A beehive usually has a family of bees, which is usually called a swarm. The swarm has an average of 60,000 to 80,000 bees, reaching up to 120,000 bees. Honey bee hives have several combs, which are used as a baby’s cradle and to store honey and pollen. The combs formed by several cells, also called alveoli, we find all the bumblebee and worker bees. The queen’s cell, called the queen alveolus, is larger than that of working bees and drones, and they stand upright. The balance in a hive of Apis is something that depends on the three types (queen, drone, worker) present. There is no individuality as we understand it. All decisions are made by a spirit present and each member of the colony knows exactly what to do. If we think of the hive as a one-body, each individual is a cell. The brain of this body and the organs that allow it to survive, feed itself, etc., are the workers. The center of balance or the center of the body, lies in the queen. A hive without a queen becomes a disordered body, without vitality and doomed to death. The point of support for the continuity of the family is the drone.
There can only be one queen in the hive, and the first one that emerges soon looks for the other alveoli to destroy them. If two are born simultaneously, they fight each other, and overcome the strongest, they can still be tolerated as long as they are all virgins. The only survivor follows her normal course to become another complete queen. It is interesting that at this time a whole family depends on a single individual for their survival. If the young queen is, for example, devoured by a bird during her nuptial flight, her hive of origin is hopelessly doomed to extinction.
Do not collect pollen or nectar, also do not make honey, real jelly and much less wax. They live from one to five years depending on their daily activity. After being fertilized by the spermatozoa the spermatozoa are stored in a chamber called teak sperm and will be used for the queen’s entire life. While the eggs in the smaller cells are fertilized, from this process they will originate the females. When the queen occurs to deposit the eggs in a larger cell, they will not be fertilized by the spermatozoa, in this case will give rise to males, this reproduction is called parthenogenesis that is very common among insects. A curious fact in this respect of the breeding that gives rise to the drone is that it has no father, only grandparents, and even maternal.
It is the male of the beehive that is responsible, only, for the fertilization of the queen. Because it is the only one to have free access to any hive, it is the great propagator of diseases among the hives. He lives until he fertilizes the queen or when the hive has too much supplies. After the queen fertilizes her genitals along with her gut, the queen becomes trapped. If you were lucky you would have lived for a day or two.
The drone is a cyclical presence indispensable to the balance provided by the queen. Inside a beehive nothing is useless, and what becomes useless is immediately discarded, whether it be a sick worker, an infertile queen or a drone during times when it is not necessary. The bee is a being who lives the present moment in its entirety. For her there is no past or future. It fulfills its mission without questioning. It is a being ready to attend all emergencies, and in a hive an emergency is attended, without hesitation, throughout the colony. Bees do not know fear and indecision.
Egg: after three days of laying the larva will be born.
Larva: it will be fed by the workers until the eighth day when the alveolus will be operculated by the workers and the larva will begin to weave the cocoon.
Pre-pupa: the metamorphosis process begins.
Pupa: until the twentieth day will undergo the process of metamorphosis.
Adult bee: on the twentieth – first day the bee is finally born in its definitive form.
– they only lay eggs in very special conditions;
– They are responsible for the cleaning of the alveoli and the hive;
– By feeding the larvae;
– For the construction and repairs of the combs;
– To defend the hive against possible enemies;
– To warm the internal environment when necessary;
– For ventilation of the internal environment when necessary;
– Harvest the necessary substances (pollen, water, nectar, propolis) into the hive.
Worker bees live about six to eight weeks, depending on the intensity of daily activity. In the hive there is no rest. A worker begins to work as soon as she is born, and from then on she does not stop. His 40-day life is integral. The queen does not stop either. Eventually you need to slow down your posture so that balance is maintained, because of food shortages or some other reason. At that moment the workers are attentive, as the queen impatiently seeks to fulfill her task. The bee cycle is solar. She is a “daughter of the sun”. He leaves home at sunrise, and returns with the sunset. Your ability to orient yourself depends on the sun. His inner clock, precisely followed, accompanies the solar clock. Comparing them with their social sisters, the ants and the termites, one author said: The termites carry in the shade and humidity their secret life. Its subterranean empire extends through immense spaces, marked here and there by its robust raised nests. They do not come to light except to celebrate their nuptials, and as is proper to the inhabitants of darkness, their livery is dark, sparsely revived by a few white touches. After a brief escape, they return forever to their tenebrous domain.
