Warren’s World of Wildlife – Honeybees

When I Say Honey, U Say Bee!

For most pest controllers, one of the worst jobs is having to destroy a Honey Bee colony. I mean how can you call a honey bee a pest when they produce honey, nectar and beeswax among other things. They’re hard workers are honey bees, and rely heavily on teamwork. Honey bees differ from Wasps and Bumble Bees who only hang about for one season, they’re in for the long haul and Queens can live for 2-5 years with a frequent turnaround of worker bees looking out for her.

Now, we don’t see many about this time of year, but you do see the odd one. As a cold blooded insect you would expect them to hibernate, so do they come out of hibernation for a toby round before curling up and going back to sleep for a few more weeks?

The answer is no, bees don’t actually hibernate and temperatures as low as 6-7° can kill the individual bee, so they have to start their winter survival preparation by storing pollen and honey as early as Springtime.

And the key to surviving the cold is by ‘clustering,’ no bee is an island, they all need each other. By snaffling up the sugars in the honey and moving about, they keep the cluster between 8° on the outside to a balmy 27°on the inside. And all the time they are rotating, so no individual gets too cold or too comfortable for that matter, apart from the Queen Bee because the whole idea is to keep her alive and well.

The ‘odd bee you see flying about in winter?’ Well it could be a male bee (drone) whose been kicked out as they aren’t really needed and are a drain on resources. The poor lad’s just left to his own devices, it’s a hard to be a bloke in this female dominated society.
Otherwise, it could be on a cleansing flight. If it’s a warm winter day, bees will leave the cluster and eliminate body waste outside the hive. And as they can expand their rectum to hold it in for up to five months, I guess it’s quite an event.

As the outside temperature starts to rise, the workers will stimulate the Queen to start egg laying by feeding her in anticipation for the warmer, active months and as the older bees die off, young ones take their place and the whole process starts again.
For more info give me a call or have a look on www.leedsbeekeepers.org.uk


07950 858 678


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