Honey bees are highly sophisticated social insects – biologists have classified the honeybee as a “superorganism”. In the years that we have been involved with honey bees, here are many facts that continue to amaze us as beekeepers.
Hive air conditioning
Honey bees maintain the nest area of the hive at a constant 35°C even in the depths of winter – honey stores provide the energy as bees vibrate their powerful wing muscles to generate heat. If the hive becomes too hot in summer, workers will bring water into the hive and fan it with their wings to produce cool air.
Other bees such as bumble bees visit flowers in a random way. Not honey bees; like a factory manager, they focus on the honey and pollen sources which maximises input to the colony. Their communication mechanism is the incredible "waggle dance"
And finally, worker bees will unselfishly sacrifice themselves as individuals, to defend their colony. Sadly, honey bees die after they have stung.
This colony is busy in mid-February gathering pollen and nectar from spring flowers, such as snowdrops, crocus and aconites.
Workers fanning their wings at the entrance to cool their hive on a very hot July day
The honeybee observation hive allows a bee colony to be viewed while they work in the hive