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Week two – Honey Bees in Bee Hives


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What a healthy hive looks like -- what sort of bees live in the hive, what healthy brood looks like, where to place your hives so that you can manage them

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Week two – Honey Bees in Bee Hives

  1. 1. Week Two – Bees in Hives What a healthy hive looks like Dara K. Dimitrov
  2. 2. Honey Bee – Apis Melifera Distinguished by  the production and storage of honey  Construction perennial, colonial (hive) nests made from wax
  3. 3. Bees in the Hive Queen Bee 16 days to emerge from cell - Can live up to 3 years - Newly hatched queen needs to make a mating flight – she will collect approx. 100m sperm within her oviducts
  4. 4. The “Girls” in the Hive - Forager bees House keeping bees Heater bees Queen carer bees - They are sterile and don‟t lay eggs 21 days to emerge from eggs – summer bees live 6 weeks – winter bees can live up to 6 months
  5. 5. The „Boys‟ in the Hive Drones mate with the queen - On mating he loses his endophallus (in the Queen) and dies - The next male has to remove the previous endophallus, mate and will eventually die too Emerge 24 days from egg and can live up to 4 months
  6. 6. Make Up of the Hive  The bees will instinctively build wax cells – honey comb  The queen will lay an egg in each cell – the egg sticks to the ceiling of the cell  Worker bees fill the cells with royal jelly to prevent the eggs from falling  Worker bees are fed royal jelly for the first 2 days of life (larvae) while Queens are fed royal jelly through out the larval life  The development of each member of a hive depends on the caste of the larvae – drone, workers or Queens
  7. 7. Lifecycle of the Bee  Egg is laid and royal jelly is packed around the egg  Larvae hatches out and is fed by young worker bees  The Larvae will undergo several moulting's before spinning a cocoon within the cell and pupating – the cell is capped  Worker bee hatches out – or Queen – or Drone
  8. 8. Bee Brood & Patterns  The temperature in the hive is important – a constant 37 degrees (so don’t open the hive on cold or windy days)  Imagine the hive brood box is a round loaf of bread - so when you look at a frame with brood – it is like looking at one slice of bread from the loaf of bread  The frames in the middle of the box will have the largest number of brood cells while the frames at the outer edge have the less (the centre of the loaf)  Typical frame will have  Brood in the centre (circular pattern concentrated)  Pollen will be stored next to and around the brood  Honey will be stored above it and to the edges of it  Drone brood is usually found at the sides
  9. 9. Bad Brood
  10. 10. Single or Double Brood Boxes?  Double brood boxes gives the queen more room to lay  Higher bee numbers  Greater honey gathering capacity  BUT if low bee numbers the hive gets cold  More space to be heated
  11. 11. Species of Bees There are over 20,000 different species of bees in the world The ones you will deal with will be either  Italian Bees (smallish –yellow - cute)  English Black Bees (large – black)  Carnolian Bees (medium – cute-ish)
  12. 12. Selection of bees  Most of the time – its what you can buy  Carnolian bees  Moderate temperament – depends on the time of the year  Good honey harvests  English Black bees  Quite big in comparison to other bee species  Quite aggressive – will defend the hive vigorously  Gathers awesome amounts of honey very quickly  Italian bees  Smaller  Don’t gather honey as quickly as the other species  More passive bees (passive in relation to other bee species)
  13. 13. Placement of the Hives  Which direction – it doesn’t matter  BUT  Avoid windy places - it will make the hives stressed  Avoid the deep shade to moderate shade –  Direct sunlight is not a problem  Make sure the ground is flat (the hive will fall over especially if you get a bit of height on them)  On pallets?? Yes you can – but you don’t have to  How close – back to back –with the entrances at opposite sides
  14. 14. Other considerations  Easily accessible come honey harvest time – it will be a mission to heave the honey boxes up a steep hill!  Good drainage – firm dry land – that does get water logged or flooded  Good source of water near by – the bees need water to build wax, dilute the honey if it is too thick and to cool the hive in the summer when it is hot.  Be mindful of your neighbour’s pool
  15. 15. A chicken water feeder – You can place some gravel or small pebbles in the tray to provide steps for the bees to drink from
  16. 16. Next Week  Managing and working with the bees  The bee calendar year – timing is everything