Afternoon buzz

With the sun finally joining us this weekend, we decided to seize the opportunity to chill with some beers on the balcony. However, we weren’t the only ones getting on our afternoon buzz – the bees that live in the backyard decided to join us as well. Luckily, our beekeeping buddies (family friends who tend to the hives) were around to give us a little lesson on Honey Bees 101. Here are the facts of bee life:

  • There are three types of bees in the hive – the Queen, Worker and Drone.
  • There is normally only 1 Queen bee at a time in a hive, and she can live up to 5 years or more!
  • The Worker bees are sexually undeveloped females (which means they don’t get to mate), and they do all the work. They live up to live about 45 days in the summer, a bit longer in the winter. They have a stinger but only use it if they feel threatened and die once the deed is done.
  • Drones are the male bees and they do no work whatsoever. They don’t even have a stinger. All they’re good for is mating with a Queen. (Do I see a trend in the animal universe? ;))
  • The Queen mates with up to 17 drones over a 1-2 day period of mating flights (naughty bee!). She stores the sperm in her purse called a spermatheca, so she has a lifetime supply and never mates again. She selectively releases the sperm for the rest of her life.
  • A new Queen is developed from larvae selected by worker bees. It’s fed exclusively royal jelly in order to become sexually mature, so she’s getting the royal treatment from day one.
Photo by Nikola Jurlina

I might be a geek but I find this just (if not more) fascinating than the royal wedding! A few more bee-musing facts:

  • Bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using pheromones.
  • Apparently, they can also count to four.
  • Bees can recognize individual human faces, which can be confirmed by our friend Natalie who clearly had a stalker drone following her around.

For more information on the birds and the bees, check out Isabella Rossellini’s award-winning series of short films about the reproductive habits of animals, adequately dubbed “GREEN PORNO”. If only they replaced boring textbooks with Isabella Rossellini’s educational and entertaining videos, I think a lot more kids would have paid attention in science class.

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One Comment on “Afternoon buzz”

  1. natalie says:

    That drone wanted me dead! So I did what any threatened animal would do in the wild, flapped my arms and shrieked uncontrollably. But really, thanks for such a lovely afternoon! Oh, and a fanastically informative blog.


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