Just Call Me Jack of all Trades (aka the Worker Bee)

From the moment the honey bee is born, you can almost hear it hum, "hi ho hi ho it's off to work I go"
Don't believe me; come to one of our Farmers Markets this year. 
Farmers Market booth selling honey 

Keep your eye on a frame of brood (where bees are made) that is in our observation hive. Wait and watch as the honey bee labors to break free from its cell underneath a sheath of wax. Its first couple of steps are a little wobbly, but within moments, if it's a worker bee (female, the males are called drones) she's off to work! The next four days of her life will be spent cleaning!  


Children looking at observation hive
Watching a honey bee be born

I need my bed made.
She cleans the alveolus (cell of the honeycomb), and will do general upkeep inside the hive, including removing anything moldy.
Don't you just want a worker bee for your refrigerator upkeep?
Queen cell
Honeycomb cells with a queen cell and larva

Oh Nurse!
Quickly, from days five to eleven, she is promoted to nurse bee. As nurse bee she administers royal jelly (super nutritious food) to the larvae in the cells.  She may even have the special privilege of being an attendant bee to the queen, feeding and grooming her royal highness.

Stock the shelves and turn on that AC.
Days eleven through thirteen this worker bee in now given a key; she's the new storekeeper. In this role she will make sure that the nectar and pollen are stocked in the alveolus, and she will ventilate the hive by flapping her wings rapidly so that the temperature remains stable (about 91°F and 97°F, which is ideal for stimulating wax secretion).  
 Are you tired yet?
Honey bees on front of hive
More fanning please

Do you make candles?

Here comes day fourteen through seventeen, her beeswax glands are developed (found on the abdomen). This is the exciting part; the bee becomes a wax maker. She builds the honeycombs from this wax coming out of her abdomen. 
How cool is that?
beeswax votive candles
100% Pure Beeswax Candles

The sentries are coming!
From day eighteen to her twenty-first day, our little worker bee becomes a warden, the queen and fellow bees can rest a little easier knowing that she is on guard at the hive entrance, running off intruders such as yellow jackets, robber bees (from other hives) etc.
Are you still singing with me? "hi ho hi ho it's off to work I go"


We're ready for takeoff Ms. Captain.
From her twenty-second day until her final departure (she dies), the worker bee logs many flight hours going from flower to blossom to tree collecting nectar, pollen and propolis, although she may not collect all three sources during her lifetime, her sisters may be delegated as propolis collectors or even water fetchers. Her gathering usually takes place within a two mile radius (but could go up to five if sources get scarce). Amazing, her radar brings these gathered resources back to the hive that she resides in. Not the one next door, she knows her home.  

honey bee on apple blossom
Honeybee foraging on apple blossom

Dead honey bee on goldenrod
Expired Wings, died on the job

OK, I've got it!
Why should I, the "beekeeper" think that my job should include any less work. It's spring and there's much work to be done. At Heavenly Honey Apiary the drone kicks in too and as a team we become busy bees. We've been building hives, assembling frames, painting the woodenware, inspecting each apiary site, setting out pollen feeders, making sure the bear fences are up and running. The list goes on . . . 

But in the end, we'll have some awesome products from the hive because of all the honey bees' work, and a little assistance from us. 

Photo Collage of Heavenly Honey Apiary
Some of HHA busy bee work


3 comments:

ROBAFEN said...

What a very Creative story.well thought out

Anonymous said...

how long Do worker bees live? Elaine

Valarie said...

That's a good question. In the busy summer months, usually nor more than six weeks because the wings wear out. Then when she's stuck inside the hive for winter (North-East) she may live as long as four to six months(so the text books say). ~Valarie