Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bees have Mummies Part I

Did you know that bees hives are a lot like Pharoah and his tomb?

We know that bees like to keep their home warm and dry. Pretty well all creatures that live outside must find some kind of home that is comfortable.

In winter the bees don't hibernate. Instead they're awake and active inside their hive all winter. That's why they need to store so much honey. It's their food to last them all winter long until the spring flowers bloom. I mentioned in the last post how the bees keep each other warm in a cluster.

Often other animals that are outside are looking for a warm place to live. They'll often see the nice bee hive. Then they'll go inside and find it nice and dry and they'll decide to stay and live there. Mice really like to live inside bee hives and can sometimes build nests inside them. But the mouse might have forgotten that bees can sting and the bees can sting the mouse until it dies.

Sometimes the mouse will die inside the hive. This is not acceptable at all to the bees who must keep their hive clean. The mouse isn't very clean to begin with and soon it will begin to smell and rot. Ewwww! The bees have a big problem. The mouse is much too big for the bees to carry out of the hive. Because they can't carry it out they will leave it there and instead they will cover the mouse completely.

[This is a sticky glob of propolis that I scraped from a hive].

They'll take their sticky waterproof propolis and they will coat if over and over the mouse until the body is completely covered. This creates a seal over the mouse kind of like a plastic ziplock lunch bag. Now the hive will stay clean from the dirty mouse.

[Because I haven't had a mouse inside my hives I don't have a photo of it to show you. Now that should be a good thing. See the propolis marks on the wood? The bees have used it to glue the frames of the hive into place.]

And the mouse? Its body is now inside a very dry propolis tomb just like a pharoah in Egypt. Over time the mouse's body will dry up just like an Egyptian mummy.

Now you can see that the bee hive isn't much different than a Pharoah's tomb. It's filled with a treasure of golden honey and sometimes even a mummy in a tomb.

Next I'll tell you about another kind of small mummy in a bee hive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is amazing! You have taught me so much about bees that I never knew. Your information is so accessible to children. My daughter was fascinated. Thank you!