Rilwanu sent me a message by using the ask a beekeeper part of this website. If anyone has a question let me know and I'll do my best to answer it. Rilwanu wrote:
How "do bees organize?"
Running a hive takes a lot of work. Just like humans, bees will work together to get their job done. Here are a couple of things that help keep them organized.
Hive Layout- A Place for Honey, Pollen, Surplus, and the Brood
Here are some photos of comb with different things stored in its cells. Can you see how the pollen is separated from the larva and capped brood. Each thing has it's own place.
Chores- A Family of 40,000 or 60,000 to Help Around the House
Each hive is made up of one very large family. As a family they have different responsibilities to help one another and care for the younger sisters and brothers. People have studied bees for hundreds of years and scientists still don't understand exactly how bees organize their hive. We are still learning how they work and stay so organized here are the basics of what we know:
Communication- Helping Your Sister Find Some Food
Bees have their own language that is very different from our own. They dance to tell others where nectar and pollen are, how much there is, and if it is high quality. Here is a short clip about the waggle dance. This bee is using it to tell others where a new home could be, but bees also use this dance to tell others where to get nectar.
Occasionally you may see photos of me working with my bees without safety gear. Most beekeepers wear a veil and jacket to keep from getting stung. But I believe the best thing to keep you safe is knowing what to expect.
The best thing to keep you safe is knowing what to expect.
The more you know about what to expect the better prepared you can bee to work with bees. I know that some days I am fine without gloves and a Jacket but there may be other days that I need them. I am not more brave than my beekeeper friends wearing full suits, but I do think that this year I have been blessed with a calmer colony of bees. I am always prepared and have water, gloves, a jacket, veil and allergy medication on hand just in case.
Yesterday I was walking back to my car after working with the bees and one got stuck in my hair. I tried my best to help her out while staying calm, but I got stung anyway. I am sure if I got lost in a head of hair I would be scared, frustrated, and ready to sting whatever was trapping me. I am not mad, but a little sad for that little stuck bee. As soon as I was stung, a friend helped me pull the stinger out. Because it was pulled out so fast, It wasn't as painful as my last sting.
After emerging from their capped cell they get some pollen to eat then get to work cleaning their room, I mean cell. They also work to keep the brood warm. You can see lots of capped brood almost ready to emerge.
These young bees are called Nurse Bees, because they take care of feeding the larva. Days 3-5 they feed the older larva and days 6-11 they feed the youngest larva.
On day 10 bees develop wax producing glands on their abdomen. Researchers still don't know exactly how it works, but I think it is a little like ear wax. At this age the bees are eating lots of honey to convert to wax. For every 6 pounds of honey they eat (as a group), they produce 1 pound of wax. They use this wax to build the comb. The comb wax is cream colored when it is new or freshly built. During days 10-16, bees are best at producing wax as they get older they produce less wax. So during days 12-17 they are making wax and building comb. They also carry food to store in the cells and perform undertaker duties. An undertaker is someone who takes care of the dead. As a bee they take any dead bees out of the hive.
During this time, a bees stinger is at maximum potency. That means it has some really strong venom. Since they have the strongest stingers they work as guard bees. A guard bee inspects every bee that enters the hive. They can smell the bee and tell if they are from this hive or another. If a bee from another hive comes to the door with pollen or nectar the guards won't stop them. It's like they are bringing gifts. If a honey bee from another hive comes with nothing the guards won't let them enter. If a wasp, bumble bee, or yellow jacket tries to enter the guard bees will not let them in either. They will release a pheromone or a smell to warn the others. It works a lot like a fire alarm warning people there may be a fire. Other bees will come out and attack. If they are trying to rob the hive, by stealing their honey, the bees will attack.
Days 22-death (40-45)
This is when the worker bee begins to forage. They start searching and collecting water, pollen, and nectar. The single bee will travel to many different flowers of the same kind collecting pollen and nectar. They pollinate these flowers when pollen sticks to the hairs on their body and then rubs off onto another flower.
Staring at the dancing bees in an observation hive, it hits me. I love how these tiny creatures communicate. It looks like they're having fun dancing around while telling their sisters where to find some nectar.
Amanda's Sting Count
2013- 6 stings