Home Blog

How Do Bees Reproduce? A Sneak Peek Into Where and How the Magic Happens

Bees in their beehives

Discussions about human sexuality are sometimes referred to by the euphemism "the birds and the bees." This may sound like a cute and simplistic way of approaching a complex subject. But, the answer to how do bees reproduce is a dramatic story of life and death, of intricate mating patterns, and sophisticated gender determination.

How Do Bees Reproduce?

Bee reproduction is not only a complicated subject, but different species of bees have unique variations of the process. Honeybees follow similar breeding rituals whether they are living in hives of their own creation or in the hives of a beekeeper. The queen, drones, and worker bees all have unique roles to play in the process of conception, gestation, and birth. The life expectancy of each type of bee is determined by its role in the reproduction process and the ongoing life of the hive. Each role is a part of the mystery that answers the question of how do bees reproduce.

The Dramatic Mating Ritual

The Development of the Bees

The Role of the Queen Bee

Somewhere between the age of six and sixteen days, after emerging from the cell, the queen bee will make a mating flight. On this flight, she may encounter thousands of male bees or drones and actually will mate with anywhere from 10 to 20 of them. From this one mating flight episode, the queen will collect as many as 100 million sperms. Although she may live four or five years, this will be the only mating flight she makes. She will spend the rest of her life in the hive laying fertilized and unfertilized eggs.


The sperm is stored in the queen's oviduct. Eventually, the volume will be reduced to about five to six million sperm remaining in the spermatheca, where they will continue to fertilize a smaller number of eggs for as long as four or even five years. The young queen produces as many as 2000 eggs a day and will lay them in a highly organized pattern within the hive, placing a single egg in a cell of the honeycomb. As she ages, her production drops, and her laying pattern becomes more random. Each egg is approximately half the size of a grain of rice.

How the Queen Determines the Sex of Bees

Identifying the Queen

The Queen's Life Expectancy

The Work of the Drones

Drones can play a role in helping maintain the right temperature in the hive, but their primary mission is depositing their sperm in the sting chamber of the queen during the mating flight. If the queen's sting chamber is closed, the drone may ejaculate his sperm to no effect. If he is successful in placing his sperm in the chamber, he will experience a dramatic and sudden end of his life. 


The sperm moves so forcefully through the sting chamber into the oviduct of the queen bee that the intensity of this experience causes the drone's endophallus to rip off. It also rips open his stomach resulting in his immediate death. His role is essential to answer the question of how do bees reproduce

Drones Travel to Congregating Areas

Success Means Instant Death for the Drones

How the Worker Bees Help Reproduction

worker bees on the production

Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

The worker bees are female bees. They can lay eggs but these eggs will only produce drones or male bees. It is their job to provide the royal jelly that nourishes the eggs laid by the queen. Young worker bees serve as nurse bees in the hive, nourishing the larvae, and collecting honey from other worker bees whose primary job is foraging. As they age, their role includes cleaning out the cells after the larvae have developed into bees. They also move into the more physically demanding work of foraging.


Worker bees typically live six to seven weeks in the spring and summer months. Winter worker bees live slightly longer because they tend to have larger bodies and more reserve strength. In cold conditions, the worker bees help to maintain warmth in the hive to protect the queen. These same bees will expel drones from the hive before winter sets in to control the food demands in the hive.

Conclusion

bees production on bee farm

Image via Pexels

How do bees reproduce? The answer is a combination of amazing mating dynamics, unique and specific roles in the bee colony, and built-in intelligence that assures the continued growth and stability of the hive population.

Featured Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

Bring a Taste of Honey to the City With 10 Things You Need to Know About Urban Beekeeping

urban beekeeping: person collecting honey

City dwellers often feel the pull of nature and look for ways to connect with plant and animal life through a variety of hobbies. Indoor plants, patio plants, water gardens, aquariums and fishbowls, terrariums, and herb gardens are just some ways people satisfy the urge to nurture growing things. Urban beekeeping is a fascinating activity that shows a special level of commitment to establishing that connection with nature. 

Beekeeping has interested people for thousands of years. Bees can do much of the activity all by themselves, but by providing the right environment and structures, the beekeeper harnesses the work of the bees in a way that leads to the harvesting of honey. Beekeeping is an engrossing hobby that produces honey, beeswax, and honeycomb; helps promote pollination; and encourages the growth of the bee population.