Ants, less fearful, need the bright day, but, devoid of wings, their horizons are limited. Slightly demanding, they are satisfied with a rough diet and a severe economy is imposed. Some of them even feed their larvae with acorns from waste, which is a cumulative! The bees live within the luminous vibration, among the perfumes and dazzling colors of the corollas. They are the messengers of love; his kisses fecundate the flowers that, without them, would dry out sterile. They have chosen the most beautiful and radiant domains, and nourish themselves with the rarest and softest foods. They express by their buzz the joy of living and working. And the naturalist, listening to them through the fields, wonders, like the poet, if they are not the soul of the landscape, if their songs do not exalt the beauty of flowers and life in the effervescent light of the sun.
Consider a colony in full force, populous, full of honey reserves, with a strong queen. We are in mid-August, when spring flora usually approaches. At this moment the colony decides that it is time to divide. The house is small, there is more room to work, and this is the sign. A group of workers begins to build several alveoli where the queen is taken to lay fertilized eggs. After the normal incubation period the first princess emerges, and her basic instinct forces her to try to destroy the other alveoli still unopened. The present queen is not happy with the presence of this intruder, but the workers have already decided that other princesses should be born, and the goal is not to replace the mistress, but to divide the family into one or more swarms; therefore they do not allow natural fights. Now that there are princesses, the signal is given. A group of laborers go to the honey reservoirs and fill their stomachs until there is no more drop. This group, usually very numerous, is preparing to leave. By some hidden mechanism they summon the queen for the journey. Soon out of the beehive that beautiful cloud of bees, the queen among them, and some drones. The swarm does not go very far. It lands in some tree nearby, and some more experienced bees, as scouts, set out in search of a new place to live. When the Girl Scouts return, there is a “council” to decide which course to take. Once made the decision they leave for a longer flight. The swarm may still stop other times. Sometimes the chosen place does not please the group that then wait there for new research to be done. If a beekeeper tries to put this “flying swarm” in a box, he may or may not accept the address, depending on information provided by the Girl Scouts. Meanwhile, the mother hive may decide to cast other swarms, this time accompanied by virgin queens, or stay as it is. These later swarms are generally less numerous and less able to survive. It is very common for the mother hive to stay with a reduced contingent of bees, reaching the limits of an extinction, even more that only count on a hypothesis of queen, based on one of the princesses that remained. Once this group finds the proper place, the construction of the new nest begins. The engineering bees then choose the most central point of what can be called the ceiling; there they form a compact cake and begin to generate heat using the reserve of honey that they brought in the chat. The bees that were in the center of the ball take care of producing wax, and soon it is possible to visualize a thin sheet of vertical wax forming. Then some bees begin to construct the hexagonal alveoli, on both sides of the blade, following an intricate architecture that takes advantage of all the spaces and angles in the best possible way. The alveoli are constructed so that they have a slight inclination upward, preventing their contents from flowing outwards. The bees search the surroundings and collect nectar and pollen, more for their own subsistence, since the honey they bring should not be futilely spent as it is a raw material for wax production. Inside the new nest other bees begin to seal and purify the environment with propolis. And the queen impatiently awaits her chance to work, and does so as soon as the first alveoli are ready. The new nest is founded. There is order and harmony. The temperature is maintained around 36º Centigrade. If it is hot the bees cool it by flapping their wings and sprinkling water; if it is cold, they cluster and, using honey as fuel, generate heat. The honey itself is an efficient thermal insulation and helps in this control. Cleanliness is constant; any detritus is immediately thrown out and preferably carried away from the hive. Intruders are kept away by the guards; if anyone can enter it is expelled or killed and, in case the corpse can not be removed, it is wrapped in propolis. Incidentally, the security issue is fundamental in the hive. In the face of any threat or attack the colony reacts as a single being, unison.
