Jun 9, 2010

honey bees

My husband's cousin Dylan runs his father's ranch in Wyoming and on that beautiful ranch he keeps honey bees. This is a tradition in my husbands' family. His grandfather Handrich was a beekeeper for many years. Someday on our farm we will have bees. They will mingle with the goats and alpaca. They will pollinate and give us sweet honey for our tea, our skin and so many other things! Did you know how amazing honey is?? 
  • The practice of bee keeping dates back to 700 BC
  • In ancient times, Eygptians sacrificed honey by the tons to their river gods, Roman legions slathered honey on the wounds to promote healing 
  • Honey is a miracle food; it never goes bad. It was reported that archaeologists found 2000 year old jars of honey in Egyptian tombs and they still tasted delicious! 
  • There are many references to honey in the Bible. Proverbs 24:13- My child eat honey, for it is good and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
  • Honey's anti-inflammatory activity reduces edema and minimizes scarring
  • Honey's antibacterial quality not only rapidly clears existing infection, it protects wounds from additional infection
  • Bees collect 66 lbs of pollen per year, per hive. Pollen is the male germ cells produced by all flowering plants for fertilization and plant embryo formation. The Honeybee uses pollen as a food. Pollen is one of the richest and purest natural foods, consisting of up to 35% protein, 10% sugars, carbohydrates, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins A (carotenes), B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinic acid), B5 (panothenic acid), C (ascorbic acid), H (biotin), and R (rutine).
Honeybee lifestyle is amazing. There are 3 Castes of Honeybee
Queen Bee 
There is only one queen per hive. The queen is the only bee with fully developed ovaries. A queen bee can live for 3-5 years. The queen mates only once with several male (drone) bees, and will remain fertile for life. She lays up to 2000 eggs per day. Fertilized eggs become female (worker bees) and unfertilized eggs become male (drone bees). When she dies or becomes unproductive, the other bees will "make" a new queen by selecting a young larva and feeding it a diet of "royal jelly". For queen bees, it takes 16 days from egg to emergence.
Worker Bee 
All worker bees are female, but they are not able to reproduce. Worker bees live for 4-9 months during the winter season, but only 6 weeks during the busy summer months (they literally work themselves to death). Nearly all of the bees in a hive are worker bees. A hive consists of 20,000 - 30,000 bees in the winter, and over 60,000 - 80,000 bees in the summer. The worker bees sequentially take on a series of specific chores during their lifetime: housekeeper; nursemaid; construction worker; grocer; undertaker; guard; and finally, after 21 days they become a forager collecting pollen and nectar. For worker bees, it takes 21 days from egg to emergence. The worker bee has a barbed stinger that results in her death following stinging, therefore, she can only sting once.
Drone Bee 
These male bees are kept on standby during the summer for mating with a virgin queen. Because the drone has a barbed sex organ, mating is followed by death of the drone. There are only 300-3000 drones in a hive. The drone does not have a stinger. Because they are of no use in the winter, drones are expelled from the hive in the autumn.
Here are some photos my husband took on the Handrich ranch last week

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