Flower Pollinators: All About Bees and Beekeeping

Bees are very important to food production for humans and other animals. Honeybees have been tamed to some extent and cultivated in hives from ancient times to today. The practice of beekeeping, whether for industrial purposes or a hobby, churns out a number of nutritious, medicinal, and other products each year. Beekeepers have to be finely tuned into the seasons, the health of their bees, and other aspects of nature to ensure an ample yield. Read on for more on honeybees and their dedicated keepers.

Basic Bee Knowledge

Honeybees are complex creatures with complex social lives. Although they are often feared for their stings by the general public, in actual fact they are rather gentle. Honey bees divide themselves into workers (females), drones (males), and the queen bee. The entire life cycle of the bees revolves around their queen. They work hard to nurture and protect their queen, and she in turn lays eggs to create a new wave of young bees.

Use of Bees

Bees are used for numerous reasons other than simply the production of honey. In agricultural regions, they are highly valued for their efficiency in pollinating plants and improving crop growth. From their hives, we also extract other materials including propolis (a sticky resin), royal jelly, honeycomb, and beeswax. Royal jelly and propolis, along with bee venom, have been used in traditional medicines and skin care.

History of Beekeeping

Imagine beekeeping existing as long ago as the Ancient Egyptians! In fact, they did cultivate bees, as did other surrounding cultures. Makeshift beehives ranged from clay pots to hollowed logs and woven straw baskets. Early techniques of extracting honey involved destruction of the hive. During the 18th and 19th centuries, people started to adopt different techniques with removable frames in order to keep hives intact while removing honey.

Basic Beekeeping

Beekeeping is a full-time commitment that should be considered very carefully. It takes a good deal of research, and care. While it might be a bit pricey to start out, there are several basic tools that can be made at home for a lower cost. Novices should start with a single hive and hone their techniques before increasing the colony. Most hobbyist beekeepers normally have up to twenty-five beehives at most. It is also important to brush up on beekeeping safety practices to avoid getting hurt or accidentally killing bees. A crushed bee releases a particular smell that agitates other bees and can make them defensive. Similarly, fast movements and strong smells (such as sweat), are perceived as threats and can provoke a bee to sting. Many beekeepers use smoke when inspecting hives. A few puffs of smoke causes bees to change their behavior temporarily and feast on honey. At the same time, they become a little more subdued and are less likely to attack the keeper or defend their hive.

Other Interesting Bee Facts

It takes a massive amount of work on the part of many bees to create just one little pot of honey. Worker bees that are in charge of collecting nectar normally only live for up to four months after developing into a full-sized adult. In that short life time, they may visit about two million blooms. All of that nectar only adds up to a couple of teaspoons per bee at most. Bees make honey as a source of food that they store inside the hive. On the other hand, royal jelly is used to help raise their larvae. Extra honey is stored in the distinctly hexagonal honeycomb cells and then sealed with beeswax. Even the wax is made by the bees, secreted by special glands that lie on their undersides.