Bee School 101…
Apiarist is the technical term for a beekeeper & apiarists all over Michigan are dancing! May is the beginning of beekeeping season here. Beekeepers have checked their hives to see who made it through the winter & made plans to replace those who didn’t. All we’re waiting for now is for the rest of the flowers to bloom so “the girls” can start to work in earnest.
A typical beehive can hold 30,000 or more bees & one Queen. Ninety nine percent of the bees are female “worker bees” so we’ll start the lesson there. You already know that a Queen is the leader in the beehive. It’s my personal feeling that they like to have names (mine are Isabella, Sophia, & Bianca) but I may be in the minority here. The big bee in the middle of the picture below is a Queen.
When a Queen lays an egg, it’s neither male nor female. Gender is determined by the kind of food worker bees feed the larvae. Most larvae are fed a regular kind of food & in about 21 days they hatch as new female worker bees. Other larvae are fed a less nutritious type of food & they hatch as males or drones in about 24 days. (More about them in a later blog.) If & when the hive needs a new queen, workers select a few larvae & feed them a super food called Royal Jelly which turns the larvae into new queens in about 16 days.
When new baby female bees hatch, they go right to work. Their first job is at the bottom of the totem pole, as Maids. They clean the hive, removing dead bees, other insects, & debris. After a week or so they graduate to Nursing Bees & take care of the larvae, feeding them & helping the males hatch. Several weeks later the nursing bees are promoted to Gathers. They leave the hive in search of nectar & pollen. The average female bee life span is about 45 days…Short but sweet!!!!
You’re seeing inside a beehive in the photo below, just after a new package of bees has been installed.
This concludes the first lesson from Bee School 101.
Here’s a one Sweet Idea from the hives…
Start your day with PB & Honey Toast
- 1 slice – whole wheat bread
- 2 Tablespoons – honey
- 1/2 – banana
- 1 Tablespoon – peanut butter
Toast the bread, spread the peanut butter, spread the honey, slice the banana… Get a napkin & enjoy!