The girls (worker bees) are kicking the men (drones) out of the hive! We had our first really cold night and found the ground in front of the hive littered with dead drones. Here’s how this works: the drones go on mating flight with the queen about once per season. That is all they do. The rest of the time they just hang out in the hive a drink the honey the worker bees bring in. When fall comes the girls (worker bees) decide that they are not feeding these drones all winter so they kick most (not all) of the drones out of the hive to preserve honey stores for the workers, queen and brood that will winter over. The second photo is a drone pupa. The worker bees actually pull out the drone pupa out of the comb and drag them outside too. Talk about strong women! Drones are identified by their large eyes. You can see the big eyes in the second photo. The head of the drone larvae is toward the top of the photo. (Remember insects have three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen). Worker bees (all females) have smaller eyes.
After all the extraction and bottling I was dreading cleaning up a sticky, gooey mess. What I didn’t know was that those cute little bees clean up after themselves. If only I could train my children to do that…sigh. The photo on the left shows the sticky, honey mess table when we first put it outside. The photo on the right shows the table about five minutes later- after the memo went out that there is a free honey lunch available for all bees. Three hours later the table was completely clean and dry. They did not even leave behind one drop of honey. Very cool!
Perhaps I got a little ahead of myself in the last post. The first thing beekeepers have to do is pull out full frames of honey out of the hive super. The “supers” are the upper boxes where bees store their extra honey. These frames of honeycomb can be removed without harming the bees. Bees also store honey in the lower “deep” boxes. These are left for the bees and their brood (baby bees) to eat during the winter. Then the frames are taken to the garage where they will be extracted.