What are honeybees?

Honeybees are like bumblebees and ants they are social insects that live together in a large group with a differentiated division of labor. 
Their body consists of a head, thorax and abdomen. 
Females bees can give you a sting but they almost never do, as they will die afterwards.

 How many types of Bee are in a Honey Bee colony?
Three  - a single queen, thousands of female workers and in the summer hundreds of male drones. The drone bee does no work and in the early autumn they are evicted by the workers and die.
What Does The Queen Bee Do?The major purpose of the queen is to lay eggs. During April and May she lays day and night, each egg taking about 20 seconds. That’s over 2000 eggs a day, more than her own body weight. The queen mates only once and holds sufficient sperm from the male drones to lay eggs for 3-5 years, incidentally the drone bee dies in the process which must come as a major disappointment for him.
There are 3 types of wax cell used for eggs. In the smallest cells (5mm diameter) she lays fertilised eggs, which in 21 days produce the female worker bees. In larger cells (7mm diameter) unfertilized eggs are laid which in 24 days become the male drone bees, production of offspring not requiring mating is known as parthenogenesis. A very special cell that hangs vertically downwards is used to produce new queens. A colony producing queen type cells warns the beekeeper of an impending swarm.
A male drone bee has no father but does have a grandfather!
A healthy queen bee is continually emitting pheromones (a bee perfume) that only the bees in the hive can smell. These pheromone odours tell the bees in the colony that the queen is still with them and all is well in the hive. This chemical pheromone communication is quite sophisticated and the ‘personality’ of a beehive will change if the beekeeper changes an old queen for a young one. In this way a beekeeper has some control over the temper and enthusiasm of a colony. 
Does the queen ‘rule’ the colony?
No, the queen is simply an egg-laying machine.
The queen bee has a smaller brain than a worker bee.
Queen making & swarming
1. Bees construct up to 20 wax queen cells, which are acorn like and point downwards.
2. The queen lays fertilised eggs in each queen cell.
3. The young (nurse) bees feed the young queen larvae with a rich creamy food called Royal Jelly, and extend the cell downwards until it is about 25mm in length.
4. Nine days after laying, the first queen cell is sealed with a layer of wax capping.
5. This is the time for a large swarm (called a prime swarm) of bees leaves the hive led by the older bees. The old queen has been starved of food to make her lighter and able to fly. The older bees cajole the old queen to join the swarm.
6. Eight days later first virgin queen leaves her cell. Two things can now occur, either the first virgin queen leads a smaller swarm from the hive (called a cast) or she locates the other queen cells and kills her sisters by stinging through the wax wall of their cells.
7. About one week later the young queen takes her first flight to orientate her to her new surroundings.
8. The queen will shortly take several mating flights in which she will mate with up to 20 male bees called drones.
9. Three days later the mated queen will begin to lay fertilised eggs.
10. This queen will stay with the colony until at least the following year when she too may lead a prime swarm.
How do bees make a queen?
The making of a queen is triggered usually by a combination of conditions such as congestion in the hive and lack of egg laying space this culminates in a swarm
A new queen cell


A bee is alive for about 6 weeks.  A healthy hive contains more than 50,000 bees. On an annual basis, these approximately 35 to 50 kg of pollen and  a variety of nectar. The protein-rich pollen is necessary for the development of the larvae. For a good development are various types of pollen required to cover the entire protein requirements of the bees. 

All together it is a few hundred kilos of food to be dragged inside the hive. 
And this must be done efficiently. 
So worker bees explore the area very well.
When they found that a reasonable amount of food is available, they fly back do a  pretzel-like  (bee dance) in which they indicate which direction to fly where the fod is.

The more there is to get, the more intense the dance. Large areas with flowering plants can then be massively visited by bees in a short time. 

There are many tasks in the hive. Such as (making combs of wax) building bees, nursing, , the gatekeepers, the polishers. 
The age of the workers plays an important role in the distribution of work in the honeybee colony. 
In the first phase of her life as an adult when a worker remains in the centre of the brood. 
After a week or two they shift operations of the worker bee to assist in the processing and storage of food or in the defence of the entrance. After about three weeks, she will continue her career as gather bee . They usually continue to do this until the end of her life, after about five weeks. Foraging is the biological term used for regularly recurring search and finding food.


This summer our bees have been very busy and the queen is very healthy laying about 2000 eggs a day
Imagine how much space they need with all these new babies.
When checking up  last time we did notice lots of bees and plenty of brood  so we added an extension by adding another brood box. 
In the brood box is the queen this is where is lays her eggs. 
We dont want eggs and honey to mix so in between the brood boxes we have whats called a queen excluder.


APRIL 2015

It was an exciting day after waiting so long for the new bees to arrive.
We ordered our bees from Park beekeeping supplies who are a small business in South London Greenwich 

The bees have settled in very well and after 24 hours we moved them into their new home.

Its now been a few months and we had a quick peek the other day and its been buzzing with happy bees.

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