On a warm day, the beekeeper unwraps the hive - box of bees- he’s brought to show children at the local branch of the library.
8-10 frames usually make up a "super". Beekeepers have different ideas about how much space and what shapes the hive should be for easy extraction of honey and to help the bees keep the hive healthy.
A frame directs the bees where to store the honey they make. Only female bees, also known as worker bees, make honey. When bees start to seal in the honey that means it is at its highest nutritional value and the right amount of evaporation, about 16%. Besides mating duties, drone bees help worker bees by using their wings to cool down the hive and create evaporation. They have another job, which is to help protect the hive from harm. However, drones, noted by their big eyes and body, do not have stingers and can only repel a predator by distracting or threatening, not by actually attacking.
The beekeeper smokes the hive, which calms the bees. Bees that have sufficient supplies of nectar from the surrounding area tend to be calmer.
Then he safely harvests the honey. Using a warm wide-bladed knife, he scraps off the caps and release the honey from the comb. The color and flavor of the honey depends on the flora the bees have been using as their resource within two mile radius.
During summer, the frame can be returned to the hive for the bees to refill. He leaves a little to encourage them to work on that area.
Bees tend to overproduce so harvesting doesn’t hurt them as long as enough honey is left for them to eat throughout the winter.
Honey isn’t the only product bees produce. Beeswax, propolis, which is a red or brown substance from tree buds used to seal the honey in the cells, are all marketable. Also pollen and royal jelly are valuable in the health food industry.
The decrease of bees in recent years has been effected by hives have difficulty with mite infestation, northern bee hobbyists buying southern bees that don't winter well, wild fields are often mown instead of left fallow, fewer hedge rows, and the fact that crops are often treated with herbicides that kill of the wild flowers and weeds they used to feed on.
You can help bees by planting wildflowers or leaving fields fallow. It's a sweet thing to do.
Hope you have a honey of a summer. Until next month,