Our Apiarist has year of experience under his belt when it comes to bee behavior, beekeeping and bee removal. Ever wondered why bees swarm or what are the healing properties of honey? You'll find these answers and more in our Bee Blog.
While the queen bee gets a lot of attention, the real stars of the hive are the worker bees. From the moment they emerge from their cells, worker bees begin the first of their many jobs within the hive. If worker bees wore hats, they would wear a lot of them! To get a better… The post The Many Jobs of Worker Bees appeared first on Live Bee...
While the queen bee gets a lot of attention, the real stars of the hive are the worker bees. From the moment they emerge from their cells, worker bees begin the first of their many jobs within the hive. If worker bees wore hats, they would wear a lot of them!
To get a better understanding of how the colony works together to support itself, it’s essential to know more about the jobs of the worker bee. Although they only live for about six weeks in the busy season, every day is packed with activity to prepare the hive for the upcoming winter.
The best way to learn about the many jobs of a worker bee is to start at the beginning! Let’s follow the worker bee throughout her life and learn about the many different roles she will hold in the colony.
After the queen lays an egg, it takes about 21 days for the egg to mature into an adult worker bee. Young worker bees start as house bees, tending to the many duties inside the hive. About halfway through their lives, they venture out of the hive to begin their fieldwork as foragers.
Beehives are some of the most naturally sterile environments. Young worker bees help to keep it this way in a few different ways. Their first responsibility is to clean their own cells to prepare them for the next egg or stores of nectar and pollen. They will also clean nearby cells to keep things moving efficiently.
These young bees are also responsible for removing any dead bees or larvae that did not mature into adult bees from the hive. They do this to prevent any disease that could put the whole colony in danger.
The next role of the worker bee is to care for the larvae and young drones. They will feed the larvae royal jelly, pollen and nectar, visiting each cell about 1,300 times each day. Worker bees also groom, feed and clean up after the drones until they are old enough to care for themselves.
Like true royalty, the queen bee needs attendants to help her take care of her basic needs. She is busy after all, laying up to 2,000 eggs a day! Worker bees aid the queen by feeding, grooming and cleaning up after her. They also help to spread her unique pheromone, signaling to the rest of the hive that the queen is still alive and well.
When the foragers return to the hive with their hauls of nectar and pollen, house worker bees are ready for action. Their job is to transfer the new resources from the foragers to their designated cells. Worker bees will add enzymes to the nectar to help ripen it and prevent it from spoiling.
One of the most important jobs of a worker bee is to control the temperature within the hive. Known as fanning, the workers will flap their wings vigorously to increase the flow of air and reduce humidity. Other bees will provide water to the fanning bees to help in the cooling process. They also fan their wings to evaporate water from the honey until it is the right consistency to stay fresh over the winter.
Older worker bees begin to produce wax from glands in their abdomens. The glands produce small flakes of beeswax that the bees chew until it is the right consistency. The beeswax is used for making new honeycomb cells and capping those that contain honey and larvae.
Before going out into the field, a worker bee will take on guard duties. Their job is to stay near the entrance to the hive and prevent unauthorized visitors from intruding. How can they tell if a bee does not belong? Guard bees use their sense of smell to detect when a bee is from another colony.
Finally, the worker bee can emerge from the hive! Foragers visit flowers, usually about 100 flowers on a trip, to collect pollen and nectar. The bees will often travel several miles away from the hive to find the best food sources. Upon returning to the hive, they drop off their wares to younger worker bees who transfer the nectar and pollen to an open cell.
From the day that they are born, worker bees play a huge role in the hive. They act as housekeepers, nurses and assistants, all before they are two weeks old! As you can see from the many roles that they hold throughout their lives, they aren’t called workers for nothing.
A couple of months back, we told you about the origin of two of our favorite bee-related sayings: The Bee’s Knees and Busy as a Bee. If you haven’t read it, check it out! “The Bee’s Knees,” in particular, has a fascinating history, gaining in popularity with the Flappers of the 1920s. During that time,… The post The History of 3 of Our Favorite Bee Idioms appeared first on Live Bee...
