Bee Blog July
The bee’s brain, no bigger than a crumb and divided into many separate ganglia or tiny brains, is doing an awful lot of hard work. In a manic search for nectar bees fly hard, fast and low, avoiding obstacles, choosing which is the best food supply and remembering where the food came from.
Then, in reference to a series of images of where the hive is located, it makes it’s way back to deposit its cargo and tell the others where the nectar came from in the first place.
Her half sisters, the ones having reached the time in life where they are foraging, will then join the hunt. Compared to the rest of the summer there are fewer flowers in June, and it comes as a welcome change for bees to find gardens bursting into sugary life in July.
As they fly overhead bees see flowers quite differently to humans, with their big, compound eyes, they see the earth and sky as a huge vista, even seeing behind them, and individual flowers are interestingly marked when seen in infra red and ultra violet.
Bees see a wider range of light and flowers are marked all over their petals to show the insect just where to go to get the precious nectar.
To the honeybee the July garden is a supermarket of honey and at the checkout she pays by pollination. Bees and flowers go hand in hand. The pollen sticking to her hairy body is rubbed off onto other flowers to provide the genetic material to make new life.
But bees are collecting pollen for themselves
After the swarming season is over, the queen is laying thousands of eggs a day to build up the colony. More bees means more honey collected in the mad dash to take advantage of the summer’s bounty. For their first three weeks of life the eggs and grubs in the brood chamber are dependent on their half sisters for nourishment.
Bees store pollen, mixing it with honey and water to make ‘bee bread’ with which they feed grubs. Standing by the hive you can see when there are a lot of grubs o feed inside because the bees are bringing in pollen attached to their back legs.
Of course, as the numbers of bees in the colony increases, so do the number of varroa mites, and in July beekeepers estimate their numbers by counting the mites that fall out of the hive. If the numbers are too high we can force the bees to clean themselves, and in the process knock off a lot of mites by sprinkling them with icing sugar.
Later in the year we will be treating them with harsh chemicals in preparation for winter, but for now, while we sit lazily in the hot summer garden, the bees are free to buzz about, so fast they become little more than a blur against the sky.