Thursday, August 6, 2009
Honeybee Hives at Beczak
Local beekeeper Charles Branch gave a wonderful program on honeybees for the kids at Beczak. We learned that honeybees give us two basic things: honey and beeswax. They are also the biggest pollinator. 1 out of every 3 bites you take, a bee is responsible for! Bees live 4-5 weeks in spring and summer. Winter bees winter over from late fall through March. A bee has 2 antennae with hairy fibers that pick up the scent of water, necatr, etc. They use their 2 front legs to clean their antennae, their rear legs to hold pollen and their middle legs to walk with, and to stuff pollen onto the rear legs. (In the second photo below, one of the workers has orange balls of pollen on her rear legs. The bee with the blue dot painted on is the queen.)
A hive has 3 types of bees: one queen, many female workers, and some male drones (whose only purpose is to mate with the queen. They don't even feed themselves-- the workers do. Drones have no stinger.) In the fall, drones are pushed out of the hive. The queen lays 1,500 - 2,000 eggs per day. The female workers rotate through several different jobs in their lifetime. First they clean the hive; then they act as nurses, feeding the larvae; next, the build the hexagonal wax combs of the hive; then they perform guard duty at the entrance to the hive, and finally, they go out to collect necatr, water and pollen (second photo below).
We were amazed to watch two drones emerging:
Next, the kids went outside to look for bees in action. When they came back in, it was time to do a craft-- rolling a beeswax candle, and decorating it with a pipecleaner bee.
Mikro had a fantastic time! After the program, we hung out near the water with firends, then took a walk in the nearby parks and saw lots of birds and bees.