A couple of months back, we told you about the origin of two of our favorite bee-related sayings: The Bee’s Knees and Busy as a Bee. If you haven’t read it, check it out! “The Bee’s Knees,” in particular, has a fascinating history, gaining in popularity with the Flappers of the 1920s. During that time, they loved using playful phrases that involved animals.
Have you ever heard of something being the cat’s pajamas? Or how about the eel’s ankles?
In this post, we are going to share the history of a few more bee sayings that you probably hear pretty often: Put the Bee On, Make a Bee Line For and Mind Your Own Beeswax. Let’s get into it!
“Put the bee on” is probably less commonly used today than the two other phrases discussed here, but it still has an interesting origin story. Putting the bee on someone means that you are asking them for money. Usually, it refers to putting pressure on someone to give you money in a rather aggressive fashion.
The phrase dates back to the 1940s, when American frontier communities would hold bees to help pay their preachers. “Bees” were gatherings where community members would assist other community members in a variety of ways. Sometimes bees involved raising money, while other times, they were held to help neighbors with farming tasks or even quilting.
Communities would hold a bee to raise money and collect food and other items for the preachers. If a community member didn’t donate, they would be pressured by the bee organizers to give. Thus, putting the bee on someone means pressuring another person to donate money to a person or cause.
To “make a bee line for” something means that you take the shortest, most direct route between two points. The origin of this phrase appears to be the thought that bees know precisely how to get back to the hive after collecting nectar and pollen. Others agree that it refers to the “flight path” of the bee, but they believe that it is really in reference to the route from the hive to the nectar.
Either way, honey bees communicate the location of the nectar source through their famous waggle dance. The dance tells the other bees the exact direction and distance of their valuable food source. Bees also use the sun and the curvature of the earth to aid in navigation. The way they get from Point A to Point B is truly an amazing feat!
When you tell someone to mind their own beeswax, you want them to mind their own business. Most agree that beeswax is simply a playful replacement for the word business. After all, telling someone to butt out of your affairs can seem a little rude. Using the word beeswax gives the request a gentler, kinder effect.
While this seems to be the accepted origin of the phrase, other theories have a large following. Some say that in the 1700s, women suffering from pockmarks would use beeswax to even out their complexions. If someone got too close to their faces, they might say “mind your own beeswax” to stop people from staring.
If these women got too close to the fire, the beeswax would melt off their faces, prompting others to warn them to “mind their own beeswax.” Although this theory makes some sense due to the popularity of beeswax in many cosmetics products today, it is untrue. The consensus is that the phrase is just a feisty way of telling someone to butt out!
The honey bee has played a vital role in the success of human civilization for centuries. Their pollination efforts help us produce many of the foods we eat today. Without them, our food supply would likely look very different than it does right now. Plus, we wouldn’t have delicious local honey to add to our foods and use in our skincare and health routines.
To learn more about the importance of honey bees, check out this blog post about Colony Collapse Disorder.
Honey bees are so important that it’s no wonder that they figure prominently in the English language. If you pay attention, you can find references to bees everywhere you go! What’s your favorite bee-related saying, phrase or reference?
Did you know that everything that a honey bee makes is useful in some way? Of course, we are all familiar with the benefits and uses of honey. But, honeybees don’t stop there! They make a few other vital resources that can be used by humans: bee pollen, royal jelly and beeswax. Beeswax may not… The post What is Beeswax? appeared first on Live Bee...
Did you know that everything that a honey bee makes is useful in some way? Of course, we are all familiar with the benefits and uses of honey. But, honeybees don’t stop there! They make a few other vital resources that can be used by humans: bee pollen, royal jelly and beeswax. Beeswax may not get as much attention as honey, but it plays a significant role in the success of the colony.
If you haven’t guessed by now, honeybees live a very orderly existence. They each have their jobs within the colony, including nurses, foragers, cleaners and even the queen herself. So, it makes sense that their homes are just as planned out and functional as the bees themselves. Their hives are made up of tiny, hexagon-shaped cells that are perfectly designed to provide the maximum amount of storage space using the least amount of beeswax.
