Here at Suntrap, our bees are really important to us. Approximately 35% of the world's crops rely on bees and other pollinators. Bee numbers are falling due to use of pesticides and habitat loss. By keeping them, we hope to help people understand the importance of bees in the pollination process, and possibly to learn to love these important insects as much as we do. This page is to give you lots of useful information about these amazing creatures.
Sadly though, wild bees are in trouble. One major reason is habitat loss: There are just not enough places that can provide them with shelter and food. They are also under threat from diseases, pesticides and invading species - all of which can kill them. Here are some things you can do to help, plus plenty of amazing facts and figures about our bees.
1. Whether you have a window box, garden or allotment, you can grow bee friendly plants. Aim for ones that flower at different times, so bees have a constant source of food. You can find some suggestions here. You might even be able to get a grant for your school or community to create a wildlife area.
2. Provide shelter for solitary and bumblebees to nest or hibernate. Hollow stems of plants are brilliant so leave them once they have finished flowering. Here is a video showing you how to make a bee hotel.
3. Encourage people to buy organic foods. These are grown without pesticides, keeping our bees very happy indeed!
You can watch a short video of a Suntrap hive inspection here.
How do bees make honey?
Worker “forager” bees collect nectar from flowers – a portion of this goes to a “nectar sac” and when full the bee returns to the hive. The returning forager then passes the contents of its nectar sac from bee to bee until the water content is reduced from around 70% to about 20%. This is now honey.
Why do bees make honey?
Bees need a source of energy to be able to forage and perform other tasks within the colony. This is obtained from honey.
Why do bees collect pollen?
Pollen provides a source of protein that developing larvae require. This is mixed with honey to make a “bee bread”.
How do bees make wax?
Honey bees have wax producing glands that make tiny wax scales that are discarded into the hive – these are then collected by other bees and used to build wax comb – which is where brood (young bees) are reared and honey & pollen are stored.
How long do bees live for?
A worker bee can live for around 6 weeks in the warmer months, and up to 4 months from the colder months. A queen can live for up to 5-6 years!
How many bees are in a hive?
A strong colony can have more than 50,000 bees at its peak in the summer. The queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs per day.
Why do bees swarm?
Think of a colony of bees as one big organism – while there are many thousands of individual animals, swarming is the process by which this organism reproduces. A few things will result in a swarm, but it is usually that the colony has reached the maximum size its home can sustain – or the current queen may be reaching the end of her life.
Are bees dangerous?
Bees can sting as a part of a defensive reaction, and while normally the swelling and itchiness passes within few days – a severe allergic reaction can lead to anaphylaxis. It is never recommended to approach a colony of bees (wild or otherwise) without adequate protection as they may respond defensively.