HoneybeeThis section deals with general honeybee trivia, profile of a colony, and a discussion on our ingredients.

Whenever I give a presentation on beekeeping or give a tour of my operation, four questions invariably pop up. So let’s get these out of the way before we look at the more interesting stuff.

Do you ever get stung?
How often?
Oh, anywhere from a couple to a couple of dozen in a year.
Does it hurt?
Do you mind?
Yes!!! But I compare it to getting a vaccination needle. I’d just as soon not, but both the vaccination needle and the bee sting protect from certain kinds of illnesses ( the bee sting protects against and treats arthritis and rheumatism). There are times, can you believe it, when I intentionally sting myself.

Did You Know?

  • The honeybee is the only insect that makes food for man.

  • There are more books written on the honeybee than any other animal, except humans.

  • A honeybee flies about 22 kilometers/hour.

  • A healthy hive contains 45,000 - 60,000 bees.

  • During the honey flow, the worker bee’s life span is only about six weeks.

  • To make one kilogram of honey, bees must visit about four million blossoms.

  • Bees maintain a hive temperature of 32 - 34 degrees Centigrade in the central brood nest, summer and winter.

  • The honeybee forages within three kilometers of its hive, and sometimes further.

  • Honey has been used throughout the centuries as a dressing for wounds since microbes cannot live in it. It also produces hydrogen peroxide.

  • The term “apitherapy” refers to the use of bee venom and other bee products for medicinal purposes.

  • All natural honey will crystallize. Depending on certain factors such as storage conditions and floral source, some honey will crystalize sooner than others. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean the honey is gone bad. Gently reheat the honey and it will return to its natural liquid state without losing its flavour.

The Colony

Honeybee ColonyThe honeybee is known as a social insect. That is, it works not for itself but for the good of the colony. For example, the female worker bee dies after releasing its stinger, yet the bee rarely stings in its own defense, but gives up her life for the overall benefit of the colony. During the honey flow, she will gather enough food to insure the survival of the hive during the winter months, yet she will not benefit from this as she will die long before the arrival of winter.

The Castes

The honeybee colony is made up of three separate castes. The queen, worker, and drone.

The Queen
Queen Honeybee
The queen determines the personality of the hive. Traits like hygienic behaviour, level of aggressiveness, and even honey production can be traced to the genetic make up of the queen. The queen is fed a special diet of royal jelly. It is this food and nothing else that causes the queen to be almost twice the size of the worker bee, have a life span of up to five years, and can sting repeatedly. During the summer months, the queen will lay between 1500 - 2000 eggs a day.
The Worker
Worker Honeybee
The female is known as the worker bee. Her early life in the colony begins with tending the brood nest, or “nursing duties”. She will prepare the cells for egg laying, feed the young and help heat the brood nest. She will then move on to “housekeeping” duties such as cleaning the hive, storing honey, making new comb, repairing cracks, and general maintenance of the hive. When she is two to three weeks old she will become a “forager” and collect nectar, pollen, and propolis.
The Drone
Drone Honeybee
The third caste, the drone, is the male bee. The drone’s sole purpose is to mate with a virgin queen The drone does not forage, has no stinger, and is not involved in the overall maintenance or well-being of the colony. (Some men call this utopia, but just read on). During the summer months a hive will contain several hundred drones, but come autumn when the hive needs to prepare for winter and conserve its food supply, the worker bee will force the drone from the hive and it dies.


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