Last week I opened the hive to see how things were going (very well it would seem) and I managed to get a sneaky shot of the other queen...
She's the large one in the centre looking like she's tired and over laying eggs!
A couple of other beautiful shots too... the one following is of a worker bee cleaning her proboscis (that's the bee's mouth) which is straw-like to allow her to suck nectar from the flowers.
The photograph below shows worker bees coming back to the hive with full pollen baskets (on their back legs). The bees fly into a flower and, being covered in fine hair, the get covered in pollen. They then use their front legs to tuck the pollen back into the pollen baskets on their back legs. Amazing. Pollen tastes a little like sweet, nutty flour and is packed with protein, amino acids and every vitamin known to mankind. Good one nature.
The final photograph I thought worthy of sharing shows that even though all the bees in a hive may have the same mother, as half sisters, they bear the markings of their different drone father's. On the right hand side of the photograph below you can see a bee which has much darker markings than the bee below. This is a good sign and tells the beekeeper that the queen bee mated with drones from other hives/with different genetic markers.
Front and centre in the photograph you can also see one bee passing nectar to another. This is part of the process by which flower nectar gets converted into honey (ie by mixing it with enzymes in the bees stomach). It is later matured in the hive whereby the bees flap their wings to evaporate moisture from the flower nectar (which is around 70% water when collected). When the water content reaches 15 - 17% the cell is capped to signal that the flower nectar has been ripened into honey.
There endeth the lesson. Can't believe how much I love having bees.
Meant to be writing a eulogy for Lizzie. I just can't get those words to flow so easily.
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