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Learn About Bees


A successful beekeeper is a knowledgeable beekeeper. In the first step of our plan we take a detailed look at the amazing bee. We look at the science of bees and how they in and out of the hive. Finally, we cover the important role of the beekeeper.

About Beekeeping

Deep breath! That's 30 articles under your belt!

That's a lot of beekeeping content, under the sections The Science of Bees, The Life of Bees and About Beekeeping.

In our final article for Learn About Bees, we're recapping the key points you need to know, as a new beekeeper. Next up, Your Beehive!

Check out our Stage 1 summary.

It's always nice to curl up with a good book, especially when the weather mens your bees are in their winter cluster.

Thankfully, beekeepers have many great books from which to choose.

We provide a list 11 fantastic beekeeping books, include 5 classics that you really should consider for your bookshelf.

Check out our list of 11 great beekeeping books.

Let's face facts - not everyone is going to be thrilled with the idea of you providing a home for tens of thousands of bees near their home!

Keeping the peace with neighbors is an important consideration for any beekeeper. Assuming you are legally able to keep bees in your location (generally not an issue), there are a few things you can do to ease the discussion with neighbors who may not have an accurate picture of what bees do.

Check out our article provided suggestions on how to maintain a civil and positive with your neighbors.

We like to think that PerfectBee can go a long way towards helping beekeepers - both new and experienced - in their love of bees.

But we still think that joining a beekeeping club is an excellent way to embrace beekeeping and learn from others. Many beekeeping clubs exist across the country.

Want to take it a step further? Find a mentor. An experienced beekeeper who can coem visit your beehive and provide very specific advice is invaluable and, again, PerfectBee strongly recommends a mentor for the new beekeeper.

Check out our article on beekeeping clubs and mentors.

Bees sting.

Oh yes they do. But while most beekeepers are eventually stung, they are not quite the inevitability that many suggest they are.

But what exactly is a bee sting? Why do bees sting and how does the sting work? What can the beekeeper do to reduce the chance of them happening and, if you are stung, how should you react?

All these issues are covered in our extensive article on bee stings.

Beekeeping is no longer just for country folk!

The last few years has seen an explosion in growth of interest in urban beekeeping. While there are one or two aspects that need special attention by those in the city, most can be easily overcome.

In many cases it's quite feasible to start out on a beekeeping path in the city, even when initial signs are not promising.

Our article considers some of the challenges of urban beekeeping and what the beekeeper can do to address or minimize their impact.

What better way to introduce children to nature and science than through a hands-on involvement with beekeeping?

Many beekeepers very actively involve kids - their own or with friends and family - in their beekeeping. It's a special way to teach kids about nature but also an option to teach them about responsibility and so much more.

In our article we look at some of the many ways you can ease kids into a fun and lifelong love of bees.

Beekeeping has a tendency to draw firm opinions, from new and experienced beekeepers alike.

Few topics illicit such debate as natural beekeeping. We all want our bees to live and thrive as naturally as possible. But the degree to which we do that varies considerably.

Our article looks at the philosophy behind natural beekeeping and offers a balanced view of how you decide where you fall on this line.

The Life of Bees

Nature has a way of shocking is and the sight of a swarm of bees is one to grab our attention.

And yet when bees swarm it is a healthy and positive sign of expansion and reproduction. Aside from the need to move out of an ever-tighter space, swarming is a way for the colony to reproduce.

Our article looks at why bees swarm and how they plan it.

When we are tucked up inside a warm home in the depths of winter, our bees have the challenge to survive until the warmer spring months. They are master planners and use a number of techniques to see them through.

These range from fat bees (bees with a different makeup to bees from spring, summer or fall) to the fascinating winter cluster. The cluster is an ingenious way that bees keep the queen and themselves very toasty within the hive, regardless of the temperature outside.

How bees get through the winter is a testament to the their planning and collaboration. Check it out in our latest article.

The speed with which bees create honey varies through the year. There are numerous requirements that need to be in place for bees to be successful producing the good stuff! Two of the obvious are access to nectar and weather allowing workers bees to forage.

The honey flow is a period where there is a surge in availability of nectar, in the form of blooming flowers, along with good weather. The honey flow can have a dramatic impact on the production of honey, resulting in 5 lbs or more in a single day!

We take a look at the liberal use of propolis through the hive by our bees in our latest article.

It's the hidden product of the hive - propolis. What exactly is propolis and why do bees use it so much throughout the hive?

As we humans have discovered, propolis has some remarkable properties. Originally it was felt that bees used it purely to full gaps in the hive and reduce wind flow. But now we know there are many other reasons they create propolis.

We take a look at the liberal use of propolis through the hive by our bees in our latest article.

When we carry out a hive inspection, we are looking at the fruits of our bees hard work. There's brood, there's propolis, there's pollen and maybe a little honey.

But where exactly did that come from? Bees of a certain age become foragers - those called upon to leave the safety of the hive and search for valuable resources to bring back home.

They happen to participate on one of natures most powerful processes, namely pollination. But why do the bees leave the hive? What do they seek, how do they collect it? How do they find it - and how do they return to the hive.​

We take a look at the foraging bee in our article.

They don't make it for us! Yes, we enjoy the taste of honey but bees are driven to make and store honey by the need to survive. Honey sustains them through the long winter months and they need tens of pounds of the good stuff to see spring.

But how exactly do they make honey? The collection of nectar is just the start but to get to the familiar sticky syrup we know so well takes a massive amount of effort on the part of thousands of bees.

We look in this article at the teamwork that goes into creating honey.

