High Quality Top Bar Bee Hives From
Northern New Mexico
Taos Woodcarver, Terry Wolff has been providing quality custom wood art and wood products for over 30 years
Meet my mascots Fred and Zelma
Male Drone Bee
Female Worker Bee
Fred was our original logo but since almost all the bees in a hive are female I decided that Fred needed a make over, so last night (January 7, 2013) Fred under went a sex change and within an hour under the pen, Fred became Zelma who is more representative of the hard working worker bees who make up over 90% of the hive members. Fred was borrowed from some site on the Internets (thanks to George W. I now know the webs real name) and really had to go. As a worker, Zelma normally doesn’t get so dressed up but last night when I told your I needed a new logo and asked if she would pose for me, she went and got all dressed up for the occasion. I think she was actually happy be out of the hive for awhile with the outside temperatures being well below zero.
Like all drones there are always new Fred’s each year. This is because as the hive readies itself for the cold Winter months, all the drones are condemned and ordered out of the hive. In other words the queen and all girl court don’t want any honey guzzling dead weights hanging around the hive all winter. The queen will order up new drones in the up coming Spring when the cycle starts all over again. Fred is also at a disadvantage as he was never supplied with a stinger to protect himself, that queen thinks of everything!
Unlike our poor ole drone friend Fred, worker bees like Zelma will winter over with their queen. During these Winter months it is their job to assure the well being of their queen. Keeping her body temperature at a nice cozy 92 degrees Fahrenheit all winter long. On warmer Winter days when the outside temperature sours up to say 50 degrees, Zelma’s workers will do some hive cleaning. They will empty the toilets, throw out their dead comrades and things like that. So on those warmer Winter days don’t be surprised if you come across some of your bees buzzing around out side.
A honey bee hive consist of just three types of bees…
1. QUEEN, (female) only one at a time and she will live for about 5 years and only mate once
2. WORKER BEES, (female) usually about 60,000 or so will live for an average of about 2 to 6 weeks
except for the duration of the Winter and have been known to live up to 1 year
3. DRONES, (male) about 100 or so have a life span of 4 to 6 weeks
As the months get warmer the population of the hive starts to increase. The queen will increase her egg laying, Zelma and the workers will start to have more work to do. They will not only have to attend to their queen, but there are other thing that will need to be done as well, thus the ole saying “Busy as a Bee!”.
The queen will shout out orders telling her workers what she needs to be done. She actually does this with a series of chemical signals. She is truly the dictator of the hive and whatever she says is law, unless she starts to slow down her egg production and at that point Zelma will rally the troops.
When Zelma realizes that her queen is slacking on the job she and the other workers will create five new queen cells and order the queen and her entourage to leave the hive. This is commonly known as a swarm.
The swarm leaves the hive and usually nest in a near by tree while some of her workers fly off looking for a new home. This is why you need an extra hive on hand just in case you are around to capture the swarm.
Meanwhile back at the hive, Zelma is beside herself feeding royal Jelly to the five new queen cells and waiting the five day it takes for a new queen to emerge. Remember I said that there are five new queen cells, so does that mean that there will be five new queens? Well, not exactly because the first queen to emerge immediately sets out to inject the other four cells with a lethal sting thus declaring herself the new leader of the hive. After introducing the queen to her empire, Zelma arranges to have the queens fallen rivals removed from the hive and the cells are reduced back to their normal size. It is also time for Zlma to have some drone cells made so that the new queen will have some males in her new court. These males along with the queen will do what appears to be a very small swarm, leaving the hive souring high up into the sky where these drones will mate with the queen. This romantic interlude will provide her queen with about five years worth of sperm.
During the spring, the queen will order Zelma to go out and gather nectar, pollen, water and sap for sealing any cracks in the hive.
Here is a play list of Zelma’s average jobs she will be asked to do during her short stay at the hive
(and you think your life is hard)…
Oh one last thing, Zelma’s expected life span is somewhere between two to size weeks. The actual jobs assigned to Zelma and the other worker bees depends on their age and their responsibilities change ever few days or less. The bees you see out and about foraging for the supplies the hive needs, are the older worker bees who are coming to the end of their days. Bees will travel up to seven miles from their hive looking for supplies.
Now you may know a little bit more about the secret life of Zelma and all our hard working honey bees. She may look like she is ready for a Saturday night out, but for our gal Zelma, it is all work and no play.
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