In this post, we’re going to learn about beeswax: what it is, how it’s made and how we can use it in our homes, skincare products and for our health.
Beeswax is the building block of the hive. Honeybees from the genus Apis produce it to build the hexagon-shaped honeycomb where bees live, work, raise their young and store their food supplies. In its natural form, beeswax is actually white or translucent. It becomes the light golden color we associate with beeswax when stained by pollen or propolis. Beeswax is made up of about 300 different compounds. Its composition can vary slightly depending on where the honeybees live.
Worker bees are responsible for producing beeswax. They have special glands on the underside of their abdomens that secrete the wax in thin sheets called scales. Let’s follow one of the worker bees through the process of producing beeswax!
The first step begins with a worker bee leaving the hive to forage for pollen and nectar. These bees pass on nectar and honey to other bees who will consume it and turn it into wax. Honeybees need vast amounts of nectar to produce wax. In fact, a bee will eat six to eight pounds of honey to make just one pound of beeswax!
Once the sugar has been converted into wax, the bees will begin to secrete it through their special glands. The wax starts out as small flakes but is shaped and molded by the other bees in a fascinating way. The bees will form a chain and pass the secreted wax down the line. Each bee will take their turn chewing the wax to make it soft and pliable.
Once the wax reaches the ideal condition, the bees can begin to construct the hexagon-shaped honeycombs. The combs are then filled with honey and capped off with more wax to prevent moisture loss.
Most beekeepers get their beeswax from the wax caps that cover each honey cell. Using a hot knife, a beekeeper will remove the caps, collect them and then melt them to separate the wax from any residual honey. Since the wax is lighter than the honey, it will rise to the top. The beekeeper will remove the top layer of wax and allow it to cool and become a solid mass of beeswax.
Like everything that bees make, beeswax has certain properties that make it very useful around the house. And, because it is a natural substance, many people choose home, beauty and wellness products that contain beeswax over those filled with unknown and potentially harmful chemicals. Beeswax is loved by people all around the world because of its nourishing and healing properties.
Beeswax is beneficial because it:
The benefits of beeswax make it a common ingredient in many natural household products. And it just smells good! There is so much that we can do with beeswax. Here are just some of our favorite ways to use it:
Are you convinced of the amazing nature of beeswax? There is so much more we could share about beeswax, but we hope that this brief overview gives you a little more knowledge about the fascinating lives of honeybees.
Bees are busy. But are they too busy to sleep? Many people are under the misconception that bees don’t sleep. They think that bees spend their days and nights foraging for nectar and pollen, taking care of their young and serving the queen. These little creatures are so amazing they must not need rest, right?… The post Do Bees Sleep? appeared first on Live Bee...
Bees are busy. But are they too busy to sleep?
Many people are under the misconception that bees don’t sleep. They think that bees spend their days and nights foraging for nectar and pollen, taking care of their young and serving the queen. These little creatures are so amazing they must not need rest, right?
Wrong! While honey bees do keep busy, they are not unlike us. They need sleep to recharge and restore their bodies, so they have the energy to support their families. All bees sleep, but the amount and location of their sleep changes depending on their role in the colony.
In fact, recent studies have found that the sleep patterns of some bees are not unlike those of human parents. Brooding bumblebees give up sleep to take care of the pupae. The pupae don’t need much attention; yet, the older bees forgo rest to prepare and care for the brood.
The lives of bees are endlessly fascinating, even when they are sleeping! If you are curious about the sleeping habits of bees, read on to learn why, where and when honey bees rest. We think you will find that they really aren’t much different than us!
Just like us humans, bees need sleep to replenish their energy and restore their bodies so they can continue to perform their jobs in the hive. Without proper rest, their ability to do necessary bee activities can decline and put the entire colony at risk. Sleep allows the bees to recover from the rigors of their work and successfully do jobs such as:
What does a sleeping bee look like, anyway?
Great question! A sleeping bee will take on a relaxed posture, much like we do when we rest. Sleeping honey bees will drop their upper body and antennae and rest their wings on their thorax. Even their brains react to sleep in similar ways as humans. The deeper the sleep, the more stimulus it will take to wake them up.
