The Honey Bee Observations And Studies
Two colonies of bees poorly cared for. Note box hives, crowding, lack of shade, and high weeds. It is a crime to treat bees this way.
Go into the fields and study the work of the bee. Follow it from flower to flower. See if it visits different kinds of flowers or if it gathers its whole load of honey from one kind. Make a list of all the blossoms you find bees visiting. Does the bee move
lowly from flower to flower? Can you see it thrust its tongue into the flower? How long does it stay on one blossom? Does it visit red clover? Pull a red clover blossom apart and compare the depth of the blossom with the length of the honey bee's tongue, and determine the reason why it does not visit red clover. The bumble-bee has a much longer tongue so it can get the nectar from red clover blossoms. Without the bumble-bee clover seed could not be successfully grown. Can you see small balls of yellow pollen on the hind legs of the bee? The pollen is collected from blossoms and is pasted on to the outside of the hind legs in the pollen basket. When the bee returns to the hive, it stores the small balls of pollen in the cells of the comb for use later in the preparation of bee-bread. When the bee is disturbed in the field does it fly away or will it sting? When it stings does it always lose its sting? What makes the sting of the bee poisonous? Examine the wings of bees in the field and note how they are torn from continued work of gathering honey. The older ones often lose so much of their wings, that they can no longer carry loads of honey. Where is the honey carried and how is it placed in the honey cells in the hive?
A strong colony of bees properly housed and shaded. This colony in a very unfavorable season stored about 50 pounds of surplus honey.
Go now to a hive and study the bees as they go and come. Do those returning fly as fast as those which leave? Why not? When they return do they come direct to the mouth of the hive? Do those which leave fly direct from the hive or circle about first? Can you detect guards which move about at the entrance of the hive? What happens when a fly or other insect alights near the opening? Will the bees sting when you disturb them about the hive? If possible study the colony inside the hive. To do this you will need smoke to subdue the guards and a veil to protect the face. Can you find the queen? Is she larger than the workers? Examine for honey-comb, bee-bread, worker brood, queen cells and drone cells. If possible study the actions of a colony while swarming.
Write a brief report of what you can learn of the life, work and habits of the honey bee.