Bedford Beekeepers Association Shares the Joy of Apiculture
BEDFORD - MARCH 13, 2023 - The Bedford Beekeepers Association is a loosely organized group of local beekeepers interested in sharing the joy of apiculture with each other and with local communities.
Apiculture is the technical term for beekeeping.
Honeybees play an important role in agriculture. Bees produce several products which include honey, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, propolis and venom, all collected and used by people for various nutritional and medicinal purposes.
Honey is the most well-known product produced from these lovely and important insects.
Beeswax is produced and popular for making candles and an ingredient in artists materials such as leather and wood polishes. The pharmaceutical industry uses the substance as a binding agent, time release mechanism, and drug carrier.
Beeswax is used in cosmetics.
The agricultural benefit of honeybees; is estimated to be between 10 to 15 times the value of the total value of honey and beeswax.
Bee pollination accounts for about $15 billion in added crop value. (Source US Agriculture Department)
Pollination is vital to the approximately 250,000 species of flowering plants that depend on the transfer of pollen from flower anther to stigma to reproduce. The anther is the top-most part of the stamen, the flowers ale reproductive portion.
Normally made of four pollen sacs, the anther produces and releases pollen.
The stigma, the top part of the female reproductive part is covered in a sticky substance that catches and traps the pollen grains.
Depending on the specific plant species, the transfer of pollen from anther to stigma is achieved by wind, gravity, water, birds, bats, or insects.
Some plants, such as pine, trees, and corn produce light pollen that's easily blown by the wind. Other plants make heavy, sticky pollen that's not easily blown from flower to flower. These plants rely on other agents, insects for example to transfer pollen.
Upon entering a flower, an insect such as honeybee, brushes against the pollen on the outside of the anther and carries it to the stigma.
Sometimes, the pollen grains only need to reach the stigma of the same flower or another flower on the same plant.
Photo: Dave Brenneman stands at a booth at the Lawrence County 4-H Fairgrounds on a recent Saturday to help interested persons in starting a beekeeping business
But often the pollen must travel to the stigma of a flower on a different plant.
Nectar and pollen collected from flowering plants, bees harvest the nectar and convert the sugary liquid to honey, this is the bees primary source of carbohydrates. Honey provides bees with the energy for flight, colony maintenance, and general daily activities.
Pollen, often called bee bread, is the bees primary source of protein.
Pollen also provides bees with fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins.
The protein in pollen is necessary for hive growth and young bee development. Depending on the season, weather, and availability of nectar and pollen bearing blossoms, the size of a honeybee coney varies from 10,000 to 1000,000 bees.
A typical size colony, made up of about 20,000 bees, collects about 125 pounds of pollen a year. Bees carry the pollen in specialized structures on the hind legs called pollen baskets.
A honeybee can bring back to a colony a pollen load that weighs about 35 percent of its body weight.
In one single day, one worker bee makes 12 0r more trips from the hive, visiting several thousand of flowers. On these trips the bee can travel as far as two to five miles from the hive.
Although honeybees collect pollen from a variety of flowers, a bee limits itself to one plant species per trip, gathering only one kind of pollen.
A honeybee colony is a highly organized society made up of three kinds of adult bees, workers, drones, and a single queen.
Each of these have specific roles. Worker bees are sexually undeveloped females and under normal hive conditions do not lay eggs.
Worker bees performs all the tasks needed to maintain and protect the colony and rear young bees. A worker bee life span ranges from six weeks in a busy summer to about four to nine months in the winter.
Drones are the male bees that are on stand-by for mating with the virgin queen. Death instantly follows the mating.
Thy number from a few to several thousand and usually present during the late spring and summer.
The Queen function is to only lay eggs. She mates only once with several drones and remains fertile for life. The queen can live several years, with an average productive life span of two to three years. When she dies her productivity declines, and the worker bees raise a new queen.
Beekeepers house their domesticated honeybee colonies in manmade hives.
The basic structural component of the hive is a wax comb suspended with a plastic or wooden frame. Worker bees construct the comb using beeswax, a substance produced by four pairs of glands located on the underside of their abdomens.
These eight special glands convert sugar from honey into the waxy substance and secrete it as a liquid, which hardens into flas wax scales once exposed to air.
Using spines located on their middle legs, the bees remove the wax scales from the abdomens. The bees transfer the scales to their mouth parts, and while chewing the wax, the add salivary secretions to soften it. The bees use the new pliable wax to build the hexagon shape cells of the comb.
Withing the six-sided cells of the wax comb, the bees store honey and pollen and rear the bee brood, a collective term encompassing the three stages of bees which include egg, larval, and pupal.
Beekeepers can assess the health of the bee brood by looking at brood patterns. The pattern of healthy capped worker brood is solid and compact with few empty cells.
The Bedford Beekeepers are dedicated to the development of both new and experienced beekeepers who share a common desire to raise healthy honeybees and believe that gathering regularly to exchange information and ideas and benefits us all from increasing the population of heathy honeybees and knowledgeable in the area.
Meetings are held every third Tuesday monthly at 7:00 pm at Central Church of Christ Education Building 1401 12th Street, Bedford, Indiana 47421.
Contact information: email@example.com
Or contact Dave Branneman@hotmail.ocm
Sources: Bedford Beekeeper Association, USDA
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