ONBG meeting – and a Christmas quiz!

"Or is it six legs?"

Happy quizzers

On a freezing November night, ten folk gathered in the Victoria Arms in Oxford to review 2016’s beekeeping and discuss our plans for the coming year. Paul unveiled a surprise test… er, quiz…Rather than write a long meeting report, I’m simply going to put the quiz here:

  1. How many wings does a bee have?
  2. How many eyes does a honeybee have?
  3. What is the average airspeed of a fully laden foraging honeybee in mph?
  4. List 3 key principles of natural beekeeping
  5. List 2 problems with using foundation
  6. List 2 uses – for honeybees – of propolis
  7. Name 3 things you could use to bait a hive
  8. What temperature is the brood area normally kept at, in degrees C?
  9. At what temperature do bees stop flying, in degrees C?
  10. What percentage of honey is water?
  11. After their cell or cup is sealed, how many days does it take for the following to hatch:
    • Queen?
    • Worker?
    • Drone?
  12. What’s the usual reason for seeing bees flying back and forth in figure-8’s in front of a hive?
  13. deathsheadhawkmoth1What is this a photo of? And yes, it’s an adult’s hand. And yes, you find them in hives sometimes.



Tie breakers

  • What’s the average weight of an unladen worker honeybee?
  • What temperature is the core of a ball of bees when they cook a queen or hornet?

Answers are below in a comment. It’s worth mentioning that looking up the weight of a worker bee on the Web can give you wildly varying answers, so let’s just say that it’s the lowest value you tend to find stated.

Discussion of the answers led to a couple of insights. I claimed that one can use the weight of a worker to estimate the number of bees in a swarm you’ve collected (weigh the collection box with the bees in it, and after they have left). Faith pointed out their weight will be quite different when they are swarming, possibly double normal, as they stuff themselves with as much honey as they can beforehand!

I mentioned that one question I’d considered, but not included because it’s difficult to define, was: ‘how long do drones fly for’. Sometimes they can use thermals to greatly extend their flying time when they reach drone congregation areas. The point is that they don’t feed themselves so unlike a foraging worker, they can only do powered flight for 35 to 70 minutes, of which half is typically spent flying to and from the drone congregation areas! It is a surprisingly short time, but it corresponds to the finding of bumblebee researchers that bumblebees need to feed every 30-60 minutes to keep going. Will pointed out that they probably could feed themselves if they knew where the blossoms were, but they have a very specialised task – to propagate the genes of the colony. If they wasted time foraging like workers they’d have less time to spread their genes, so it is likely that it is more efficient for them to simply be fed mouth-to-mouth by workers.

One little-mentioned consequence of using foundation is that bees will always try to raise a certain number of drones. If you just give them worker-sized cells, they will still try to build more drone sized cells, in out-of-the-way parts of the hive. Some conventional beekeepers routinely cull drone brood and remove “awkward” comb, but until the bees reach their desired drone population, they will keep trying to raise more – diverting them from honey production, and encouraging them to build that awkward bridge comb between frames.

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2 Responses to ONBG meeting – and a Christmas quiz!

  1. Paul says:

    1. Four wings per bee
    2. Five eyes per bee (three are tiny occeli, simple light sensitive patches)
    3. 15mph (20mph sprints possible, faster when unloaded)
    4. Key principles of natural beekeeping include: low intervention (infrequent internal inspections only to answer a specific point), no varroa treatments, no foundation, warm hives, no drone culling, no queen clipping, no requeening
    5. Foundation is made from recycled wax so can pass on accumulated contaminants such as miticides, pesticides and pathogens. In 2016 there was a big problem in Belgium and Holland with foundation made with aldulterated wax from China poisoning brood. Imposition of single cell size; skews drone numbers; no free hanging “dancing floor”.
    6. Propolis is antiseptic and antifungal; sealing gaps, entrance reduction. Other uses include entombing (mummifying) the bodies of pests too large to remove, like mice.
    7. Comb (especially brood comb), lemongrass or citrus oil, propolis, commercial attractant pheromones; beer! Old crumbled wax. Basically, make it smell like an occupied hive.
    8. 35C to 37C, if too low you get “chilled brood”
    9. 8C to 10C
    10. About 17% to 21% of honey is water.
    11. Queen: 8 days. Worker: 9 – 13 days, typically 12. Drone: 14 days.
    12. “Orientation” flights where new bees are memorising the area, forming a mental map.
    13. Deaths Head Hawk Moth, with wings folded. They can mimic queen piping and are unmolested by workers while they steal honey. Uncommon in Britain.
    Tie breakers
    A worker weighs about 95-120 milligrams
    A queen or hornet is cooked around 46C to 47C (115F – 116F). Suffocation plays a part too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lindylou says:

    Very good idea for a bee club evening… We may adopt it here, thanks and hopefully a wonderful and bee-right 2017 for you all.


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