Understanding the beekeeping hives are crucial to successful beekeeping. Beekeeping hives are basically living families or communities and each bee has its specific task to benefit the hive. After a bee outlives its usefulness to the hive, it will die, as not to be a burden to the other bees. Before understanding how to harvest the honey, you need to understand the structure of the bees themselves.
In the beekeeping hives the queen is the only female. Furthermore, the beekeeping hives are a matriarchal society with the entire life of the hive revolving around the queen. Besides being the only female in the hive, the queen is also the largest bee in the beekeeping hives. Unlike the other bees, which feed on nectar and honey, the queen has special food made for her. The same royal jelly that is very costly and coveted by both the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries is the food that is made especially for the queen and allows her to be fertile and produce the young. If the queen dies, then the entire beekeeping hive dies. Without the queen, the young will not be born and the beekeeping hive will die off. The queen’s pheromones also signal the other bees their tasks in the hive. Every once in a while, the queen will reproduce another queen. In this case, as the daughter queen grows up and starts to produce her bees, she will only be tolerated in the hive until it gets too crowded. When that happens, the mother queen will encourage her honey bees to revolt and drive the daughter queen and her bees out of the hive. This can be induced for beekeeping hive reproduction, but keep in mind, when a queen bares another queen, the hive will not produce as much honey, so it is important to only allocate one or two hives for reproduction if you have five or six hives.
The males have the easiest job in the hive. Their primary function is one thing -- sex. That’s right, all what the males do is have sex with the queen all day to produce the young. Once the males loose their libido, they will no longer have any purpose for the beekeeping hive and will die. Males rarely leave the beekeeping hive.
The drones are the hives soldiers. Their primary function is to protect the beekeeping hive from outside attack by either a natural predator or by you, when you harvest the honey. If the beekeeping hive is under serious attack, the workers will also join in the fight. Bees, like many other insects, communicate by releasing pheromones. Pheromones are different and when the bees are threatened, they will release the pheromones that entice the other bees to be aggressive and in attack mode. This is a natural defense of the colony. Smoke can suppress these pheromones.
The workers have the toughest job of the beekeeping hive. Workers are good at multitasking and can do a series of jobs. Workers provide the colony with food and also produce the honey that we love to harvest. Bees literally wear out their wings by continuously flying back and forth to and from the hive with nectar and pollen. The average life of the worker is about 35 days and many workers will actually die in flight from exhaustion.
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