All About Bees & Honey-Making from the Beekeeping Club

By the Junior Beekeeping Club

In the beekeeping club, we have done lots of things this fall. For example, we made bread, dipped it in our very own honey from the WPGA beehive, and handed it out for the whole school to enjoy. This week we prepared the bees for winter, and had a discussion about how bees make honey and how honey bees protect themselves from wasps. Emily from Aveole has talked to the beekeeping club as well as most of the school.

Process of Honey-Making
To make honey, you have to understand that bees have two stomachs: one stomach is for eating and the other one is used to collect nectar. The bees collect the nectar from the flowers in their honey stomachs and bring it back to the hive. Once the bees bring honey back to the hive, they find a partner and start to connect and pass their nectar back and forth until it is ready to put in the hive. In the winter, the bees heat up the nectar and let the water evaporate until the honey is 17.8 percent water. And that is how the bees in our hive make our delicious honey!

Preparing Bees for Winter
There are lots of things we have to do to prepare the bees for the winter. First, we have to feed them, because they can’t leave the hive for too long or they will freeze. What we feed them is kind of like a nectar consisting of sugar, water and apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar is important because it keeps the bees stomach’s healthy. We fed them this by putting a bucket with tiny holes on top of the hives. The bees eat all they want, and it takes them only three weeks to empty the bucket. Other than feed them, we need to keep them warm. We do that by wrapping the hives in bubble wrap and leaving some exit points. This keeps their hive the perfect temperature, which is 35 degrees Celsius. That’s how we prepare them for the winter.

Bees Versus Wasps
Although the bees and wasps get along in the summer, it’s different in the winter. The reason they get along better in the summer is because there are lots of flowers for both of the insects. But when the flowers die out during the winter time, there is not enough for everyone. The wasps will sneak into the hives and try to take the nectar mixture, honey and bee larvae. The reason they try to eat the larvae is because wasps are carnivores. The wasps rarely get into our hives though, because our bees can defend themselves and protect their hive. When a bee senses danger, it will sting. The bees normally sting the wasp and then the wasp and the bee die. Even though the bee knows it will die if it uses its stinger, it wants to protect the hive. But sometimes the bees and wasps will fight and the wasp will die because the bees are stronger. That is why we have so many bees! They know how to protect themselves.