Class 5 visited the school beehive today to see how the residents were settling in. They had many questions for Erika at Mayow Park Community Gardens.
Do other bees use the hive?
Your bees will probably be the only bees to use the hive. Sometimes moths can get into the hive and destroy them. That is why the special door the bees push under is fitted to the hive.
Is the queen the only lady bee?
The queen is not the only lady bee. In fact, all of the workers who collect nectar and pollen are female bees. They are slightly smaller than the queen.
How can you tell male from female?
You usually only see male bees in late summer when they are out searching for new queens, but you can see female bees all year from early sprint to autumn. If you want to tell the difference from late summer on, look at their legs. If there is pollen, then it is a female as male bees do not collect pollen and so have no pollen basket. Also, the male bees (drones) that hatch in mid summer have no stinger, have slightly longer antennae and bigger eyes.
Do bees grow or do they emerge fully grown?
Bees emerge from the hive fully grown, but start their lives in eggs laid by the queen. After 4 days as eggs, the bee larvae begin to hatch. The queen then makes protective cells for the larvae with a small hole on top so that she can feed them. 4-5 weeks after the larvae hatch, they emerge as fully formed bees! These are the worker bees who will collect nectar for the honey pot and pollen to feed the next brood (or batch) of eggs laid by the queen. Some of these eggs will become male bees.
Where will they go in the Winter?
The new queens hibernate over the winter in places such as compost bins, loose soil and piles of leaves. It is one of the good reasons not to keep your garden too tidy! If you disturb a hibernating bee and she doesn’t get too active, you can usually cover her again and she will continue to hibernate. However, if she remains too active she won’t go back into hibernation and may not have enough stored reserves to survive until the first pollen becomes available in the spring.
How long do our bees live for?
How long a bee lives depends upon the role it has. Your bees should live and stay in the hive until sometime in October, depending upon the weather. The existing queen, her workers and any males will then die, but the new queens will find a good place to hibernate over the winter and will start a new colony next spring.
We would like to get a new colony when they need replacing. Will this be possible? When will they have to be bought?
If one of the queens produced this year does not return to your hive, then we can purchase another colony next spring. Not only will they help pollinate the food at the garden and in neighbouring gardens, but the new queens will help increase the local populations!