Honey Bee - by Betsy Seeton
It was a beautiful day and I was photographing a bee. I ended up following him/her around like I often do with butterflies or dragonflies. Then I noticed a lot of bees coming in and out of a tree. I climbed through the thick branches that blocked easy access to it and discovered this wonderful beehive. I bent some branches out of the way and climbed onto some fallen trees to get a better look. I fell in love with photographing them. I got as close as I physically could, which was about 18 inches. There were so many branches and I didn't want to disturb the natural setting. I observed and clicked away for at least twenty minutes. The bees weren't bothered by my presence at all. It was so cool! Not much beats a nature show in the wild. What a special treat!
NOTE: It's 2/27/2011 and I've been back four times since I posted this. I've also updated some of the photos. It's a favorite place to visit now. I'll sometimes sit below the hive and photograph the individual bees as they come get water and forage for more nectar. I've seen their nectar sacks completely full as they fly back to the hive. Their tube like tongues are red and stout. It is wonderful to watch the hive grow and to study/observe these marvelous creatures.
March 1, 2011 update: I've been going to the hive daily. The temperature has to be above 50 degrees before I see many bees flying around. As soon as it warms up, the buzz gets louder and more and more bees fly in and out of the hive bringing sacks full of pollen.
I brought some flowers to them one day thinking they would love them. I was so surprised that they didn't once land on a flower but instead focused on chips of bark, fallen tree branches and dried leaves. I also brought them some sugar water and poured it onto the wood and made a couple of small puddles for them to get extra energy since it seems so barren right now.
MY LATEST BUZZ
(takes you into March with more bee info & pics)
Honey Bee - by Betsy Seeton
Please read WHERE HAVE ALL THE BEES GONE? and learn about what's happening to bee populations around the world.
Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives.
Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables.
Vanishing of the Bees follows commercial beekeepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they strive to keep their bees healthy and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S. The film explores the struggles they face as the two friends plead their case on Capital Hill and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees.
Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the greater meaning it holds about the relationship between mankind and mother earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alternative reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound and after years of research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery. Click here to see when a screening is showing in your area.
BEES PHOTOGRAPHED MARCH 3, 2011
by Betsy Seeton
"In cold climates honeybees stop flying when the temperature drops below about 50 degrees F and crowd into the central area of the hive to form a "winter cluster." The worker bees huddle around the queen bee at the center of the cluster, shivering in order to keep the center between 80 F at the start of winter (during the broodless period) and 93 F once the queen resumes laying. The worker bees rotate through the cluster from the outside to the inside so that no bee gets too cold. The outside edges of the cluster stay at about 46-48 degrees. The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes. During winter, they consume their stored honey to produce body heat. The amount of honey consumed during the winter is a function of winter length and severity but ranges in temperate climates from 30 to 100 lbs." SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA
STRAIGHT FROM http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask_st/073097.html :
Honeybees use nectar to make honey. Nectar is almost 80% water with some complex sugars. In fact, if you have ever pulled a honeysuckle blossom out of its stem, nectar is the clear liquid that drops from the end of the blossom. In North America, bees get nectar from flowers like clovers, dandelions, berry bushes and fruit tree blossoms. They use their long, tube-like tongues like straws to suck the nectar out of the flowers and they store it in their "honey stomachs". Bees actually have two stomachs, their honey stomach which they use like a nectar backpack and their regular stomach. The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar and when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honey stomachs.
The honeybees return to the hive and pass the nectar onto other worker bees. These bees suck the nectar from the honeybee's stomach through their mouths. These "house bees" "chew" the nectar for about half an hour. During this time, enzymes are breaking the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars so that it is both more digestible for the bees and less likely to be attacked by bacteria while it is stored within the hive. The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, making it a thicker syrup. The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax. The honey is stored until it is eaten. In one year, a colony of bees eats between 120 and 200 pounds of honey.
Pictured below, you can see the pollen sacks the bee is dropping off....
The photos below were taken on March 4, 2011. The temperature was in the mid 40's so there weren't a lot of bees around the hive. CLICK TO READ: COMMUNICATING WITH BEES
Go to motherearthnews.com/search.aspx?search=bee keeping for an archive of beekeeping articles from Mother Earth News.
Be sure to read WHERE HAVE ALL THE BEES GONE?
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