Back from my trip.  The bees have been busy.  Beth had to feed them for me twice while I was gone.
I took some pictures this morning and there is a lot of pollen moving in.  I noticed three types: Light yellow, orange, and a darker brown.  Not sure about the last one or the yellow, but I'm pretty sure the orange is dandelion.  They are pretty abundant in the yard right now.

Here one of the girls loaded up on a dandelion.  They will pack as much pollen on their legs as they can hold, which is quite a lot.  Pollen will provide them with a protein source, while nectar is an energy source.

Once she is loaded up, it's off to the hive where she'll hand off the cargo to younger bees.  The bees here are the oldest in the hive, having worked their way up through bee hierarchy to the final, and most risky, life stage: foraging.   After two to three weeks, the wings will start to give out and she'll pass on, hopefully to be replaced by another up-and-coming sister.

So, for now, the hive is busy doing what it should.  I'm hoping they will slow down on the sugar syrup soon, which will indicate there is enough natural food around for them to sustain themselves.  I'll need to crack open the actual hive structure soon, too, to see what exactly they are up to and to make sure they are healthy, But that will be another day .....


05/05/2011 20:33

Wow- impressed with your photos, and knowledge. Didn't realize they had such a short lifespan. Are there not any male bees? (I know, I should know about the birds and the bees by now..... :-) )

- Your East Coast bee fan

05/06/2011 16:20

Thanks. The telephoto comes in handy :-)

The workers will live for about 6 weeks, and yes, they are all female. The queen will sense if a splitting of the hive is necessary (a lot of bees are available) and can, at that time, lay some unfertilized eggs which will become males (drones). Their only purpose is to mate with a new queen (also created by the queen and workers). After the deed, the drones are unceremoniously dumped from the hive before winter (the lucky winner of the mating contest perishes in the act, but many others are still around).

The workers themselves have a tiered structure of jobs from when they are born to when they die. The most experienced and oldest are the foragers. In the picture above, you can kind of see the edges of this one's wings are starting to fray. I'll see if I can post on the worker jobs soon.


05/07/2011 21:04

No wonder I have always loved bees!
Love your pics, what is that blue stem/peduncle/pedicel-like thing?

05/07/2011 22:39

The blue is a strap I have wrapped around the hive. I put it there when we were having high winds. I was afraid the lid would blow off. I should take it off now, I think.

05/08/2011 06:52

What a great blog! Thanks so much for posting the pictures - they are really heartwarming.
It's especially reassuring to see bees flying after a start in weather like you had since they were hived.
Keep up the good work!

-- Christy from Gold Star Honeybees

05/08/2011 07:55

Thanks, Christy! For those reading here, Christy runs a top bar hive supply and teaching company in Bath, Maine, Gold Star Honey Bees ( She has been very helpful in getting things started. I chose Christy because it seemed like she was dealing with similar climate issues as I would be. I also liked the design of the hives she had, having a roof to shed snow and rain and good tall legs to keep things off the ground. The plans I bought from her went together perfectly! Thanks again, Christy!

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