Honey and honey bees are a beautiful gift of nature. I love honey, it is so good just alone and wonderful in tea or on bread. Honey bees are amazing complicated little creatures that liven up our yard. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nHoney bees are common throughout the world yet are not well understood. All honey bees worldwide share characteristics and similarities.\n\n\n\nHoney bees are commonly misrepresneted in movies and the media. It seems like any insect that flies and people are scared of gets called a bee. \n\n\n\nWhile bees are certainly capable of stinging you, so are many other insects that are not actually bees like the yellow and black striped wasps.\n\n\n\nBackyard Sheep will show you how you can use a smaller acreage to raise sheep.\n\n\n\nWho cares about bees anyway?\n\n\n\nWell everyone should actually. \n\n\n\nHoney bees are the primary pollinator of vegetable and fruits in the U.S. and other countries as well. Plants need pollinators to move the pollen from one flower to another, unpollinated flowers do not produce.\n\n\n\nThere are other pollinators and not all plants need a pollinator, but for those that do the honey bee is the pollinator most relied upon today.\n\n\n\nTo help clear up the confusion regarding what bees actually do and what they do not do here are some facts about bee life.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/youtu.be\/O08aMZiMMUI\nHere we are checking the hive in September.\n\n\n\nHoney bees can live in urban or rural areas.\n\n\n\nHoney bees don't really care where they live as long as they have a plentiful foraging area. Many beekeepers live in town or in neighborhoods.\n\n\n\nIf you are interested in raising a few animals in your area, but only have a small yard, consider reading How To Start Raising Rabbits.\n\n\n\nHoney bees will make honey for anyone.\n\n\n\nAs long as you have a foraging area and a safe place for the hive bees can be nearly anywhere. Bees can be kept by people of almost any age. \n\n\n\nHoney Bees are pollinators\n\n\n\nWhile I personally like honey bees for the honey we get from their hives, the most useful service a honey bee provides is as a prolific pollinator. \n\n\n\nAll fruit and\/or vegetable eaters in the world, animal kingdom included, rely on pollinators to help plants set fruit. \n\n\n\nIf a plant needs pollination by an outside source (can not self pollinate), then some one or something needs to move that pollen around to make sure the flower will produce food. \n\n\n\nPear blossoms on our Asian pear trees.\n\n\n\nBees make honey from flower nectar\n\n\n\nBees gather nectar from flowers and take it back to the hive where they fan down the nectar to make it more concentrated. \n\n\n\nNectar is very watery right from the plant. By fanning it down to a lower volume the sugar in the honey is concentrated so the honey will keep. \n\n\n\nThis also is a more efficient way of storing calories.\n\n\n\nBees store the honey for the winter\n\n\n\nAll of the work the bees are doing is to store up honey and other supplies for the winter. \n\n\n\nBees need to have all of the food the will use for entire winter in the hive before winter starts.\n\n\n\nWorker bees are female\n\n\n\nThe worker bees in the hive are all female. There is one queen and multiple drones (males). All of the work in the hive gets done by the workers. \n\n\n\nThe queen just lays eggs, she does not even feed herself. The drones do nothing to make the hive function on a day to day basis. \n\n\n\nThey are completely dependent upon the workers to care for them. Drones are kept in the hive for the mating flight only.\n\n\n\nWorker bees develop from a fertilized egg\n\n\n\nA queen lays eggs that are fertile using sperm she has stored up from her mating flight. \n\n\n\nAll fertile eggs will be female. Any non fertile eggs will be male.\n\n\n\nQueen start from a worker bee egg\n\n\n\nWorker bees and queens start from the same eggs. The difference in results is that the to be queens are put in much bigger cell and are feed differently than the workers \n\n\n\nOur bees on a pollen patty we just gave them, wow, did they like it!