Three Pounds of Honey Bees

As you might now, I am a huge fan of pollinators
and bees. And this past weekend, I got to watch a beekeeper as he set up a new hive,
and it was super awesome. So in this video, I’m going to show you a little bit of what
that entailed. Here’s a hint: there were three pounds of honey bees. Honey bee hives are amazing, complex things,
though on the surface they’re just a wooden box with a series of frames inside. The complexity
and amazingness really comes from the tiny, social insects that occupy them. Honey bees have been around for millions of
years, but the European honey bees that we keep in hives are not native to the United
States. As colonists traveled, they brought honey bees with them, establishing hives as
they went. As a result, there are now European honey bees all over the world. Like I said, the construction of a bee hive
isn’t that complicated. It’s a wooden box containing a series of frames, like this one. It’s essentially a wooden frame with piano
wire suspended across it to support the foundation. The foundation is the surface that the honeybees
will build their comb on. This one is made of beeswax, though some beekeepers will use
plastic. The frames sit vertically in the hive, so
that they can be removed to be checked on and also so that the caps on the honeycomb
can be removed later in the season to harvest the honey. This supply of honey is what honey bees use
as their food during the winter. They can’t go out and forage, so they’re completely reliant
the honey that they have to survive. Bees make honey from nectar. They also collect
and eat pollen, but only nectar is used to make honey. The foraging bees go and they
store nectar in their honey stomachs, and then return to the hive. In the hive, they
regurgitate that nectar, and use enzymes from their stomachs to turn it into honey. So, yes, basically, honey is honey bee vomit.
Delicious, sweet vomit. Please do not quote me on that. As I’ve discussed in previous videos, honey
bees are also really important pollinators, so there’s a lot of reasons that they’re important.
Honey is just the sweetest benefit. And that brings us back to hives. What I got
to witness this weekend was the establishment of a new hive. So what the beekeeper Peter
needed to do was set up a new hive, with fresh frames like the one I mentioned. All that
was missing, was the bees. So the first thing Pete needed to do was remove
the Queen. She’s shipped in the same container as the worker bees, but in her own individual
cage. It also contains a small layer of fondant, a sugary material that she and the workers
will eat through. She’ll emerge from that little cage in two to three days. You can
see that there are worker bees clustered around her, they’re attracted to the pheromones that
she gives off, and they’re being gently brushed off. Just rest that gently down in there. With the queen added to the hive, next the
worker bees have to be added. And really, there’s no graceful way to do this, so here’s
three pounds of honey bees being dumped into a hive, as gently as possible. So there’s my three pounds of bees. You can
see they’re all stuck in the top. Basically I’m just gonna put it in there. Tap them in, as delicately as one can tap
three pounds of bees. And try not to piss them off too much. Which is, you know, a tall order when you’re
pouring them out of a plastic container. Oh, is that? Yep, that’s wax they had started building. I guess they were stuck in there and they
were like “well we might as well.” Right. Um, so it’s not particularly graceful. Which, you know, understandably. So I’m going to get as many out as I can without
standing here for twenty minutes. Honey bees that are being transported like
this generally aren’t as aggressive because they don’t have a home to protect yet. So
even though they’ve flying around like mad, they’re not really going to hurt us unless
we piss them off. So the hope now is that those honey bees will
choose that hive as their home and begin building comb. You may have noticed a jar inside of
the hive, that’s sugar water, which will function as an initial food source for the bees, so
they can get the energy they need to build a lot of wax comb very quickly. It was really amazing getting to be that close
to honey bees, and watching them as they landed on the bee suit I was wearing. Experience
beekeepers will be able to read the mood of their hives, and of course they’ll sometimes
use smokers to calm them as they inspect the hives. But if you encounter honey bees in your day-to-day
activities, they really won’t do anything to hurt you unless you threaten their hive
or accidentally piss them off. I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into
the art of beekeeping. I’ll definitely be making more videos about different aspects
of beekeeping, because I really enjoyed this and really want to learn more. I also have an announcement to make, I’ve
started a Patreon page. If you’re not familiar with Patreon, Patreon is a way for viewers
to support creators who are creating free content. All of my content, blog posts, videos,
will remain free, but this is a way to help me get better equipment, travel to cooler
places and just make better videos. If you’re interested, you can click through to my Patreon
page, and there’s a video there that gives more information about how that works. And
if you can’t support me, that is totally fine, all of my content will still be here and you
can check out that page for updates. I created a Patreon because I really love
making these videos, and I’d like to make them sustainable and better. Thank you so
much for watching, don’t forget to like and subscribe, and I will see you next time. I got to watch a– *screeching noise*


  1. I have been a backyard beekeeper for years and that is the first plastic container for a bee package I have seen, lol. I follow your channel to learn more about plants so I can help my bees and to improve my plant selections around me because I want to do everything I can to help these awesome ladies. I also wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your video's and the way you present your information, makes it easy for a Botany wanna be like me to understand. Thanks 🙂

  2. Can you do a video explaining the biology of grapes. I know its a weird request but i think its fascinating how they are a vine as well as a fruit. PLEASE! Also keep up the good work!

  3. Hey, thanks for the mention in the credits! And props for pointing out the honey bees' status as non-natives. Any chance of a video about the biochemistry of photosynthesis?

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