Honey Bee Castes: Another great bee article

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Honey Bee Castes

By Mindy03
October 5, 2012

Like all organisms that live in a social culture, honey bees have different types of members. For honey bees it's a queen, drones and workers. Let's take a look at each group and see what makes them important to the survival of their colony.

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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Oct 4, 2012 7:13 PM CST
Margaret you made everything so easy to understand on how the hive is organized.
How soon does the worker bee start gathering nectar/pollen after it hatches?
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
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Mindy03
Oct 4, 2012 7:37 PM CST
Thank you Lynn.

The worker becomes a forager around 21 days old. The first 2 or 3 days are spent cleaning cells, the next 7 to 10 days are spent being nurses to the queen and larvae. Around 14 days old they are busy doing the other duties required to run the hive such as unloading foragers, drying moisture from honey, building and repairing was combs, guard duty and undertaker among other duties.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Oct 4, 2012 7:58 PM CST

Plants Admin

As I read your vivid account, I couldn't help picturing the worker bees in the uniforms of all their different professions. The funeral director bee looked the best, of course. Big Grin
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Oct 4, 2012 8:04 PM CST
Oh to be that dedicated.
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Oct 5, 2012 3:31 AM CST
Absolutely fascinating Margaret! Thank you! Hurray! Thumbs up
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Oct 5, 2012 6:16 AM CST
Hilarious! Zuzu Now I wonder why you think the funeral director is the best looking one?

Thank you all for the compliments.
Name: Janet
Gilroy, CA
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imapigeon
Oct 5, 2012 9:44 AM CST
Even though I'm in California in a fairly temperate climate (typical lowest winter temps in the 20s), do the drones die off in fall? I have a new hive in my yard that's being maintained by a beekeeper, and he hasn't come by lately. I've been seeing dead bees here and there in the garden and a few flying around the lights at night and wondered if I should call him. The bees were "bearding" on the side of the hive, but the beard is much smaller now that it's cooling off, which I assumed was because of the drop in temperatures. Should I be concerned about anything? I know he has a lot of hives to maintain and I don't want to be a "Nervous Nellie"!

You really explain all this SO well!
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Oct 5, 2012 12:05 PM CST
I'm all ears!
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Oct 5, 2012 2:11 PM CST
Janet if your daytime temperatures drop below 50 for days at a time during the winter the bees will be in a winter cluster until it is consistently above 50 again. If they go into a winter cluster then yes, the drones are expelled or killed in order to have more food for the workers and queen.

I would contact the beekeeper about the fewer numbers you are seeing and tell him about the ones flying around the light at night time. If you don't mind peeking under the outer cover to see how many bees are in there then do that before you call him. A hive going into winter needs to be as large as it possibly can be though there are some breeds of honey bees who do downsize their numbers for winter. Ask your beekeeper about the bees you have. Beekeepers love to share their knowledge to anyone willing to listen.
There is a new threat out for honey bees called Zommie Fly Parasite which makes them fly around lights at night time.

A good beekeeper will always want to know if there's a possible problem at a hive no matter how many he or she has to tend.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
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zuzu
Oct 5, 2012 7:20 PM CST

Plants Admin

I'm a sucker for a well-tailored three-piece suit, Mindy, so a funeral director is always going to look better to me than a construction worker or a scout. Hilarious!
Name: Margaret
Delta KY
I'm A Charley's Girl For Sure
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Beekeeper
Seed Starter Permaculture Region: Kentucky Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Mindy03
Oct 6, 2012 7:37 AM CST
Hilarious! OK I can see her now in a suit telling her crew to dump the dead bees out.
Name: Janet
Gilroy, CA
Charter ATP Member Bromeliad Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: California Container Gardener
Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Irises Hummingbirder Heucheras
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imapigeon
Oct 6, 2012 1:30 PM CST
Thanks Mindy---I'll email him today!
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