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The Bee Hive or Bee Colony
Honey bees live in large groups known as colonies. Any guesses, how many bees can be there in a colony? Upto 50,000 of them! In a colony a queen bee reigns over the hive and she continuously lays eggs to keep her colony full of busy bees. Most of the adult bees which are the worker bees in the colony are females. These worker bees are the ones that go looking for nectar, bring it back, make honey, tend to the eggs and the hatched larvae, build the hive and take care of the queen as well. See a very nice informative video about the honey bee colony and how it functions here.
Have you heard about the bee dance? Foraging bees find new sources of food (flowers) for their hive-mates. Then, they return to the hive to let all the other bees know the location of the food by doing a “waggle dance.” Depending on the angle of the dance move and its length and number of “waggles,” the bees tells the other workers in which direction the food is and how far! A video here explains and shows you how scientists discovered this fascinating information about bees. Try your own “waggle dance” with your friends!
There are also bees like the carpenter bees which are solitary in nature. While they do not produce honey they are very important pollinators for a lot of plants. Have you seen any of the bees featured in this column?
Let’s try and attract some bees. Dissolve two spoons of sugar in one spoon of water. Pour this sugar syrup into a small dish or a shallow but wide bottle lid. Place a wad of cotton at the bottom of this dish and let the level of the sugar syrup not be too much above the cotton. Add a drop or two of lemon or mint essence. Place one or two such dishes on a stool or chair in your balcony for a few days as it may take the bees some time to find your dishes. You could keep the sugar syrup dishes in shallow plates with a bit of water to keep away ants. If you have some pots or a garden, you could keep the dishes amongst some flowers.
Observe your dishes a couple of times each day, especially when it’s sunny or warm. Keep a record of all the visitors to your dishes. Send us drawings or photographs of your visitors, especially the bee visitors at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win a book on Indian animals.