What Is Urban Beekeeping?

Urban beekeeping, much like the words suggest, is beekeeping in a city or town. But it is more than a location; it is a whole style of beekeeping that may look very different from the rural beekeeping operations that dot the countryside. Urban beekeeping can range from a grouping of hives in a corner of a back yard to a hive or two set on the rooftop of an apartment building. Some people place their hives in communal garden settings.

Can You Beekeep in the City?

Yes, of course, you can beekeep in the city. But an equally important question is may you beekeep in your city? The answer to that question usually is yes, but there may be a variety of hoops to go through to get started beekeeping in your city or town. The first step to taking up urban beekeeping is to find out the rules in your area that will regulate your beekeeping activities. In many locales, the only requirement is to provide notice that you have a beekeeping setup. But knowing upfront what the rules are and following them will help you avoid future problems.

urban beekeeping: insect bees flying

Source: Pexels

10 Tips for Effective Urban Beekeeping

1. Choose a Location

There is a lot to learn to get started as a beekeeper. If you are serious about doing it and don't live in the country, you need to study the options available to you. The first step is to find out if there are any limitations in your town or city. But even if there are restrictions, your dreams of becoming a beekeeper can still come true. The most convenient location will be right where you live, and if it is legal to keep bees there, that should be your first choice. That way, you will be nearby when the bees need attention and you won't miss the interesting dynamic of life in the beehive.

yellow bee on white flower on selective focus photography

Source: Pexels

But maybe you will have to establish your operation in another setting away from where you live. Community gardens are a possibility. Borrowing a small space of land from someone is another. This could be a win-win for you and the landowner, especially once the honey starts flowing and you starting sharing it.

Some flat-roofed commercial buildings, as well as high-rise rooftops, make great places for urban gardens and urban beehives. Some restaurants use their rooftop space to produce their own honey as part of the ambiance of the establishment.

2. Follow the Rules, Get the Permits

You will enjoy peace of mind if you take the time to find out the rules in your area and then follow them. In most places, the rules are not difficult, but there are likely to be some, If you live somewhere that doesn't allow an urban beekeeping operation, you may want to get involved in the process of changing those rules. Education about the value of what beekeepers do and how bees can be managed safely in an urban environment may be what's needed to get permission.

3. Join With Others

Established beekeepers are a wealth of knowledge and information. In some places, there are associations of beekeepers who meet to discuss topics of mutual interest. This kind of organization is an amazing resource for a beginner. People are often generous in sharing their experience. Starting an urban beekeeping venture doesn't need to be a lonely activity. If you don't find an organization, resources such as the county extension agent, the staff of a local farm and ranch store, or the library can be helpful to put you in touch with other beekeepers and beekeeping resources. Your research into getting started in beekeeping will almost surely take you to online resources. These are not a replacement for a human advisor but will be very helpful.

4. Choose a Hive Style

urban beekeeping animal world apiary beehive bees

Source: Pexels

There are two main styles of hive used in today's beekeeping — the Langstroth hive and the top bar hive. The Langstroth is by far the most popular. But here is where your local beekeeping network will be important. You will want to choose the style in use where your resources are. Much of the advice and consultation you will need to get started and to go through all the phases of hive management will be related to the style of hive you are using. Experts recommend starting with two hives. This will give you a point of comparison between the two and a way to identify possible problems more quickly. There is a lot to learn and having two hives will give you twice the experience at the same time.

5. Get the Right Gear

Before you set up your hive or hives and move the bees in, you want to have the safety gear and tools you need to be a good hive manager. A jacket, hood, and gloves are essential, as well as a smoker for use in calming and controlling the bees and the tools you need to move frames within the hive. You can anticipate spending around $100 for things you need in addition to hives and bees. Your friendly advisors will know where to get the best deals and may even have some equipment to lend. You want to avoid accepting any supplies or equipment that might introduce any contamination into your operation.

women standing on the grass while holding a bucket

Source: Pexels

The bees themselves are an important purchase decision. Here you want no bargains. You want to be sure that the bees come from a good source with a track record of healthy bees. Most of the work of the hive is done by the bees, so you want to start out with a crew who will get the job done.

