10 Amazing Bee Facts To Buzz About!

May 5th, 2011

Beekeeping is rewarding for lots of reasons. For some the main reward is honey, but often what really draws you in as a beekeeper is that bees as a species are just so fascinating. So here are 10 interesting honey bee facts – but believe me, there are many more!

1. Honey bees are the only insect that produce food eaten by man.

2. The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

3. A hive of bees will have to fly a total of 55,000 miles to get enough nectar to make 1 pound of honey – equivalent to flying twice around the planet earth.

4. Bees will fly up to 6 miles from their hive to collect pollen and nectar.

5. Bees have 2 pairs of wings, which move incredibly fast – about 200 beats per second. This is what makes honey bees buzz!

6. At its peak in the summertime, there will be about 60,000 worker bees in a colony, 2,000 drones and just one queen. The worker bees are all female, and do all the work.

7. Drones are the male honey bees. They are noticeably larger than worker bees, have no stinger and do no work at all. Their only job is to mate with a queen bee. Only one drawback – after they mate, they die.

8. The queen bee only leaves the hive once to mate, with up to 20 drones. When she returns to the hive, her only job is to lay eggs – up to 2,500 eggs per day when the colony is at its busiest in the summer months.

9. The queen controls the colony by releasing pheromones which get passed from one bee to another through contact. If these pheromones become too weak, it is taken as a signal that the queen needs to be replaced (or ‘superceded’).

10. The new queen comes from exactly the same eggs as worker bees – but because she is fed a different diet (of ‘royal jelly’) she develops into a queen rather than a worker. Definitely a case of “you are what you eat!”

Why not experience these fascinating creatures for yourself, and Read the rest of this entry »

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Natural Beekeeping Alternatives – Top Bar Hives

March 1st, 2011

Natural Beekeeping is increasing becoming the buzz word for hobby beekeepers – and particularly for those thinking of starting beekeeping.

Of course, all backyard beekeeping is natural, in a way that commercial beekeeping is not. For commercial beekeepers pollination is often the biggest earner, so bees are transported thousands of miles to pollinate huge swathes of mono culture crops. This excessive transportation, the lack of biodiversity, and the associated heavy chemical use – little wonder that scientists are increasingly citing stress as a likely cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

But some forms of hobby beekeeping are seen as more natural than others – particularly top bar hive beekeeping and it’s close cousin Warre hive beekeeping. Both of these are arguably less invasive than traditional beekeeping with Langstroth hives, and the bees allowed more freedom to act as they would in their natural environment.

Build Your Own Top Bar Hive

One of the real advantages of top bar hives is their simplicity. If you have even basic carpentry skills, building a top bar hive is really simple. You can get top bar hive plans from the Back Yard Hive shop for just $9.95 (and they also supply materials if you need them). If you are interested in building your own top bar hive, the video below should also help.

Buy a Top Bar Hive

Alternatively, if you do not have the time or inclination to build your own beehive, the Back Yard Hive also has hand crafted top bar hives for sale. This is definitely a more expensive option, but their hive does include a full length viewing window making it easy to inspect your bees without disrupting them, and it is beautifully made.

Whether you make your hive yourself or buy it ready made is really a personal choice. And of course so too is the choice between top bar, Warre or Langstroth – they all have their own merits.  The important thing is to pick one, and start beekeeping – you won’t regret it.

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Make Your Own Beauty Products – Beeswax Cosmetics Recipes

October 13th, 2010

beeswax is a fantastic by product of honey production. As well as being used for candle making, it makes wonderful lip balms, hand lotions, hand creams, and moisturizers. If you are interested in using your extra beeswax to make your own cosmetics, here are some beeswax cosmetics recipes, courtesy of RachelsSupply.com (where you can get many of the essential oils and containers needed).

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How To Build a Honey Extractor

September 17th, 2010

In order to get Honey out of your Beehive you have to be able to take it out of the honey comb. If you are a top bar beekeeper, you do this by removing the whole comb and then straining the honey out. But if you use standard wired frames in a Langstroth type hive, then you will need to use a honey extractor to get the honey out.

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Harvesting Honey: 5 Tips

August 19th, 2010

Your own delicious Honey!

Harvesting honey is one of the most exciting jobs of a beekeeper (click here to see a video showing how to harvest honey). It is the time when all your hard work pays off, and it is such a thrill to taste the first honey from your own hive. But, as with everything to do with Beekeeping, there are a few pitfalls you need to watch out for! Here are 5 tips to help ensure that your first honey harvest runs smoothly.

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