Little Farm in the Big Woods

what’s the buzz all about?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 11:44 AM

My oh my, spring is a busy time on the farm!  It’s been so long since I’ve had time to sit down and share with you.      

This time of year is so exciting and invigorating.  We’ve got two very pregnant goats, and two goats that are giving us yummy milk.  We’ve got a bunch of teenage chickies running around the yard, and last week we added several thousand new animals to our ever-growing little farm.  No, really!!!  What kind of animals you ask????       

Bzzzz Bzzzzz Bzzzzzz!  Honey bees, of course!!!  We are so excited!  We are trying two different types of hives. The picture above is our Top-Bar Hive, surrounded by beautiful Honesty flowers! To the right is our Langstroth hive, which is the usual white stack of boxes that you see around.  (Ours are not painted white ;)  Those are the most common style of hive and the easiest for a commercial operation.  The Top-Bar style hives are hives that you generally build yourself, and they are better for those who want a more organic, natural approach.  Now, even in our Langstroth hive, we are not following the usual methods, but giving the bees a little more freedom to do things their way.  We want both hives to be as natural and organic as possible, but still easy to work with.

This is the comb they built on an empty top bar in less than 24 hours.   This is the comb they built on an empty top bar in less than 24 hours.   

This is the same comb, three days later!  Busy Bees!!!

Now, we’ve only had our bees for 9 days, so we’re still new-bees (Ha!), but so far we just love getting to watch and interact with our bees.  They are awesome!        

Here are a couple of fun facts about bees.....

• There are three types of bees- Queens, Workers, and Drones

• Every hive has one queen.  After she hatches, she stings and kills any unhatched queens, and fights and kills any others that have hatched.  Shortly thereafter she goes out on several mating flights and mates with up to 20 drones. She can live about 3-5 years.

• The queen lays about 2,000 eggs everyday.  Fertilized eggs become workers, unfertilized eggs become drones.  When it is time to make a new queen, the worker bees will take 1-20 of the fertilized eggs, build them each their own special extra-large cell, and feed them a diet consisting solely of Royal Jelly.  This takes what would have been a worker bee, and makes a queen instead!

• Worker bees make up the majority of the hive’s population.  They are all female, and have many jobs.  They keep the hive spic and span, feed the babies, the drones & the queen, they produce wax and build comb, carry & store food, guard the hive, and collect pollen, nectar & propolis, and make honey! Worker bees live about 6-8 weeks.

• The drones have only one job.  They hang around in the hive, doing nothing, until it’s mating time.  Then they fly away to mate with queens from different hives.  They mate once, and then die immediately after.

• Worker bees almost always die when they sting a human, but they can sting other insects and some animals repeatedly and not die.   Queens rarely sting, but they can sting humans and not die.  Drones do not even have stingers!

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