The resident Beeman picked up an extra veil over the weekend, so he invited me to suit up with him and take a peek inside the hive. And woweeeeee. All of my prior ideas about bees being pretty great were blown out of the water. They are so…engrossing. Amazing. Fascinating. (insert a superlative adjective here) But above all, they were gentle. Peaceful. That one could hold a frame full of many hundred busy bees is powerful, but to do so while they keep on working, barely noting your presence, is really something else entirely.
The Beeman pointed out cells filled with nectar, like the glistening ones above. There are also cells filled with pollen, (protein) ranging in color from yellow to bright orange. Others are filled with tiny oblong eggs, laid by the fertile queen. The eggs hatch and remain in their cells, where they are nurtured by the workers for a period. This is the larva stage, and we spotted plenty of them – they look like white worms curled up in their hexagonal cells. After a number of days, (I forget how many – 8 maybe?) the cells are capped by the workers and the larva begins the metamorphosis into a full-grown, adult bee. At that point, they have to eat their way out of the cell and then it’s Chop-chop! Off to work! We happened to witness a bee emerging from the cell – not quite the drama of a lamb’s birth, but pretty damn cool nonetheless.
Look at how they stretched the hexagons of wax along the edges of the frame to fill in the space. They also left an opening for navigating between the different frames. Can you spot some larva in there? (Where’s Waldo?)
Wow. I am in complete and utter awe at these little creatures. And they had me at “honey.”