Welcome to “The Beehive”, our new column about honeybees! More than ever, bees need our support, and the “The Beehive” is dedicated to helping us all become their allies and protectors. After all, honeybees’ hard work, 365 days a year, helps create 1/3 of all the food we eat!
Did you know that honeybees’ first role in life is nursing? Nurse bees, which are between 3 and 13 days old, have two main responsibilities, tending to the queen and rearing the brood. Honeybees do not have long childhoods; they are put right to work!
Nurse bees have the ability to differentiate between the 3 castes of bees during their larval stage, which includes drones, workers and queens. They make sure each caste is getting their unique food requirements. Queens are fed exclusively “royal jelly,” a milky substance consisting of sugars and proteins, secreted from a gland on top of the nurse bees’ head. For years, it was thought that it was royal jelly that makes the queen, but it is actually the absence of honey and pollen that make the queen! On the other hand, worker bees are fed “bee bread,” which is fermented pollen and honey. It is this combination of honey and pollen that make the worker bees sterile.
The larvae is fed and examined by the nurse bees, and these examinations can take place up to 1,300 times a day and more than 10,000 times through their larval development. It’s been estimated that 2,500 nurse bees will spend as much as 10+ hours on a single larvae. As it’s been said many times, a bees’ work is never done!
We hope you are planting fall flowers, such as zinnias, asters, goldenrod and hyacinth, to create the bee highways that will nourish our pollenating friends as they cross our country from one end to the other. Thank you for joining Patricia Bragg and I in the international support of honeybees!