Every individual puts himself in sacrifice for the whole, because the workers to the iron they lose their stinger, and with him the life. The first ones that come to the emergency signal soon warn the others through a sophisticated alarm system based on characteristic odors. The smell of the venom itself acts as a flag. Every day, every member of the hive fulfills precisely its function. Bees leave early, sometimes before sunrise. They search the fields around until they find the best sources of nectar and pollen and bring the information to the hive, which they pass to the sisters through a precise body communication system. Soon thousands of bees will be harvesting. In the flowers, while sucking the nectar, they collect pollen in their corbiculas. The nectar already begins to react with certain enzymes of the saliva and then, in the melífera vesicle, continues its process of transformation towards the honey. The loaded bee, when returning home, is soon approached by the guardians, who check whether she is from the colony or not. If it is a stranger, being charged, its entrance is allowed, otherwise it is expelled. Entering the hive, this champion passes his load of nectar to another bee, one of those who serves as a janitor or nutris, who will deposit it in the reservoirs. In this new organism the nectar continues its transformation, which will be completed later in the respective alveoli. If the bee brought pollen, she runs it herself in the right place, then returns to the light and continues with her work. During the collection the bee provides another service as “messenger of love”: its body full of hair impregnates itself with the pollen of the flowers that it visits. Within its fidelity to order, the bee keeps visiting flowers of the same species until this spring is exhausted. So it carries with it the seed of the life of the plants and, when flying from one to another, allows and expedites the reproduction and renewal of these. So fundamental is this mission that there are plants whose only form of fertilization is precisely through the visit of one of these beings. There are plant species that depend on an exclusive type of bees for this process. In the darkness of the beehive, the bees that do not go out will fulfill their various functions, maintaining the cleaning, the temperature, feeding the larvae and the queen, dehydrating the future honey, producing wax and propolis. Arriving in the middle of the day, when the sun reaches its apex, most of the bees that were out are returning, some bringing water. At this moment the heat is increasing and it is necessary to cool the house. Later, around three o’clock in the afternoon, the time has arrived for those bees ready to face for the first time the air of the outside to realize their “daring”. They gather at the entrance of the house and suddenly one of them ventures into a short flight. She goes a few inches ahead, always facing the house, and then returns, rejoicing at her experience. Then he dares a longer flight, and so on, until he is seen circling around and above the hive site, running spirals more and more open. At this moment they are recording in your brain the correct position of your dwelling and surroundings. The experiment is repeated on the following days until all paths are memorized. Then she is ready to face the outside world. After the warmer period of the day, as the novice flight party is ending, we again find the bees in their normal line, taking the divine gift to the last possible moment. The sun is moving toward the west, its light fading away, and the tireless bees continue, almost distressed, their journeys. The sun goes down. Some bees are left behind. When the cold of the darkness of the night arrives, they resign themselves to choose a shelter waiting for the new dawn. In this tropical climate there is always warmth, and even solitary, the bee spends well at night, despite having members asleep. Meanwhile, there in the hive starts the nighttime activities with almost all members present. If it is very hot, many bees stay out of the house, “drinking fresh”, and the others are doing their duty. There are special moments in the lives of bees, like what was described initially. A serious occasion is when they realize that their mother no longer has the same energy. Being a strong family, it is decidedly not allowed to weaken. So they conclude that it is time to call to life a new queen. In a strong hive there are always alveoli under construction: it is a question of survival in the event of an accident occurring with the mistress. But this being prolific, these alveoli are not allowed to develop normally – except on these special occasions. In this case, a queen whose energy is going is a signal for the alveoli to follow its course. Having guaranteed one or more princesses in training, it is necessary to eliminate the old mother. An ordinary bee never seizes a queen; she does not even turn her back on him. So they are forced to use a “subtle” tactic. They form a ball around the old lady and there they choke to death; and the queen, understanding her fate, does not seek to resist. After this stage, the new princesses begin to be born.