\n\n\n\nDrones are male bees\n\n\n\nDrones are male bees that do not do anything other than be in the hive and eat. This life of luxury comes at a high cost, since drones die after one mating.\n\n\n\nDrones do not produce honey\n\n\n\nDrones are in the hive for breeding purposes only. The queen will breed on one flight, the drones will die if they successfully mate.\n\n\n\nDrones get kicked out of the hive before winter\n\n\n\nThe drone bees will not be kept in the hive for the winter. They will be pushed out by the workers. Unfortunately for the drones, being outside of the hive will cause them to die.\n\n\n\nQueens can die\n\n\n\nAny time the queen leaves the hive she is vulnerable to attack, like during swarming. The queen will shrink down in size to closer to worker bee size then grow again at the new hive.\n\n\n\nThe other way a queen can die is when she stops being productive the workers will start a few new queens to take over, this is called superseding.\n\n\n\nHives will swarm to move locations\n\n\n\nWhen a hive gets too big for it's current location the bees will swarm. This means just over half the bees will leave to go start a new hive. \n\n\n\nGenerally, swarms happen in the spring when the main gathering season is coming. This way the new and old hives have time to store up plenty of honey and pollen for the winter.\n\n\n\nHoney bees are not aggressive\n\n\n\nHoney bees are not aggressive towards humans. The only time they will get feisty is if they feel you are a threat to their hive or themselves, like stepping on one. \n\n\n\nStinging you comes at a high cost to the bee, she will die. \n\n\n\nNormally you will notice the bees buzz by your head a few times to warn you away. \n\n\n\nTake heed and they will go back to gathering nectar and you will not get stung. Keep coming into their space and they will defend their home.\n\n\n\nWinter temperatures can kill bees\n\n\n\nThe bees form a ball of bodies inside the hive to keep warm during the winter. \n\n\n\nBut winter bee numbers are always lower than summer numbers so the hive is smaller, so there are less bees making heat. \n\n\n\nIf the cold is too severe or for too long the hive can die.\n\n\n\nSome hives just die out\n\n\n\nThere has been a lot of news stories recently about hives dying out, just gone. This is called colony collapse disorder. \n\n\n\nColony Collapse Disorder does not have a scientifically proven cause so far, but many bee keepers and individuals concerned with ecology point towards pesticides and genetically modified crops as the catalyst for the bee deaths.\n\n\n\nBees go into their hive at night\n\n\n\nBees are on duty gathering nectar and pollen all day. Many flowers are not open in the night, so no nectar can be gathered until morning. Additionally, bees like the warmer daytime air temperatures. \n\n\n\nSame hive of bees, as above.\n\n\n\nBees do not like to fly in the rain\n\n\n\nIf you observe a bee hive you will notice bees coming in and going out all day in nice weather. \n\n\n\nThe bees can tell when it is about to rain and stay in the hive rather than going back out for more nectar. \n\n\n\nIf you watch you will see bees only going into the hive none leaving right before a rain.\n\n\n\nBees see ultraviolet light\n\n\n\nBees have the ability to see ultraviolet light. This means that when you look at a flower your eyes see the flower differently than a bee would see the same flower.\n\n\n\nBees can sting you\n\n\n\nNot a surprise to many I'm sure. What may surprise you is that the bee that stung you is a female. \n\n\n\nI know getting stung hurt but overall the bee has it worse than you since she will die for her efforts. \n\n\n\nBees leave a stinger in your skin\n\n\n\nWhen the bee stings you, she leaves a barbed stinger that is attached to a venom sac stuck in your skin. \n\n\n\nRemove a stinger by scraping\n\n\n\nYou should remove the stinger as soon as possible. Remove the stinger by scraping it out, using something dull like the edge of a butter knife. \n\n\n\nWhy not tweezers? The pinch of the tweezers squeezes the venom sac that is on the end of the stinger, which just puts more of the venom into you.