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  • How to Get Started in Beekeeping
    March 23, 2020 Scott Derrick

    How to Get Started in Beekeeping

    Beekeeping is a fun and rewarding hobby. It’s quite satisfying to watch your bees move from flower to flower as they work your flowers and veggies. Your garden thrives and produces, and then — of course — you get to enjoy...

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  • Put Down That Banana, Beekeeper
    August 14, 2017 Scott Derrick

    Put Down That Banana, Beekeeper

    It’s early April, and dusk is settling in. At odd moments throughout the day, you’ve found yourself pausing to admire the spring flowers, winking open their petals to the warming day, splashing the fields and gardens with purple crocus, butter-yellow calendula and cherry-pink milkweed.

    What better time to check on the bees.

    They’ve been cooped up all winter, doing little else than surviving. Or so you hope – last year, you opened the hive to find heartbreak: dozens of little bodies littering the comb, the brood chambers run afoul with the varroa mite, dread king of honey bee pests.

    It’s been a long day though, and you’re famished. As your stomach growls a need, your eyes catch the fruit bowl on the dining table. Striding over, your hand reaches, hovers, grabs…

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  • What Happens When the Queen Bee Dies?
    August 14, 2017 Scott Derrick

    What Happens When the Queen Bee Dies?

    Long live the queen. And queen bees do live long – somewhere between 3 to 5 years (although some estimates stretch it to 9). Compared to the worker bee, which reaches the end of her life cycle somewhere around the 42-day mark, she might as well live for a bee-time eon. But whether it’s by disease, old age, natural disaster, or beekeeper murder (which, under certain circumstances, is recommended), at some point or other, the queen must die.

    What then? Do the worker bees riot? Does chaos erupt, and the hive plunge into anarchy? After all, the queen bee is the only bee in the hive fully capable of producing offspring (at the upwards rate of one egg per minute, no less). Though worker bees are physically capable of laying unfertilized eggs (which hatch into male drones by way of parthenogenesis), this rarely occurs. There are two main reasons. The first is to do with the queen’s particular perfume – the spread of which convinces the colony they are “queenright”. It is a powerful pheromone, with various physiological effects – one of which is to cause the eggs inside of all the other females to wither and die (an example of “programmed cell death”). It’s as though she’s putting all her lower-ranked sisters on the pill just by existing.

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