Thursday, July 8, 2010

Drones and Three Bee Keeping Lessons

No, not as in to drone on and on when your talking or drone as in the military where they refer to those little minature planes that bomb sites. I want to talk about the drones that live in a beehive. In case your wondering, that's the guys.
If your looking at a cluster of bees and your a newby. You know, someone who doesn't know the girls from the boys. You can probably point to any one of the bees and correct if you said it was a girl. 100 percent if it is on a flower. Even if you pointed at the bees on the sides of a hive, you would be 98 percent right saying it was a worker bee. You guessed it, all those out and about working are girls. In other words, you have a queen which lays sometimes 1800 eggs a day, workers who take care of those offspring until they can go to work, forage for nectar to produce honey, and build comb, and then drones. What do drones do? In two words - absolutely nothing. Okay, once every 3 to 5 years who's ever alive can fufill their natural urges. Yup, you guessed it, a queen is bred only during her maiden flight once in her lifetime and she is the only one. No one else gets to work for that many years and when the nectar is flowing the workers work themselves to an early death.

But we're talking about drones here. What do drones turn their attention to since most will never breed with the queen? They eat. Oh they don't forage for it. They beg it off the workers, lazy slobs that they are. They are capable of a little work, they just would rather use their charm instead. But, too many princh charmings means too many mouths eating and not working. The girls have a way of fixing that. They take them out in the late fall and shoot them. Not literally but they will rip their wings off and dumped them outside the hive to die. Nature is a cruel world since it is survival that rules it. One of the things I was looking for when I went through the beehive boxes on Monday is to make sure there was brood, eggs, larvae, etc., and that their weren't lots of drones. Lots of drones can signify that there is a worker laying, not a queen. A worker sometimes takes over for the queen is she's dead and she can only lay drones. You got it. If drones are what's hatching then none of the work is being done. The offspring don't even have to be hatched to tell. The brood cells of a drone are much larger, sticking out further.

Yup, that's what I'm going to teach you today is what a drone look like.

Look carefully, can you see him? These are Italian bees so look for the one that is darker, larger, and has a fat butt, hiney, behind, rump, backside, derriere or whatever you want to call it. My daughter says I have to use the word toosh around the kids? LOLDid you find him?Okay, I'll help you. Here's a up close look.
That's your First Lesson

Your probably wondering why the repeated flower pictures.

It's whats for dinner, alfalfa, if your a bee.
There's a little sweet clover this year but not much else but alfalfa in the fields where they are and not that in most other places, just grass and that is why our area is called the grasslands.
In our yard, there is plenty of dandelions and that's where we come to our
Second Lesson. See the sacks of pollen on this honey bee's legs? Hint, the orange ball on each leg. This bee has been busy. Yup, you remembered, it's a girl. She will bring back the pollen and put it in a cell near the brood so the nurse bees can feed the young. Those are the workers names with the job of caring for the young. Looky there, the bee is collecting nectar. Hint, the big tongue like thing sticking out the mouth.
Third lesson,
bees especially like blue, purple, and yellow flowers.
These two flowers may be both yellow roses from two speparate rose bushes but to a bee they are not created equal. The double rose does not attract but few bees. The extra pedals means there is not as many anthers, so less pollen is available and the extra pedals makes it more difficult for the bees to reach the reproductive organs of the plant. The dandelion on the other hand is a composite flower meaning lots and lots of flowers side by side make up one dandelion head. Hence, the bees love them because there's lots of pollen and nectar.

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