Thursday, July 25, 2013

Caste System in The Honey Bee Colony: Worker Bee's Adulthood

 The Adulthood of a Worker Bee

In the last post about the Worker bee's we briefly showed how they change from egg to larvae to adult. Which starts off with the queen laying the egg in a CLEAN wax cell. after the larva hatches they are feed by the adult bees and eventually caped so they can fully change into an adult bee.

Her first three days as an adult will be(e) cleaning the cell from which she emerged. If not done properly the queen will not lay the next egg in that cell. As a result of poor cleaning the worker bee must clean the cell again. On her third to seventh day as an adult she is given the duty of nursing bee. At this stage her main task is to feed the worker larva royal jelly and eventually bee bread. Some worker bees are given the task of feeding the drones (more on this later) or the queen herself.

After their nursing career they are moved to, what I like to call, “Engineer “ bees. They are given the task of building, repairing, and designing the wax combs. It is very fascinating to watch them work in a top bar hive (like the one we have on the roof top). They start at the top of the bar and work their way down. First they make a bee “chain” to measure the part that they will be building. They use the wax that they excrete in order to construct the comb. Remember that the comb has two sides. So to optimize the strength of the comb it is built in a way that each cells’ corner is centered to the middle of the cell on the opposite side.  In additions to constructing the comb, they are also given the duty of storing the pollen and nectar that that forager bees bring in. They are the “engineerettes” of the hive from the 12th to the 17th day of their adult lifespan.
Our roof top ladies at work. Nice work, ladies!
The Shadow shows the offset that they create

The days 17 through 21 they worker bees do miscellaneous tasks around the hive. The tasks depend on what the hive needs the most. Some of the tasks include but are not limited to: honey sealing, Drone feeding, honey comb building, undertaker bee, fanning bees and water carriers.

One of the tasks that are given to worker bees is fanning. They are given the task of cooling the hives temperature by, you guessed it, fanning. They are their own air conditioning. They do this by standing in one place and sending an “air current” to one another. In some cases, they may add water to the “air current.”

On July 18th, 2013 it was 90+ degrees when we opened the hive and sure enough they were fanning away trying to keep the hive cool.
Another task that the worker bees do that I find interesting is “undertaker bee.” Normally a bee does not die inside the hive. When a bee feels like it is on its last seconds of life it will fly away as far as possible from the colony. Although when a bee does die in the hive another bee, in this case the undertaker bee, will carry it out as far as they can. However, the undertaker bee is not limited to only dead bees. It will also carry out eggs that never hatched, larvae that did not mature or adult bees that never made it out if their cells.

On the 22nd day of the worker bees’ adult life is moved to the task of forager. She will travel in a two to five mile radius to collect nectar and pollen. At the same time she will also pollinate the flowers that she visits. Thus, as she helps herself she will also help the plants and ultimately help feed us.  She is capable of visiting 50 to 100 flowers in one day. She will continue to forage until she dies. She is literally worked to death! So if you see a bee flying in and out of the hive then one can make an observational conclusion that the worker bee is on her last legs. But her hard work will not be in vain.

In the most active of months the average bee, after becoming an adult, will live 30 to 42 days. Nevertheless, every day and every task is crucial for the hive’s survival. All the bees tasks are, in one way or another, interconnected. It functions like a well-oiled machine. Take into consideration that without the “engineer” bees there wouldn’t be any space for the larva to grow and without the larva there wouldn’t be “engineer” bees. It leaves you with the head scratching question: “what came first? The wax comb or the bee?”

Stay tuned in for later blog post concerning the other caste of bees in the colony. Next up is the Drones, the males of the colony.
Written by Dulay.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cooking On The Rooftop

This past Saturday, we had a brand new attraction. A cooking demo on the rooftop! Everyone was very excited. A few dishes that were prepared included whole wheat pasta with sauteed tomatoes and kale fresh from the garden, a quick pickle which used fresh dill from the garden, and a roasted red pepper crostini with cheese from Clock Shadow Creamery which is located on the first floor of our building.

After the zumba class let out, everyone eagerly rushed up to the rooftop to check out the delicious meals being made. There were samples for everyone to try. The dishes were very delicious and nutritious.

We also had local honey available at the market again last Saturday. Next to the honey, there was one of the bars from our beehive for people to observe. You could even see the queen laying eggs if you looked close enough.

Be sure to stop by the market next week for all natural soap from Kat! She is coming back next Saturday.

Written by Samantha.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rooftop in Bloom

Our honeybees are happily buzzing with the recent bloom of rooftop sedum.  Soon rooftop market patrons will be equally happy as we begin to harvest the first major salad greens of the season!

Thanks to the Victory Garden Initiative, we added a blackberry bush and two grape vines to the rooftop bounty this year. I'm excited to report that they're already blooming in their first year!

Here are more delicious pictures of our rooftop in bloom!

Our blooming blackberry in front of a row of nasturtium. To the right we have zucchini, ground cherries, and raspberries.

Purple bush beans just starting to flower!

One of four Three Sisters gardens featuring Hopi blue corn, Kentucky pole beans and  Winter squash.

Snap peas!

Salad-lovers delight: heirloom lettuce varieties and daikon radishes

Raspberry buds sparkle against the skyline

Monday, July 1, 2013

Farmer's Market Thrives!

Just as we hoped, our farmer's market has attracted people of all ages, families big and small, people from all over Milwaukee. This past Saturday, we had some new vendors selling strawberries and local honey. These new items were a huge hit. We still had mouthwatering quesadillas and delicious, cool coffee for sale.
The bee man, Charlie, brought out some of our rooftop bees out to his honey stand to give visitors a closer look at what the bees were doing. You could go very close to the bees and notice the differences between the girl and boy bees. It was very educational and fun.

A little girl was very excited to receive her  warm, fresh quesadilla this last Saturday.

There was quite a long line to get to where the fresh produce was. The strawberry vendor was selling the sweetest strawberries you'll ever taste. Another farmer was selling her vertical farming system and a variety of vegetables.


Stop by July 13th for more fresh vegetables, quesadillas, coffee and our featured vendor, Pams Essentials - selling soy candles and natural bath and body products! 

Written by Food and Nutrition Intern: Samantha