The Honey Bee

Native Irish Honey Bee

What Does a Honey Bee Do?

The honey bee is the only insect in the world that provides us with nutritious food. They produce honey naturally from nectar and pollen mix it with enzymes and use it to feed their young, producing an excess for the Beekeeper to harvest. We come along and harvest the excess honey leaving them with enough honey to get over the winter so they can continue to produce bees and honey the following year. The hive also produces beeswax, a product used to produce many different items by cosmetic companies and the beekeeper as the wax in Ireland is some of the most natural and chemical-free wax you will find because we have so little spraying of crops.

Honey Bee Coming Home with Pollen on her Legs

How do Honey Bees Bring in Pollen?

Pollen from the different plants is all colours of the rainbow, purples, greens and whites is gathered and stored in 2 pollen baskets on the bees hind legs, the nectar they take from plants and flowers is stored in their honey stomach brought home and hung up in different cells in the hive to dry. The foraging bee really is an amazing insect because it can fly to a food source on a flower, return to the hive and do a waggle dance to communicate to the other bees the exact location of this food source. With this information, other bees will join her to the flower or tree to gather more nectar or pollen, then come back to the hive and offload and back out again and this goes on until that nectar is no longer offered by that flower and they look for another.

Honey Bee gathering Pollen from a Dandelion

How Long Does a Honey Bee Live?

Throughout the honey-making process, a bee works itself  to death. A foraging summer bee will only live for six weeks. Winter bees live longer to get the next year's bees up and running. The colony by self-sacrifice, community effort, works together for the good of the colony in this way. Each hive has one queen and up to 65,000-bees in the height of the summer, all depending on how prolific the queen is, how healthy the queen is and how much honey they can make. At each stage of development, they have a different job to do in the hive as soon as a baby is born out she pops from her cell and starts to clean the next cell before been offered a drop of honey to sustain her. This is her duty’s along with feeding her sisters for the first 3 weeks when out she goes to forage until she dies giving her all for the colony and asking for nothing in return.

Capped and Uncapped Honey in the Comb

How Do Bees Store Honey?

When the bees produce the honey, they make wax cells on frames that the beekeeper provides for them in the hive and into these cells they store the honey and pollen capping it off with a coating of wax which keeps the honey fresh for years. When we extract the honey we simply remove the wax that seals the honey into the frames, put it into our honey extractor which spins the honey at high speed out of each individual cell on the frame, onto the stainless steel drum, at which point we jar and store the honey as we need it. 

This is what is known as raw, ripe, bio-diverse Irish honey, ripe with natural enzymes”. They also produce propolis their antiseptic in the hive, which we also harvest, pollen which we collect at certain times of the year and Royal jelly which they feed to their young.

Honey Bee Working on Comb

What Does a Honey Bee Do in the Hive?

Every winter the drones (inactive males) are thrown out they become surplus to requirements heading into the winter so why feed them they are thrown out, stung to death by their sisters and carried away from the hive. It is all about what is good for the hive - not the queen - but how the colony will survive the winter. It is so amazing to watch how they communicate with each other feed each other, groom each other and talk to one another. At each stage of development, they have a different job to do in the hive as soon as a baby is born out she pops from her cell and starts to clean the next cell before been offered a drop of honey to sustain her. This is her duty’s along with feeding her sisters for the first 3 weeks when out she goes to forage until she dies giving her all for the colony and asking for nothing in return.