6. Buy Your First Hives

It is possible to build your own hive, and if you are a serious do-it-yourselfer, you may be committed to doing everything on your own. But experienced beekeepers recommend waiting to tackle this kind of carpentry project until you know what you are looking for in a hive. It is also the kind of step that can hold up the whole process of getting started. Once you have a hive or hives and the bees, adding hives can be done on a leisurely basis that gives you plenty of time to tackle the project. Well-meaning advisors may offer you hives they are no longer using. It is a good idea to avoid using hand-me-down hives as your first venture into beekeeping. They may carry some disease or contaminant. Starting with new hives will give you the assurance that you are starting out with a sanitary home for the bees.

7. Control the Environment

The space available to you for urban beekeeping is likely to be somewhat limited compared to that available to your rural beekeeping friends. If you have a yard, creating space for a hive should not be difficult. You will want it to offer some relief from the sun at the hottest time of the year. You can direct the pattern of activity into and out of the hive by positioning shrubs and fencing in such a way that the bees automatically fly over them. This is a way to train the bees to fly in a pattern where they may be less likely to encounter people in the area. In a yard where there are children playing, you will want to place the bees where they are unlikely to be disturbed and where the kids won't be bothered by the bees. Plantings are one way to set boundaries for the hives.

If you are placing your hive on a rooftop, you need to secure the hive so it won't be blown down or even off the roof in strong winds. In some cities, rooftop gardens have become popular. Herbs and produce are sometimes grown either by residents of the building or by a restaurant in the building. Rooftop beehives are sometimes used to produce the honey for a restaurant located many floors below.

Bees need flowers to make pollen. You can provide a floral environment that might keep your bees at home or you can count on your bees' natural ability to find the flowers they need. Bees can travel up to five miles to gather the pollen they need, so a new beekeeper should not worry too much about providing a source for pollen. The bees will find what they need.

8. Anticipate Problems

Once everything is set up in a beekeeping operation, the bees tend to business and, at least for a while, everything seems to go smoothly. There might not be much for the beekeeper to do. But bees and beehives are complex. Many things can go wrong. Predatory insects may invade a hive. Humid weather can create the right conditions for mold formation. Bees can swarm. All of these possibilities require awareness and preparation. You don't want to be taken by surprise by a setback that could have been anticipated.

It is your responsibility not only to take care of the bees but also to handle your bees in a way that presents no danger to your family and neighbors. In a setting where you live in close proximity to other people, you should recognize that people can be very ignorant about bees. You should not assume that your neighbors are as excited about your beekeeping as you are. Bees can and do sting, although not nearly as often as people might think. Letting your neighbors know what you are doing and how you are handling your bees can go a long way toward creating a positive attitude in the neighborhood.

A swarm can be a frightening experience and yet it is a possible event that you need to be ready for. Beekeeping guidebooks are a good help here as well as the advice of experienced beekeepers. Having conversations with them will help you have a plan for how you will handle problems.

9. Enjoy the Harvest

Once your urban beekeeping operation is established, you need to be ready to handle the harvest. Gathering the honey from the hives is an exciting process. Your space in an urban setting may be somewhat limited. You will need to find or create a clean spot, perhaps in a basement or garage, where you can extract the honey away from the bees. You will learn quickly just how sticky honey is and how easily it can get on everything in sight. You might not want the neighborhood gathered to watch your first harvest.

This will be a time of discovery, of seeing all that the bees have produced in the hive you provided. You need to be prepared for the quantity of honey that will be produced by your hive or hives. Depending on the size of the hive box, the yield may be between 25 and 40 pounds or between two and four gallons per hive. You will need containers to handle those volumes.

honey jars harvest bees frame

Source: Pixabay

This is a process where some extra, experienced hands could be most welcome. There are a lot of little things about this phase, about how much honey might still be held in the caps, how to get it all out, what to do with the beeswax, and how to get everything back into the hives once the harvesting is done. Simple steps will help you to filter the honey and get it ready for bottling.

10. Share the Wealth

Once in the jar or bottle, the honey is pure liquid gold. You now have the perfect tool for allaying any anxieties your family or neighbors may have expressed about having bees in the neighborhood.

Conclusion

Is urban beekeeping a good idea? The answer is a resounding yes. Some studies even suggest that bees may be healthier in an urban setting. Bees do not seem to be bothered by urban noise or pollution. A beekeeping operation can be set up in a very small space. It is possible to increase the number of hive boxes by expanding upward on the original footprint. 

