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Bees Knees

In my continuing research of beekeeping, and to prep for my class this coming Saturday, I have discovered many fascinating facts on the little critters.

Bees have three pairs of legs, each with six segments.  The front ones are used for cleaning their antennae.  The middle pair is for walking and packing loads of pollen.  The hind pair is specialized in the worker bee and contains the pollen sacks behind their “knees.”  

The phrase, “bees knees” appears to have sprung from the Roaring 20s in America to denote something excellent.  The reference is to the sweet bounty they bring back to they hive.  

There are three types of bees in a hive.  The queen, whose job is to lay eggs and keep the hive populated.  She also emits pheromones that direct all the activities of the worker bees within the hive.  The worker bees are most numerous.  They do all the hive cleaning and repairs, care for the eggs, comb building,  pollen collecting and honey production.  The drones are the males who are tolerated and maintained solely for mating with a new queen.  They enjoy a life of leisure, only to die after the act of procreation.  

It is a highly developed society and the more I learn about it, I wonder why we don’t recognize and incorporate aspects of the bees’ social structure into our own society.  Not the dying after sex, perhaps, but the clear-cut stages of development and teamwork.  

As in all of nature, the hive survives through careful choreography and respect for each individual’s contribution.

Coincidentally, around the same time I started looking into beekeeping, my daughter, Hannah, in Northern California was also exploring the hobby.  She works for a feed store that is the only local source for beekeeping equipment. Hanni received her two pounds of bees just 10 days ago and has a jump start on me with her hive already installed.

Hanni and her bees

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