People often ask us, “what do bees do in the hive”. Well, they don’t say, “busy as a bee” for nothing. Honey bees perform a variety of tasks within their hive to ensure the survival and prosperity of the colony.
A brief list of these tasks includes:
Foraging for food: Worker bees venture out from the hive to collect nectar, pollen, and water, which they bring back to the hive to feed the colony.
Producing wax and building comb: Worker bees secrete wax from glands in their bodies, which they use to construct the comb, the honey pots, and the cells for the eggs and the honey.
Cleaning and maintenance: Worker bees are responsible for maintaining the cleanliness and structural integrity of the hive. They remove dead bees and debris and repair any damage to the comb.
Nursing and feeding the young: Worker bees tend to the eggs and larval stages of the colony, feeding them a mixture of nectar and bee bread (pollen mixed with nectar).
Fanning: Worker bees use their wings to circulate air within the hive, helping to regulate the temperature and humidity levels.
Guarding the hive: Worker bees stationed at the entrance of the hive act as guards, protecting the colony from potential threats, such as predators or invading bees from other hives.
Producing honey: Worker bees collect nectar and store it in the honey pots, where it is transformed into honey through a process of regurgitation and evaporation. The honey is used as a food source for the colony.
Swarm preparation: When the colony outgrows its current hive, some of the bees will prepare to swarm, or split off and form a new colony. Worker bees will construct new queen cells, and once the new queen emerges, she and a portion of the workers will leave the original hive to establish a new one.
Protecting the queen: The queen bee is the heart of the colony, and worker bees will go to great lengths to protect her. They will defend her from potential threats, feed her, and ensure that her eggs are fertilized.
Winter preparation: As the weather cools, worker bees will prepare the hive for winter. They will store honey and pollen to provide food for the colony during the colder months, and cluster together to generate heat and keep the queen warm.
Grooming: Worker bees are responsible for keeping themselves and each other clean. They will groom each other to remove debris, parasites, and any foreign substances that may have gotten on their bodies during foraging trips.
Regulating the temperature: Honey bees are able to regulate the temperature within the hive by fanning their wings and clustering together. This is crucial for the survival of the colony, as the temperature needs to be maintained within a specific range for the eggs to hatch and the honey to be stored properly.
Communication: Honey bees communicate with each other through various means, such as dancing, pheromones, and touch. This communication is used to coordinate activities within the hive, such as foraging trips and the location of food sources.
The activities of the honey bees within the hive are highly organized and cooperative, with each bee performing specific tasks to ensure the health and survival of the colony.
What does the queen bee do all day?
If you look carefully, you will notice that the bees around the queen (in this hive here keeper has marked her with a red dot, making her easier to find) are all facing her. They constantly inspect her and do everything for her. Once mated all she needs to do is lay eggs.
BTW the bees in the picture are not native Irish bees. Our native bees are darker and not anywhere near as yellow as the ones above.