Junior Beekeeping Club - The Queen Rules the Hive

By Charlie Bowles '26 and Addison Bryant '26

Beekeeping Club is a great experience for grade 6s. We meet with a beekeeper named Emily (from Alveole), and we learn about bees and help take care of them. Beekeeping Club started in late September and is taking a pause while the bees are resting for the winter. The club will start up again in March when the bees get more active.

One of the workshops we did with Emily was giving out bread and honey to our fellow students. We made the bread in the kitchen in our cafeteria and got our honey from our beehives, which are located in front of the Senior School.

Honey Extraction Workshop 
Another workshop we did was extracting honey from the honeycomb. To do this, we used tools that look like big forks to remove the wax layer from the honeycomb (the bees put this on top of the finished honey in each cell). Then we put the honeycomb in a big metal bucket that has two slots for two frames of honeycomb. We put the bucket on the floor and, using the handle on the top, we spun it around so fast that all the honey came flying out. The honey is scraped to one side of the bucket and poured out through a hole in the side of the bucket. It then goes into a strainer to get out any leftover bits of wax. From there, the honey is poured into little jars.

All About the Queen 
One of the most important bees in a beehive is the queen bee. She is the one who lays all the eggs and does most of the work around the hive. The queen bee also lives a lot longer than the average bee. For example, a drone or worker bee would usually live for 25 to 30 days whereas the queen lives for three years.

When the worker bees notice that the current queen bee is not laying the usual amount of eggs or is slowing down, they go to six of the queen’s female eggs and put royal jelly on them. Royal jelly is made of whipped pollen and honey. It makes the bees bigger and stronger and turns them into queen bees. The reason they put royal jelly on six of the eggs is that once the newborn queens meet each other in the hive, they fight to the death of one bee. The last one standing will be the potential queen bee. 
 
But, since the old queen is still alive, the newest queen will have to fight the old queen. Whoever wins that battle will be named queen bee. If the older queen wins, since she is weak and produces fewer eggs, the hive will likely die out slowly.

You may be wondering what happens if the worker bees put royal jelly on a male bee. Well, we don't actually know because the worker bees never make the mistake of putting royal jelly on a male egg. If it has ever happened, it has never been seen by anyone! 
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