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Honeybee Update - July 20, 2023

In case you somehow missed the news… Honeybees are amazing! 

There’s so much to know and learn about them. I started keeping bees about eleven years ago and I only become more interested and fascinated the more I learn about them. Every time I open a beehive I learn something. I feel very fortunate to work at a place that also values the lives of these incredible beings. We currently have two hives here on the farm. This year we decided to focus on education with the bees so we won’t be harvesting honey.  

There are 3 types of bees that live in a colony (hive): workers, drones, and a queen. The workers and the queen are female, and the drones are male. The queen bee lays eggs and produces pheromones that act as the social glue for the colony. Several thousand worker bees cooperate in nest building, food collection, brood rearing, and caring for the queen. The drones' job is to mate with queens outside of their own colony. Surviving and reproducing takes the combined effort of the entire colony. Even though there are upwards of 60,000 individual bees in a healthy colony in summer, they operate as a single entity, as if each individual bee was a cell in a larger organism. I’ll be offering a workshop on August 19th from 11 am to 12 pm titled Super (organisms) Honeybees! We'll be discussing how honey bees function as a superorganism, working cooperatively to survive and thrive. Weather permitting, we’ll have bees in our observation hive so you can have a chance to see them at work!

Honeybees will travel up to 8 miles from their hive to collect nectar and pollen. They generally work sources closest to their hive first, but if a forager finds a rich food source farther away, she will “advertise” or communicate to her sisters via what is called a waggle dance the location of this food source so that others can go and collect from that same area. How amazing is that?  Each hive is unique, and even hives that are right next to each other will collect different types of nectar and therefore have different-tasting honey. This variety is part of what makes beekeeping so fascinating and keeps honey connoisseurs on the edge of their seats each year waiting for the harvest. 

If honeybees are starting to sound amazing to you, I hope you’ll join our workshop on August 19th!


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