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Role of Bees-Bees and Bee keeping

General information on bees and bee keeping. Also how bees relate to characters and themes in the novel the secret life of bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Along with quotes that reflect these ideas on bees.
by

Susie Legg

on 9 March 2011

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Transcript of Role of Bees-Bees and Bee keeping

"The queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness."
- Man and Insects The Secret Life of Bees
Sue Monk Kidd The Role of Bees and Beekeeping Bee keeping tools include:

- Smoker: the most valuable tools for bees. It calms and reduces stinging. Pine straw and grass make good smoker fuel

- Hive Tool: for prying apart supers and frames

- Veil and Gloves: to protect head and arms from stings. Most experienced bee keepers prefer to work without gloves The Bee Hive Bee hives are made up of:
Bottom Board: where the hive rests. Must be set on bricks or concrete to keep off the ground

Frames and foundation: holds sheets of beeswax imprinted with the shapes of hexagonal cells. Bees use foundation to build combs

Hive Body or Brood Chamber: is the large super reserved for bees to store honey for their own use.

Queen Excluder: the queen's nest

Honey Supers: smaller and shallow supers with frames of bee comb where honey is stored, and where honey is harvested

Inner Cover: prevents bees from attaching comb to outer cover

Outer Cover: provides weather protection

Feeders: holds sugar syrup fed to bees in early spring and fall Bee Facts bees can only sting once. The barb in their sting gets hooked under your skin and the only way the bees can get away is to tear itself away and leave its bottom behind. Which causes the bee to die.

Scout bees tend to perform a waggle dance to show other bees in the hive where to find the nectar.

if the temperature gets too hot (over 35 degrees celcius) bees activities would slow down as bees seek shade. They will also tend to be searching for water, where they use to cool the hive rather than nectar.

bees are most active in spring when flowers bloom (March, April, May in USA).

Bees communicate with other bees by dancing. Bees take nectar from inside the flower blossom (flower nectars are similar to sugar water). Field worker bees carry the nectars that have been collected back to the hive in pouches within their bodies. While the nectar is inside the bee, it mixes with the proteins and enzymes produced by the bees converting nectar to honey. Field worker bees give young worker bees honey back at the hive. Young worker bees place nectar in beeswax comb made of six sided cells. The access water is then evaporated from the nectar. After a period of time, the nectar is transformed to pure honey. How do bees make honey? Bee Keeping should be done in an area plenty of flowers that produce nectar and pollen
should avoid windy, cold and damp areas Why are bees important? Bees are important because they pollinated more than a thirdm of the food we eat. They also pollinate plants that we use in our daily lives. Such as cotton to make clothes. Bees pollinate plants worldwide which also serves as habitats for other animals. They also cross pollinate plants (reproduce plants through different pollens). Pollination is the process of when worker bees collect pollen from flowers and packs it on her hind legs as she travels from flower to flower. The pollen brushes off onto a special pollen receiving structure called the stigma in the center of the flower which fertilizes the plant. Bee Keeping Tools To August, the Bees are an important aspect to her character. When we first meet August she is portrayed as a queen bee herself. Lily and August’s relationship grow over their beekeeping which leads to their deep and meaningful conversations on August’s mother and Lily’s mother. The Black Mary label on the honey jars is a strong connection between August’s religion and the bees; her work, her escape from life’s problems and her non-speaking friends. The bees also represent the barriers that the three calendar sisters have overcome. They are three black women who despite race and gender own a house, a successful business and stand up for their civil rights. The beekeeping business represents these, with August holding them all together at the centre. The bees are so important to August, they are like family. Without the Bees, August just wouldn’t be August. In the Secret Life of Bees, the main idea of the bees’ connection to the story is that the bees represent life. Throughout the story, quotes on bees reflect actions the characters make. The complicated life of a bee represents the complicated life of the human characters. If we read a quote about the queen bee, then subsequently in the story a character will be portrayed as a queen bee. These connections between bees and humans are an important idea that looks at life from a different perspective. When it comes to bees, most people would think “a flying insect with a nasty sting”. This may be right, but there’s way more than just an insect with a harmful defense system. Bees work extremely hard to pollinate and to produce tasty honey and of course, beeswax. Every single living animal including human depend on the bees to pollinate and fertilize plants. This may not seem very important but if there were no bees to pollinate flowers, the plants will die out which will cause a chain reaction till the very last of the living creature becomes extinct.
An Average bee colony consists of a queen, 500 to 1,000 drones (male bees) and 60,000 to 80,000 workers (female bees). The Queen bee of a colony is a mother to thousands of working bees. She is the largest bee in the hive and her role is to lay eggs to produce bees and control the hive. She controls the hive by a secreting queen substance, a pheromone that works to stimulate behaviours in the hive. A few weeks after queen hatches, she mates with the drones, in flight called the ‘mating flight’. The queen receives millions of sperm cells that last her entire life span (2-5 years). A queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day.

