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Interesting Honey Bee Facts
Depending on the time of year with its peak in spring to early summer and a strong drop in the winter, the beehive is home to one queen, a few thousand drones (male bees) and 20,000-70,000 worker bees (female bees)
During the productive period worker bees live on average 45 days, the drones four months or shorter if he mates and dies in the process with a virgin queen. The queen can live up to 4-5 years and during the peak productive season can lay up to 2000 eggs a day.
During the peak months the bees may decide to swarm and approx half the colony will leave with the queen to establish a new nest and colony. The remaining bees will raise a new queen and continue the colony. The bees see swarming as reproduction.
The worker bees do all the work in the hive, tend to the queen, raise the brood, defend the hive, collect pollen, water and nectar. The drones do very little if anything and their main sole purpose in life is to mate with a virgin queen.
For the bees to produce a one pound jar of honey (450g) they will have to fly the equivalent of 45,000 miles, visit approx two million flowers and a single bees lifetime work is approx one twelfth of a teaspoon.
The bees collect nectar from plants with a comfortable radius of two miles from the hive and on collecting this nectar special glands secrete an enzyme that mixes with the nectar, it is this enzyme that helps to turn the nectar into honey. On returning to the hive the bees deposit the nectar into the honeycomb cells. This nectar has a high moisture content of approx 80% and the bees move the nectar around the hive and fan the hive with their wings to reduce the moisture content down to 20% and lower at this point they cap the honey with a wax capping and then its lovely honey.
Nectar and honey provide the bees with carbohydrates, but for most of their nutrition they require pollen. The bees collect the pollen from flowers and in doing so provide us with much needed pollination of crops ect. The pollen is carried back to the hive on their specially adapted back legs in their pollen baskets. A single bee can carry approx one third of her own body weight in pollen approx 10 mg and a single hive in a full season may require 45 kg’s of pollen and that is approx 1,500,000 pollen collecting flights,
The bees have one final duty to perform before winter. As the season is coming to an end and the drones are no longer needed, they throw the drones out of the hive to perish.
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