You may think you know a lot about honeybees, but there is always more to learn about this fascinating creature. Did you know that honeybees are the only insect that produces food consumed by humans? Or that honey is the one food that never goes bad? Did you know that honeybees are responsible for one-third of our crops, thanks to their pollinating skills? Truly, honeybees are fascinating creatures.
There are three types of bees in every hive: a queen, worker bees, and drones. The queen bee and worker bees are all females. Drones are males. Worker bees collect pollen and nectar to make honey. The worker bee collects nectar in a special structure inside her body called a “honey stomach.” They feed the colony, clean the hive and take care of the offspring. Another role for some lucky worker bees is that of the undertaker. They must remove dead bees from the hive a dispose of them. A drone’s job is to simply mate with the queen. A queen mates with multiple drones and lays eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. A prolific queen bee can lay 2,500 eggs a day. Until she runs out, can no longer lay eggs and is no longer queen bee.
The queen bee takes off on a mating flight. She leaves the hive and goes to mate with as many drones as possible. She only mates this one time in her life but with numerous drones. She stores the sperm in her spermatheca. Then she holds the sperm for her lifetime and uses it until it’s gone. Queen bees usually perform their job for about two years. As they age, they lay fewer eggs and their pheromone production lower as they age too. In their prime, they lay 1,000 to 2,000 eggs. Usually, the hive will replace a queen bee once she isn’t producing enough eggs.
Honeybees have four wings, six legs, and five eyes. The three large eyes have multiple facets and these eyes can detect movement, color and patterns. The smaller eyes can detect light and help then navigate flight. They fly up to 15 to 20 miles per hour. Honeybees use their antennae to smell. The sound of their buzz is made by their wings flapping- they flap up to 200 strokes per second. Honeybees don’t usually sting, and only the female bee stings. If a bee does sting you, they die soon after as their stinger is attached to their abdomen and it gets pulled out.
Honeybees produce wax from a gland on their abdomen. They make honeycombs from the wax that provide a place to raise the young and also store food. They are efficient builders.
Hives can produce five different substances, honey, of course, beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly. A lot is going on in there. A colony can have up to 60,000 bees and only one queen. A hive is a busy place. Outside the house, bees collect pollen, water and of course nectar to make honey. Security guard bees guard the hive against unwanted guests. Safe and sound inside, some bees care for the young, some make honey, build honeycomb and perform other domestic activities. It is a well-run house!
In winter, bees stay inside the hive and consume the honey they made in the summer. In the busy bee time, a summer a worker bee lives about six to eight weeks total. Believe it or not, their most common type of death is from wearing out their wings from flying, because they work themselves to death.
Honey never spoils; in fact, a bottle of honey was unearthed in King Tutt’s tomb, and it was fine. Honey is the only substance that has all the elements necessary to sustain life, including water. It is composed of 80% sugars and 20 % water.
We think bees are truly fascinating. If you have a question about a beehive or beehive removal please call us at 972-316-9135. We give free estimates and service Dallas Fort Worth and surrounding areas.
Have you noticed that beekeeping is gaining popularity as a hobby? You don’t have to live in the country or have a lot of land to raise bees, even in cities like Dallas and Fort Worth apiaries are popping up. Sure, it’s not the most accessible hobby to get started but it does bring in some excellent benefits. Beekeeping in Dallas, Fort Worth area is especially great because raw, local honey is known to help with allergies. Anyone who lives in the Dallas Fort Worth areas knows allergies are a problem, especially this time of year. Not only is local honey good for it also taste great. It tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff. And it even better knowing the bees you have been babying created it!
Besides the honey, there are other benefits to raising your own bees. Bees wax is actually quite useful around the house. You could make candles, lotion, polish furniture, and much more! You can get quite crafty with it.
End of summer is an excellent time for extraction because it is so warm, and the honey will flow better. Our first tip for honey extraction is patience. It takes time, and you need to be patient. It is not a quick job, and going too fast can get messy. Another tip is to make sure you have all the right gear before you get started. For clothing, jacket, gloves, hat, and veil is a good idea, especially if you are just getting started and do not know the personify of your bees. Better safe than sorry. Also, you will want to have all the possible tools you will need ready to go.
It is a good idea to try to do the extraction somewhere else besides your kitchen. It is a very sticky process! Nobs, floors, and table will be sticky. It best to try it somewhere more open with fewer things around. A garage might be a functional space or an outdoor shed. One unique issue is that bees will smell you working on an extraction. If you straight up just do it outside and it takes a while more bees are going to show up.
Another tip is an addition to all your other tools have a large bucket or bowl of water and some dish towels to wash off your hands when they do get sticky from the extraction. Again, it can be a messy job and best to keep water nearby for easy use.
One way to save some money on the somewhat expensive hobby is to share or borrow extractor’s, uncapping tanks and other extracting equipment. Since most hobbyists only use it once or twice a year it’s a good tool to share. In addition, you could also help each other since extracting honey is a two-person job.
Warm honey flows better than cool honey. It spins out of the comb faster and more thoroughly than cold honey in an extractor. It also strains more quickly through a filter. Honey at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 c) or higher will be extracted most easily. Not a problem in Texas!
Bees are usually docile when beekeepers are extracting honey, but they will sting if you accidentally smash one. Did you know that although its sweet, honey is highly acidic? So, you want to pick the right container to keep the extracted honey it. Do not use aluminum and galvanized steel because that will react with the honey acids. Stick with plastic, stainless steel or glass. Tupperware and Rubbermaid both make good plastic containers to hold honey and cappings. Uncovered honey also catches insects, so keep the honey covered.
