Honey Bee, Honey Do

The Honey Bees moved into the horse paddock a couple of months ago.
Two large man-made hives that were constructed and placed behind a little barrier, so the horses wouldn’t get too close.
The bee keepers come every day, tending to their little charges, wearing white suits with netted hoods.
They say the Honey Bees fly up and out of their hives every day, except for rainy days when they prefer to stay at home, finding flowers, and bringing back pollen and nectar to the hive.
There should be some honey by September.
Bee-keeping seems to be becoming the new hobby. The new “in” thing to do.
To save the planet. To save us humans.
Because bees in the wild are becoming extinct.
We are innundating them with so many chemicals, as we try to kill other insects that are eating our crops, that we are inadvertently killing them as well.
And as anyone who has seen the movie “Bee Movie” will know, without bees, we have no plants, and no food.
And bees are an inspiration that we humans could learn from.
Their society and social order is jaw dropping. Just like ants, each insect has a role and a place in the hierarchy. A job to do, lest the entire colony fall apart.
The Queen Bee is no slouch.
She lays thousands of eggs each and every day.
Some she herself decides to fertilize, with sperm she has stored from mating with Drones.
Other eggs she does not fertilize.
Unfertilized eggs go on to become fertile male Drones.
Fertilized eggs grow up to become sterile female Worker Bees.
How does she decide?
The female Worker Bees do all the heavy lifting.
That’s about right.
They all have different jobs, depending on the stage of their lives.
As young female Worker Bees, they are known as Nurse Bees. They are able to produce a substance called Royal Jelly, with which they feed other babies and the Queen. When the babies become a certain size, they are switched to pollen, nectar and honey.
However, a Queen Bee will be fed Royal Jelly until she is grown.
How do they choose who will be the Queen Bee?
So many questions.
Maturing Nurse Bees are no longer be able to produce Royal Jelly. So they then are given the task of guarding the hive, and receiving pollen and nectar from foraging bees.
Later still, they test their wings, and become foragers themselves, bringing back pollen and nectar, to the end of their days.
And it is the Worker Bee who has the stinger to protect the hive from danger.
They also have been known to conduct a coup, or two.
They can form a “ball” around a threat, such as another wasp, and using the vibrations of their bodies, heat that threat to a murderous temperature, and also poison it with carbon dioxide, so that it dies.
They have also been known to overthrow a Queen that way – a Queen that was an intruder or defective.
Worker Bees also warm the hive in the winter, using their vibrations to keep the Queen warm, and rotating their bodies throughout the cozy cluster so no bee becomes too cold. Compassion!
And Worker Bees can effectively cool the hive in the hot summer months, using the same vibrations of their bodies and wings.
And then there are the male Drones.
The only job they have is to mate with a Queen who has flown in from another colony. So as to avoid incestous groupings.
But the Drones die after mating.
Such is the price.
In their extravagant colonies, Honey Bees display what’s been coined “Eusociality” – the highest level of organization of animal society.
Quite the honour.
There is even speculation as to whether or not they display consciousness, or sentience.
And so, as the bees and horses find their way to live together in the paddock, it makes me feel that we as humans should find a way to all live together with other species on this planet.
Whether they are insects, or mammals, or even other humans.
We can all learn from the Honey Bees.


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