\n\n\n\nBees drink water\n\n\n\nBees drink water, especially in the summer. Bees can drown in water that does not have a shallow edge where they can safely drink. \n\n\n\nPut something like a rock in the water bowl so they can sip from the edge, or float a stick on the water surface. This will also give them an escape option if they get too close and fall in.\n\n\n\nQueen bees can fly\n\n\n\nQueen bees rarely leave the safety of the hive. However, if the hive is going to split and swarm to a new location the queen can fly to get there.\n\n\n\nBeekeeping is an old occupation\n\n\n\nHumans have been beekeepers for centuries. We are used to sugar sources being plentiful but throughout history sugar is scarce and pricey. Honey was available willing to figure out how to get it.\n\n\n\nIt is common to buy a queen \n\n\n\nGenerally, when a beekeeper wants new breeding stock for the hive a queen is purchased. This is very normal. \n\n\n\nQueens come in a screened box with candy\n\n\n\nThe queen is in a small box that has screened in sides for ventilation. The door of the box is stuffed with a piece of special candy that locks her in and keeps other bees out. \n\n\n\nBees do not like intruders so they will not like the new queen if she were just put in the hive. The bees know the difference. \n\n\n\nThe hive bees will work to get at the new bee (the queen) by eating through the candy. By the time they get to her she smells the same as they do thanks to the screened sides of her box and the bees will now accept her and take care of her.\n\n\n\nPutting a new queen in the hive is called requeening\n\n\n\nRequeening is done when a beekeeper wants a different or just a younger queen in the hive. Some beekeepers requeen every year, others hardly at all.\n\n\n\nQueens lay 3,000 eggs per day\n\n\n\nDuring peak production of the hive the queen will be laying up to 3,000 eggs per day. \n\n\n\nBees make wax\n\n\n\nWax is naturally produced by the bee. It is formed in scales at eight separate locations on the abdomen of the bee. \n\n\n\nBees use the wax to make honeycombs\n\n\n\nHoneycombs are made from the wax of the bee. The bees use the wax to shape the honeycomb inside the hive. \n\n\n\nHoneycombs hold larvae, pollen and honey\n\n\n\nThe honeycomb is the do it all area for the hive. This is where they store honey and pollen, both of which are food sources. \n\n\n\nHoneycomb is also where the eggs are laid and the larvae grow. \n\n\n\nQueens mate on a mating flight\n\n\n\nWhen the queen emerges from her cell in the honeycomb she must now go on a mating flight. \n\n\n\nThis is the only time the queen will breed in her entire life is on this flight. She will breed with multiple drones. \n\n\n\nShe stores up the semen in her body. This is the reserve of semen that will fertilize all her eggs for the next four years.\n\n\n\nDrones die after mating\n\n\n\nDrones, male bees, will die after breeding the queen. Drones do not have a stinger. \n\n\n\nWhen the drone breeds the queen his entire reproductive system breaks off and stays with the queen. He then dies of the injury.\n\n\n\nQueens spend all day laying eggs\n\n\n\nIn order to grow the hive to a large number of workers to harvest food for and maintain the hive the queen must continually lay eggs. \n\n\n\nBee breeders select for queens that lay the most eggs and do so in a complete pattern (not leaving empty cells).\n\n\n\nQueens release pheromones\n\n\n\nQueens release pheromones that keep the hive calm and orderly. Pheromones are chemical signals that bees (and other animals) can smell. \n\n\n\nThe pheromones tell all the workers that things are going well and to keep working. \n\n\n\nIf you remove a queen from the hive or divide the hive into two sections but are not sure which stack of boxes has the queen all you have to do is wait and watch. \n\n\n\nThe hive without the queen will start to get very agitated and frantic. Being queenless is a serious situation for a hive of bees. \n\n\n\nQueens can be replaced\n\n\n\nThe beekeeper can put in a new queen or the workers can start to make a new queen to take over for the old or missing queen.