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Blog - Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids

On this blog for kids we look inside the hive and examine the fascinating life of honey bees. We learn about how bees live and take care of each other while they're busy making honey.   We also take a look at beekeepers and see how they work with their bees.   If you're curious about bee poop, why bees have pockets and where their teeth are, this blog is for you.

Bee-Magic Chronicles for Kids
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Yes, these queen bees are in cages but it's not at the zoo.I bet you're wondering why someone would put queen bees in cages. There's a really good reason.In early spring in Canada (April and May) the bees are slowly getting busy as the weather gets warm.Many beekeepers have hives with so many bees that they want to divide the hive. Beekeepers call it splitting or making splits. When they take the bees from one hive and separate them into two there's a small problem. There's only one queen.Bees can make a new queen (I'll tell you how they do that another time) but it takes over a month for a queen to grow up, hatch and mate.During that time the hive can't do very much. So many beekeepers purchase queens from Australia. In Australia the weather has been warmer and their queens are already grown up.Australian beekeepers put a queen in each cage to send to Canada.The queen can't travel alone, she's too important. The Australian beekeeper puts some ladies in waiting into the cage as well.The ladies will feed the queen, give her a drink of water, and will groom her fur. She can't arrive in Canada looking anything less than beautiful and nicely groomed.The cage has a small hole in one end. The beekeeper puts them into the cage and then plugs the hole with a cork plug. There's a hole in the other end too and it's plugged up with candy.The ladies in waiting will feed the candy to the queen while they wait to arrive at their new home.The bees will fly... but on a plane! Hundreds of queen cages are carefully packed in cardboard boxes for their trip.When they arrive they are tired and thirsty. At the airport the beekeeper puts droplets of warm water on a small square of cloth so the bees can sip it and quench their thirst.At the bee yard the queen can't just be put into the new hive in Canada. The bees don't know her or her special scent. If she was just placed in the hive, they might think she's an intruder and sting her.The cage is put into the new hive and the queen is safe in her cage. The bees will chew and chew on the candy to open the hole and let the queen out. By the time they finish eating the candy they will know the new queen and her special smell (call pheromones) and they will happily accept her in their hive as their queen.Do you think Australian queens buzz with an accent? Listen to the video of the bees in their cages (below).(Thanks to John at Oxford Honey & Supplies in Burgessville, Ontario for allowing me to photograph the queens).
Bee-Magic Chronicles for Kids
Do you ever have to help out at home? Would your parents ask you to help them clean?Bees like to keep their house (hive) clean.There are bees inside that are assigned the job to clean.These photos and video show bees cleaning outside the hive.They use their tongues like brooms and they sweep back and forth.If you watch the video you'll see it's almost like a dance as they move their heads back and forth in a steady rhythm.There's a saying: Many hands make light work. It's true that when more people help out the job gets done much faster.I guess the bees' saying would be that many tongues make light work.They understand the power of working together to get big jobs done.That's probably why your parents ask if you can help out to. It makes everyone's job easier.It's more fun to work when others are with you too.See the bees sweeping with their tongues in the video below.
Bee-Magic Chronicles for Kids
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Have you seen the Karate Kid movie? Karate has some really cool moves and so does this bee.She's a guard bee and she's striking her karate pose.What do you think she's saying? "Don't mess with me I'm protecting my hive." That's what she's saying.Compare the first photo to the second one of a standing bee pictured below.See the difference? The second bee is relaxed and just hanging around. She's not a guard bee.Guard bees have the job of protecting the the hive. They're like security guards.They have to check the ID of every bee that wants to come in the hive. They check ID by scent.Bees from the same hive all have the same smell. If you smell right then you can come in.When field bees fly back to the hive they'll go close to the guard bee. She'll turn her head, her antennae can sniff them.But if there's a problem and the hive has strangers coming by, maybe bees from other hives, a hornet or a wasp, the guards will stand back on their legs in an attack mode.If there's an emergency or danger from a bear, skunk, raccoon or some other creature the guard bees will release a chemical scent that tells the hive to attack. That's when more bees will come out and sting the intruder.The bees know that they make precious golden honey that many creatures want to eat.They guard their gold very well.

Here's some cool bee facts.

photo by Mark Lauterbach

For more details see Bee Facts and FAQ's.


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