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Any idea how long an average worker and queen each live?
Do they tend to die anywhere special, such in the hive, or do they fly off when they feel near the end?
Could in-breeding be a problem? If so, how would they naturally get new blood into the hive?
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The poor worker is worked to death after just 6 weeks in the summer. There is a slight twist to this in that workers born late autumn, will survive 6 months, through the winter to be on hand in the spring when things start to warm up again.
The queen on the other hand will live up to 5 years, though laying up to 2,000 eggs a day in the summer, does take it out of them and so by 3 years, a queen may be past it.
Bees, unlike hens who are messy little pests, are particularly clean. They don't poop in the hive and will remove any dead bees. However, many workers will die on that one last foraging trip.[/quote]
Doesn't seem to be a problem. A queen will probably only ever leave the colony once in her life, with one purpose, to mate with as many drones as she can. Apparently, drones from all over the area will gather in one place waiting for queens. Worker scout bees become aware of the drone gathering places and when the queen is ready to fly she will be accompanied by workers who guide and protect her.
Where do the bees go foraging?
One of the things I have noticed, or not as the case may be, is that I don't see my bees in my garden. I see lots of bumble bees on the nasturtiums and buddleia but no honey bees. Presumably, they have found better sources of pollen and nectar.
I was out for a walk with Mrs Fab a few weeks ago, along an old railway track that is now a sort of wildlife trail, to check out the reed beds that were constructed a few years back. I have now become something of an obsessive with all things bee related, so was on the look out for bumble bees, etc., when I spotted quite a number on a large clump of Himalayan balsam. Was I had never noticed before was that as a bee enters a Himalayan balsam flower in search of nectar and buries it body right the way in, the flower is constructed in such a way that the bee gets a small dab of pollen on its back. Here's a picture I found taken by someone else:
Bumble bees about to enter Himalayan balsam flower
This dab of pollen is very noticeable and presumably quite important to Himalayan balsam plants in that the next flower the bees visits get an exchange of pollen.
I was out inspecting my bees and it was very noticeable that quite a few of my bees had been on the Himalayan balsam!
Bees dabbed with pollen!
Crikey, you keep on like that, and you'll get yourself killed!
You'll only be able to get away with that kind of behaviour whilst the bees are still a Nuc - once they get a bigger colony, they'll have more bees to defend the hive - then you'll learn to suit up correctly, because you WILL get stung!
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Well may be not killed exactly, but I do know where you are coming from. It's not exactly a nucleus, the good weather of late has resulted in an absolute population explosion, so the colony is pretty large at the minute. Come the less sunny weather I am sure that they are more likely to turn more nasty and I will have suit up better.
Though your warning does remind me of a guy I meet in a night market in Thialand. He collected bees wax from wild colonies. He told me, 6 bee stings, take paracetamol, 10 stings hospital!
On occasions I have been stung literary hundreds of times, not pleasant at the time but fear better in my book than being bitten by mosquitoes.
I don't know if this facebook picture opens. It's a picture of a bee-suit copied from a Brueghel picture. No gloves, the sleeves do't seem to be tied, and I wouldn't fancy bees crawling up inside my skirt either.
Wickerwork veil, anyone?
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They're getting there, slowly
The biggest concern I have as a beginner, is trying to help my colony through its first winter. In order to do that, there are two things to get to grips with. First, making sure they have enough stores for the winter and second, trying to keep them as healthy as possible and not riddled with varroa mites. I'll treat for mites towards the end of August, so today was just a regular check on the hive to make sure things are looking OK.
In terms of numbers, I can't believe how well this new colony is doing. Over the past few months, there has been an absolute population explosion. The queen is laying well and the brood box, the lower box, is full of new brood, plus pollen and honey reserves, that the work bees use almost immediately for feeding the new young.
The super (the box that goes above the brood box and what should be the main store of honey) is doing OK, though whether they will be able to lay down sufficient stores for the winter remains to be seen. But they are drawing it out (beekeeper talk for building wax honey comb) and actually starting to add nectar as a start of the honey making process. Here a a couple of pictures, one from a few weeks ago and one from this afternoon. You can see how the frame has come on.
A few weeks ago
This is how the frame looked after I assembled it just before adding to the super. Nothing really but a sheet of wax imprinted with outline hexagonal shapes. It's called foundation, because it gives the bees a sort of start in building the honey comb.
This afternoon: Starting to take shape
You can see the bees working on it and adding nectar, that they process into honey. None of these cells are capped yet, which they only do when the honey making process in the cell is complete.
This afternoon: Close up
You can really see the nectar at the bottom of the wax combs in this shot.
You're really doing well !!!
I went to the RSPB Nature Reserve at Dungeness today and read there are 250 species of Bee in the UK.
Never knew it was so many. Not all Honey Bees of course.
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Bees busy but not a lot for me to do.
The colony appears to be doing well and building up in numbers. There is still a lot of Himalayan balsam about and the foraging workers are busy out collecting nectar and pollen.
It is late in the season and so they aren't likely to swarm so all I did at the weekend was inspect the super, the layer in which the bees will produce honey and cap the the honey cone. So this week, it has been a case of just leaving to get on with it.
The biggest worry (for me at least) is varroa mite infestation. Varroa has been the scourge of beekeepers for the past twenty years or so since it first arrived in Britain. It is claimed that 100% of hives are infected with these little beasts, which eventually weaken the colony, leading to colony collapse. I have been dusting the bees with icing sugar but I'll leave explaining why and how varroa is controlled till next week's post.
An Indian Summer is great for the bees
Not a lot really to report this week. The good weather of the past few days has given the bees an opportunity to forage for more nectar and pollen. So, I have pretty much left them to their own devices.
The biggest worry I have is treating them for varroa. I'll write up a post about varroa treatment next week.
Interesting this fabs.
Thanks for keeping us up to date.
Great photo's by the way.
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An Indian Summer, and a bit of a bonus for the bees.
The weather is absolutely lovely here in the North East today, and I have already been out in the garden for an hour or so, feeding the hens, picking blackberries and a few fallen apples, and generally doing a bit of tidying up.
The bees are certainly enjoying this last flush of summer. They are flying fast and furious in a last ditch effort to top up their reserves of honey for the long winter ahead.
A real bonus for them has been an overgrown patch close to my compost bins. I had let a few white radishes go to seed close by and these have gone berserk, sprouted and are now flowering profusely. It's an absolute magnet for all sorts of nectar addicted insects, bumblebees, hover-flies, butterflies and of course my bees.
You might think how do I know they are my bees? Well easy really, I don't think there are to many hives close by and I never saw honeybees in the garden before I got mine. They are 'Buckfast' bees that make them pretty distinctive, so that too makes mine easy to spot. I say 'mine', honeybees are wild animals - you wouldn't really class them as domesticated - I picked half a dozen stings last weekend
Here are some pics from this morning:
The over-grown patch of raddishes - bee paradise!
Not the greatest photo I am afraid. But you can often tell the difference between bees and hover-flies (and other bee look-a-likes), as only bees (honey and bumble) have pollen baskets. You can see this old girl is pretty laden.
Oh Michael thank you so much for this, I hive loved it it is absolutely fascinating, I have seen lots of posts on fb about how we can help bees etc, but when you think how hard they work they deserve everything we can do for them, you certainly have changed my mind about bee's, thank you
My hubby absolutely loves honey, I am not so keen, I try to buy him different honeys when I see them and our Farmer's market has a beautiful stall with all sorts of crafty bee's as in embroidery, pictures etc and combs, it is lovely, and I now admit I shall take more notice of it
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