Spring is about to spring and so are the bees. It is the time of the year for bee swarms. We already know that bears hibernate in the winter and in a way, bees do too. While we are bundled up in snuggies, with the heater on high, bees are doing the same – staying warm inside the hive. When the weather gets cold bees retreat to the hive and live off the honey they produced in warmer months only to reemerge when it warms up in the spring.
When it starts warming up the queen bee gets to laying eggs. The hive is busy expanding. Sometimes it gets too large for only one leader. If the bees cannot smell the queen bee’s pheromones because the hive gets too big another queen bee is created. As the saying goes, “There’s only room for one queen bee.” One of the queen bees needs to leave the hive. Usually, the original queen bee takes off with about half the colony to find a new home, and this is called a bee swarm. It is nature’s way of expanding the bee population. When a hive swarms it looks like a giant dark cloud of bees flying everywhere. It can be alarming and even terrifying for some. Don’t Panic! Surprisingly, the bees are very docile in this “swarming” state. They are focused strictly on getting to their new home safely and emptying their full bellies of the honey they filled up with to start their new hive. If you happen to see bees swarming live-in-person, stay still and calm and remember never to swat at them. The swarming process is swift and they will pass over within just a minute or two.
Clients might call and let us know they are concerned with an enormous swarm of bees resting on their car, fence or sidewalk. A bee swarm sitting in this swarm state is usually just resting on their journey to find a new home that provides more shelter from the elements. In these instances, we usually recommend leaving them alone, if possible for 24-48 hrs. Then, if the swarm does not move on in a timely manner, Little Giant Beekeepers can come out and safely remove the swarm and relocate it to a safer area – away from people.
If you see a swarm camped out a while in a location that means they are also sending out their scouts to find a new home. All bees have specific jobs. Scout bees head out, “scouting” for the perfect new home. They leave in groups to check out new places to live. This is something our clients need to be aware of. Hopefully, they pick a hole in a tree, far away from your house. Unfortunately, sometimes they pick your house to move the colony in to. If you see bees in small groups flying around your house, “scoping it” you need to keep watch. They could be picking a space behind a hole in your brick or eave to move in to. No bueno! If you see a swarm in your yard or tree and see scout bees cruising around looking in your windows, you might want to give Little Giant Beekeepers a call. It is best not to let the bees move into your house in the first place. It is much harder to remove bees once they establish residency in a home’s eave or wall.
If you have a swarm, please call Little Giant Beekeepers to talk about steps to take to protect your home from a swarm moving in. We can come safely remove the swarm for a fee and relocate them to an apiary, so you don’t have to worry about them moving into your structure. Call 972-316-9135 for a free consultation.
Here’s to a happy & healthy 2019!
We want to thank all our customers and our staff that make every day fun and exciting. We couldn’t do it without you all!
We had some company shenanigans over the break celebrating the holidays! Little Giant Beekeepers would like you to meet some of our staff who have made our parties and work life fun over the last few of years!
Jefferson (LEFT) – Lead bee technician and our resident comedian (as shown by his jaunty Christmas suit!). He might be at your house to help you with bees and we guarantee he will keep you entertained! Interesting fact: He is from Brazil.
Louise Wright (RIGHT) – Meet Little Giant Beekeepers owner, Louise. She got into beekeeping when she was looking for a natural alternative to help her allergies. She and her husband Harold soon became fascinated with all the neat things bees and beekeeping could offer and BOOM – a business was born!
Gail (LEFT) – If you call on a Sunday you will get Gail on the phone to answer your bee questions!
Melanie (RIGHT) – Our back up bee phone Gal!
Manoel (LEFT) – Here he is enjoying some Brazilian food with a friend. Manoel is another one of our friendly bee technicians who also happens to hail from Brazil!
Sandor (CENTER) – Here is Sandor, his lovely wife (LEFT) and Louise (RIGHT). Sandor is one of our beehive removal experts and has been working with us for over 35 years. He is also a retired US Army veteran, and we are grateful for his service.
Missy (LEFT), Jefferson (CENTER), anonymous photobomber and let’s not forget Esther (RIGHT), our fearless behind the scenes bee leader!! She keeps the team together and in line!
KYLE and his wife – These friendly faces are another one of our helpful hive removal technicians. Even with six kids they still manage to get together matching sweaters for our annual Christmas sweater party!
Everyone frantically playing the Saran Wrap game! Esther wrapped lots of goodies and gift cards in Saran Wrap. You must rip through the saran ball before the next person lands on a double in dice. When they land on a double you pass the ball around. It’s a blast, especially when you get something good – gift cards galore!
MISSY – Call Little Giant Beekeepers to schedule an appointment or ask questions and you are likely to get our bee girl extraordinaire Missy! She can answer all your questions, with a smile and a lovely southern accent.
Missy (RIGHT), Jefferson (LEFT) and Mary (on Facetime)! Mary was out of town and Facetime-d in for our annual holiday party. We are sooooo tech savvy!
MARY – Meet Mary, our honeybee “aficionado!” She truly is an encyclopedia of flying insect knowledge and much more. Rarely can you stump her when it comes to questions about bees. Call her and give her a try! She has worked at Little Giant Beekeepers for many years and is a big part of the team.