Worker honey bees live for about six weeks. The first three weeks of their life are spent doing tasks inside the hive. The next three weeks are spent doing work that involves flying away from the hive. When the bees begin venturing from the hive at about three weeks of age, they start by making a series of orientation flights in which the bees memorize the appearance of the hive and its surroundings. The young bees start their “flight school” in the afternoon by flying in a small figure-eight pattern inches away from the hive’s entrance. As the bees make their orientation flights, they are looking for colors and patterns of shapes. Honey bees can see all of the colors that humans do with the exception of red. The bees can also see ultraviolet, which is beyond our eyesight. The images that the bees memorize involve shapes and patterns of interruptions. After flying close to the hive’s entrance, the bees expand their flight to learn landmarks surrounding the hive.
Honey bees at the Children’s Museum of Memphis have no problem finding their hives located among the huge building blocks that spell “CMOM.” In today’s picture from the museum’s blog, www.cmom.com, the museum’s CEO, Richard C. Hackett, is high in the air above our bee hives painting the letter C in pink for breast cancer awareness. To learn more, the museum directs us to www.nbcam.org/about_nbcam.cfm and www.cancer.org/. The always personally involved Mr. Hackett, a beekeeper himself, proposed the honey bee exhibit and offered useful suggestions in the development of the observation bee hive project. Mr. Hackett swung in close to the bee hives to paint the iconic blocks that make the museum a landmark in the heart of the city. The honey bee exhibit is designed to fit into the museum’s mission: “We create memorable learning experiences through the joy of play in hands-on exhibits and programs.” The museum helps honey bees as well as children expand their view.