The queen bee is marked with a red dot in this photo.
The Parts of a Hive
There are three parts to a colony of bees: the worker bees, the drones, and the queen.
Drones are sexually mature males that do nothing else but mate with the queen.
Worker bees are sexually immature females that do the brunt of the work: they work inside the hive as well as go out and collect pollen.
Queen bees lay both fertilized and unfertilized eggs, which become drones and worker bees, respectively.
Seasons of the Bee
Beginning of a new year for the bees, they begin to make preparations to survive the winter. Older bees die off. They make the entrance to the hive smaller in order to keep out the cold.
Bees form into clusters in order to keep warm. The bees generate a heat, around 93 degrees Fahrenheit. During cold spells, the bees stay where they are within the hive, and during warmer spells, they move to a different area of the hive where there is honey and eat off of that. The queen continues to lay eggs.
As temperatures rise, the bees start to leave to collect pollen. The number of worker bees very quickly increases. The queen prepares for hive division by laying more drone eggs. They also prepare to raise a new queen. The old queen leaves, taking about half of the hive with her. This is known as swarming. The remaining hive continues to work, and a new queen emerges. The queen flies up into the air and the drones mate with her.
This is a time for collection of nectar and pollen in preparation for the coming cool months. If the bees collect enough honey, a beekeeper can remove some while still leaving plenty for the bees for winter.
An example of swarming in the spring.
Why are bees important for our environment?
Bees are crucial for a number of reasons. One of the most important to humans is that they are responsible for a lot of our food. Many people may only think of honey when thinking of food that bees produce, but in fact, bees are responsible for so much of the food that we eat. So many of the fruits and vegetables that we love need bees to grow. For example, without bees, we would no longer have apples, strawberries, avocados, or almonds, to name only a few.
As well as the food that we eat, bees help the air that we breathe. The majority of plants rely on bees, and plants provide much for our world, from turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, providing breathable air for us humans, as well as providing shelter and other resources for animals.
If there are no more bees, the world as we know it would cease to exist.
Fun Facts About Honey
Did you know that honey can be used to fight allergies? It is recommended to take honey from 10-15 miles from where you live. If you live in the greater Waukesha area, our honey is perfect for you.
Honey has been used on wounds for many, many years, and studies show that it does indeed help them heal.
Honey should be stored at room temperature. It should not be stored in the fridge, nor should it be microwaved. If you find that your honey has become crystallized, place it in hot (not boiling) water to re-liquify it.
Honey has a lower glycemic index than white or brown sugar.
Bees need to create 10 pounds of honey to be able to create 1 pound of beeswax.
An average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
There are more than 300 varieties of flowers and blooms that honeybees can visit, which means the taste, color and smell will vary from honey to honey.