Honey Bees on Emmett Ridge Farm

How Bees Make Honey

There are many species of bees, such as the honeybee, and every bee has a job in the hive. The three main groups of bees that work to keep this cycle going are the queen bee, the worker bee, and the drone. They all play an important part in the hive, and without one, the chain of progress would become incomplete. The bee that we normally run into is the worker bee, who is normally out in the field collecting nectar and pollen. 

The worker bee will suck nectar out of the flower with a long tongue similar to a butterfly's, and get pollen stuck on their hairy legs.  When it moves from plant to plant, it gains more nectar and trades some old pollen for a lot of new pollen. The pollen eventually gets too heavy for the bee to carry, so it brushes itself down and transfers the pollen to the bees’ “sacs”, which are located hanging on their hind legs. Later, the honey bee uses its pollen to make “bee bread”, the only source of protein that the bees have and feed on. Pollen comes in many different colors, just like the many different colors of flowers.

Next, the bee returns to the hive, full of nectar and pollen. It then passes the nectar it was carrying to the nearest drone through its mouth. The drones’ pass the nectar from mouth to mouth until the moisture content is at about 20 percent. Then they put the honey in a compartment and seal it up to be stored for the winter. Another job of the drone is to mate with the queen bee and produce larvae. Finally, as the only female in the hive, the queen bee produces all the larvae to continue the cycle of the hive.

Ohio Beekeeping Laws

As it is illegal to own an apiary without an application, it is recommended to follow these laws. Any person owning or possessing bees has to file an application with the director of agriculture that tells him/her the exact location of his/her apiaries and the number of colonies of bees in each apiary, along with whatever other information is required from the agriculture director on that subject. Fees include five dollars for every separate apiary he/she owns as well as a ten dollar late fee if the application is not turned in on time. All of this must occur on or before June first each year or within ten days after possessing bees. It is illegal to own an apiary on someone else's premises unless it is identifiable by an apiary identification number given by the director of agriculture. Identification numbers must be visible somewhere on the apiary.

How to Become a Beekeeper

Beekeeping isn’t easy, or cheap, and we always recommend you leave a pastime that is potentially life-threatening to your experienced local farmer. It will costs about $350 to start off, including the equipment you should buy. It is recommended to start with a Standard/Classic Langstroth Deep Hive Starter Kit, which both include a beehive, a beginner beekeeper book, a ventilated beekeeping jacket, a pair of gloves, a smoker, a hivetool, a brush, and tung oil. The only difference between the two is that the Standard Kit uses sugar pine and the Classic Kit uses douglas fir as well as they both have a different format for the hive. You will probably also need to buy beeswax sheets, something that is not included in the two Starter Kits and are about $25 for ten sheets. Four recommended beginner books: Swarm Traps and Bait Hives and The Practical Beekeeper volume one, two, and three.

Here are some small tips for taking care of your bees: Take care of your bees during the warm months and minimize care in the cold months. If you open the hive in the cold, all the warm air from the hive will be released and the bees will freeze. Don’t panic if you haven’t seen your bees come out of the hive this winter. They will only exit if is above freezing to dispose waist. Never take honey from the main hive, that's the bees food for the winter, and they will die without it. Make sure that your queen bee is laying eggs, your workers are building up honey stores, and your bees have lots of room to expand. 

Fun Facts About Bees

-300 bees will make 450 grams of honey their entire lifetime.

-There are 4,000 bees in a hive.

-The queen bee lays 1,500 bees per day.

-Bees live about three years, varying on type.

NewsAubrey Backscheider