Seeing is Bee-lieving
This morning, when I woke to the faint buzz of more than 1,000 sleepy honeybees, it felt like Christmas in June. Rob the Beekeeper had arrived to establish our much-anticipated first colony of honeybees before the heat of early summer became too intense. Which it soon did, spiking today at 101 degrees. But inside the bee’s brood chamber, the temperature stays between 92 and 97 degrees all year long. “They cluster together to keep warm when it’s cold, or they fan their wings to cool things down when it’s hot,” Rob explained. Furious fanning aside, bees are fascinating for their amazing efficiencies and productivity.
The Not-So-Secret Lives of Bees
There are three types of bees in every colony’s social network. The majority are aptly named Worker bees, and they’re the 2,000 to 60,000 underdeveloped females (a little like a huge homecoming court). Sorry girls. When they aren’t managing climate control, they fly in a five mile radius transferring pollen from one flower to another, therefore increasing crop sizes, and using the nectar to make honey. They’ll do this all their lives (25 to 30 days) until they die.
The Queen, of course, stays home, but has the job of laying all the eggs. About 2,000 a day, according to Rob, so it’s not all fun and games at the top. There’s only one Queen, and when she dies, workers select a few young worker larvae and feed them a special food called “royal jelly.” The larvas that receive this special diet will then grow to be a queen bee.
The Drones are the male bees who enjoy getting busy. Their job is to fly from hive to hive and mate with the queen bees. There usually are anywhere from one to 500 drones in a colony.
Busy as a (Vegetarian) Bee
Hard-working honeybees are insects as diligent as ants, but unlike ants, bees are vegetarians. Their protein comes from pollen, and their carbohydrate comes from honey. Made from the nectar of plants, honey is a combination of sugars, enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids. The flavor and consistency of honey changes based on the source or plant that the bees take the nectar from. Our Georgia honey will be flavored by Clover, Locust Trees, Astor, Sumac, Holly, Tulip Poplar, and whatever else the bees can find nearby. Known to the Egyptians as “food for the gods,” honey also has well-documented healing and medicinal properties