All About Bees
Before anyone begins beekeeping and starts an apiary that person should know all about bees. Bees are tremendously interesting little creatures and there’s a lot to know, as there are at least 20,000 varieties of which 10,000 have been identified. Each type of bee is a little different from its kin. Let’s use the honey bee as our subject as most people don’t keep other kinds of bees in apiaries.
When learning all about bees, it should be stated that bees are first and foremost, organized creatures. They are social insects and live in hives that may contain up to 80,000 bees each and each of these 80,000 bees has its own purpose.
Honey bees are usually less than three quarters of an inch long. They’re reddish gold with black bands in the area of their abdomens and are covered with fine hairs that help them collect and spread pollen. Honey bees are the only bees that produce honey. All honey bees have their origins in South and South East Asia. Honey bees made their way across Europe when their worth as honey producers was recognized and they were brought to America by English settlers.
Bees have castes. Most female bees are workers. Worker bees make and maintain the nest. The youngest of the worker bees clean empty cells in the hive and take care of the larvae (baby bees.) Worker bees also gather nectar, pollen, and water, and bring them back to the hive. Worker bees only live about a month during the busiest honey season, but can live for three months when overwintering. When you see bees flying around, they will most likely be worker bees out collecting honey or pollen. If a worker bee should sting someone, it will be an annoyance for that person but sure death for the worker bee, who dies after one sting.
The queen is also, obviously, a female. Worker bees select a few larvae to develop into queens. These few larvae are fed royal jelly, which causes them to become queens, rather than workers. If there’s more than one queen in a hive one may kill the other off, or the others may swarm, taking up to 60,000 of the colony with them, and form a new colony. Queen bees can lay up to 1,000,000 eggs in her life time, or up to 2,000 a day. Queens don’t usually live longer than four years. Unlike workers, Queen bees can sting numerous times.
Drones are male bees whose main jobs are to eat and mate with queen bees. Drones develop from unfertilized eggs and have no stingers. Any queen that has not mated will lay only drone eggs. If the queen has been fertilized she’ll only lay worker eggs.
Drones are necessary during the year from early spring through Autumn. After that, drones are allowed to starve to death by workers. If they were allowed to live, they’d eat up all of the hives stores of honey over the cold months.
Honey Bees are fascinating creatures – so fascinating that it’s not unusual for a beekeeper to keep one hive with a clear glass or plastic hive, allowing an unimpeded view of bees at work!
Nancy Ketner has been fascinated by Bees for as long as she can remember. Beekeeping can be a daunting hobby to start. Learning all about bees as a beginner can be difficult. That is why she started Beekeeper Central as a free resource for others who wish to explore Beekeeping as a hobby or small business venture so people can get the most enjoyment they can from Honey Bees. To learn all about bees come to BeekeeperCentral.com and sign up to our FREE mini Beekeeping Course e-course.