Bees in Spring Tuesday March 20, 2018
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Bees in Spring

Honey Bee on leaf

Spring is here and the bees are gearing up their pollen baskets ready for the spring flower harvest. Springtime is the buzziest time for honeybees; all the flowers, including wildflowers, are in full bloom.

Are Honeybees Ever Pests?

Honeybees only become a pest issue if they start making a hive in your attic or within 150 ft. of your home. Then they become a threat to the health of your family, especially if anyone is allergic to bee stings.

Hearts Pest Management understands the essential role bees play in nature.

Our Service Representatives do their utmost to respect honey bees while keeping in mind any damage bees may cause to your home and the safety of your family.

One thing to remember, is that honeybees are quite docile when out collecting pollen for their baskets. It’s the guardian bees of the hive that do the stinging.

Bee on Hottentot

Basking in pollen from the Hottentot Fig Ice Plant

Childhood Memories of Bees

When I was taking portraits of these tiny industrious workers, I recalled my childhood days of hunting bees:

Docile Honeybee

Honeybees are docile when out pollinating; it’s the security guards of the hive that most often sting.

I took a glass jar with a metal lid, then poked some holes into the lid with a nail so the bees could breathe once I got them home.
— Not something I would recommend doing today!

No More Glass Jars!

Today I don’t “hunt” honeybees like I did when I was a kid. Now I take pictures of them, sometimes up close and personal.

What I didn’t realize before I learned all about bee dances, bee space, and pollen baskets is that not only had I displaced the bees from their homes but also from doing their appointed jobs of pollinating and collecting nectar for their hives – not to mention the risk I took at getting stung!

Dancing Bees – May I have this Dance?

Do you prefer the “Round” or the “Tail-wagging” Dance? The “Round Dance” is performed when the source of nectar is close by.

The Round Dance

This dance stimulates the other bees to search only in the surrounding area of the hive but it doesn’t actually tell them which direction to look.

Diagram of Bee Dance

The Round Dance

The moves of the Round Dance involve dropping some of the nectar the bee gorged itself on and then going around and around in a circle, both clockwise and counterclockwise.

It does this until it has disgorged all the nectar and soon the other bees catch on to where the food source is and fly out to find the more of the same flowers.

Diagram of the Bee Tail-wagging Dance

Bee Tail-wagging Dance

The Tail-wagging Dance

The Tail-wagging Dance is to locate a distant food source. This dance tells the other bees where to find the food in relation to the sun. Check out these dance moves: First, after gorging on nectar from afar, the bee disgorges a drop of nectar back at the hive then proceeds to dance in a figure eight.

When the bee stops and flies in a straight line, it’s telling the other bees the direction to fly in order to reach the new nectar. For example, a straight line at an angle to the left of the sun tells the bees the new food source is about 120° in relation to the sun.

I have a new respect for honeybees and the role they play in pollination; the way they communicate with their Tail-wagging and Round dances; the intricate designs of their honeycomb . . .

. . . how honeybees store pollen in little baskets which they carry back to their hive; and most of all – the wonderful golden, sweet liquid they make for themselves and for us humans to enjoy.
Honeybee collecting pollen in her “basket.”

Honey bee with full pollen baskets

The honey bee has brilliant yellow-orange baskets for collecting pollen.

Next time you go for a walk or just hang out in your yard, notice the honeybee, she just might bee dancing. …

Variety of Honeys

Thank you bees for the deliciously sweet, gooey honey!

Donna Walker

Article and Art by Donna Walker

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