Tuesday, March 6, 2012
The Flying Alchemist
You are looking at some very focused, happy bees. See their little “grocery sacks” of pollen on their back legs? They are bringing home pollen, a main ingredient to make bee bread, also know as ambrosia. The workers bees forage the pollen of the male parts of flowers, (anthers). They comb the pollen off their hairy little bodies, and pack it in special pollen sacks on their back legs. Seeing this lets me know that the queen is alive and laying eggs! I was doing a jig today when I saw this! We went from snow to a sunny, albeit very windy, 60 degree day. I tentatively went outside to check the bees this morning when the temperature rose. It had been too cold for the bees to fly and I hadn’t seen them in a couple weeks. A nail biting time for beekeepers as you just never know for sure if the bees survived the winter until you see this! These bees were so focused on bringing in the pollen, they didn’t even care that I had brought them out a treat of a whole frame of capped honey! I never process all the honey I remove, instead, saving back several frames in case the bees have depleted their winter stores and need fed before the nectar flows start. They must still have a good larder as they completely ignored the frame! They were so focused on bringing in the pollen I sat within inches of the hive, unprotected, taking these pictures, and they could have cared less as they bumped against me and flew around me in their determinedness to get the pollen in the hive to pass off to the house worker bees. The house bees will use their head to pack the pollen into cleaned cells, that are lined with propolis , where they will mix it with honey/nectar,secreted enzymes, saliva and then seal it with more propolis, ensuring it stays free from contaminates and the development of bacteria and fungi. The sweet little nurse bees, who are only 5-15 days old themselves, will then eat the bee bread which will be converted to royal jelly, which they secrete from their head and feed to the young larvae for three days. If they feed the royal jelly any longer, the larvae will develop into a queen. So there is the difference between a queen bee who can live several years, and a worker bee, who usually lives about 6 weeks…the diet they are fed as a larvae!
I am one happy lady today. My little flying alchemists have survived another winter!
Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx