Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Delights of the Hive


The bees in the Gloriana hive have been busy, busy, busy! They're building comb like champions, and filling the cells in the comb with nectar.

Occasionally, the bees build comb in places that get torn apart when we open up the hive. The girls get right to work, slurping up the spilled nectar.

Last Sunday, we gave the bees another box, in which to build more honeycomb. Robb built frames, to which he attached two-inch wide starter strips of embossed wax foundation. In three days, the bees have built a boxful of honeycomb, and filled most of that comb with nectar.

Three days! That's INSANE!

I love seeing the structures that the bees build. You can see the remnant of the starter strip of wax, running as a sort of spine, through the middle of the comb.

Also visible is brightly-colored pollen inside of some of these cells. It's fascinating to think of all the flowers that produced this pollen.

As I said, the bees occasionally build comb in places that get damaged when we open up the hive.

We scraped off this particular comb, and ate it with bread and butter. It was delicious, with a powerful, complex flavor.

In addition to wax and honey, another thing that the bees create is propolis. This is a kind of glue, that the bees make from plant resins. In warm weather, it's sticky as can be. It serves as a kind of mortar, patching cracks in their home. Our bees are a bit propolis-crazy. I think this will serve them well in California's rainy season. Hopefully, all that propolis will keep the bees nice and dry.

The bees in this photo are exhibiting "festooning" behavior. I love how they lock their legs together, and hang on for dear life.

It makes me think of those scenes in action movies, where the hero grabs the wrists of the person dangling from the window of the huge glass skyscraper.

Here's a fun moment, showing a bee with a load of pollen. It seems as if the other bee intends to relieve the forager of this high-protein food.

This isn't a great photograph, but I find it really delightful. Firstly, there's the bee at the bottom right side of the image, with big white wads of pollen on her hind legs. But more magical is the bee emerging from it's cell. It has finished its metamorphosis, and is entering the world as a baby bee.

I always get a huge thrill out of seeing this.


Sheila said...

I get a thrill out of seeing it too! Great photos!

Anonymous said...

How long do bees live? -Rose

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Rose -- workers and drones live about six weeks in the summers, longer in the winters. A queen can live for several years.

Christine said...

Yes! Amazing! They're certainly living up to their reputation as busy! The emerging bee is just the best.


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