All bees begin their life as an egg. The first stage of a bee’s life is that of a larva. Larvae do little besides eating and moulting. A bee can grow over 1000 times in size during this time. Larvae that are destined to become worker bees grow incredibly quickly. They will pupate in only six days. Workers/nurse bees will feed and clean the larvae until they become pupae.
A pupa will form once a larva has grown sufficiently. It will spin a cocoon around itself as it prepares to transform and will not feed at all during this time. Worker bees will cap the pupae in honeycomb cells with beeswax.
Male drones have the single task of fertilising the eggs that the queen bee lays. They consume large amounts of honey and harass worker bees to be fed. Females will either become a queen or a worker. Most will develop into worker bees. They do all the labour and produce the honey. Their duties change as they age. New workers will inspect and clean the cells as these must be spotless for the queen before she lays any more eggs. They will also clean the rest of the hive and drag any dead bees or invaders out.
Workers will move on to their next duty after about four days of life. They will become nurses during this period. Their duties are to feed and clean the queen as well as the young larvae. They also aerate the hive with their wings and maintain the hive with the beeswax that they produce.
The final stage for the worker bee begins when they start to leave the nest. Now the role of a forager begins. They travel to flowers to gather nectar to make honey and pollen in order to feed the larvae.
The modern, and by far the most popular, beehive used by beekeepers is the Langforth Hive. There are typically two sections to this hive, the lower “box” called the Brood Chamber and the Super (shortened from Superstructure). Beekeepers fit what is called a queen excluder between the brood and super chamber which allows all bees, with the exception of the queen, to pass through. The queen cannot pass through this grill-like panel because she is much larger than the rest of the bees in the hive. The honey frames in the super is generally where the beekeeper will take his honey from, the comb that has not been exposed to the queen.
The average colony will only have one queen who controls the colony through the pheromones that she secretes. She is the only one capable of reproduction. The eggs that have been fertilised will become either female bees or a new queen bee. The unfertilised eggs become the drones/male bees. The queen hardly leaves the hive as her job is solely to reproduce and she will only leave when a new queen has been reared. Workers will begin rearing a new queen as soon as the old one sickens or dies.
During the height of Summer, the swarm may consist of 50 000 or more bees. It takes a bee about 20 trips and over a 1000 visits per flower per trip to collect and produce one gram of honey. Bees only live for five to six weeks, with the exception of the queen who may live for three years or longer.
Hout Bay Honey Co has just opened its brand new home shop at 2 Plumtree Ave in Hout Bay. It’s open after 4pm weekdays or Saturdays from 9am until 1pm. Here you will be able to view their glass observation bee hive where the view of an entire colony of bees can be seen. You can also bring your own empty jars and pour off your own honey from the dispensers or choose from more than 6 different varieties of 100% pure, raw, non-irradiated and unpasteurised honey in glass jars.
Contact Hout Bay Honey Co.
Contact via phone on 082 68 55 888 or