Everyone’s favourite holiday is just a day away! In honour of that special day I thought I’d write a post about love….our love for bees that is.
Last night Pat and I went to a workshop hosted by the nice folks at Grey Agricultural Services about honey bees. Side note: We are pretty amazed and thankful to have such a fantastic and accessible agricultural resource in our county. The workshop was only a couple of hours but I learned so much in that time that I thought I’d share some of my learnings with you.
This list is a random assortment of cool facts about honey bees that I picked up last night, they are in no particular order.
- All worker bees are female (surprise surprise). They have a variety of jobs including cleaning, foraging and guarding the hive. There can be upwards of 50,000 worker bees/hive in the height of the foraging season.
- Male bees are called drones. They fertilize the queen….and that’s about it. There can be about 7000 – 9000 drones/hive.
- A queen bee can live for 3-4 years (although in commercial production she is replaced every year or two). She lays between 1500 – 2000 eggs per day! She communicates with all of the bees in the hive using pheromones.
- Drones will fertilize queens from other hives…those bastards…but once they mate once, they die.
- Honey bees don’t fly. At least their body and wingspan aren’t set up for flight. Instead they vibrate – their wings can beat up to 200 – 300 times per second.
- A bee will fly between 1-2 miles for forage. Which means it’s range area can be up to 7000 acres.
- A bee can carry almost its full body weight in pollen and nectar, and can still fly between 15-20 miles an hour.
- A single hive can produce up to 150 lbs of honey annually.
- Approximately 30% of Ontario’s honey crop comes from Grey/Bruce!
- A beekeeper can supplement the hives’ food supply in the winter with sugar…fondant icing being a preferred food to supplement with.
- Bee health can compromised by the three P’s – Pests and viruses, Pesticides and Poor nutrition. Poor beekeeping also plays a role.
Us farmers, gardeners and hobby beekeepers play a role in protecting bee health. For those of us who keep a few bee hives (we are planning to get some in the spring) we need to be aware of and manage pests and viruses in our hives as these are easily transmissible to other hives in the area. We can also leave areas of forage such as ditches and hedgerows as natural areas for bees to forage. Gardeners can plant a bee friendly garden including a mix of plants that bloom throughout the spring, summer and fall, choosing single bloom flowers, planting colourful plants with strong scents and watering and fertilizing adequately to produce as many blooms as possible.
We picked up a really fantastic brochure that lists annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs to plant for a bee friendly garden. If you’re interested I can scan it and send to you…just let me know!
Some people say that bees are responsible for up to 30% of the world’s food supply (but perhaps less than that because of all the corn and rice that is consumed across the earth)…never-the-less if it’s colourful and juicy, it’s likely a bee pollinated it.
Pretty nifty little animals eh? We know many other people already feel the love for bees just as we do. So perhaps this v-day, in addition to the chocolates and wine that you’re planning, you’ll plan to show your love for bees in any way you can.
Happy valentines day lovers!