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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

..Siting a hive
...As partners
...Bee hives
...Hive construction
...Smoker,hive tool,feeder
...Capture a swarm
...Buy a colony or nucleus
>..Queens & drones
...The workers
...Ah! Honey
...Propolis,royal jelly,wax

It is difficult to decide where to start when describing the interrelated organisation of bees in the hive.

Philosophers and lesser mortals find the essentially complicated relationships in the community a source of morals and some confusion.

If we start with the queen we are at least starting with an individual. She is indeed treated like a queen: she is fed and groomed. Her sole occupation is to provide eggs for the hive; she has no hand in the rearing of the young. Usually a queen will lay about 1,500 eggs a day at the height of summer. It is possible for her to lay up to 3,000. She herself grew from an egg laid by her mother. The egg was laid in a particularly large cell and was fed on a diet of royal jelly. If she had not had this special diet, she would simply have developed into a worker. She would not have been the sole virgin queen in the hive. However, she would have been the first to hatch. She then had to kill her competitors. After this somewhat violent arrival she rested for some five to ten days. The old queen left the hive, complete with around half of her followers, as the young queen came to maturity.

This brings us to the next bee participant in the collective life - the drone. A drone is a male bee; he leads a delightfully sheltered existence, being fed by the workers, until the day comes for him to fulfil his destiny. This is to fly out from the hive, meet and fertilise a queen. Often this occurs between bees from different hives. Drones that do not mate return to the hive and venture out another day. Successful drones do not return. Mating kills them. As the summer ends returning drones are prevented from entering the hive. The workers no longer feed them and they die.