Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Bee Hive in the Fall

A visit to the bee yards on a warm fall day finds many foragers entering some of the hives with their pollen baskets bulging with bright orange pollen. These hives are the ones that are still producing brood. Other hives show no pollen being collected. In these hives, the queens have either slowed egg laying or stopped for the season. Most of the pollen is converted into bee bread to be fed to the larvae. Little pollen is stored over winter. The earliest brood of next year will be fed from nutrients stored in fat bodies of the worker bees. I find no drone bees in the hives. To conserve food, the colonies have removed many drones during the drought and nectar dearth of late summer. The remaining drones were expelled from the hives with the first few cold nights of fall. Beekeepers look for hives with large populations of drones in the fall, as this is an indication that a colony may bee queen-less. The colonies have concentrated their honey stores into the brood nest. Most of the honey is capped with beeswax, but the bees leave some honey uncapped and ready to eat.

Today’s photo of foragers bringing pollen into the hive was taken by beekeeper Brandon Dill. You can see his work at Brandon studied beekeeping at Heifer International, a most interesting charitable organization devoted to relieving global hunger and poverty. Heifer began its work by providing animals such as cattle, goats, water buffalos, or camels to needy people to provide meat, milk, muscle, manure, money, materials, and motivation. Along with sustainable agriculture training, Heifer’s efforts are designed to help entire communities by having recipients pass along a female offspring animal to a family who has also undergone sustainability training. Among Heifer International’s many worldwide projects are “Beekeeping to Stop Poverty and Illiteracy” in Kosovo and “Seeds of Hope” in the southern counties of the Arkansas Delta region. Heifer International’s efforts may be viewed at

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