What can one say? This week has been busy as anything but I have had a few days where I decided not to do anything at all. Well, it was a combination of my wife’s father visiting us and, secondly, telling myself I need to have at least one day away from all the activities that winter time throws at an Apiarist. During this quiet time I decided to do something I normally do every day but haven’t done for a while. I sat back one afternoon and I looked at my beautiful girls in the late afternoon – they were rushing home before the winter sun left them, I could easily tell they were fully laden with pollen and nectar. Looking up while having a warm cup of tea with our honey in it reinforced why so many times I have been brought back to these beautiful creatures. I am sure that there are a few hobby bee keepers that follow us and I am sure they understand exactly the feeling that you get. In less than ten seconds watching them I got a natural high so powerful it relaxed my whole body and mind – it had nothing to do with the tea or the honey, wishful thinking I think from some though! It was fascinating to once again get down close to them and look at the two compound eyes which are full of smaller eyes, these are known as Ommatidia. These compound eyes are the exploration and observing eyes, but to the amateur the bees also have three smaller eyes known as Ocelli. They are located on the top of the bees head and are used for their navigation. (See picture) The eyes use the location of the sun and with the use of the compound eyes for landmarks they travel to and from from their food sources. Finally, before the light disappeared I gazed into the antennae of the bees. I have read many a paper on them and how they receive pheromones from the surrounding environment. If you look closely at bees entering a hive, or in a hive, you will notice that they even rub their antennae together. Amazing stuff.
From when I was little and being exposed to bees I have been totally fascinated by them. Since I could remember I have always handled them, I even used to pick them up by their wings to get a closer look and I hadn’t even started school at that time. On most occasions – due to my carelessness, plus lack of experience – I would be stung on my knuckles. I still remember my Grandmother placing Reckitt’s blue bags on my hands to help with the swelling. Being stung so many times I started to react slightly to the bee venom and to my father’s disgust my mother told him he could not keep bees at home. Sorry, Dad, about that one! Well, I guess I have followed in your footsteps somehow now due to having so many hives of my own. I have also gone off to University and studied Entomology and have worked for the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) for some years. I am slowly getting some of my notes together and over the next few months I will take everyone on a journey into the hive like they have never seen before. We’re really excited about the next honey flow and this new season which is nearly upon us. I am positive this season will bring with it a heap of new Urban Apiarists who will have an amazing passion for our girls. These new people will also bring new ideas and will experiment, thus ensuring the survival of these creatures who support every living creature on this planet.