This is not a casual hobby that someone tries and abandons. The person who wants to keep bees in the city is likely to be serious about doing it right. Urban beekeeping produces many pluses. It is a fascinating activity to study and observe. Providing habitat for bees can help the population of bees increase. Bee populations have been dwindling. Your hobby can help assure that needed pollination occurs. And, best of all, it produces the delicious, healthy product of honey.

Bees Wrap Review: A Plastic Wrap Alternative Brought to Your Kitchen by Bees

Bees

At its advent, plastic seemed to be a miracle; it can be shaped into nearly anything and created in a variety of ways to provide a plethora of potential uses. Our shoes, cars, Tupperware—many of the things we use daily rely on plastic. However, plastic is now known to have a negative impact on our environment and our health. The prevalence of plastic in our society and the need for plastic alternatives has prompted us to do a Bees Wrap review.

Bees Wrap replaces the all-too-disposable plastic wrap that has become essential for food preservation in most people's households. Not only do you avoid using plastic, but Bees Wrap is made from beeswax, so you are supporting an apiary with your purchase. By extension, you are supporting flowers and life as we know it on Earth.

Why do we need a product like Bees Wrap? For one, we have manufactured so much plastic that there is now plastic in the water. We have so much plastic in our water that we need to put filtered water into plastic bottles, which only ends up filling the earth with more plastic. This destructive cycle must be broken. Space in our landfills is not infinite, and plastic is not in the habit of biodegrading. That is why we are happy to present our Bees Wrap review.

In this review, we will present you with four solid alternatives to plastic wrap that rely on eco-friendly technologies. You may be surprised and impressed to learn nature can provide an answer to something so synthetic as plastic wrap.

No products found.

The Bees Wrap Review Process

After scouring the nearly infinite eco-friendly plastic wrap alternatives on the internet, we narrowed our list down to just Bees Wrap and three of its top competitors. Each of these competitors ought to help you draw a picture of what the eco-friendly alternative plastic wrap market has to offer.

For each item in our Bees Wrap review, we highlighted what makes the product special and then scored it according to our plastic wrap alternative criteria. Each entry was scored according to its price point, how easy it is to use, the design and material quality, efficacy, and what sort of warranty or guarantee is offered. Stick around until the end to learn how Bees Wrap compared to its competitors.

We will discuss each entry in turn and even link you to places where these items can be purchased, but first, let us answer some questions about the star of the show.

What Is Bees Wrap?

Bees Wrap is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap, manufactured by the Bees Wrap Company. It is made using all-natural, sustainable, and renewable materials that primarily come from bees. This means that Bees Wrap is not only fun to use but also a safer alternative to traditional plastic wrap, as it will not impart synthetic chemicals to your food.

We were impressed that Bees Wrap is from a renewable source, especially because the individual sheets of Bees Wrap are reusable. You read that correctly; Bees Wrap provides a reusable solution to plastic wraps that have to be constantly purchased.

Sure, technically, some plastic wrap can be reused, but this seriously stretches the definition of the term. The plastic never seems to stretch the same after it has been pulled over a food item or plate. The second stretching almost always ends up sticking to itself, if it doesn't just disintegrate entirely.

Good luck trying to reuse plastic wrap that has covered a pie or a lasagna. You will almost certainly reach for a second sheet rather than attempt to clean the whipped topping or stringy cheese out of the plastic crimps and crevices.

But how can a product mostly made of beeswax act like plastic? The secret is in the palm of your hands—literally. You use the heat of your own hands to mold the Bees Wrap around the item you wish to preserve. Once it cools, the Bees Wrap keeps its shape.

You can easily use Bees Wrap to surround loose berries into a bag. You can create a barrier between your apple and the outside world. You can even use it to cover the tops of bowls like a one-size-fits-all Tupperware lid. The possibilities are nearly endless for replacing the plastic in your life.

To wash Bees Wrap, all you have to do is to run the dirty sheet under warm water and gently scrub it with a mild dish soap. After that, all you have to do is let the Bees Wrap air dry.

Product Specs

Bees Wrap is composed of organic cotton muslin, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. Both beeswax and jojoba oil convey antibacterial properties, meaning they naturally help your food stay fresh and your home to stay bacteria free. These properties elongate the life of the Bee's Wrap and the food you preserve with it.

