Beekeeping and Honey!
Bees bees bees! February 17 2017, 0 Comments
There are more than 25,000 recorded species of bees in the world, which can be broken down into 9 families of bees (under the banner of Apoidea). The ‘honeybee’ belongs to the Apidea family, and contains 10 sub species (and a hybrid). Apis mellifera is the honeybee that is most commonly kept for honey production and pollination services. From my other blogs, you can learn about our bee-autiful ladies, but for this one I have collected a little snippet of info on some of our other bees, starting with one of our cutest Aussie bees!
Teddy Bear Bees
Scientific Name: Amegilla bombiformis
Origin: Australian Native, east coast.
Description: Golden, furry and bumblebee shaped, about 7-15mm big.
Behaviour: Teddy-bear bees are solitary, with a female building a pollen, nectar and egg cell in the ground. They have a distinct buzz when flying and this means they are often mistaken for bumblebees.
Attitude: Oh dear, can't we all just get along? (These bees are preyed on by other bees and birds).
Cuteness Factor: 10/10
Factoid: These Teddy Bears are very efficient buzz pollinators.
Scientific Name: Xylocopinae
Distribution: World wide
Description: Black and shiny, with some sub-species having flashes of yellow.
Behaviour: Generally solitary in nature, these bees have gained their names from their burrowing into solid wood.
Attitude: I chew out wood, and make it my b*tch, I mean, nest. That makes me a bad ass! There are YouTube channels dedicated to stopping my awesome power!
Factoid: One Carpenter bee species lays the largest recorded egg of any insect!
Leaf Cutter Bees:
Scientific Name: Megachilidae
Distribution: World wide
Description: The general size of a honeybee, generally black and white stripes, however, this varies from species and distribution.
Behaviour: Solitary in nature, these bees have gained their names the neat circles they chew out on soft leaf plants, such as roses. They roll the small disc and add eggs, pollen and small amount of nectar to the cells they make. Unlike honeybees who carry pollen on their legs, Leafcutter bees carry their pollen on their abdomen.
Attitude: I like to watch... These bees are very shy and the only reason you know they are around is from their little cut outs.
Factoid: The Leafcutter Bee would prefer to bite you, before it would sting you!
Scientific Name: Megachilidae osmia
Distribution: Northern Hemisphere
Description: Generally metallic green or blue, about the size of a honeybee
Behaviour: These solitary bees utilize the abandoned hollows of a carpenter bee, hollows in trees etc. The female uses mud to create cells for food and eggs.
Attitude: I’ll borrow that, thanks! They take the opportunity to use any old thing for their nests.
Factoid: The Mason bee is so cheeky, they have been known to use abandoned snail shells as homes.
Scientific Name: Nomadinae
Distribution: World wide
Species Info: 31 genera, 10 tribes
Description: Metallic blue and black, with reduced hair and no pollen baskets on their legs. Rather wasp-like in appearance, these bees are one of the least evolved bees.
Behaviour: These bees lay their eggs in other bees and insects nests, hence the name ‘cuckoo’ bee. In some cases, the Cuckoo Bee will take over the small nest and kill the Queen.
Attitude: Can’t be bothered, you do it! These bees live a life of deception and intrigue!
Factoid: They often sleep grasping a plant stem with just their mandibles.
Scientific Name: Apidae bombus
Distribution: Northern Hemisphere, introduced to some parts of the Southern Hemisphere, such as New Zealand and Tasmania
Species Info: 250 species
Description: Fuzzy, furry (the fuzz is called ‘pile’) and dopey, this black and yellow bee ranges in size from 1.9cm to about 4cm.
Behaviour: A social bee, the Bumble will form small colonies (compared to the Honeybee), sometimes underground of about 50-400 bees.
Cuteness Factor: 10/10. Cuteness personified, only rivaled by puppies and baby puggles.
Attitude: None. They are dopey happiness balls that fly.
Factoid: Bumblebees have no ears. This does not reduce their cuteness in any way.
Scientific Name: Halictidae
Distribution: World wide, uncommon in Australia.
Species Info: Large family of bees, more than 1000 species in Northern America alone. The common family of bees, other than the Apis family.
Description: Small, petite bees, dark or metallic in colour. They gain their common name by being attracted to the smell of salt, including human sweat. Don't be put off by the name - these bees are very pretty and petite.
Behaviour: Some Sweat bees are solitary, others hive together in a social manner. They can build nests almost anywhere, including in dry, bare dirt.
Factoid: This family contains some nocturnal bees.
Miss T's thoughts on Bees February 05 2017, 0 Comments
This is a post written by our lovely Miss T!
Miss T’s Bee Facts
Lots of people think that bees aren’t nice because they sting, but bees are actually calm and lovely to work with. The reason they sting is because they either get stepped on or you swat at them.
The reason why we shouldn’t have bees extinct is because they are the reason we are alive. Without bees WE would be extinct because they pollinate trees and without trees we wouldn’t have oxygen and without oxygen we all would be dead.
When I go to Kings Park with my grandparents, I like to look in the flowers and the bees that are usually in the flowers. Sometimes it’s a blue banded bee which has blue and black stripes instead of black and yellow, or a Caucasian bee which has thin black strips and yellow strips, then there is usually the European bee which is the most commonly seen bee in Australia. I have seen a few leaves that have been cut from a Leaf-Cutter bee but I have never seen one because they are extremely shy. If you go to Kings Park you should try and identify a few bees on your iPhone.
I like my bees. When it’s winter and I see a bee on the ground, I pick it up and give it some sugar water. The sugar helps it warm up and by picking it up it will warm up more by the warmth of your body heat. After about 5 minutes the bee should fly off. If you don’t like bees, that’s fine, but don’t just step on her!
A story to remember why the comb is hexagonal is this one:
The bees are all deciding which shape to use for their comb, so one of them thought they could used circles but they have gaps in them when you tessellate them. Another one piped up and said ‘What about a square?’ but the other ones said that its hard do get it straight. So they looked at the other shapes. Finally they decided that the hexagonal pattern is the best one because it’s easy to make and it’s the best one to use the least amount of beeswax.
So that’s how they decided to use the hexagonal pattern!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and if you wish bees don’t exist than I suggest you to save up on oxygen!