All Hives Matter
A honey bee’s home, known as a nest or hive, is where they create and store their honey, or “liquid gold” as it’s known to us. Most hives can house between 30,000 and 60,000 bees, which make up what is known as “a colony.”
When searching for a location to build their nest, honey bees find hollowed out trees or other sheltered places. Beekeepers mimic this using wooden boxes with specific measurements. Inside these nests, hives, or man-made boxes, you will find combs of wax, which are created by worker bees.
The worker bees shape the wax with their mouths to form hexagon structures called cells. Each comb is made up of thousands of cells, which are used to store honey and pollen, while also acting as nurseries for developing bees.
There are three types of bees in each hive: the queen, drones, and worker bees. The queen truly is Queen Bee, as there is only one in each colony. She is much larger than the other bees, and her only job is to lay eggs. She will lay approximately 1500 eggs per day for two to five years, and she is mother to all the worker bees. The colony also consists of approximately 3000 drone bees, which are male. These bees have no stinger, large eyes, and only live about 90 days. Their only purpose is to mate with queen bees.
The third type of bee, the worker bee, is made up of the remaining 57,000 female bees in a 60,000-bee hive. Unlike the queen, the workers do not lay eggs. Worker bees typically live only one month during the summer but can survive up to six months in the winter. These ladies collect pollen and nectar from flowers and other plants and then store it inside the honeycomb to make honey.
Inside the hive, the bees constantly fan their wings, causing evaporation and resulting in liquid honey. The color and flavor of this honey varies depending on the nectar collected by the bees. The worker bees produce this honey for the hive to eat in order to survive the winter months.
On average, hives produce approximately 65 pounds of excess honey annually. Beekeepers harvest this excess using honeycomb frames and scraping off the wax cap that bees build to seal off honey in each cell. Beekeepers then utilize an extractor, which spins the honey out of the comb. Once all of the excess honey is collected, it will be strained to remove any remaining wax, and then placed in a container, where it could become anything from lip balm to the honey you spread on your toast for breakfast.