My father in law is a beekeeper. I’ve always been fascinated by that, but I never had a chance to go see his ‘pets’. He has 40 hives with around 400.000 bees each, so yes, that’s 16 million honeymakers to look after. I’d normally avoid approaching anything that buzzes, but decked out in a not so fashionable bee-keepers suit (that instantly fitted by the way – beekeepers must be generally tall!), I turned on my brave face and visited the bees.
We can only take honey home when we drive from The Netherlands to England, or when we fly with check-in luggage; both don’t happen often, so I always feel like I’m cheating when I have to buy honey. I know this honey is pure, raw, and I know how well these bees are looked after, so that makes it just a bit tastier.
I got a quick lesson in queens, female worker bees and male drones and who does what in the hive. The queen obviously is well-looked after as she’s the one laying the eggs, securing the future of the hive. While the female worker bees work hard to gather nectar and pollen, the male drones sit around and wait until they get to mate with a fertile queen. Who gets a better deal here? 😉
Fact to impress your friends with during Friday evening drinks; the drones don’t sting, and basically they’re the product of an unfertilized egg, so it technically doesn’t have a father. How fascinating is that?
Smoke is used to keep the bees calm when the beekeeper works the hive.
This made me a bit more relaxed around thousands of potential stingers, so I took a closer look at a honeycomb.
I won’t give you a lecture on how to keep bees, but it did make me realise how important bees are when I started to read up on it. Bees pollinate a third of everything we eat and play a vital role in sustaining the planet’s ecosystems.
Plus, the cotton industry heavily relies on bee pollination as well, so next time you see a yellow striped lady flying by, think about how hard she’s working to keep the planet pollinated and just let her do her thing! 🙂