When bees need a new queen, they make special cells in their hive called “queen cells”. These cells are shaped like a peanut and extended by wax. The working bees feed royal jelly (protein rich food) to larvae in the queen cells in hope that one day the larvae will develop into sexually mature queen. The first queen bee to hatch out of the larvae kills the rivals so there is only one queen in her hive.

Drones are male bees and are born from unfertilized eggs. Male bees lack stingers and their only purpose is to mate with new queens therefore their life expectancy is only around 90 days. Workers are female bees that are born from fertilized eggs. They are smaller than drone bees. These are the bees that you normally see, collecting nectar and pollens. The younger working bees have other duties, such as cleaning the hive, caring for the larvae, and producing wax for building honeycomb, guarding and cooling the hive, honey sealing, drone feeding, attending the queen and removing the dead ones. "On leaving the old nest, the swarm normally flies only a few metres and settles. Scout bees look for a suitable place to start the new colony. Eventually, one location wins favor and the whole swarm takes to the air"
Bees of the World “Count yourself initiated,’ she said. ‘You can’t be a true beekeeper without being stung.” “The queen must produce some substance that attracts the workers and that can be obtained from her only by direct contact. The substance evidently stimulates the normal working behaviour in the hive. This chemical messenger has been called ‘queen substance.’ Experiments have shown that the bees obtain directly from the body of the queen.” –Man and Insects The topic of the bees in this book is especially important to Lily as they are always there, throughout her journey. We meet the Bees right at the start of every chapter in the epithet. These epithets relate to Lily and her journey as a character throughout the book. In the first scene, Lily is lying in her bedroom, surrounded by the humming bees. She shares her thoughts on them to us, the reader, and it introduces the story with something that is not clear as relevant until later on. At the start of the novel the bees are Lily’s escape from T-Ray and life in general. The Bees lead us onto Lily’s mother’s death. “Bees swarm before death” Then we learn about her mother and how she died. In the introduction to the book the bees show us into Lily’s life and set up the story for the novel. Lily’s words “I remain tender towards the bees” make us want to read on to see why.

For the next few chapters we don’t hear much about the Bees, until a turning point in the novel when Lily first sees a connection with her mother. She sees the Black Mary picture on a honey jar in a shop, which leads her to find the Boatwrights. At the Boatwrights, the connection between Lily and the bees is obvious. Through the beekeeping at the pink house (Boatwright’s house) Lily meets each character and develops her own relationship with each one. Over Lily’s journey from start to finish in the novel, the Bees are always a connection to her and to others.
“I remain tender towards the bees.” “When the weather turns hot and the flowers dry up, the bees start sucking elderberry. It makes purple honey.” “When the weather turns hot and the flowers dry up, the bees start sucking elderberry. It makes purple honey.” “Looking back on it now, I want to say the bees were sent to me.” “The whole fabric of honeybee society depends on communication- on an innate ability to send and receive messages, to encode and decode information.” –The Honey Bee
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