It doesn’t feel like it just now, but a few days back we had a touch of spring weather. The Wax-flowers, (Eriostemon sp/Philotheca sp?), in the front garden began exuding their aromatic oils from their leaves.
It didn’t take long for the local Honeybees to locate the shrubs and begin collecting nectar and pollen. I imagine the bee colony they belong to is probably depleted considerably after the winter months.
By all accounts, any excess drones – the males that mate with the queen then die – are killed off at the end of summer to help preserve food supplies for the winter. The female workers collect the pollen and nectar, guard the colony, build and maintain the nest, etc.
Apart from the honey they provide directly, Honeybees and other insects put food on our tables by pollinating about 30% of our food crops. They also pollinate 80-90% of all wild flowering plants.
|Pollen packet on the hind leg is clearly visible in this close cropped shot|
Wild Honeybee colonies can consist of up to 50,000 individual bees. Each colony has its own odour identifier, produced by the queen and passed onto the drones and workers. Should a colony grow too large, or should the queen lay too few eggs, a new queen is produced by the workers and the old queen will ‘swarm’ with a few workers to begin a new colony in a new location.
Useful and amazing creatures, Honeybees deserve our respect and regard.