Bees – Inside the Hive
ambience hive bees buzzing
It’s honey harvesting season and we’re using this opportunity to take a look at the dynamics of a beehive. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Rick Fell is a Professor Emeritus in Entomology at Virginia Tech.
Fell: What we have here is asmall honeybee colony in the bottom we have frames that contain comb in which the bees are rearing young what we call brood. In the upper hive body, it’s designed for storage of honey, and we have a number of frames in there that are partially filled with with honey.
ach frame, of course, consists of has bees on both sides of it. This frame probably has, oh, at least 1,000 – 1,200 bees on it.
In a honeybee colony, we have a single queen, and we have anywhere from several thousand to as many as 60,000 or 70,000 workers. And in a mature colony, during the summer months, we may have, oh, 5,000 to 6,000 drones, or males. The queen is the only reproductive individual. The workers, of course, take care of all of the labor activities, from comb construction to care of the young to foraging. And then, the drones they’re strictly raised for reproductive purposes, and when the drones are mature, which is about 12 days of adult age, they leave the hive and go out on mating flights to mate with potential queens out there.
A colony of honeybees is active all year long. And as, of course, nectar and plants are only available during the summer months, they need something to survive the winter. Honey is that stored energy source, and the bees then utilize that honey to produce heat during the wintertime, and it allows them to survive -for any period of time, really, when there’s not nectar or pollen available. So, they’ve got inside of the hive, a food store. And they can utilize that, then, say, if it’s in the wintertime, when it’s too cold to forage or there’s no plants available. But even during inclement weather during the summer, they’ve got a food reserve.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner