What Bees Eat         

Kids are most likely to encounter honey bees that are feeding at flowers or foraging. Honey Bees may fly long distances (up to six miles) in search of food and could  be quite far from home when they’re seen in your yard or neighborhood.         

Worker honey bees gather both pollen and nectar from flowers to feed to the larvae and other members of the honey bee colony. Nectar is the sweet fluid produced by flowers to attract honey bees and other insects, birds and mammals. Worker honey bees drink the nectar and store it in a pouch-like structure called the crop. They fly back to the hive and regurgitate the nectar to other “house bees.”          

The house bees mix the nectar with enzymes and deposit it into a cell where it remains exposed to air for a time to allow some water to evaporate.  The honey bees help the process along by fanning the open cells with their wings.  The cell containing the resulting honey is later capped with beeswax and kept for future use.

Honey Bees have lots of little hairs on their body. Even their eyes have hairs. Pollen sticks to the hairs while the honey bees are visiting the flowers. A furry little bee wiggling around inside the flower picks up a lot of pollen. After getting pollen on their body hairs, the honey bees move it to a special area on their hind legs called pollen baskets .

Foraging honey bees returning to the hive often have bright yellow or greenish balls of pollen hanging from these pollen baskets.

Pollen is the yellowish or greenish powder-like substance that in certain cases comes from flowers. It might be quite sticky. It contains the male contribution to the next generation of plants. Honey Bees mix the pollen with some nectar to form a mixture called beebread that is a protein-rich food used to feed the larvae.

As the worker honey bees move from flower to flower, they spread pollen to many different plants, including important foods such as vegetables (squash and cucum bers), fruits (apples, watermelon, plums, sweet cherries, citrus), nuts (almonds), plants grown for seed (sunflower), and animal feed crops such as clover.

There is evidence that African Honey Bees (AHBs) spend more time gathering pollen than do European Honey Bees (EHBs), because they need additional protein to produce more brood.

One possible reason for the success of African Honey Bees (AHBs) in displacing milder-tempered honey bees is that in every respect, the African Honey Bees (AHBs) appear to be more efficient and more diligent. They get up earlier, work later, and visit more flowers per foraging flight than do European honey bees.

When the moon is bright, Africanized Honey Bees (AHBs) will often continue to forage late into the night. This is part of the Africanized Honey Bee’s tendency to favor expansion and frequent division of the honey bee colony, as opposed to the European Honey Bee’s tendency to build up large, stable colonies full of honey to survive the winter.

Honey Bees rely on their sense of vision to locate flowers. Bees see colors in the spectrum ranging from ultraviolet to orange, but do not see red, (Red flowers are visited by birds like hummingbirds.)

The flower advertises itself to the honey bees with colorful petals, many of which have shiny patches of ultraviolet that humans can’t see except with special equipment. These ultraviolet patches are called bee guides or nectar guides. Like airport runway lights, these ultraviolet regions guide the honey bees to the nectar.

Shape of the flower is also important. Some flowers have flat areas for ease of landing by honey bees and others have elaborate modifications to ensure pollen sticks to any bee that visits.

During those hard times when there are few foraging opportunities, honey bees sometimes raid other, weaker colonies looking for honey to steal.  The robber honey bees can’t enter a different hive unnoticed. Guard honey bees at the hive entrance usually try to fight off invaders in stinging duels. African Honey Bees (AHBs) have a noticeable tendency to raid other colonies, in particular during periods of drought or famine.

Honey Bees are attracted to sweets, especially liquid sweets in the form of open cans of soft drinks. This is why they occasionally gather around consuming areas at open air events, like fairs and carnivals, and crawl around on straws and can or bottle tops. While honey bees are generally not very assertive while foraging for food or water, they can sting when disturbed, which makes them quite unwelcome at such events.

In addition to food, honey bees gather water for use in cooling the inside of the nest on hot days. They also use water to dilute the honey when they feed it to the larvae. Occasionally, honey bees collect the sticky resin and gum of trees and work into a substance called propolis.

They used the propolis to plug unwanted openings in the hive so that mice and pests like wax moths or ants can’t get inside.  The honey bees also spread a thin coating of propolis on the interior of the hive to protect against disease. When working a hive, the beekeeper uses a hive tool to pull apart the frames that could  be stuck together with propolis.

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About John Payton

Bee control expert and founder of a bee control company http://www.beeremovalspecialist.com http://employee-wellness-programs.com
This entry was posted in Bee Control, Bee Removal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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