Mark here again, Today I'm going to explain about how a colony works.
When you first look into a hive you will see hundreds of bee's, apparently acting random. However, while individual bees do spend a lot of time "resting", they are in fact all working together to ensure the survival of the colony,As bee's can not survive for long on their own. It is the combined efforts of the bee's which enables the colony to function successfully.
You will see many frames of bee's which are on a basic wax structure on which the colony draw out to use to store food and produce new bee's. if there are larger spaces within the colony bee's will start to make their own wax to fill the space. To do this bees secrete wax from their glands on the underside of the bee's abdomen. Tiny scales produced are passed forward to the jaws, where they are manipulated and softened.
Each Colony has only one "Queen" which is the only bee able too lay fertilised eggs. Sometimes female worker bee's can lay eggs, but these are unfertile. Bee genetics are complicated. Fertile eggs are laid and hatch into female worker bee's and unfertile eggs hatch to make male bee's otherwise known ad "Drones". A Queen can live for Four to Five Years. Her task Within the colony is to keep the colony alive by producing enough Fertilised eggs to keep the colony growing. The Queen produces a special Pheromone that is passed to all the bee's within the colony.
For the Queen to be able to fulfil her role she must mate with the male bee's "drones". She may Mate with up to twenty drones in one mating flight, The queen will only ever do one mating flight in her life time. The Queen stores the sperm within the abdomen.
Drones are none fertilised eggs. There are slightly bigger than a normal female worker and are much more burly. The males Do not collect pollen, neither do they collect nectar. The Main role of the Drone is to Mate with a virgin Queen. Once they have mated The drone will die.
The worker bee "female bee" is what makes the majority of the colony up. They are responsible for most of the tasks needed to be done to make the colony survive. As soon as the worker bee hatches they start to complete certain tasks around the hive. E.g. House bee, Nurse bee, forager, under taker and guard bee. The House bee starts by cleaning the cells ready for the Queen to lay a new egg into to ensure the reproduction of the colony is ongoing. She will then move on to feeding the larvae. Then when the worker bee is a little older she will feed and tend to the Queen. As she becomes more experienced she will then start receiving nectar and pollen from foraging bee's and storing this. After about three weeks she will become experienced enough to become a forager. Before starting this role they may be required to cover guard duty on the entrance of the hive. Guide duty involves protecting the hive from pests such as wasps and other creatures that may want to steal their honey.
Foraging is to collect pollen and nectar for the colony to survive and expand. Nectar provides the colony with a carbohydrate for the colony. This is stored within the thorax of the bee. Foragers will also collect pollen and store this in the little pockets within their back legs. This is a protein for the colony and is used to feed young bee's. The Colony also need's water for their survival. The Forager will also collect Propolis which is a sticky substance which is brought back to the hive and used to fill any gaps within the hive to help regulate the temperature within the hive.
All these duties take a great strain on the worker bee and therefore makes the worker bee die at a young age. During the summer bee's life span is that of only a few weeks. During the winter due to lack of flying worker bee's can last up to 6 Months. This helps the survival on colonies during the winter months.
I hope this has helped you learn something new about our amazing honey bee's and I will See you again soon.