Posted by Vi Hughes on Sep 07, 2021
This past week we were pleased to welcome Terry Vaughn, a local business woman (The Humble Bee) and bee keeper. Terry brought along a live observation hive that was buzzing with bees and gave a very engaging presentation on the lives of bees and their importance in the environment.
Terry, who is a former schoolteacher, and her husband Jeff, started bee keeping in 2016 after her husband was diagnosed with arthritis and found he could not tolerate many different kinds of foods, including nearly all sugars, with the exception of natural maple syrup and honey. Switching up his diet made a huge difference in his life, so he and Terry decided to go into the bee keeping business, both to supply their household with enough honey for their needs and as a profitable business. They now have twenty-six hives. Terry said that it was a very steep learning curve and they are still learning. Terry also shares her knowledge of bees by giving talks to local schoolchildren and other groups. They  make and sell honey (two thousand pounds this year) and bees wax products such as wax coated food wrappers and bees wax candles.
Terry says that bees are like babies, they take a lot of care and attention. In our climate they need hives made of material that can resist the extreme cold and keep the bees warm and dry thoughout the year. The bees need to keep their hive at a constant thirty five degrees in all weather and they also need to control the humidity in their hive in order to stay healthy. The outside of the each bee hive is painted in a different colour so the bees can find their way home. The only colour not used is red, as bees cannot see this colour.
The yearly cycle of a beehive starts in the spring when the queen bee can lay up to three thousand eggs a day. The eggs take twenty-one days to become adult bees. The worker bees (girl bees) do all the work in the hive from cleaning out empty cells to feeding and cleaning the queen, gathering nectar (honey) and pollen, making new cells, feeding the young and helping to maintain the constant temperature and humidity in the hive by fanning their wings. The drones (boy bees) only purpose is to fertilize the queen. The drones are killed off before winter as they are not needed again until spring. Queen bees live three to five years, worker bees only forty-five days in spring and summer and up to one hundred days in winter. By fall the queen is laying very few eggs and the hive is preparing for winter by filling and capping cells with honey and pollen to keep them over winter. The hive is still buzzing all winter long as the bees still raise a small number of young to replace those who die. They also need to go outside once in a while to do their business, as they will not go inside the hive. They will fly a short distance from the hive just long enough to do their business on warm winter days. The main threats to a hive are mites, moisture, humidity and starvation, especially in April before the flowers come into bloom. It is important for bee keepers to leave their hives with enough honey to last through the end of April.
Bees are the main pollinators of most of our native plants and agricultural crops. Bees will forage up to six kilometers out from their hive. They look for nectar and pollen from all kinds of plants, so no bee keeper can truly say their honey is only from one plant. They also need a clean safe source of water for drinking year round. Bees are an essential part of our ecosystem and we need to support them in every way we can. We would like to thank Terry for her very interesting and entertaining presentation.