\n\n\n\nA hive can be moved\n\n\n\nBees know which hive to return to based upon where exactly the hive is located. If you want to move a hive you have two options. \n\n\n\nA hive can be moved only a short distance\n\n\n\n Scoot the entire hive over four feet or less per day, gradually moving to their new location. \n\n\n\nLong moves must be at least 4 miles away\n\n\n\nOr you can take the entire hive and move it 4 miles away or more for a week or so then relocate it again. \n\n\n\nMoving a hive is confusing\n\n\n\nWhy is this such a big deal? If you move the hive more than four feet the bees will return to a neighboring hive instead of their own. \n\n\n\nThis will cause the workforce of one hive to all go to another. \n\n\n\nSounds good for the hive getting the extra help but bad for the hive losing all of the workers that are out foraging.\n\n\n\nBees do not produce heat\n\n\n\nIt is commonly thought that bees produce heat to stay warm in the winter, since the hives are non insulated and not heated wooden boxes. \n\n\n\nActually, bees flap their wings creating friction, which creates heat. \n\n\n\nBeekeepers use smoke to calm bees\n\n\n\nWhen a beekeeper wants to see inside the hive to check the progress of the honey crop or just to see how the bees are doing, he uses a smoker to calm the bees. \n\n\n\nA smoker is a metal container that holds smodering wood or paper pieces. The smoke makes the bees more amenable to having an intruder (the beekeeper) in their hive.\n\n\n\n Africanized bees are in the U.S.\n\n\n\nAfricanized honey bees were brought to Brazil from South Africa to improve the hardiness of the local bees. These bees migrate and can live in unsheltered areas. The bad news is they are aggressive to people. \n\n\n\nThere are breeds of bees\n\n\n\nJust like there are different breeds of cattle or chickens there are different breeds of bees. \n\n\n\nBees of each specific breed will perform and behave in a certain way. \n\n\n\nSome breeds are calm, some are more aggressive, and all vary in hardiness and honey producing ability.\n\n\n\nThere are four popular bee breeds in the U.S.\n\n\n\nThe four most popular, and easiest to get, bee breeds are Italians, Russians, Carniolans and Cordovans.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nNew beekeepers start with package bees\n\n\n\nPackage bees are a screened in box of bees. It is about the size of a shoe box.\n\n\n\nBees are purchased by the pound\n\n\n\nSince bees are so small they are sold by the pound, which is thousands of bees. \n\n\n\nYou have to start with a certain number of bees so the hive can have a big enough workforce to gather food for itself to store up for the winter.\n\n\n\nBees take 21 days to go from egg to worker \n\n\n\nOnce the fertilized egg is laid and the larvae hatches the workers feed it until it is ready to pupate (change into adult form). \n\n\n\nThen the larvae is sealed up in its honeycomb cell until it breaks out as a full size adult a few days later. \n\n\n\nThe hive has the most bees in the summer\n\n\n\nThe hive has the highest number of bees in the summer. \n\n\n\nThe high population is to gather as much honey and pollen as possible for the hive to have in storage for winter food and starting more workers in the spring.\n\n\n\nBees vary in temperament\n\n\n\nBees breeds having different temperaments is the reason why people install new or different queens than the breed they have. \n\n\n\nSome beekeepers like a more aggressive bee, they tend to be more productive and less likely to die in the winter. \n\n\n\nOther beekeeper want a nicer bee to be around and are willing to take lowered production of honey.\n\n\n\nBees protect the hive\n\n\n\nBees will protect the hive anytime they perceive a threat. The threat could be you or wild animals or invaders from another hive trying to steal honey.\n\n\n\nBees communicate by dancing\n\n\n\nCertain bees scout around the hive for nectar and pollen sources.