The practice of keeping bees in hives dates back at least as far as the ancient Egyptians.  The summer edition of the National Trust magazine has an interesting  article entitled ‘The Beekeeper’ in which Emma Hill the head gardener for Dunham Massey treats the reader to some interesting facts about bees:

A bee society is predominantly female. There are three castes of bee: the single queen, who lives for five years and lays some 2,000 unfertilised or fertilised eggs a day in summer. The unfertilised ones become drones – stingless males, whose only job is to mate with the queen. The fertilised eggs become the smaller, female worker bees. Their roles include polishing cells with propolis (tree sap), guarding the hive, foraging and removing dead bees – they keep the hive spotless. During summer a hive can have 50,000 workers and a few hundred drones.

Emma has been studying bee behaviour and has observed that:

When their stomachs are full of honey (a worker bee has two stomachs – an extra one for storing honey) they’re happy and emit a low hum. A high-pitched buzz means they’re angry. I know when they’re going to sting me. A worker bee can fly two miles (3km) to collect nectar, pollen, propolis and water. They perform a waggle dance – a figure of eight movement – to show other bees where to farage and their excitement is visible.

Our bee population is threatened by the varroa mite which weakens their immune system. The bee keepers at Dunham Massey are using icing sugar to treat the disease. The sugar is sprinkled onto the bees through a fine mesh, this encourages the bees to groom which in turn removes the mite.

Busy Bee

8 Comments CherryPie on May 30th 2011

8 Responses to “100 Photos 81 :: Bees”

  1. Andrew says:

    Ah yes… “100 reasons to be glad.” Up next – the birds and the bees?

  2. Chrissy says:

    I never knew thay used icing sugar for that ;O Learning every day …

  3. Wow what a great way to deal with the mites,

  4. Mickie Brown says:

    I had a “discussion” about bees the other day with a family member and vowed to look up info about them on the internet. Your post has saved me the trouble (though I still think I will do a little more research on them–they are fascinating insects). The “sugar cure” (isn’t sugar a pretty good cure for everything!!) is most interesting–my family is going to think I am soooo smart when I pass that along to them. Great post–thanks. Mickie :)