A Little About Bees

I guess in reality I should have called this column…Very Little About Bees. The reasoning is that this is exactly what I know about them…little to nothing.

As you guys know, we had a beekeeper, Sherry, put out 54 hives here on our place. Sherry, and her Mother Melva, have been just a wealth of information for me on the subject of bees. The problem though, is I can’t absorb it fast enough.

Man, they’re out working the bees and just “laying it on me,” information wise, and I get frustrated because I lose so much of the info they’re supplying me with. I’ll get it though…slow but sure.

Quickly, I have to thank GC in South Carolina. GC has been SO helpful as well, supplying me with websites, links for beekeeping supplies, even calling me and offering to come down and help, if needed!

Thanks GC, everything you have and are doing is such a help, and appreciated!

Melva, and Sherry mailed me a couple of Beekeeping catalogs, as well as a Farm and Rancher publication that had an article about CCD, or colony collapse disorder.

This we’ll discuss at a later time, after I’ve looked at the info on this subject, and get to where I understand it better.

I know Sandra (Mississippi Queen) advised me of this, but at that point she was “speaking in tongues” to me, because I had NO idea what she was talking about! Sandra, with her vast knowledge and no pun intended, goes over poor Dub’s head, more frequent than not!

I have to slow her down sometimes and say, “Please Mississippi, you’re talking to just an ole’ redneck here…draw me a picture!” Love you Sandra, and Deb and I hope ALL is well with you and yours! Plus, thank you for all your support and prayers, and tell “Sumo” hello for us!

I’d like to give you all a couple links to two beekeeping suppliers. The reasoning is just so you can see the types of equipment that is out there today in regards to beekeeping. Some of which I found just fascinating, and maybe you will too! Check it out!

This first link is from Melva, and Sherry.

The cover of their catalog states, “Starting Out Beekeepers since 1863.” That’s pretty impressive, huh? This means ole “Honest Abe,” was President, and I only wish we could call our leaders honest today, don’t you? Now that’d be some “Change” I could handle!

This catalog, and its products found here, were amazing, not only because of the sheer numbers of products available, but the knowledge you gain by just viewing each product and seeing the application for the product.

Once you start seeing, and really looking at what’s offered, you can at least put the product with the application. This was very helpful to me, and allowed me to understand some things I’d heard them talking about, but in the same breath, to pick up on some other things I’d never considered without this catalog as a guide!

I haven’t been to their website, but I will. It’s been all I could do the last few days, just flipping through the book and reading on this topic. Very enjoyable though!

Some facts from the catalog. This is a very rudimentary description, but one easily understood and picked up on by all, young and old. I look forward to start sharing some of this with our children, and grandchildren.

The honey bee colony is made up of three types of individuals.

The Queen: The entire colony’s life revolves around the queen, and without her eggs the entire colony would die. Her life begins as a female worker larvae, but by feeding on “Royal Jelly, an extremely rich mixture of food, she becomes a queen.

A new queen can be produced at any time, if the workers choose, by simply feeding ANY female larvae, less than 48 hours old royal Jelly.

Her sole function is to lay eggs, and she does this EVERY day, thousands of them a day! She’s continually, surrounded, protected and fed by young worker bees.

The Worker: The female worker bee is the laborer of the colony (I, Dub, feel this is as it SHOULD be, and have tried to highlight this fact to Deb. I don’t feel she’s understanding the significance of this statement yet, but I’ll keep working on her in this regard!)

The worker bees gather all the nectar and pollen, feed the young larvae, warm and protect the eggs, larvae and pupae, supply water, secrete beeswax, build comb, and perform many other tasks as well. (I wonder what they do in their spare time?)

The worker starts as a fertilized egg, and hatches into a larva. The larva matures, and then changes into the next stage, called a pupa. This matures into an adult worker honey bee. This transformation, or metamorphosis, from egg to adult takes 21 days.