\n\n\n\nWhen they find one they come back to the hive and tell the workers that are gathering where the food source is located. \n\n\n\nBees pass this information to one another through various movements made while in the air right in front of the hive. \n\n\n\nThese info moves are called dancing. \n\n\n\nBee larvae must be fed\n\n\n\nOnce the eggs hatch the larvae must be fed to grow. Worker bees bring food to the larvae and put it in their cells.\n\n\n\nBees fan the hive\n\n\n\nBees fan the hive to remove moisture and heat from the inside of the hive body. \n\n\n\nBees will stand at the entrance of the hive facing the inside of the hive and flap their wings to move air through the hive and move moisture out.\n\n\n\nHoney bees are in all 50 states\n\n\n\nAll 50 states have bees. The very cold areas will need to protect the bees for the winter.\n\n\n\nBees forage for nectar\n\n\n\nBees that you see flying around town or in your yard are looking for nectar to take back to the hive. Any bee that is out of the hive is working.\n\n\n\nSome hives make more honey than others\n\n\n\nJust like some people are great at sprinting and others are naturally slower, some bees are faster and more productive at filling a hive with honey than other bees. \n\n\n\nProductivity will also depend upon location of the hive compared to nectar and pollen sources and time of year. \n\n\n\nIn the winter hives don't produce anything since they do not have any food sources to gather.\n\n\n\nSome crops are planted just for the bees\n\n\n\nSome people like to plant crops specifically for bees to use. Bees love clover, buckwheat, alfalfa, thistle and dandelion. \n\n\n\nGardeners can attract bees\n\n\n\nMany gardeners put in flowers especially for their ability to attract bees including aster, coneflower, poppies, black-eyed Susan and bee balm. \n\n\n\nAny one who gardens knows the importance of pollinators since any plant that has a fruit, like cucumber and squash, need a pollinator.\n\n\n\nBees do not need a wooden hive\n\n\n\nThe wooden hive is for the benefit of people not the bees. \n\n\n\nWooden hives help the bees arrange the honeycombs in an order that makes it easy for the beekeeper to get out the honey and look into the hive.\n\n\n\nBee suits keep beekeepers from getting stung\n\n\n\nA beekeepers suit keeps him (or her) from getting stung. \n\n\n\nEven though the beekeeper has good intentions towards the bees and the hive, the bees don't like intrusion. \n\n\n\nThe suit keeps bees out of the keepers face with a netted face mask and has elastic around the ankles and wrists so bees can't sneak up in clothes.\n\n\n\nBee suits are always white\n\n\n\nThe beekeepers suit is always white. Bees seem to be more upset with darker colored shapes than lighter colored shapes so white suits are used. \n\n\n\nPesticides kill bees\n\n\n\nPesticides are poisons applied to plants to kill insects and bacteria. \n\n\n\nBees are killed by pesticides when the pesticides are sprayed on plants to keep off harmful bugs. \n\n\n\nThe bees are on the plants harvesting nectar and pollen. Bees do not harm plants. \n\n\n\nThe bees are not a target insect for the spray, they are collateral damage.\n\n\n\nFrequently bees are harvesting in a crop field when it is sprayed for other bugs, but this also happens in home gardens and flower beds. \n\n\n\nAny pesticide will kill species that are not the specific target of the pesticide, bees included.\n\n\n\nA swarm can be caught\n\n\n\nBefore bees swarm they have a plan of where they are going. Sometimes they stop on the way, in a tree branch for example. \n\n\n\nA beekeeper can catch the bees by encouraging them to go into a hive placed under the swarm. \n\n\n\nBees can't be forced into a new hive\n\n\n\nNo matter how much the beekeeper wants the swarm, the bees can't be forced into the new hive. \n\n\n\nThe bees could just choose to fly away to another location instead of using the hive the keeper wants them in.\n\n\n\nBees that are swarming don't sting\n\n\n\nBefore the swarm takes off from their home hive they will all tank up on as much honey as they can so they don't have to look for food on the trip to a new location. \n\n\n\nBees that are super full don't want to sting you, they want to concentrate on getting to the new hive location.