More on Honeybees

Whenever we read about bees there is almost certainly a moment of awe guaranteed! We’ve always wondered why we have revived very few honeybees. In fact the few we have revived have tended to be cold rather than low on energy. Today we discovered why that might be!

So a honeybee has a special ‘honey stomach’ where nectar is stored and then delivered to cells in the hive to be turned into honey… if a honeybee gets low on energy when out foraging it can use a special valve in its ‘honey stomach’ to ingest some of the nectar and revive itself. Wowzers!

This is its own secret personal revival trick… and probably explains why very few people we know have revived a honeybee with sugar solution… some but not many.

One book that we know has planted so many seeds of curiosity in folk about bees is A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes. We keep bumping onto people whose eyes light up when we mention it. It’s a book that has led many to a heart felt bee appreciation. So we are honoured to be welcoming Helen to Norwich to speak at The Book Hive on World Bee Day which is Monday 20th May 2019 at 6.30pm.

The event will be FREE! We’d love to fill The Book Hive with the bee curious and bee experts a like. Most of all we would love to see you there. If you haven’t already entered our competition to win Helen’s book then look back through our posts for an image of Dan’s hand holding it aloft. We look forward to seeing you there

Queen Honeybees

The secret life of the queen honeybee…. now we may be more interested in wild bees than the ‘kept’ honeybee but we couldn’t resist an opportunity to gaze into the mysterious world of a honeybee colony on a recent visit to Oxford…. and as soon as we found the queen circled by her entourage we were hooked.

Now she might not look all that different at first glance from the worker bees that surround her… but when she pulled her abdomen from the cell she was laying into there was no hiding her unique role in this hive. We observed her for hours inspecting a cell, laying an egg into it and then moving onto the next one.

Queen honeybees are extraordinary because then can control the gender of the egg they lay based on the size of the cell they’re laying it into. This is one of many ways in which the worker bees guide, and you could say, have control over the life of the queen. They’re the ones that feed up a worker with royal jelly to become a queen and they’re the ones who decide when an existing queen’s time is up.

It is a fascinating world and we couldn’t get enough of it. During our week in Oxford we also filmed some wonderful displays of waggle dancing and many many bees fanning the cells with their wings to regulate the temperature of the honey within them. The colony we were observing was in an observation hive at Oxford’s Museum of Natural History which is the one mentioned in Helen Juke’s book A Honeybee Bee Heart Has Five Openings. We look forward to sharing more of our observations soon