Research has found that where a bee sleeps has a lot to do with their role in the colony. Foragers, for example, typically sleep around the outer edges of the hive. This position gives them quick access to the exit so they can defend the hive if needed. It also gives them a little peace and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle in the interior areas of the hive. Some foragers have even been found sleeping soundly in flowers!
Other bees, such as nurses and cleaners, tend to sleep in the central cells of the hive closer to the brood and queen. As you can imagine, these bees don’t get quite as much sleep as the foragers.
Younger bees take on the jobs of hive cleaners, nurses and storers. These bees typically get their sleep in the form of power naps. The youngest bees will take frequent, short naps throughout the day and night in between their cleaning duties. The nurses and storers nap as well, but not as often as the youngest bees in the hive. This particular sleep pattern allows them to get the rest they need while still keeping up with their demanding duties.
As the older bees in the colony, foragers get the most rest of all. Their sleep patterns are most similar to those of humans. Forager honey bees spend their days working hard to supply the colony with water, pollen and nectar. At night they enjoy one long sleep session, rather than the frequent short naps of the younger bees.
Yes, honey bees need their beauty rest!
Bees have very specific sleep patterns based on their age and job in the hive. This shouldn’t be too surprising since honey bee colonies are like well-oiled machines. Like most other living beings, bees need rest to have the energy to do their work and take care of their families. Just one more amazing fact about the honey bee!
Have you ever wondered why many beekeepers wear those big white suits? You know, the ones that look like they belong on the space shuttle? Although they might not be featured on the runways of New York Fashion Week, the beekeeping suit plays an essential role in protecting the beekeeper from unpleasant bee stings. Beekeepers… The post What’s the Story with the Beekeeper’s Suit? appeared first on Live Bee...
Have you ever wondered why many beekeepers wear those big white suits? You know, the ones that look like they belong on the space shuttle? Although they might not be featured on the runways of New York Fashion Week, the beekeeping suit plays an essential role in protecting the beekeeper from unpleasant bee stings.
Beekeepers perform many vital functions that help protect the honey bee population. They ensure that the bees are healthy, especially the queen bee who is responsible for producing all of the eggs, up to 2,000 per day! Beekeepers also keep an eye on potential swarming behavior, collect honey and encourage successful pollination.
The duties of the beekeeper vary throughout the year according to the seasons. In the late winter and early spring, their focus is on preparing the colony for the busy summer months. They will make sure the bees have enough food and space to expand, as well as ensure that the queen is strong. In the early summer, beekeepers get to work collecting honey. In the late summer, they prepare the bees for winter. Beekeepers sure do keep busy!
To say they get up close and personal with bees is an understatement! It is no wonder that they need to be adequately protected so they feel comfortable and safe while doing their jobs. Let’s learn a little more about the history of the beekeeping suit and the features of the modern suits you see today.
Beekeeping is not a new phenomenon! Evidence suggests that humans were harvesting honey from bees 10,000 years ago. Depictions and records of beekeeping have been found across North Africa, Egypt, China, Greece and areas of South America.
The earliest apiarists didn’t wear any protection at all. In 16th century Europe, beekeepers developed a precursor to the modern suits we see today. Unfortunately, these suits featured a completely non-functional wicker mask. It may have protected the face and neck, but it did not allow for much visibility! Present-day apiarists wear a much more protective suit that consists of three main parts: the veil, gloves and jacket.
Nobody wants a bee sting to the face or neck. That’s why beekeepers are always seen with a bee veil that covers their face, neck and shoulders. Unlike the wicker masks of the 1500s, modern bee veils are made of mesh so beekeepers can breathe and see with ease. Often, you will see experienced beekeepers wearing only a hat with an attached veil to protect themselves, without gloves and other protective clothing.
Next up are the beekeeping gloves. As we mentioned earlier, some of the more experienced apiarists don’t wear gloves to protect their hands. Their years of working with bees and their intimate knowledge of their particular colony gives them the confidence to go without protection. As you can imagine, this is not recommended! Bee gloves come in a variety of materials and thicknesses depending on the type of bees the apiarist works with. All new beekeepers should wear protective bee gloves when handling their bees.