Bees have some extremely well-developed senses. They use these to the full to collaborate and communicate so efficiently.

From their compound eyes to their ability to smell and respond to pheromones, bees exhibit a sensitivity to their surroundings that is extremely well formed and suited to their objectives.

Our article looks at how bees respond to their surroundings and how they communicate.

Phew - just 15 days into our 3 month course and so much covered so far? Time for a quick recap...

Life inside the beehive is a beautiful thing. We've looked over the last few days at the roles of the drone, queen and worker bees. This article is one of our most popular and provides a detailed view of the way bees organize their lives.

We hope you enjoy this article on what happens in and away from the hive.

Few, if any, creature in nature has such an intensely industrious life as the worker bee. With a life span that varies dramatically based on the time year, most worker bees quite literally work themselves to death.

Yet beneath this heavy-duty work ethic are an extraordinary range of collaborative and protective behaviors. With very well defined roles, based directly on their age, the sum of all worker bee activity within a colony massively outweighs the sum of its parts.

Our article on the worker bee describes the key role she plays in the health of the colony.

There's a common misconception that the queen bee moderates and controls the others members of the colony.

While it is true that her actions, her productivity and her pheromones have a direct and significant on the behavior of other bees, she is not a decision-maker. Indeed, the best way to consider her is as the star in a puppet show.

The queen fills an iconic role within the beehive. Find out in our article how she goes about that role.

You are lazy. You don't help around the house. You won't get out and pick up what's needed. And you have one thing on your mind...

Drone bees are easy to spot, with their enormous eyes, but come winter they are mere memories, having been kicked out of the colony by workers before the cold weather sets in.

And yet, despite their limited contributions helping with the internal operation of the hive, drones play an essential role in maintaining genetic diversity.

Read about the role of the drone in our new article.

Science of Bees

Italians? Russians? Buckfast?

If you are new to beekeeping, these are terms you probably don't associated with bees. In fact, these are various races of honey bee and the choice you make when obtaining your bees could have a significant impact on their success in your beehives.

Factors that vary between races include their "personality", honey productivity, resistance to disease and mites, ability to get through the winter and more.

Check out our article on the races of bees.

So, you think bees can fly, eh? Yes, we have a hunch too....

But scientists didn't always accept that seemingly obvious fact. If one applies traditional theories of flight, then something as stout and heavy as a bee is likely to have big trouble getting airborne. And, back in the day, some scientists went so far as to "prove" it!

But bees have some secrets up their wings and our new article looks at how they achieve their flight - including some beautiful video.

Bees have many ways to communicate but perhaps the most complex and impactful is their use of pheromones.

There are many ways in which pheromones are used within the hive, including the Queen Mandibular Pheromone (QMP) as a way for the queen to signal her presence,  the Alarm Pheromone which is used when a bee stings - and many others.

Collectively these pheromones signal essential information, to help keep the hive healthy and safe.

Check out our article on the use of pheromones within the beehive.

We see the special pattern of honeycomb all around us. It is seen as a symbol of order, structure and strength.

And yet it is the province of the bee. Using hexagonal cells as the building block - for distinct and real reasons - the resultant honeycomb serves many purposes.

Whether to store honey or pollen or as a place in the hive to raise brood, the cell is a special construct used by bees in so many ways. Our article looks at how honeycomb is created by worker bees and the many ways it is put to good use.

Pollinators change our world! We have such a deep reliance on them for our food, not least thanks to the bee.

It is incredible to see how the bee and the flower have evolved in such perfect harmony. As the bee visits flowers for pollen and nectar, she restricts her flights to flowers of the same species, so as to ensure pollination takes place.

The worker doesn't keep her knowledge of the flowers she has visited to herself. On returning to the hive she will conduct an information-packed "waggle dance" to alert others bees to these riches. Check out our article on the beautiful act of pollination.

The start of life for the honey bee is an incredible journey. From egg to larvae to pupa and finally to adult bee, this rapid development happens many thousands of times in each hive.

The timeline associated with this is important for the beekeeper. While spotting the queen is always valuable when inspecting a hive, it is by no means necessary. Using an awareness of the timeline for worker, drone and queen bees, the beekeeper can use clues in the hive to assess the health and productivity of the colony.

Enjoy our article on the life cycle of the honey bee in its early days.

Few creatures have quite the perfectly-formed anatomy as the bee. From head to stinger, each element of the honey bee serves a focused need, remarkably fine-tuned even between the needs of workers, drones and the queen.

Take a look at our article on the anatomy of the honey bee and why it all works so beautifully.

Our preconceived ideas about genetics get a bit of a shake up when it comes to bees. That notion of a bee having chromosomes from a mother and a father?

Not so fast?

What about even the simple assumption that every bee has both a mother and a father? Nope! Bee genetics are weird. Read why..

Few creatures have quite the perfectly-formed anatomy as the bee. From head to stinger, each element of the honey bee serves a focused need, remarkably fine-tuned even between the needs of workers, drones and the queen.

Take a look at our article on the anatomy of the honey bee and why it all works so beautifully.

The honey bee is the most iconic of bees, but is just one of over 20,000 bee species. Across the range of bees, there are some extraordinary variations, from tiny to huge, to solitary to colony-dwelling and the production (or not) of honey and bees wax.

Find out where the honey bee fits into the big picture.

Bees play an essential role as pollinators, helping put food on our table. Then there's the sweet honey. But there's so much more to the bee!

Did you know, for example, that they make decisions by voting? Check out just a few of the reasons why bees are one of nature's most amazing creatures.