Honeybees hard at work in a hive. Photo supplied

BUZZ ON BEES: Beekeepers rely on neighbouring gardens for a healthy hive

The Latin term for honeybee is apis mellifera. Its literal meaning is “honey bearing” – and without a doubt, honeybees hold up to their name.

The honeybees along with other insects are what we call pollinators. Flying from flower to flower collecting resources for their colonies, these pollinators accidentally transfer pollen from one source to another – fertilizing fruits, veggies, and flowers. They are responsible for fertilizing approximately one-third of the food we eat – but that is not all they do.

When you see honeybees crawling on your lilacs or swimming about in that California poppy, they are in search of two ingredients for their colony: pollen and nectar. Honeybees collects nectar via a straw-like tongue called the proboscis and store it in a special sac called the honey stomach. As for pollen, they ball up the pollen and stick it to the indentations found on their hind legs, called the pollen baskets. While simultaneously collecting food for their colonies, a by-product is pollination!

Full and flying heavy, the bees will head back to the hive where they discard the pollen into the honeycomb and regurgitate the nectar directly into the honey stomach of another bee. Each time, as the nectar enters a new honey stomach, enzymes are added to the mix to breakdown nectar’s complex sugar structure. This transfer from bee to bee continues until breakdown is complete. Once deposited into the honeycomb, the bees rapidly beat their wings, fanning the nectar in pursuit of evaporating excess water. The bees reduce the moisture level to less than 18 per cent, a far stretch from the approximate 70 per cent water content found in the original nectar collected. Once satisfied, the bees will cap the honey with a thin wax coating and save it for a rainy day. This process is quite laborious but produces a product that has an incredibly long shelf life. With its low water levels and high sugar content, honey creates the ideal environment to deter bacterial and fungal growth.

Many of us love to consume honey. It is a wonderful and natural alternative to processed sweeteners. But how can we return the favour of such a sweet treat? Well, you do not need to be a beekeeper to help with honey production. All you need to do is continue to plant that bee food! From a beekeeper’s perspective, a healthy hive is a product of its neighbouring gardens – gardens that refrain from pesticide use and provide our bees with a lovely selection of continuous bloom.

Happy beekeeping and happy gardening!

Rachel Halliwell is a Bee Master Certified beekeeper in the Comox Valley. Her website is www.homegrownbee.ca

garden life

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tsolum River Restoration Society members keeping busy during COVID-19 times

Young fish can get stranded in the most unlikely of places

Police looking for witnesses to Courtenay bear spray assault

The incident took place Tuesday, May 26 at around 8:30 p.m.

2020 Hornby Island trade tokens of sentimental value only

The Hornby Island Token Project is in its third and final year,… Continue reading

Box containing hundreds of family photos found in Courtenay returned to rightful owner

Local media sources collaborate to solve family photos mystery

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Comox Valley business map offers information on local eateries, grocery stores and more

Search and click for hours and services offered during the COVID-19 pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP told of alleged assault in Courtenay hours after the fact

Police only made aware of possible attack through social media posts

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Most Read