The Honey Bee

The Honey Bee

World Honey Bee Day 22nd August 2018

Bees thrive on many types of flowers both wild and domestic and particularly like: lavender, sweet clover, alfafa and dandelion.

Honey bees are one of the most important insects on earth.
Honey Bees are extremely important insects for they pollinate most of our plants, transferring pollen between male and female parts as they search for pollen and nectar to take back to the hive.

There are 3 types of honey bee in each hive………

The Queen
The Queen lays the eggs to ensure the next generation of bees. She can lay up to 2500 eggs a day. The Queen is also responsible for much of the behaviour of the hive for she produces chemicals which affect the movement and activity of the bees. Should the Queen die the workers will select a new larva and by feeding this larva royal jelly it will develop into a new Queen to lead the hive.

Worker bees are all female. Workers forage and search for food and they also look after the hive, building and protecting its structure. They beat their wings to clean and circulate the air in the hive to keep the temperature and conditions just right. Workers are the bees that most of us see as they go about their business.

A drone’s main purpose in life is to mate with the Queen. Several hundred will live in the hive during Spring and Summer but when conditions get somewhat harder in the Autumn, the hive must lock down into survival mode and the drones are pushed out, never to return.

Royal Jelly
This is used to feed the larvae in the colony. The amount fed to each larva is dependent upon its future role in the hive. Workers are fed bee bread which is a substance made from honey and pollen and just a little royal jelly. Those grubs destined to be Queens are fed solely on royal jelly. Drones are fed on bee bread and a little more royal jelly than workers.

Some facts…

Bees have 170 odour receptors so they have an excellent sense of smell.

Bees communicate by dancing. Scientists have found that when the bees return from foraging for food, the shapes they make as they move and the way they align they bodies indicates to their co- workers where they have found good sources of pollen and nectar.

The Queen can live up to 5 years although her workers will only live for 5 to 6 weeks.

Each worker bee produces about a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in their short life time.

Bees travel at about 25 km per hour.

Bees beat their wings at a rate of 200 times per second.

Colony collapse disorder.
In recent years billions of honey bees have started to leave their hives. This phenomena has become known as ‘colony collapse disorder’. The bees leave their hives and their Queen and fly off never to return. In some places up to 90% of the bees in an area have disappeared.

Scientists and naturalists are not sure as yet what causes the bees to leave their hives. It could well be the increased level of toxins now found in their habitat from insecticides and herbicides that are used to control our environment and have a profound and detrimental effect on bees. It could also be the stress caused from a lack of their natural food as the numbers of wild flowers dwindle. The bees are also attacked by mites who aggressively infiltrate and demolish the bee colonies.

Honey – food of the Gods!
Honey has been prized for its sweetness since time began. However, it also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties and modern science has found ways to use honey for chronic wound management and for combatting infection.

Deborah Boyd-Moss IDEAS & THOUGHTS On behalf of PLANET EARTH

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