During the summer honey flow, June through August (I would have to believe the warmer states flows last longer, but I’m just throwing this statement out there), the colony’s worker bees travel about 55,000 miles to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey. Each individual worker will produce only about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey and about 1/80 of a teaspoon of beeswax! An entire colony though, can produce up to 200 pounds of honey yearly! Amazing stuff isn’t it?

The Drone: This is the male bee. The drone is larger than the worker, but smaller than the queen.

If it wasn’t for mating, the drone is expendable in regards to the colony. They don’t collect nectar or pollen, and they don’t make beeswax. As winter approaches, they are driven from the hive to die from cold and starvation. (Except for that last part, the ole drone sounded as if he had a “nice little gig” going for him!)

Just a few other facts.

The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.

A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 mph. Thus it would have to fly around 90,000 miles, three times around the globe, to make one pound of honey. To fuel this bee’s flight around the globe would take one ounce of honey.

Bees must maintain a temperature of 92-93 degrees Fahrenheit in their central brood nest. This is regardless of the outside temperature being 110 or -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The honeybee’s wings stroke 11,400 times per minute. This is where the familiar buzz you hear derives from.

A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers per collection trip.

Worker bees live for about 4 weeks during the spring or summer, but up to 6 weeks during the winter.

A colony may contain 40,000 to 60,000 bees during late spring or early summer.

The queen lives 2-3 years, and she’s busiest during the summer, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength.

Honey bees must consume around 17-20 pounds of honey to produce each pound of beeswax.

I found all of these facts to be amazing, and now have a much greater appreciation of the term, “Busy as a bee!”

I still have three videos of Sherry and her Mothers last trip out here. Just as soon as Mark gets home I’ll have him take them and upload them for us. I believe you will, find them entertaining and informative.

Now, here’s the link GC sent me. Once again, I hope you all enjoy just plundering around on these sites, as I sure have!

Thank you all for coming by today. We wish you all the best, and if you have anything you’d like to share with us, on this or any other topic, please let us know!

God Bless!

Dub and Deb

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3 Responses to A Little About Bees

  1. Sandra says:

    So sorry you did not know about CCD. We did not either until one day we all woke up and not one bee. This means that everything a bee pollinates does not get pollinated. So no fruit or whatever. We are still depending on the very small bumble bee for some pollination. Still have not seen the first honey bee. You and East, West coast are big Ag areas and need bee colonies. It is good you have the “Queen Bee” and daughters help you through this. Still waiting for my UPS package with five Worker bees and a Queen. I am sure they can find a place to hive. Heck, my garage
    is a safe haven for the beautiful little red Eastern bat. Now they are something to see. All kind of havens at my house. Come on down!

    • Bonnie Hollingsworth says:

      We are truly blessed this year, Sandra, when it comes to bees. They are literally crawling on every available bloom. I just hope they stay healthy and that people won’t spray so much poison that it kills more of our bees. We share what little we grow in our garden with our neighbors and they share with us, so I am really looking forward to the next “honey harvest”!

      Bats, huh? They do have a tendency to frighten me a little. However, Steve and Henry (our bee keeper neighbor) want to build some bat houses. Being the considerate person I am (NOT!) I did go on line, do some research for them, and also print out some plans for bat houses. They have agreed between them that they probably have “most everything we’ll need” to build the houses. I have cautioned them that even the area of placement is crucial to having a good colony of bats. Now, the plans I printed out are on the table on the front screened porch, weighted down with one of my heavy candle holders, and I am NOT holding my breath. Oh, well, it kept them out of my hair for a while!

  2. Bonnie Hollingsworth says:

    Hey Dub and Deb………..congrats on your bee lessons. I will pass on that, thank you. I did watch my neighbors use their extractor one day. Does that count? My sister said one day that she wanted a jar of honey WITH the comb in it, and my neighbors kindly obliged her. We used to chew the wax when we were kids and couldn’t get chewing gum. I think we really are in our “second childhood”. I wish you all success with the bees, as honey truly is a miracle food. I just hope someone, somewhere, will find the reason why we are losing so many bees in our nation so we could find a preventative.

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