Save the Beekeepers to Save the Bees

Save the Beekeepers to Save the Bees

Pollinator Week 2019

We are asked all the time if the bees are doing better? Well that is a loaded question and depends on the overall goal of asking.  Is the honeybee populations increasing? Yes. Well there, I am glad we made it through that rough patch.  If life were only that easy.

In 2006, when colony collapse was first reported, people became nervous about the health of the honeybee. Since that time many people picked up the mantle to be a beekeeper and bee colonies have since seen an increase in numbers. Does that mean that bees are getting better or there is just more bees?

Bees are still suffering.

Bees are still suffering like they were, in fact the number of honeybee deaths are continuing to increase.  So how is it that bee populations are increasing, then? Good question.

Bees are a fantastic animal that can populate quickly. A good queen can produce almost 2000 eggs a day when food supply is plentiful. There is also money to be made from bees, making it financially advantageous to be a beekeeper.  Bees can make so much honey that the excess can be sold, pollinations services are needed more now than ever, and other products from a beehive are in high demand. The reason bees are not in a decline is because beekeepers are stepping up to help this amazing little bug and can make money doing what they love.

But what if bees are not so easy to keep, or money can’t be made from them? We can see the effects of that with the Rusty Patch Bumble Bee. The Rusty Patch Bumblebee was once prolific around the Great Lakes Region, but it was placed on the endangered species list last year. It does not make enough honey to sell, you can’t easily domesticate it, and its hive is limited in size because the queen is the only one that survives winter.

Other pollinators are in decline

Other natural pollinators are seeing the same kind of decline in their populations.  If it becomes financially insolvent to be a beekeeper, many businesses will give up and decide to let their passion go. If hives continually die, many hobbyists will also throw in the towel. If that happens, we will once again see a huge decline to the bee populations.

What is the simplest way to help the bees? Help the beekeepers. Beekeepers are on the front lines keeping bees alive and healthy, but we need your help to do it.  We need you to buy our products, support our business, and spread the word.  We need you to let your dandelions bloom and to stop using sprays that harm bees.  We need you to plant flowers that are not treated with systemic pesticides, so bees have more forage. We need you to be calm and call a beekeeper when you see a wild swarm dangling from a tree in your front yard.

Bee Lovely Botanicals has an excellent option that allows you to support beekeeping and get a little in return.  Our Adopt-A-Hive programs is geared toward giving you the knowledge you need to do your part and the support we need to do ours.  With our Adopt-A-Hive program you get to pick between a full share or half share.  Each share includes equal amount of product as your investment, a hive manual, an adoption certificate, and hive updates.  You can also name the queen with the full share option.

Please join us on Facebook  for our 2nd Annual Pollinators Trivia Night.  We’ll be giving away an awesome honeybee inspired gift set to person with the most knowledge of honeybees and the fastest typing fingers.

 

Not All Bees Are Created Equal – The honeybee caste system

Not All Bees Are Created Equal – The honeybee caste system

The honeybee caste system

Not all bees are created the same. In this post I will address the differences occurring in the honeybee caste system.
If you are signed up for our newsletters, you know that we have been discussing what goes on in a hive. I try to hit the major points of the caste system without getting lost in the weeds, which happens to me often when talking about bees. The blog, however, allows me a little more room to go into detail about bees, their behavior, and why they’re is so interesting. So without further adieu:

In this first article I will be explaining the caste system of bees. It seems that the political realm has not affected the bees yet, so they are okay with fact that they are not all the same. In the bee caste system, there are three designations: queen, drone, and worker. Each with its own job and is specifically designed to perform it to near perfection.

The Queen

The queen gets the bulk of attention. When we take an observation hive to shows, everybody’s first question is, “Where’s the queen?” She definitely is important to the hive and her characteristics are always under scrutiny by any good beekeeper. All bees receive royal jelly, but queens get such an abundance of it that their ovaries and spermatheca (sperm storage organ) become fully developed.

The queen, being fully developed, goes on mating flights and will become an egg laying machine until the day she dies a natural death or the workers feel there is a need to replace her. The queen will lay up to 1500 eggs a day during the peak of honey season.

She directs the temperament of the hive by the pheromones she produces and also the genetics she carries, since she is the mother of the hive. Under normal working conditions there is only one queen per hive, but sometimes during replacement or possible swarm you might find two.

The Worker Bee

The worker bees in a beehive are all females.  They do all the work of the hive: cleaning, nursing young bees, defense, wax production, and lastly foraging and sweating down honey. The workers also determine where honey is stored, how many eggs should be laid, when to replace a queen, when to swarm, and a whole bevy of other things. During peak season there could be up to 60,000-70,000 workers in a hive. Workers will live only 6-8 weeks during the summer.  They work themselves to death during the honey making season.  The bees will hopefully survive through the cold winter months to be replaced in spring.

The Drones

Drones get the worst press of any type of bee. They are the males of the hive, and their main job in life is to mate with the queen. They also play a role in regulating hive temperature.

Drones come from unfertilized eggs.  They only have one set of genes and are sometimes referred to as flying gametes. Drones are much bigger than workers and often mistakenly thought of as the hive’s defense, but they have no stinger to defend with, they really only have one job.

Unmated or poorly mated Queens only lay drones, which causes the hive to eventually dwindle and die. Since they only have the one job and since queens don’t mate in winter, the drones get kicked out during fall so they do not consume precious hive resources. Only a small percentage of males get to complete their one and only task. Oh and by the way, after the drone completes his job he dies in the air by getting his penis ripped off!!! Not as much fun as it originally sounded, is it?