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Beekeeping - Lesson 2

On the 30th of April, we attended our next lesson on beekeeping.   A friend ask me if bumble bees, yellow jackets, or other bees make honey.  My answer was that no - I do not believe they do.  Just the lowly little 'honey bee'.

As teens my husband and I attended high school together.  It was nice for us to learn to be beekeepers together (again).  Our classmates were similar to us although not all the same ages.  After all these years we are classmates again.  It was lovely.

Swarms are bees that go off to make another hive.  The Queen bee has laid baby queens for the original hive.  Then she decides to go off with many of the workers and start a new hive.  That's what swarming is - starting a new hive.

After she leaves -- the remaining bees care for and feed the nursery queens until the first one is born.  That queen bee finishes off the others and takes over as QUEEN bee. 

Many swarms do not survive for various reasons.  Beekeepers like to attract a swarm if they can. 

There are three kinds of bees in every live hive:  The QUEEN, DRONES, WORKERS.  The drones are the 'husbands' and after they provide the genetic material for a new hive full of bees, they die.  The queen bee continues to lay eggs throughout her lifetime.  I think the workers don't have a long life span. 

There are various kinds of bee hives man uses.  One uses boxes added ontop of another box with 8 to 10 removable frames inside.  It can have several boxes or just two.  This hive is easier to check the bees, and remove the honey.  It can also be shifted around so that the hive will make more honey, instead of swarming (partly) because there is no more room to make honey. 

Another type is called Top Bar hive.  It is simpler and easier to build and therefore more popular for the handyman. 

Bees, of course, can hive inside a tree cavity too, but for the purpose of beekeeping this would require destroying the hive and the bees to collect the honey.  So that's why man provides a different home for the bees. 

Bees are very independent.  They decide whether they will accept their new home.  Swarming is when the bees leave to start a new hive, but they leave part of the bees behind.  Absconding is when the bees decide they aren't going to live in this hive and they ALL leave.

Please note:  If you are a beekeeper and there's something incorrect from your experience, please comment.  I am just learning.

Sunday, May 15, 2011 10:36 PM by
I was wondering about that when yellow jackets were circling me Friday, lol. I always have lots of them and their combs? never amount to anything more than eggs. I wish they produced honey, yummmmm. Another fine lesson cars:)
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:59 AM by vesper
The queen sure gets the royal jelly treatment. Imagine a life where all these males at your beck and call, feeding and cleaning you then chasing after you in flight to mate. Not a bad life. :)
Queen Bee
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:03 AM by carsroelke
Yes, I'll admit it does sound cushy. To get where she is though she must kill any rivals when she hatches. She also get NO exercise except for her mating run. All her suitors die after mating with her. Mostly she is an egg laying machine - her sole duty (personally sounds a bit boring to me).

Personally, I think I would prefer being a worker bee even given their short life. Flitting from flower to flower gathering nectar, filling cells and waxing them over, cooling the hive with its wings, busy buzzing everwhere - even caring for potential queen cells would fill the days fully.

Apparently workers serve an apprenticeship inside the hive before they become gatherers. They do every possible job as fledgling workers.
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