Apis Mellifera

My buddy has honey bees!!! They are so cool. He only recently acquired the hive, and was worried that he might not have a viable queen. It was a small swarm, and being that a swarm is the old queen, well, it's not unreasonable to assume there was a perfecy good reason she was booted. Boring educational interlude: When a hive gets too large, the workers start feeding some of the brood royal jelly. These cells will mature into queens, not workers. The first queen to hatch wins. The first thing she does is kill her competing sisters. The old queen leaves the hive, with a cadre of loyal workers. That's what a swarm is.

And that's what my buddy collected. He got a phone call from the local bee dispatcher. He showed up with a box, and several stings later, drove off with a nascent hive.

But my buddy's queen seems to be good for it. The hive is doing great. The queen is reproductive, as there were lots of young workers buzzing around us. He had to feed the hive sugar water for its first two weeks to keep the bees from starving, but they settled into their new home and were able to create new cells, and therefore new bees.

He opened the top for us and we saw the workers creating new brood cells. They were very docile. They didn't even mind that he relocated a piece of wax with 10 bees clinging to it. They kept working, oblivious that they were no longer in the hive. He says that the sound a hive makes tells you a lot about the attitude of the bees. It had a nice, low hum. If the octave goes up, it means that they're agitated. If that's the case, then avoid the hive, as the bees might sting anything that moves.

As the temperature warmed up, a bunch of workers stood at the entrance to the hive, held on tight, and started buzzing their wings. They're on A/C duty: Keep the hive cool by circulating air. Some of the bees inside were doing that as well, presumably to keep the air moving through all the partitiions.

He says that he won't get any honey this year, but by next year he'll be getting about 100 lbs. (Assuming the hive survives the winter)

I plan on checking out the hive as it expands, helping him add a slat or box (if he lets me), and maybe siphoning off a pound of honey along the way.


At 5/15/06, 3:58 PM, Blogger Michael Stone said...

Fascinating stuff. The insect world is full of wonder and mystery. Whenever I dip a spoon into a jar of honey I marvel at how it was created.

When I was holidaying in Scotland one year, I brought back several jars of local honey where the bees had visited mostly heathers. The taste was different to any shop-bought honey and delicious.

I could never get close to a hive though. So I'm a wuss, at least I admit it!

At 5/15/06, 11:30 PM, Blogger Crinis said...

If the bees have a consistent nectar source, then the flavour is very distinct.

Suburban honey tends to be overly sweet, because the nectar sources are so varied (not that the bees mind). And I don't really mind either, especially if I can put it in my tea.

One of my favourite variatals is 'Poison Oak'. It's delicate and sweet, without being overpowering, and apparently the blossoms of this plant aren't toxic like the leaves are!

At 5/16/06, 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you know (probably do) that honey never goes bad? I had a friend who gave me some who kept honey bees and I literally just used it up like a year ago (and she gave it to me in the early 90's)


At 9/29/08, 10:11 PM, Blogger Fuzzy said...

Hey folks.
Can someone guide me how to start a "bee keeping honey making company"?
I fly airplanes and would love to do this project to raise money for underpriviledged people and help the environment at the same time.
By the way pls register if you so choose ..


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