You may be surprised to know that there are over 250 species of bee in the UK alone! This week we are focussing on the honey bee in honour of our new Bee Jewellery Collection!
Honey Bees can usually be seen between March and October, flitting between the beautiful flowers and collecting precious nectar.They live in Bee Hives in hollow trees or rock cavities.
Here are some amazing facts about the Honey Bee to keep you buzzing!
A single hive can have 20,000 - 60,000 honey bees with only one Queen!
The Queen Bee is the biggest in the colony measuring about 2cm.Her job is to lay eggs - she can produce up to 2000 eggs per day!
The Worker Bee
Worker bees are female - their role is to produce honeycomb by secreting wax from their abdomens. They must also go out and forage, keep the nest clean, feed the larvae and protect the nest from predators! They are multitaskers just like female humans!
Male honey bees are called drones and they have no stinger so cannot cause harm. They often only live for a few eeeks to mate with the Queen and then they will die.Just a few hundred drones are produced in the colony compared to thousands of worker bees! At the summers end the few surviving drones are the first to be kicked out of the colony so they cannot consume the winter stores! Not a very romantic set up!
How is honey made?
Worker bees fly within 5 miles of their hive to collect pollen and nectar. They will consume what they need first for nourishment and then continue to gather more, which will be stored in their second stomach. When they bee returns to the hive a young worker bee will suck the nectar out of the foraging bee's second stomach.
The nectar will then be chewed for about 30 mins to add enzymes, which will form a syrup.The syrup will then be deposited into a honeycomb segment.The bees flap their wings till the water in the syrup evaporates and it reaches the right consistency.The honey is then ready to be capped.This is when the worker bees produce wax from their abdomens to spread over the honeycomb segment to store the honey for consumption in the winter. Amazing!
Help Save the HoneyBee!
There are a few simple things you can do to help bees thrive.
1. Mow the grass less often.
2. Dont use pesticides.
3. Plant a wildflower garden and grow as many herbs, flowers, trees, shrubs, fruit and vegetables as you can.
4. Put a bird bath or a container of water in your garden to help the hard workers!
So when you next enjoy some honey on your toast you now know what hard work went in to making it!
Reference - WildLife Matters by Maxine Raggart.