wings: The front and rear wings hook together to form one big pair of wings and unhook for easy folding when not flying.
5 Eyes: Yes honey bees have five eyes, two large compound eyes and three smaller ocelli eyes in the center of their head.
What Does The Queen Bee Do?
The major purpose of the queen is to lay eggs. During April and May she lays day and night, each egg taking about 20 seconds. She lays over 1000 eggs a day; more than her own body weight. The queen mates only once and holds sufficient sperm from the male drones to lay eggs for 3-5 years; incidentally the drone bee dies in the process. There are 3 types of wax cell used for eggs. In the smallest cells (5mm diameter) she lays fertilized eggs, which in 21 days produce the female worker bees. In larger cells (7mm diameter) unfertilized eggs are laid which in 24 days become the male drone bees. A very special cell that hangs vertically downwards is used to produce new queens. A colony producing queen type cells warns the beekeeper of an impending swarm.
A healthy queen bee is continually emitting pheromones (a bee perfume) that only the bees in the hive can smell. These pheromones tell the bees in the colony that the queen is still with them and all is well in the hive. This chemical pheromone communication is quite sophisticated and the ‘personality’ of a beehive will change if the beekeeper changes an old queen for a young one. In this way a beekeeper has some control over the temper and enthusiasm of a colony.
Why Is There Only One Queen?
It is not understood why bees will only tolerate one queen but any attempt to introduce a second queen results in her death. If a queen dies unexpectedly during the summer the bees are able to make an emergency queen from eggs younger than 3 days old.
How Do The Bees Share All The Different Jobs In A Hive?
When a bee is born its first job is to clean out the cell in which she was born. Jobs are then allocated on the basis of age.
Duties of Worker Bees
1-2 days - Cleans cells and keeps the brood warm
3-5 days - Feeds older larvae
6-11 days - Feeds youngest larvae
12-17 days - Produces wax, Builds comb, Carries food, Undertaker duties
18-21 days - Guards the hive entrance
22+ days - Flying from hive begins, Pollinates plants, Collects pollen, nectar & water.
What Is Bee ‘dancing’?
Bees need to communicate with each other to pass on the location of food sources. To do this bees have a unique dance language that can be understood by us. A worker bee returning from a rich source of food will ‘dance’ on the vertical comb surface by running in a circle, on each revolution the bee will bisect the circle at an angle. The angle with respect to 12 o’clock represents the angle to fly with respect to the sun.
If the bee ran from 6 to 12 o‘clock i.e. straight up, this would say fly directly towards the sun ‘. And 7 to 1 o’clock would mean fly just to the right of the sun, 12 to 6 o’clock ‘Fly directly away from the sun’. In other words the bees translate the angle to the sun as an angle to the vertical.
To represent distance the bee ‘waggles’ its abdomen while crossing the circle, the more waggles the greater the distance.
What Is Varroa?
Varroa is parasite that lives only on honey bees. It is a small crab like insect with eight legs and about 1.2mm across and used to live only on the Asian honey bee (Apis cerana). Due to man moving bees around the world, this parasite transferred to the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) which cannot tolerate this pest. While there is no direct effect on honey, it does have a large affect on colony health. Due to varroa, wild feral colonies of bees die out in a couple of years and only well managed colonies survive.
What Do I Do If I Get Stung?
Bees will not generally sting if unprovoked. Usually the bee has been trapped in hair or crushed. When close to a beehive, avoid flapping your arms and moving rapidly. If the bees are antagonized, walk away through undergrowth or trees if possible. If stung, scrape the stinger out quickly with your fingernail, as the stinger still pumps venom for some time after the bee has left.
Queen Making & Swarming
1. In the spring, bees construct up to 20 wax queen cells, which are acorn like and point downwards.
2. The queen lays fertilized eggs in each queen cell.
3. The young nurse bees feed the young queen larvae with a rich creamy food called Royal Jelly, and extend the cell downward until it is about 25mm in length.
4. Nine days after laying the egg, the first queen cell is sealed with a layer of wax capping.
5. This is the time for a large swarm (called a prime swarm) of bees to leave the hive. The old queen has been starved of food to make her lighter and able to fly.
6. Eight days later, the first virgin queen leaves her cell. Two things can now occur, either the first virgin queen leads a smaller swarm from the hive (called a cast) or she locates the other queen cells and kills her sisters by stinging through the wax wall of their cells.
7. About one week later the young queen takes her first flight to orientate her to her new surroundings.
8. The queen will also take several mating flights in which she will mate with up to 20 male drones.
9. Three days later the mated queen will begin to lay fertilized eggs.
10. This queen will stay with the colony until at least the following year when she too may lead a primary swarm.
Hampton Roads Beekeepers, Copyright 2018, all rights reserved