Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fun Fact: How Beeswax is Made

Fun Fact: Bees have pockets. Bees produce beeswax from their own bodies. On the underside of their abdomen are four pairs of wax glands. Under the wax glands are tiny pockets which hold the wax scales as they are being made.

When a wax scale is ready for use, the bee takes it out of the pocket by spiking it on the strong hairs of her back legs, and then passes it to the jaws.

There it is chewed, and other materials may be mixed with the wax. When it is soft, the worker puts it into place on the comb being built.

Source: Life of the Honey-bee - A Ladybird Natural History Book

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fun Fact: How do bees see in the dark hive?

Fun Fact: When building combs in the darkness of the hive bees don't use their eyes to tell their position in the hive, whether they are standing vertically facing up or down, etc.
Bees have cushions of sensory (feeling) hairs at all their joints (knees and ankles etc) which move by gravity all together as the bee moves - sort of like how seaweed would sway in the waves back and forth.

This aids the bee to know in which direction they are standing by how these hairs move back and forth.

(taken from Jurgen Tautz book The Buzz about Bees - this book has incredible macro photography of the bees).

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fun Fact: Bees have teeth

Fun Fact: Did you know bees have teeth?

They do on the inside edges of their wings.

Bees have four wings, two on each side.

The Fore Wing is the bigger wing and the Hind Wing is a smaller wing.

When she wants to fly she'll hook the teeth together on the inside edge of her wings.

Now she has two large wings that are hooked together.

She uses the large wings for flying.  She'll need these bigger wings, especially when she comes home carrying nectar or water or when her legs are loaded with pollen.

Once back at the hive she'll unhook the wings and tuck them back out of the way.

She in the photo, this bee has just come home and her wings are still hooked together but you can see how it's actually two wings on each side.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Fun Fact: What happens when bees fly?

Fun Fact:  When honey bees fly, their bodies create static electricity.

This is similar to us, when we walk across a carpet  or if we rub a balloon on our bodies - then it will stick to us.

Static electricity is helpful for honey bees.  It helps them collect pollen.

When the bee lands on a flower, the light weight powdery pollen quickly attaches itself to the bee's fur.

Then she'll use her legs to scrape the pollen off her fur.  

She'll add some nectar from her honey stomach to make it into a paste and that pasted lump is what she attaches to her back legs to fly home with.

See the photo of this bumble bee on a flower.  She is covered in yellow pollen.

She's opened up a Snap Dragon flower with her strong body and has crept inside to collect nectar and pollen.

Her fur is quite covered in the pollen.  She's already started to put pasted lumps of it on her back legs.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Fun Fact: Bees have Five Eyes

Fun Fact: Bees have five eyes.

They have two big compound eyes on the sides of their head and three tiny ocelli eyes on the top of their head.

Once they hatch the tiny eyes are hidden in their fur. 

The small eyes are used to detect movement.

Bees see with ultra violet vision and their favourite colour is blue.

Recently it was discovered that non blue flowers while put out a blue aura to attract the bees.

I wonder how the flowers learned that bees love blue?

Notice on this hatched bee that you can't see the tiny eyes because they are hidden in her fur.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fun Fact: The largest organ in the hive

Fun Fact: Do you know what the largest organ in the hive is? It's the beeswax.

Recent studies have shown that the bees communicate through the wax by vibrations that they make with their bodies.

The wax also holds the warmth of bees' bodies and acts like an insulator to keep the incubating babies warm. One chore for workers is to be a Heater Bee. 

A bee may look like she's just standing on a capped cell doing nothing but if you looked at it with an infrared camera that shows heat, you'll see she's pressing her thorax (chest) to the cell cap.

Then she contracts her flight muscles to transfer heat from her body to the wax which will warm up the cell and the baby pupae that's inside the cell.

 They can stay in this squatted position for as long as 30 minutes. The worker will have her antennae resting on the cell which is believed so she can check the temperature through the sensitive antennae.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Some Cells are left empty on purpose

Fun Fact: Bees will leave about 10 to 15% of brood comb in the nursery with no eggs. This is deliberate. 

One bee chore is as a Heater Bee.  These Heater Bees will make themselves hot by warming up their wing muscles.  Then they will dunk their body into an empty cell where the babies are incubating.

Next she will rapidly telescope her  body up and down for a period of time and then rest when she gets tired.

What she is doing is warming up the was of the cells close by which warms up the babies that are incubating so they don't get cold.  The bees maintain a constant temperature in the brood (nursery) area.

Before we learned this, when we would see an empty cell where all the babies are we thought the queen missed laying an egg in that spot.  But she didn't goof.  She does it on purpose.

This fun fact is from The Buzz about Bees by Jurgen Tautz.