Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Your Next Bee Lesson

Since I'd taken off the two boxes of honey and the bees didn't have lots left, I thought I'd better check the hive I'd robbed. What I found was that the bees had increased the amount of honey in the hive so I felt pretty confident they would be fine for a little while unsupervised.So I hung up my veil and gloves and stood in front of the hive within a couple feet and started to photograph. See how dedicated I am to you. Oh I tried to first take pictures with my veil and gloves on but the camera became sticky and I couldn't see what I was doing.And I didn't want you too miss an opportunity to learn. You were progressing along so well on your bee lessons that we just can't stop now. Get ready, this is quiz time. Can you find the drone in this picture?
Let me help you. This picture does not have a drone in it. Now study it carefully. Note the bee bringing in nectar. That means there is brood but the queen isn't laying too many this late in the year as the food supply is dwindling with the countryside turning a crispy yellow.

Now this photo has a drone in it. Did you find him. He's the one with the fat butt. Now isn't that nice for a change. I swear mine just keeps getting bigger and my husband's smaller. Yup, he's the one in the bottom of the picture that is dark. Now this bee is sipping honey that broke off from a frame that I lifted out to check for how much brood was being laid. The bees will collect all this and put it back into the hive.Don't want to tax the brain too much as I know all of you are probably working like crazy trying to haul in and can the harvest, unless of course you are in Australia and your opposite to us, and so that's the only question for today but I have a interesting fact. Okay, maybe not a fact but I'd say that cutter bees are better at pollinating alfalfa because they aren't as smart. You may argue with me on that but I can read through the lines of research. Oh, the scientist didn't come out and say it but what else is one to suppose when they say that honey bees learn that alfalfa snaps them a good blow and they aren't real anxious to go back and collect pollen or nectar?
Cutter bees just keep coming back. I'd say it was smarts but then I'm rather partial to a bee that gives me honey. They got to be smarter don't they storing up for winter like they do?

How that snap happens is that when the bee visits the alfalfa flower, it dislodges the sexual column causing it to snap. Here is where the observers argue. Some say the bee gets bopped on the head and others on the underside. I don't know about you but I'd rather be thumped on the back than the head. But either way, I'd be a bit leery about a repeat performance too. Yet, since my bees have little else to collect food from, that is what happens to them. When I found out this I almost felt sorry for them but then I had another slice of bread with alfalfa honey on it and my guilt feelings just melted away.

The researchers said honeybees aren't as effective as some others at pollinating alfalfa because they learn how to outsmart the plant and keep it from triggering the snap. See, I told you they were smarter.

Can't remember if I told you this or not but the reason we started with bees was because eating local honey eases your pollen allergies. Our young son had terrible sweet clover allergies and so we put in a few hives near a large sweet clover patch and after years of eating alfalfa and sweet clover honey, he doesn't have a problem with the allergy anymore. Of course by then Kirk and I were hooked on honey and though Kirk has encouraged me to quit because of my having too many projects, I refuse. I enjoy them and oh how good that honey tastes. It is especially sweet since we've had so many years of drought that we have been surviving on our stores from eight or better years ago.

As good as jelly is, we still prefer honey on our bread.

This is your second lesson. Note how dark the bee is flying with yellow pollen baskets on her legs. Then notice how light some of the other bees are. Yup, just like a cat, a queen bee mates with more than one male. Though each often chooses multiple partners during their heat cycles for lack of a better word for bees urges. With a queen bee, it is during her maiden flight and then she is bred for life. Call it a one day fling but it is a doozy for she then spends the rest of her life having babies.

So now when you see a hive with a stark contrast in the look of the bees, you'll know it is half sisters that your looking at. Then again if it is a brand new hive the bee keeper robs bees from other hives and places them with the new queen. Given time those bees will die out and the young queen's offspring will take over the hive. With this hive the answer to the differences in looks of the sister's is that the queen when young just couldn't resist tall, dark and handsome, and the lovely fair haired boy either.

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