Earlier in the spring, Honeydew brought a couple of hives over to Flathead County, mostly for my amusement purposes. I love to watch the bees.
And Maggie loves to check on “her” bees. She’s got a great bzzzzzzzzzzzzz noise, too.
While we were inspecting the gals on Sunday morning, we saw a worker hauling a huge load of bright red pollen. Now, what in the world do y’all suppose that could be from? It seems as though everything over here is currently in bloom, so it’s hard to say, but it sure makes for a pretty picture.
The bees bring pollen back to the hive, using pockets on the sides of their legs that Honeydew and I like to call their chaps. The technical term is pollen basket. According to Karl von Frisch, it takes a honeybee between 3 and 18 minutes to fill her basket.
On a related-only-in-the-craziness-of-my-mind-note, have y’all heard the new Pistol Annies song, Loved By A Workin’ Man? This shot of Honeydew’s hands, endlessly abused in beekeeping, brings it to mind. It’s a simple song that people who enjoy making fun of country music will probably have endless fun with, but it resonates with this country girl.
Other interesting observations from Sunday morning … they’re starting to make honey!
All of the equipment in this hive is brand new (some of our stuff is about 40 years old) and it’s been amazing to watch the bees create all that gorgeous wax comb – they start from scratch with new frames.
The queen lays her eggs in parts of the comb. The workers store honey in some areas, and pollen in others.
See the pollen, stored in the comb?
The bees secrete flakes of beeswax from a special glands in their abdomens in order to form the hexagonal comb — hexagons being nature’s perfect, space saving shape, of course. Researchers have estimated that bees have to fly about 150,000 miles — or about six times around the Earth! — to produce one little ole pound of beeswax. In doing so, they’ll eat about eight times as much honey by mass. What does that mean for beekeepers? Roughly, for every 10 pounds of honey we harvest, we harvest about a pound of wax.
I never get tired of learning about bees. Hope y’all feel the same way.
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