Basic Bee Information
The key to getting into beekeeping is understanding the bees. There are three types of bees found in a bee colony, and each has their own specific role to fullfill.
The most abundant type of bee in each colony is the Worker bee. This is a female bee that is incapable of reproduction and has tasks both inside the hive and out. These tasks include 'housekeeping' which takes place for the first two weeks of a workers' life. Housekeeping involves repairing damaged sections of the hive, clearing away bee carcasses, and feeding the queen with royal jelly which only bees of less than ten days old can make because they have a special secretion from their mandibles at that age. After two weeks, worker bees can fly and so are sent out to collect nectar and pollen. After another two weeks of collecting worker bees are put on guard duty, protecting the entrance to the hive from intruders
Drone bees are males whose only job is to breed with the queen. They are only allowed in the hive if they will mate with the queen, and then they are sent out. No drones live permanently in a bee colony and workers keep them out of the hives in the autumn so they die each winter. Drones do not have the necessary tools to collect pollen or nectar and are therefore useless apart from their breeding capabilities.
The queen is the most important bee in the colony and is very different from both other types found in a hive. The queen's job is to breed with the drones and lay eggs. It may not be much of a job, but it is through her that the colony can continue year after year. The queen lays enough eggs to keep the hive in workers for the spring and summer and also knows when to begin laying eggs again in the winter. There is only one queen per colony of bees and when she dies the worker bees will choose new worker larvae to replace her. In order for the worker larva to develop into a queen, they must be fed a special substance called 'royal jelly' which contains mandibular gland secretions from young worker bees and more honey than worker bees get. The queen also has control over the hive in that she secretes pheromones to regulate the behaviour of all the bees in the hive.
The lifespan of the bees varies greatly between different types: the queen can live anywhere from two to seven years; workers live for 30-50 days, whereas drones live for around 55 days.
Interested in Beekeeping?
Successful Beekeepers often share some of the following traits.
A desire to
|* A desire to learn (but not from dry textbooks)|
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