The final stop on our Savour Ottawa farm tour was to visit one of the farms that is housing bees for Halsall’s Honey. Owner Brent has about 200 bee hives that he has set up on various farms in the Ottawa area.
I seem to learn all about bees, just to forget everything I know about them and re-learn it years later. I visited the ‘Bee Exhibit’ at the Big Apple theme park as a child (and incase you are wondering… yes Mr. Applehead DID come to my 5th birthday party. Jealous?). Then I re-learned all of this information during a visit to the Agricultural Museum a few years ago. AGAIN in a documentary about bees a couple years after that. And now, from Brent. Let’s hope the 4th time is a charm and some of this bee knowledge will stick.
Sure bees are cool. They help crops grow, make amazing honey and have a pretty cool system of working. But what I was really interested in was their reproduction. Seriously folks… if you want me to pay attention to something it better involve food or sex. Or just say one of those words so you get my attention, then dive into what you wanted to talk about.
Did you say ‘sandwich’?? I’m listening.
I had no idea (or I totally knew but completely forgot) that bees can reproduce without having sex. For real. But they also reproduce by having sex.
A queen bee mates once in her life with several drone bees. She stores up all the DNA she will need for the rest of her life time and gets to making baby bees. Worker bees to be specific. Worker bees are all females (there is a joke here somewhere). If they were to become queens they would be fed royal jelly during their larva stage. If they aren’t… they become worker bees. These are the bees heading out and pollinating, then coming back to the hive to make honey.
Surprisingly no one was stung but Brent.
Worker bees do not mate… they can however still reproduce. The bees they make are called Drones. They are the male bees and their primary role is to mate with the Queen.
I’m not at all terrified.
So there you have it… now if only I knew about the birds I’d be all covered for this topic…