\n\n\n\nBees have built in navigation\n\n\n\nBees know where the home hive is located no matter where they are foraging. \n\n\n\nThis means they can go out from the hive in any direction to gather, generally up to two miles. \n\n\n\nThis also means that moving a hive causes lots of confusion for the foraging bees. \n\n\n\nThey are used to coming back to a specific spot and can tell the difference between the hive they came from and all the other hives lined up beside theirs.\n\n\n\nBees will steal from other hives\n\n\n\nAn undefended hive or a hive with poor defenders will get it's honey stolen by other hive workers. \n\n\n\nFrom the stealing bee's perspective this makes a lot of sense, why do all the work to make honey when it can just be moved in ready to use.\n\n\n\nWorker bees can decide to make a new Queen\n\n\n\nIf the worker bees feel that the current queen is failing or the hive is going to swarm, so the current queen will fly away, the workers will start a few new queens. \n\n\n\nPotential queens are put in extra big cells called queen cells and are fed a special diet that makes them grow into queens, not just workers. \n\n\n\nWorkers and queens all start from a fertilized egg. It is the special feeding that produces a queen.\n\n\n\nThe first queen to hatch will kill the others\n\n\n\nJust like in the movie, "there can be only one" queen. The workers will start several queens to make sure a queen is grown for the hive. \n\n\n\nThe new queen is ruthless. \n\n\n\nThe first thing she does after coming out of the cell is to go around and kill the other queens that are still in the cells. \n\n\n\nShe does this by stinging them through the wall of the cell.\n\n\n\nThe queen can sting and live\n\n\n\nThe queen is the only honey bee that can sting and live. Her stinger is not barbed so it doesn't stay in the victim. \n\n\n\nQueens rarely sting and will not be the one to sting you. She is too valuable to the hive to risk her getting hurt. \n\n\n\nBees can be poisoned\n\n\n\nBees forage in a large area. Any time poisons are applied in the area the bees are working, generally as pesticides, the bees are at risk. \n\n\n\nStinging you will kill the bee\n\n\n\nThis has been mentioned previously but here I will list it plainly, stinging you kills the bee. \n\n\n\nWhen the stinger comes out of her abdomen so does some of her digestive tract and some muscles and nerves that are attached to the stinger. \n\n\n\nThis leaves a big hole in the body of the bee. She will die from her injury.\n\n\n\nDrones do not have a stinger\n\n\n\nIt is hard to imagine, but drones don't even have a stinger! \n\n\n\nThe drone has one purpose in the life of the hive, breeding the new queen on her mating flight. That's it. \n\n\n\nDrones do not defend the hive at all, so have no use for a stinger. \n\n\n\nQueen bees are huge compared to workers\n\n\n\nThe queen is a very long and almost snakey looking bee when compared to the workers. \n\n\n\nShe needs to be extra long and round to hold the eggs to populate the hive.\n\n\n\nThe queen is hard to find\n\n\n\nThat sounds a little crazy I know since I just wrote about the queen being so big. The thing is there are so many bees crawling over everything in the hive it is actually hard to find the queen. \n\n\n\nSome beekeepers have the queen breeder apiary (bee business) put a mark on the back of the queen, just a dot of paint, so that she is easier to find.\n\n\n\nApiary is the name for a business that sells bees\n\n\n\nA beekeeper would order package bees and new queens from an apiary. Commonly, the apiary will also sell equipment like bee suits and hive equipment. \n\n\n\nRelated Questions\n\n\n\nHow long does honey keep?\n\n\n\nActually, honey does not spoil. It may crystallize or ferment (both still perfectly edible and sometimes done on purpose), but it does not spoil. \n\n\n\nI am hesitant to say that honey keeps forever (literally), but am very willing to say that honey keeps for a long, long time!\n\n\n\nHow can I attract more bees to my yard?\n\n\n\nYou can attract bees by planting flowers they like to harvest, giving them a very shallow bowl to drink from and by not using pesticides.