Bee's Favorite Flower
The flavor and color of honey is dependent on the flower from which the nectar is collected. On a given day, a foraging bee will only collect nectar from a single species of flower.
If the bee hive is in the middle of a large field containing a single crop, such as clover, All most all of the bees will be collecting nectar from that flower.
When the beekeeper takes a frame from the super, he will find mostly clover honey in the comb. He will extract the honey and sell it as clover honey or whatever the species of flowers is in the field.
The flavors will range from delicate to strong. The color will range from a very light yellow to a dark amber.
Most small beekeepers such as myself keep the hives where the bees can access a variety of flowers. On a given day, there may be bees visiting several different species of flowers, and a bee may switch species of flowers from day to day. My bees produce a mix of different types of honey. The honey produced by my bees is rather dark and very rich in flavor. I sell it as honey from mixed flowers.
The Bee's Life in the Winter
No, bees do not hibernate, but they are as busy as ever inside the hive. Bees are cold blooded insects, As the temperature drops, they become less active. If they get too cold they will stop moving and eventually die.
The first order of business in the late fall is to kick all of the drones out of the hive. While it is suspected that drones may have some duties in the hive, their main function is to be available to mate with any virgin queen when she takes her mating flight. Thus they are not needed in the winter and are kicked out to conserve food.
The colony population dwindles some, but most of the usual activities are ongoing. A crew of attendants feed and groom the queen so she can lay eggs. Other bees clean out the empty cells and care for the larvae. Any bee that is not busy, clusters around the brood comb in a large ball. They flex their flying muscles, thus generating the heat that keeps the brood comb at the center of this ball a constant 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Because worker bees only live six to eight weeks, the colony must produce three or four generations of workers over the winter. As honey is consumed, this ball of workers slowly moves upward and the active area of the brood comb moves as well.
The food they live on is the honey and pollen they stored during the summer. In theory, I could simply let the bees live off of their honey, but it is practical to give the colony supplemental food during the winter. In the winter the hive has a feeder contain concentrated sugar syrup. The bees eat this, and even store some as honey. By feeding the bees, I prevent the colony from starving during a very cold winter. I also insure that come spring a large amount of their honey will be untouched. With fewer empty honey comb cells, the colony will more quickly lay down their stores of honey for the next year, and I can put a super on sooner. It is the honey in the super that I harvest.
On warm winter days when the temperature exceeds about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a few of the bees will leave the hive for short flights, always making sure they return before they get chilled. I am not sure what they hope to do. Perhaps they are able to bring a little water back to the hive. There are seldom any flowers in the winter from which to collect nectar or pollen.
As spring approaches, the bees must increase the population of workers in the hive in preparation for harvesting nectar from spring flowers. They must also build a few oversize cells in the brood comb so that the queen will be stimulated to lay drone egg. Some swarms start in the early spring, and the colony must then have drones ready to mate with new queens.
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In spite of our unusually cold weather, we had a couple of days warm enough to feet the bees. The feeders were almost empty. The bees took exception to me opening their hives, but they sure were glad to see the sugar syrup going into their feeder.
As mentioned in the column on the left, the bees live in the winter on their stored honey, but supplementary feed in the form of a sugar syrup keep them healthier and helps them to get a jump start on honey production in the spring.
Bee Sting Remedy
Bees do not bite, but they sure can sting. Worker bees have a barb on their stinger so they can only sting once. Drones have no stinger.
If you get stung, apply toothpaste to the sting. It will quickly reduce the sting and will minimize swelling.
What is a Beehive?
Most bees are housed in a Langstroth beehive. This consists of a stack of two boxes on a base. These boxes are large enough to each hold 10 frames that are designed to encourage the bees to build their combs on the frames. Dimensions are such that there is plenty of clearance for the bees to move around, but not enough to encourage the bees to build combs outside the frames.
A lid closes the top. and a slot in the base provides an entrance for the bees.
The wax combs are used both to raise new bees and to store honey.
Early in the summer when the beekeeper sees the bees storing large amounts of honey, he will remove the lid and cover the top box with a mesh called the queen excluder. The holes are large enough to allow worker bees to crawl through, but too small for the queen. On top of the queen excluder, the beekeeper places another box full of empty frames called the super.
Because the queen can not get into the super to lay eggs there, the workers can lay up combs full of pure honey. This is the honey that the beekeeper harvests in late summer or early fall.
Of course, the lid must be put on top of the super.
I like the
flower. It is so
bright red and smells good.
I am told it is God's favorite plant. The Jewish high priest was instructed to decorate the hem of his robe with embroidered pomegranate flowers. Some say that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was not an apple but a pomegranate.
Bees are a social insect that lives in colonies. Apiculture is the art of keeping bees. Each colony consists of one queen, about 20,000 worker bees and a few hundred drones. They live in a cavity called a hive. The hive may be a hollow tree, or a set of boxes supplied by the beekeeper. When a hive is over crowded, bees swarm. Occasionally a honey bee swarm will make their hive in the wall of a building or some other place where they are not desired.
The queen is the only fertile female. She lays all the eggs, up to 2000 per day.
Worker bees are infertile females. They tend to the queen, keep house, care for the larvae, guard the hive, forage for nectar and pollen, and carry water to their sisters in the hive.
Drones are the male bee. Their primary duty is to mate with new queen bees. It is suspected they have other duties, but none have been verified. They lack a stinger. Each fall they are ejected from the hive to die in the cold so the queen and workers can survive on the stored honey.
Honey and pollen are the bees' food. Beekeepers are careful only to harvest the excess honey, leaving enough to enable the colony to survive the winter.
A fun page about bees and bee keeping for bee keepers and others.
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Reynold Conger, Author, books
The flower of the
yellow and turns
red as the days go by.
It has so many stamen filled with pollen that gathering nectar is like swimming in pollen. I love to emerge with my coat covered in pollen.
that is the
I have to work a little harder than some other flowers because I must extract nectar from each individual section of the blossom, but it is worth it to taste the delicate flavor of clover nectar.
Pure clover honey is very light colored and has a delicate flavor that many honey-lovers prefer.