Addressing 65 Y’s Men of Meriden on April 23, Allan Poole described the remarkable attributes of honeybees, one of a very few species of insects that can be domesticated. And he spoke with authority, having once managed 35 hives in Middlefield dating back to the 1970’s and previously serving as CT State Bee Inspector.
A hive, often containing about 60,000 bees, usually contains a single queen bee (a fertile female), several thousand drone bees (fertile males) and many thousands of sterile female worker bees. The Queen has to first survive the winter, then start laying up to 1500 eggs daily, placing each in a single cell of a wax honeycomb (containing hexagonal cells made from honey) where she then fertilizes the ones she chooses. The resultant larvae (nourished with royal jelly produced by workers) result in free adult bees in 16-25 days.
Communication is a honeybee specialty. When a foraging bee finds a good source of nectar (up to three miles distant), it returns to the hive to communicate its discovery. Through a series of dances (a round dance for nearby nectar and a waggle dance for more distant nectar), other bees are directed to the location of the discovery, receiving information on direction, time of day, and how far away and how high up the nectar source is. Remarkably, these other bees quickly arrive precisely at the nectar source.
When swarming in a search for a new home such as a hollow tree (ideally having a small entrance and at least a 10-gallon capacity), scout bees make searches and come back to report. Surprisingly, the more excitement a scout exhibits, the better the site. After a conference, a decision is made about the best site and the whole swarm goes there for its new home, immediately constructing a new wax comb and beginning to raise a new brood.
Retired or semi-retired men from Meriden or surrounding communities, interested in attending a Y’s Men of Meriden meeting, are invited to call 203-238-7784 or visit the www.ysmenofmeriden.com website.