The Busiest of Bees

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July 11, 2017 by jhoffdog

Giant Honey Bee (Apis dorsata) on Tribulus terrestris W IMG 1020
Photo By J.M.Garg (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Humans work most day of their lives, often starting at a lower job before working their way up into their dream position. Bees are very similar. Bees are put to work immediately after they emerge from their honeycomb, and do not stop working until they die. The first job a bee will have is as a cleaner, which is responsible for cleaning and emptying out the honeycombs of newly born broods, babies, in order to prepare for new babies and pollen storage. After being a cleaner the bee is promoted to undertaker, where they remove dead bees and broods from the hive and deposit them far away, as a diseased bee can threaten the whole hive.

Next in a bee’s stage of life is the job of nurse! Nurse bees take care of broods and pupae by feeding them. It is said that a nurse bee will check on a single brood over one thousand times a day. These bees are also responsible for selecting certain types of honey for other bees which can have healing properties. When the bee is around twelve days old she will be promoted to a builder, where she secretes a certain wax that is used in building the honeycombs and sealing off the combs with newborn pupae. The next job a bee will have is one of a temperature controller. In high temperatures the hive can get extremely hot, which is not good for the bees. These temperature controllers will then find water and bring it back to the hive, only to deposit it on the backs of bees fanning their wings, creating airflow within the hive. The next job a worker bee will have is a guard bee. These bees inspect every bee that enters the hive, checking for a certain scent. This way no predators or competing bees will gain access to the hive and their precious honey.

The last job a worker bee will have, and quite possibly the most important, is that of a forager. A bee attains this title of forager around the second week of her life, and will be a forager until she dies, usually in the sixth to eighth week of her life. A forager bee collects the nectar and pollen from flower and plants, even communicating to her coworkers where the flowers are using an intricate dance. These forager bees are responsible for pollination, an act that allows for diversity within flowers and helps foods grow.

Bees are one of the hardest workers on Earth. Without bees humans would not have some of our favorite foods. Wyck Historic House, Gardens, and Farms has bee boxes on their properties, and reap the rewards of the hard work from their busy bees; Wyck honey is a delicious treat, something that only the hard work of bees can produce!

  • post by Victoria Mueller, for Wyck Association

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