European Honey Bees

European Honey Bees

Introducing the bees that pollinate our European -style vegies and flowers  around the farm house  – and the crops in the paddocks around us- the European Honey Bee and a particular need it has in its environment during a hot summer spell. 

photo of European Honey Bee drinking

 What is this bee doing in the photo above ? What sort of bee it is ?

If you’re not sure about the features of this bee that identify it as a European Honey Bees have a read about them at this Australian Museum webpage .

The European Honey Bees on our farm  are important for pollinating our vegetable garden, and the crops nearby. So its good to know when they live in a hive close by the  house.  Sphoto of bees at tap connectionometimes, they shift their hive. One year it was in the Yellow Gum to the west; another year, they left it and swarmed on the dirt of the vegie patch before relocating in a newer hollow in a Yellow Gum to the north, where they stayed for a summer.

photo of bees creating a pool to drink fromLast summer, I didn’t see where their hive was, but they still showed themselves close to the house – on the taps.

When the dam went dry this year, the only water around was in our garden, and sometimes in buckets.  Often I would scoop bees out when they had been trapped. When I was in time, they would sit on the ground  a little while to dry out, before flying away.  Often though, I was too late.

photo of bees drinking from water they have made run down a hoseIn the testing heat of this summer, I put out a shallow lid for them with a damp towel under the shade of the tree.  The ants seemed to like it, while the bees turned to something more to their liking – a tap, I had turned off!

When the hottest weather hit, many came up to this tap to get a drink for a couple of hours before dusk. Although the tap was turned off, they found a way in between the seals and got a trickle of water running.  There was  then  a constant buzz of them coming to drink until the sun went down.

Why would the bees need this water? We had temperatures over 40C and up to 45C repeatedly! We had air conditioning on in our homes and the bees needed it in theirs!  They use water for evaporative air conditioning and for thirsty nurse bees who had to keep the food coming for their young charges!  For more on this use of water by bees and how they do it, read Honey Bee Suites webpage

What else do bees need in an environment to live well – so we benefit from them? There is a lot about the life and environment of these bees in the world in these BBC wildlife videos.

Take a look around your garden so you can find out what the bees are doing that might surprise you too, like this drinking from the tap did for us!

return to the Biodiversity on our farm main page

page updated 5/5/2014


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