Thursday, November 13, 2008
Honeybees are here
These honeybees are new inhabitants of the College Prep campus! They live on the hill behind the Rech Room. They are Apis mellifera Western honeybees, a species that is really important for pollination, especially of agricultural crops. Bees all over the world are facing a huge crisis with the proliferation of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a syndrome that is not fully understood.
Luckily, our bees are doing very well so far. You might have seen two beige boxes on the hillside. Inside the boxes are frames that the bees build their comb on. (I will post more photos later.) I got this hive from a beekeeper who goes by K. O. who lives in Oakland. The queen appears to be very strong. We saw lots of brood (eggs, larvae, not yet developped bees), as well as plenty of honey (honey is pictured). You might already know that most bees are female. The males are called drones and they are useful only in mating with the queen, eating, and not being able to take care of themselves (sorry, guys). We have been taking a lot of precautions against Varroa mites, which are associated with CCD that I will tell you about later.
Bees lifespans are measured not in the usual way. K. O. explained to me that a bee lives "50,000 wing beats." So, she said, during the summer this could equal only two weeks, in the winter it is more like four months.