On Wednesday of this past week, a girlfriend (who happens to have recently started her own blog at http://twistsofatale.blogspot.com/ )surprised me with an early birthday gift. And what a surprise it was indeed! She took me to see Celtic Woman in concert in a nearby town. The beauty of the surprise was that I didn’t even know I’d be going anywhere with her. She had conspired with Hobbit King to plot the trick. He had told me to hold the date and to plan to go somewhere. And, now that I think of it, he never really said to plan to go somewhere with him. I need to be careful how I listen. 🙂
A honey bee must learn how to listen and pay attention to its fellow worker bees. Especially those who forage and bring back the first pollen of the season. When she comes in to tell the other bees where to find the pollen or nectar, she performs a dance to communicate. It is a fascinating dance of communication that changes depending up on the distance of the food.
Bees will travel up to six miles in any one direction in order to gather needed stores to make the honey and bee bread the bees need. Bee bread is a mixture of pollen and some nectar to form a mixture that is protein-rich food used to feed the young brood called larvae.
Because of all of the hair on a bee’s body, she is able to gather lots of pollen. She skillfully moves the pollen to the pollen sacs (See Pollen dances on my knee – I’m so happy to be a bee blog for how this is done), in order to fly back to the hive with this important food store.
Flowers that attract bees and other insects, birds, and mammals do so through a sweet fluid produced by flowers called nectar. Forging bees drink the nectar and store it in a pouch-like structure called the honey sac. When a forager first locates blossoms with nectar and honey, she flies back to the hive and communicates with that dance I mentioned earlier to the other forging bees just where they must go in order to find the flowers.
Research has shown that bees communicate in multiple ways. A major form of communication by way of pheromones, helps bees know when to be alarmed or other repellent scents, when the Queen is around, when she is sexually active, or when the hive is ready to swarm. This was revealed in the 1960s and 1970s when special equipment was designed to help researchers learn about the modes of communication. The most fascinating form to me, however, was the bee’s dance, which was first learned about in 1944 by Professor Karl von Frisch. He found he could “read” the dance language of the honey bee. Can you imagine how excited he must have been when he first realized what he was watching. And, researchers have since learned that sound is associated through the dance as well. Gives a new meaning to the sound of the “Bee Gees,” doesn’t it. 🙂
The chief dance is the waggle dance. This dance conveys to the nest mates the distance and direction of the food source from the hive. The scout forager will not perform this dance just because she found a food source and her enthusiasm of the dance helps convey how far or close the food is to the hive. She will do the dance as soon as she returns only if it is a rich source and to let her fellow foragers know they need to get to the food quickly. Otherwise, she may go to the site more than once to make sure the food source is worth sending her fellow foragers to gather the nectar and pollen.
The steps of the waggle dance are based on several factors. The waggle dance move that goes straight up the hive always means to the bee to fly in the current direction of the sun, wherever it may be. Sometimes this may be dancing to the bottom of the hive, which moves go in the opposite directions of the sun. The length of the waggle plus the distance walking back to where the waggle began is the distance to the food. The speed of the dance also translates to the bees the distance of the food. A very slow dance means the food is very far away.
A second dance is the round dance. This dance is usually used for food that is less than 300 yards or so away. The steps are very simple with no waggle, and the bee just goes around and around. The bees know to smell the scent of the nectar or taste the pollen that is on the scout to acquire the scent to find the nearby food source. The interesting part, is the same dance that bees use to communicate where to find a food source is also used to tell bees where the next site for a new home may be found when a hive is reading to swarm.
The Joy of a Reunion
This weekend, dear friends of ours had a family reunion of sorts. Everyone – friends and family – they hold dear are invited to this annual gathering of renewal of friendships, fellowships, and just good ole fun. The weekend begins with people gathering from all over the south-east on Friday evening with the sharing of soup, homemade and wonderfully warm for the soul. In fact, the entire weekend is one of eating, eating, and more eating. You might say we forage and gather as much food as we can and tell stories, laugh, and enjoy being together.
Saturday evening finds more family and friends coming together for an unforgettable meal that concludes with an exchange of gifts in a game formation that is just as fun and filled with lots of laughter as any fun house ride I’ve experienced. Sunday morning, we gather yet again for a breakfast cooked by the men that is a wonderful pampering.
Spring season for bees starts much earlier than for us. Their spring time is now, with the first blooms of the willows and maple trees from late January to mid-March. As they forage, they really pack in the food in about a three-week period. Often, this three weeks is the main gathering of pollen and nectar to make all the honey stores the hive needs for the rest of the year. Kind of like us at the reunion this past weekend. I know I ate enough food to last me several weeks, as the pounds now prove. 🙂
Hive Preparation Update
During this week, Hobbit King and I continued to prep the hives for their debut use in late April. I, along with Princess Daughter, began to sketch out the designs and paint them. Princess Daughter did the sketches while I began applying the paint. We’ve got a way to go, but so far the hives are starting to look like they’ll make a great home for our bees. What do you think?
Continuing with unexpected events, we had an unexpected snow fall today. This scene is looking out our back door this morning prior to the flood. Yep, we had an unexpected flood too.
The creek that is flooded is normally about 25 feet wide. Here, you can see it is a great distance out of the banks. The pole you see in the center of one picture is about 10 feet from the bank under normal times. That pole is where we tie our boat. Our boat is a small, roof top boat, about 14 feet long, we lovingly call the Hobbit Queen. Yeah…you get the connection to the “African Queen.” 🙂
This is a view from our garden. The trees you see out in the middle of the water we normally can walk right up to on solid ground. Our whole bottom area is now under water. Luckily, the bee hives are up away from the water, at least they are as we prepare for bed tonight.
As we begin another week, here’s to you having a week full of unexpected events and happy times full of food, fun, and laughter! Don’t forget to leave a comment, share your thoughts, and please vote if you like what you are reading. A vote each time helps me very much! Thanks for reading!!