Honey Bees at Work
Frame of Honey Bees
Honey Bees Work Hard
Honey Bees on a Hive Entrance
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
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
Honey Bee Momments
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.
Check Out These Other Beekeeping Tales
- Free Honey Bees
I am a new beekeeper and the thought of being able to catch free swarms of honey bees is very tempting. Join me as I attempt to lure a swarm into my homemade honey bee trap!
- First Year Beekeeper
Follow me, a first year beekeeper, through all four seasons of my first year. I am starting with two nucleus hives and attempting to use only chemical free beekeeping methods.
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
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.