Tue. Jul. 7, 2015

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Bees

Bees continue to be in the news as scientists, farmers, environmentalists debate all the reasons they’ve been declining.  There’s not just one reason.  Rather than talk about that, let’s talk about what they mean to we mere humans!  Bees pollinate our fruits, vegetables and nuts as well as flowers to continue to bring beauty  into our environment and nourishment for them.  And, of course, they have one of the two best natural foods in the world, honey!  the other is maple syrup.

Honey bees
Honey bees
Honey comb
Honey comb

More and more folks are finding themselves interested in becoming beekeepers.   I was fortunate to talk with Victoria Ranua, a beekeeper for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and learned a thing or two.

Check out this video with Victoria on Dig In Minnesota:

She explains what the smoke really does!  The video is short and worthwhile!  You can learn more on classes at Wozupi in Shakopee.

Some quick facts:

  • The Queen is one busy buzzer, she lays between 1500 and 2000 eggs a day!
  • There are worker bees who spend their lifetime, about 6 weeks, taking care of the babies.
  • Soldier bees protect the hive.  They’re naturally larger than the field bees and worker bees.
  • Field bees work their little pollinators off bringing nectar to the nest and, literally, fly their wings off.
  • It takes 3 drops of nectar for 1 drop of honey.
  • Ten thousand bees (which is a normal hive) can make 300 pounds of honey in a year!
  •  Most beekeepers leave about a hundred pounds per hive to sustain the bees over winter.
  •  Honey bees require a hive to survive.  They all need each other.
  • Another interesting fact is Royal Jelly.  A bee is chosen while still an egg and fed royal jelly for 3 days, that’s enough to turn her into the Queen Bee.

Of course, there’s also the University of Minnesota Bee Lab.

Milkweed - our garden
Milkweed – our garden


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