Finally, there is the beekeeping jacket. The bee jacket can be made out of a variety of materials including cotton, nylon and layered mesh. Although some options, like cotton and nylon, can get hot for the beekeeper, they provide the most protection from bee stings. These long jackets protect the largest areas of the body, so choosing a quality bee jacket is critical to keeping safe when handling bees. After using the bee suit, beekeepers should be sure to wash it thoroughly to remove any leftover bee pheromones that could attract more bees in the future.
Despite what many people think, bees don’t want to sting you. Many bees only sting when they feel threatened or feel that their hive and queen might be in danger. However, as a new beekeeper, you want to be sure that you are entirely protected in case an attack does occur. Besides wearing the beekeeping suit, anyone handling bees or working near a colony of bees should take precautions such as wearing closed-toe footwear and tucking their pants into a thick pair of socks.
Whether you are a budding beekeeper or just curious about the reason they wear those strange suits, we hope you learned a little something about beekeeping safety.
How long do bees live? It might seem like a simple question, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think! The life span of a bee varies a lot depending on several factors. Some of the primary indicators of how long a particular bee will live include: Species of the bee Role of the… The post How Long Do Bees Live? appeared first on Live Bee...
How long do bees live? It might seem like a simple question, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think! The life span of a bee varies a lot depending on several factors. Some of the primary indicators of how long a particular bee will live include:
Even though we can’t give you an exact figure, we can identify the average life span of bees based on some of the factors above. Let’s examine one of the most common types of bee and answer the question, “How long do honey bees live?”
Honey bees are social bees that live in colonies. Colonies operate like well-oiled machines with every bee assigned to a specific role. That’s pretty amazing when you think about how large some colonies can get. Honey bee colonies can reach upwards of 80,000 bees.
There are three roles that a honey bee can have in a hive: queen, worker or drone. As we said earlier, one factor that impacts the life span of a bee is the role they play.
She isn’t called the queen for nothing! If all goes according to plan, a queen bee can live between 3 and 5 years. Since her primary job is to reproduce, she never leaves the hive and remains sheltered from the typical “wear and tear” that the other bees experience. By staying inside the hive, she stays more protected from predators and disease.
Over time, the queen will begin to produce fewer eggs and her pheromones won’t be quite as attractive as they once were. When the other bees sense this change, they will kill off the queen and begin to raise a new one. The chosen larvae will begin their diet of royal jelly until a new queen is crowned.
Most bees in the hive are worker bees. In fact, there are usually around 50,000 to 60,000 workers in a large colony, performing jobs like foraging, defending the hive, caring for the queen and feeding the larvae.
The life span of a worker bee depends on when it was born. Workers born in the spring and summer will live for 6 to 8 weeks. Those born in the fall will live longer, about 4 to 6 months. What accounts for this big difference?
Summer-born worker bees have a lot of work to do right from the start. After working inside the hive for the first few weeks of their lives, worker bees will head outside of the hive, flying from flower to flower to collect pollen and nectar for the rest of the hive. They are also responsible for taking care of the brood. The intensity of the work they do takes a toll on them and, ultimately, is the reason for their rather short lives.
Autumn bee babies, on the other hand, stay inside the hive for the winter. They have no brood to care for and no foraging to accomplish. Their only job is to huddle around the queen to keep her safe and warm. Once spring has sprung, these worker bees will begin their foraging duties.
The drone has the shortest life span of all the honey bees. They live an average of 3 weeks to 3 months. Their brief lives can be explained by examining their role in the hive. Drones have one responsibility – to mate with a queen. Oh, and eat.
During the mating process, the reproductive organs of the drone are torn from their bodies, and they die. The drones that did not mate in the spring and summer months will remain in the hive – but not for long. Once the winter hits, the worker bees will kick the drones out of the hive so they don’t have to be fed. Unable to support themselves, they die.
As you can see, honey bees can live anywhere from 3 weeks to 5 years, depending on their role in the hive. Even though we can estimate the average life span of honey bees, many external factors could end the life of a bee prematurely.
The lives of bees never cease to amaze us!
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