Honey Bees at Work

Frame of Honey Bees

Honey bees bustling about on a comb.
Honey bees bustling about on a comb.

Honey Bees Work Hard

Honey bee working on clover.
Honey bee working on clover.

Honey Bees on a Hive Entrance

Honey bees filing in and out of a hive.
Honey bees filing in and out of a hive.

Inside a Honey Bee Hive

Honey Bee Facts

- A colony of honey bees will travel the equivalent of two times around the earth to make a pound of honey.

- A colony of honey bees must visit about two million flowers to make a pound of honey.

- A honey bee can fly almost fifteen miles per hour.

- A foraging worker bee normally visits fifty to one hundred flowers per outing.

The Hard Working Honey Bee

The honey bee is one of nature's hardest working insects. A typical colony can consist of fifty thousand or more bees, all working under the watchful eye of the queen. The queen can lay up to two thousand eggs every day during peak laying season.

A honey bee colony runs like a well oiled machine without anyone giving orders or assigning tasks. Worker bees complete certain hive tasks based on their age.

A Queen and Her Brood

Frame of capped brood with queen.
Frame of capped brood with queen.
Honey bees hanging out on the front of their hive.
Honey bees hanging out on the front of their hive. | Source
New split colony adjusting to a new hive.
New split colony adjusting to a new hive.

Brood

Honey bees that are still in development are known as brood. First, the queen bee lays an egg in the bottom of a comb cell. Then the workers feed and care for the egg until it is a larva. At a certain age, the cell is capped, and the larva begins to pupate. When fully developed, an adult worker bee will emerge. The entire process, from egg laying to adult honey bee, takes about three weeks. This new bee goes straight to work at it's first hive job by cleaning out the cell it just emerged from.


Honey Bee at Work

Hive Full of Honey Bees

Tops of frames in a honey bee hive.  Notice how the bees have built some wax comb on top of the bars.
Tops of frames in a honey bee hive. Notice how the bees have built some wax comb on top of the bars.

Honey Bee Momments

Honey bee comb full of multicolored pollen.
Honey bee comb full of multicolored pollen.
Male drone bee on hive tool.
Male drone bee on hive tool.
Queen honey bee is in the middle with a bit of a white mark on her back.
Queen honey bee is in the middle with a bit of a white mark on her back.
Two ten frame Langstroth style honey bee hives.
Two ten frame Langstroth style honey bee hives.

Typical Honey Bee Hive

There are many types of beehives used throughout the world. The most common is the Langstroth style hive. These are the stacked boxes, typically white, that most of us have probably seen before. Each box has frames that slide down into the box and provide space for the bees to build comb. The beekeeper can remove individual frames to inspect hive conditions and work with the bees. Multiple removable frames in each hive also allows the beekeeper to manipulate hives in order to better manage them. For example, a frame of honey can be taken from a strong hive and placed in a weaker hive that needs more honey.

The Busy Season

The busiest season in any apiary is always spring. The bees are working as fast as possible to collect all the available nectar. The beekeeper is in full hustle mode, trying to keep up with the bees. The beekeeper works hard to give the bees everything they need to be successful. In return, the bees often collect a surplus of honey that the beekeeper can harvest.

Apiary Tasks, Surprises, and Rewards

Two small honey bee hives, two bigger hives in the background.
Two small honey bee hives, two bigger hives in the background.
Beekeeper lightly smokes bees.
Beekeeper lightly smokes bees.
Beekeeper inspects frames of honey bees.
Beekeeper inspects frames of honey bees.
Swarm of honey bees on a tree limb.
Swarm of honey bees on a tree limb.
Honey bee swarm from my strongest hive.
Honey bee swarm from my strongest hive.
A frame of capped honey.
A frame of capped honey.
Raw honey straight from the hive.
Raw honey straight from the hive.
Bottled raw honey.
Bottled raw honey.

The Honey Harvest

As the bees collect nectar, they store it in open wax combs within the hive. House bees will fan their wings over the nectar, to remove excess moisture. When the moisture reaches the correct level, the bees will cap it over with wax. The nectar has now been converted to honey, and is ready for harvest.

Honey is harvested by removing the honey combs, held in wooden frames, from the hive. The wax caps over the honey are removed by the beekeeper using a special tool. The honey is then placed in an extractor. The extractor holds the combs upright, and spins them around inside a collection drum. The honey flies out of the combs during the spinning and runs down the sides to the bottom of the collection drum. The honey is let out of the bottom of the drum, strained, and stored in large food safe containers until bottling time.

Honey Bees, Up Close and Personal

Inside a honey bee hive.
Inside a honey bee hive.
Honey bee hive entrance.
Honey bee hive entrance.

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2 comments

CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 2 years ago

Very interesting read. I didn't know you could take honey from one hive and place it in another to make them stronger. Thanks for sharing!


mgeorge1050 profile image

mgeorge1050 2 years ago from West Georgia Author

Yep, you can even take brood (baby bees) combs and add them to a weak hive. This will provide them with a boost in population to help strengthen the hive. This is a very interesting thing to me, that I can swap resources between hives and the bees don't seem to mind. Thanks for your comments.

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