Bees Wrap comes in two types of sets: a medium three-piece set which comes with 10-inch by 11-inch wraps, or a large three-piece set, which comes with 13-inch by 14-inch wraps that are more suited to whole lunches and bigger fruits.

Pricing

Bees Wrap can be purchased for around $18, depending on the size of the wraps you prefer. The bigger ones cost slightly more. The other alternatives to plastic wrap that use eco-friendly materials can usually be purchased for around the same price. These products cost about twice as much as a roll of plastic wrap, but they can end up saving you and the planet many rolls of plastic wrap down the line.

Compared to the price of Bees Wrap, some competitors asked slightly less for their product, while others asked slightly more. As such, we used the price of Bees Wrap as the median for our Bees Wrap review, giving it a price rating of $$. The products that asked a higher price received a price rating of $$$, and those which could be purchased for less than the cost of Bees Wrap received a price rating of $.

How It Compares

honeycomb

Image via Pixabay

For our Bees Wrap review, we chose three worthy competitors and rated each on a five-star scale in each category. The competitors featured in our Bees Wrap review include:

  • Eney Premium Beeswax Wraps
  • Homelux Theory Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags
  • Envirogen Reusable Storage Bags

No products found.

Price: $$

  • Ease of Use
  • Effectiveness
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

4/5 Stars

We found that Bees Wrap not only worked as well as plastic wrap, but in certain respects, it did better. Fruits wrapped in Bees Wrap lasted longer than those in plastic. It performed just as well when used for meats, but Bees Wrap states they do not recommend using their product for meat.


No products found.

If you thought Bees Wrap was an attractive item in an attractive package, wait until you see the Premium Beeswax Wraps provided by Eney. This product looked so good in an Etsy-like package, that we just had to include it as a competitor in this Bees Wrap review.

The Eney Premium Beeswax Wraps performs almost identically to Bees Wrap, as this technology is too old to be proprietary. One thing we love about Eney's beeswax wraps is that they can be repaired if you handle them a little too roughly and end up with a tear. Eney sells their own wax, which works perfectly to repair tears in their wraps.

While the concept of beeswax wraps that are easy to repair is appealing, we found this to be the undoing of the Eney Premium Beeswax Wraps. Why? It almost seems to be a conflict of interest. Can we trust a company who stands to profit every time their product fails? Maybe, but we prefer a product that doesn't cause us to ponder this question.

Everything you can do with Bees Wrap, you can do with Eney Premium Beeswax Wraps. The two products even sell for about the same price point. However, if you are looking for a longer-term solution to your plastic wrap woes, then Bees Wrap might offer longer durability.

Price $$

  • Ease of Use
  • Effectiveness
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

5/5 Stars

We found that Eney Premium Beeswax Wraps were just as easy to use as the Bees Wrap we were comparing them against.


No products found.

The next competitor in our Bees Wrap review is Homelux Theory with their reusable silicone food storage bags. Silicon may not be the first substance you think of for sustainability, but it is one of the most abundant elements in the universe. Homelux Theory Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags take advantage of this ubiquity to provide reusable, sealable food storage.

If you are looking for a reusable solution to constantly throwing away Ziplocks, this is a great option. Unlike Bees Wrap and the Eney Premium Beeswax Wraps, you do not have to shape the wax with your hands to have a usable food storage option. However, we missed the tactile experience of sculpting the Bees Wrap sheets.

Price $$$

  • Ease of Use
  • Effectiveness
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

5/5 Stars

These reusable bags come with a shocking lifetime warranty. Try getting a lifetime warranty out of your Ziplocks!


No products found.

The last competitor in our Bees Wrap review is Envirogen. Envirogen offers their answer to Homelux Theory's Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bags in the form of reusable storage bags of their own. This product is not made with silicone, but with PEVA free from BPA, PVC, and lead.

Potentially, this works just as well as the silicone, and all our tests indicated that it is more or less equal to Homelux Theory's product in terms of food preservation. However, there is no telling when PEVA might be flagged as a potential health hazard for humans. After all, think about how long that BPA was used in our products.

Price $$$

  • Ease of Use
  • Effectiveness
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

3/5 Stars

These do not come with a warranty, but they do come with a satisfaction guarantee.


