Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Peanut Butter Bee

Honey bees derive food from wildflowers by gathering nectar and pollen. Honey bee colonies require very large populations to gather enough nectar to make a surplus of honey. The worker honey bees’ foraging behavior makes them seek nectar sources that provide the largest amount of nectar with the greatest concentration of sugars. Foragers fly past weak nectar sources to get to stronger sources farther away from the hive. Throughout the spring the honey bee colony strives to gather nectar, make honey, and build its population to allow it to divide and create a new colony in a new location. By dividing the colony and swarming, the bees are able to increase their numbers, expand their range, and move away from old chemical and disease spore-laden honeycombs. Pollen is also necessary for honey bees. When a number of different flower species are in bloom, a variety of pollens are brought back to the hive. The pollen contains proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The proteins are made of amino acids, but some pollens lack certain amino acids required for complete nutrition. If diverse flowering plants are in bloom, the bees are able to feed the developing brood a complete diet. For the colony to provide adequate nutrition for the brood, it is important for the colony to have a population of young workers with well-developed glands to produce worker, drone, and queen food. We harvested Tennessee spring wildflower honey today. It is light in color and flavor and has the aroma of flowers.

Peace Bee Farm participates in the Teddy Bear Picnic, an annual children’s event held at the Memphis Botanic Garden. We explain the role of honey bees to children and parents; many are already familiar with honey bees. Seventeen-year-old author Joel Cox reads from The Peanut Butter Bee, a children’s book that he wrote and illustrated. The Christian Brothers High School student studied honey bee biology, and then wrote an inspirational book about the determination of a worker honey bee.

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