RON'S BEEKEEPING UPDATE
Update from the Bee Father
Hello busy bees, how is Autumn treating you? Have you enjoyed basking in the end of the summer sunshine like little Maizie above? Yes, us too. And we have spent the weekend collecting conkers and making sure the Just Bee beehives are ready for winter! Yes you read that right folks, it’s time for that much anticipated update from the Pa Harper (our resident beekeeper) about how our little striped friends are getting on in their hive up in Lancashire.
Let’s take it back to the beginning
We thought it would be best to have a little re-cap on what Pa Harper has taught us about Bees so far, especially for the benefit of our new readers - welcome welcome!
So during the spring and summer months a honeybee colony (of around 50,000…phwoar) constantly grows in size. This is due to the Queen Bee having a whale of a time ‘cracking on’ (in Pa Harper’s own words) with her mate of choice in the Hive (male bees are called drones), resulting in her laying up to 2000 eggs a day (I mean can you even imagine?!).
These eggs produce baby bees who, once born, get fed with a special jelly (with pollen) by a nurse bee so they can grow into muscly and strong workerbees, just like us!
Worker bees have a tough life and usually only survive for about 6-8 weeks, because they work so hard flying around for shifts lasting from 5am-10pm (no such thing as a 9-5 for these guys). This is a re-occurring life cycle throughout spring/summer whilst the honey store fills up in the Hive!
Ever heard of a Varroa Mite?
No, didn’t think so! This is one of the reasons bees have been struggling Pa Harper explains…”these little guys are pesky nuisances to bees and can stall the growth of the colony. They crawl into the nursery room of the Hive and lay harmful cells on the little baby bee eggs” Oh no! “This means when the babies grow into worker bees they will have an irritating Mite hanging off them, weighing them down and slowly sucking out all their nutrients which, sadly, will eventually kill themL”. Pa Harper tries to put a stop to this (YEY) and puts a special treatment into the Hive which kills off these nasty critters (Thanks Pa Harper!)
…So is everyone keeping up so far?
That’s spring/summer covered – what happens in winter (‘winter is coming’)?
Now winter is upon us we hear you wondering, ‘What do our little bees do during these colder months?’ Hmm who could enlighten us….Pa H of course :D
“As the days get shorter, somehow our clever little friends can sense this and so they start to reduce in numbers, the males bees (called drones) get made redundant first.”… This is because they don’t forage so they no longer have a purpose (Queenie therefore gives them the boot)! So why do they desize? “The reason is simply that there is less food around during winter so the bees will have to live off their stored honey which means the less mouths to feed the better and more chance the colony will survive”…interesting eh!?
Are bee bunk beds a thing?
So as much as we wanted to hear that this is true and that they all drink a hot cuppa cocoa before bed….sadly it isn’t! Our resident beekeeper explains: “Bees don’t actually hibernate in winter they all just cuddle up close and try and maintain the temperature in the Hive” (aw how cute J) Queenie makes sure she keeps nice and toasty in the centre of course!
(For those inquisitive lot, a bee Hive is usually kept around 30oC).
Bees live off their food store of honey in the hive during the colder months and do sometimes, on the odd sunnier days, have a little fly around and stretch their wings - a chance to burn off those sweet calories they’ve consumed in the Hive!
As the bees don’t forage for food in the colder months, some beekeepers, like Pa Harper, lend them a helping hand and resist from taking their honey away from them (so thoughtful). This does mean a considerable shortage of the sweet stuff in Just Bee’s kitchen but on the up side it means there is a higher chance of the bees surviving which of course is the most important thing!
The bees prepared for their photo-shoot
Photo-shoot!? Something very exciting took place at The Just Bee Hive last week when photographer Claire from a certain magazine came to visit and photograph the bees (we will reveal which one on social this week!). When the bees heard the news they spent a rather long time prepping to be papped, all had slicked back fur and wings were on point…(well we’d like to think they were as excited as we were)!
Claire, Pa H and Just Bee co-founders Joe and Andy all got suited and booted in their protective bee gear before it was all ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ The smoker was lit for the bees (and lets face it, a little drama!), and a bee-zillion piccies were taken. See a couple below J All feedback was positive and the bees behaved themselves very well, taking to the camera like ducks to water (we wouldn’t expect anything less from this colony)!
Who now feels they know and LOVE everything about bees? There’s so much to know about these clever little creatures that even here at The Hive, we are always learning new and interesting facts. This gives us even more motivation to want to save them and the reason why we donate 10% of our profits to British bee charities and give out free wildflower seeds from our website
OK, well that’s it for this week’s bee blog. We might not hear too much from the bees over the coming weeks/ months as they are all tucked up for winter. But don’t worry we’ll ask Pa H for an update before Christmas. Hmmm, now I wonder what bees eat on Christmas Day?!
Please share with us any interesting facts you have about bees, we love hearing both the weird and wonderful! Either email us or tag us on social @JustBeeDrinks
Ta ta for now Bees.
Blogger Bee x