LET THEM BEE
We’re happy to announce the arrival of honey bees to the CBC fam! They are settling in very nicely.
Did you know that one third of the human diet is derived directly or indirectly from insect-pollinated plants?! And eighty percent of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honey bees. In other words, if bees weren’t around, we would be in a lot of trouble.
In order for some crops to produce a fruit, they need pollination to occur. Some plants are self-pollinating, meaning they carry both male (stamen) and female (stigma) parts on the same flower, while others produce a separate male and female flower. This is where the bees are instrumental in accomplishing the task of pollination. Bees visit the flowers to collect nectar and pollen to feed their families. The pollen sticks to the bees and is dislodged in the next flower they visit. When male pollen is transferred to a female flower of the same species, voila; we all share the fruit of our labour.
Honey bees are herbivores so they are not aggressive by nature although hold that negative stigma among many people. That stigma needs to buzz off.
Bees have been present here on earth for millions of years. Beekeeping is one of the oldest agricultural pursuits known to us. North America’s source of sugar when the first settlers came from Europe was expensive and hard to come by, so honey bees were exported to establish apiaries.
Honey bees are social insects! They live in a society with adults and young that share the same dwelling. Just as humans must exhibit cooperative behaviour in order to succeed, so do bees. And just like us, they can’t survive on their own, we all depend on each other.
They will help to pollinate our garden and enrich our environment. Our beekeeper, Vanessa from St William’s, brought in three boxes that each contain a colony; each colony holds roughly sixty thousand bees in each one. There is a queen in each one. She is responsible for all reproduction. Then there are the workers and the drones.
The honey bee colony consists of three different castes: the female queen, female workers, and the male drones. Caste differentiation is determined genetically and nutritionally. Fertilized eggs develop into females, while unfertilized eggs develop into drones. Whether an egg is fertilized or not is determined by the queen when she lays the egg. A female egg will develop into a queen or worker depending on the amount and type of food that is fed to the larva. The queen is able to reproduce because she is given royal jelly, a secretion from mandibular glands on the heads of young workers, for an extended time.
The queen is the mother of the hive. She is not the ruler, but she is waited upon, fed and protected by the workers. The worker bees are female and have a range of duties that change as they age.
Criteria for Nesting:
-limited, small entrances
-shelter from environmental factors (wind, predators, sun, rain)
-southern exposure is preferred
The honey comb is built entirely out of beeswax, which is secreted from four sets of glands located in each worker bees’ abdomen. This is then mixed with their saliva to a mouldable consistency.
The brood is located right at the centre of the honey comb. This is where the bees are raised. This location is optimal because the temperature is most easily maintained here. You could say is the hearth of the honey bees’ home.
Bees relate to humans in many ways. All cells are re-used, cleaned and maintained by the workers after the emergence of the brood.
Parts of the Hive:
We have planted an organic garden at the brewery this spring. The growth has been beautiful through the summer into autumn. The bees have been doing their part and being great pollinators for us. Together we are growing an environment rich in biodiversity. The flowers that the bees choose to gather pollen and nectar from get turned into honey in their home. The honey in turn reflects the flowers and plants where it came from. That is just another reason why organic plants are so important. Just like we want to share clean and healthy food with our family and friends at Charlotteville, the bees want to care for their colony with the same love.
We will be able to showcase their honey on our menu and through the brewery’s retail shop. We look forward to sharing this experience with you!
The bigger picture:
As pollinators, bees play a part in every aspect of the ecosystem. Trees, flowers, and many other plants, which serve as food and shelter for animals depend on the pollination that bees accomplish. Bees contribute to complex and interconnected ecosystems that enable a diverse number of different species to thrive and coexist.