Tag: urban bee keeping

Getting stung by a bee is no fun but having your arm twice the size makes a great story.

Two weeks away from my girls and I start to get antsy. I wonder how they’re doing, if they’re getting enough food and water, if they’re liking their environment, if I’m a good landlord. It’s been 5 weeks since I first started the colony and in just the last 2 weeks, the colony population has exploded. As a newbie, I didn’t expect to see so many guard bees. No wonder I got stung once in the face and four times elsewhere on my arms, hands, and fingers.

Occupational hazard.

Next time I will wear thicker clothing and maybe some pants.

 

“The Bee Combing”

If you’re like me, you scream and run at the sight of insects (especially spiders…I hate spiders). So who would have imagined that one day I’d become a keeper of insects?

The first time I learned about beekeeping was in Hawaii. We were staying on a friend’s family farm where he kept 5 colonies. One day, my friend the beekeeper invited me to a honey harvest from a nearby hive. As we drove to the site, he started telling me about “his girls” (all worker bees are female). I quickly became fascinated by the process by which a bee converted pollen, nectar, and water into honey – the only food we eat that’s made by an insect.

Then there was the honey harvest – the sweet smell of honey and wood as you burn off the wax with a hot iron…the sight of honey oozing out like liquid gold…and of course, the explosion of euphoria in your mouth as you chew on a honey filled comb.

A month later, I find myself and a couple of other honey-combers at an apiary in Coquitlam, BC. Yes, I wore shorts and sandals. Yes, that is a leaf blower. No, I didn’t get stung. Yes, I float like butterfly.

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bee-with-pollen-(wide)
1. Honey bees are assigned jobs based on their age
  • 1-2 days old: spend their time cleaning cells, starting with the one they were born in, and keeping the brood warm
  • 3-11 days old: feed other larvae
  • 12-17 days old: produce wax, build combs, carry food
  • 18-21 days: perform guard duty and protect the hive entrance
  • 22-45 days: collect pollen, nectar, water
2. Honey bees can do calculus

The honey Bee performs a dance to communicate where to find food and water. Scientists have shown that bees take into consideration the geometry of the earth in relation to the sun over time when communicating directions to a food source. Watch the bee dance.

3. Honey bees can go the distance

A bee will fly up to 7 kms in search for food. She would only need one ounce of honey to fly 40,000 kms. That’s once around the world. Collectively, a hive will fly a total of 88,000 kms to collect one pound of honey. That same pound of honey would be made from approximately two million flowers.

4. There can only be one queen

A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen. If the queen dies, as long as there are larvae under 3 days old, worker bees will convert one of the larvae into a new queen bee. Changing queens will also change the personality and behaviour of the hive.

 Click here for more facts about bees

Bees

The Liquid gold project is an attempt to make honey a sustainable food source in rural communities and set up businesses where wax byproducts can be sold.
  • PHASE 1: Learn what it takes to become a keeper of bees
  • PHASE 2: Sell honey and start a bee awareness campaign. 100% profits to go toward a Kiva project relating to honeybees
  • PHASE 3: Develop a a training manual in partnership with other beekeepers that can 1) teach locals in developing nations about the health benefits of honey and 2) train them how to keep bees as a sustainable food source and viable business