Conclusion

Ultimately, when we considered price, ease, effectiveness, quality, and warranty, we have to award our “best of the best” to Bees Wrap. Few items look as good as it does, but even fewer items feel as good as Bees Wrap does. However, for reducing the amount of plastic floating in the ocean, all these products are winners.

Featured Image via Pexels

The 10 Best Beekeeping Books For Aspiring Apiarists

a stack of the books

​Whether you're setting up your first hive or you've spent years tending to bees and harvesting their honey, you need resources that you can turn to when you have a beekeeping question or encounter an obstacle. Connecting with other beekeepers is a great way to further develop your skills as an apiarist, and websites can help answer basic questions. The best beekeeping books, though, also play an important role in helping apiarists of all levels stay current. Our guide to the best beekeeping books for apiarists will help you settle on a few great additions to your library.

Comparison Table

Product FAQ

1. With So Much Information Available On The Internet, What Are The Advantages Of Using A Beekeeping Book?

The internet is filled with information about bees and beekeeping, and websites will likely serve as a resource for many apiarists. However, having a good book or two on bees is also important. Books, particularly lightweight ones, are great because you can take them with you when you're working with your hives, ensuring that you have a handy reference while out in the field and away from the internet. The best beekeeping books often are also more in-depth than many websites.

​2. Do Beekeeping Books Ever Become Outdated?

The best beekeeping books stand the test of time and rarely become outdated. Beekeeping relies on techniques and equipment that have been around for generations, so there's little chance that a beekeeping book will quickly become out of date.

3. What Should I Look For In A Bee Book?

​The best beekeeping books will answer the questions you have today and will also be advanced enough that you'll be able to turn to them for years to come. Because pictures and diagrams can help you understand the more complicated aspects of beekeeping and its equipment, it's also a good idea to look for an illustrated book. Finally, glance over any beekeeping book you're considering purchasing to make sure it's written in a style that is easy to understand and follow.

4. What Kinds Of Beekeeping Books Are Available?

book

​Image Source: www.amazon.com

​There are a wide variety of beekeeping books available. Some cover a broad range of bee topics, everything from the history of bees to how to set up and maintain a hive, and function primarily as handbooks.

Other bee books focus on the bees themselves, examining how the hive works and why bees swarm. Even others include publications that primarily serve as coffee table books. These books are heavy on color photographs and are geared less toward active beekeepers and more toward those who have a general appreciation for bees and other insects.

5. Why Do Some Bee Books Contain Recipe And Craft Information?

​Many beekeepers, particularly those new to beekeeping, often look for ways to put the honey and beeswax they produce to use. Many of the best beekeeping books, therefore, include a chapter of two featuring recipes and instructions for incorporating honey and beeswax into craft projects and household items such as candles and beauty supplies.

6. Are Most Beekeeping Books Aimed At Apiarists?

​Many of the best beekeeping books are aimed at apiarists with varying levels of experience, but apiarists aren't the only ones who enjoy and benefit from the best beekeeping books. Backyard gardeners, naturalists, and other nature lovers are among the other groups of individuals who gravitate toward bee books.

7. What's The Best Beekeeping Book For  A Beginning Apiarist?

book

​Image Source: www.amazon.com

If you're a beginning apiarist in search of a reference book, look for one that includes information about the basics of setting up a hive, maintaining it, and harvesting honey and beeswax. The best beekeeping books will also explain what equipment you'll need and how to use it. It's also a great idea to find a book that covers some basic information about the bees themselves, what their life cycle is, why they swarm, and how they function.

Armed with a better understanding of bees, you'll be more successful as a beekeeper. If you're a beginning apiarist, you may want to aim for finding two or three books that will collectively answer your questions and walk you through the process of establishing your hives.

How We Reviewed The Best Beekeeping Books

When evaluating the best beekeeping books, we took a range of factors into consideration, including the readability of the book and its comprehensiveness. Beekeeping books have varying degrees of scope. Some function as broad handbooks, while others drill down on specific aspects of bees and beekeeping. As we compiled our list of the best beekeeping books, we looked for publications that would be useful to apiarists of all levels of experience.

Overall Price Range Of The Best Beekeeping Books

The best beekeeping books range in price from $10 to $80, and can be found in physical bookstores or on online marketplaces like Amazon. The more expensive books tend to have more-comprehensive material, including detailed information about various types of bees and full-color photographs and diagrams.

What We Reviewed

  • ​The Beekeeper's Bible
  • ​The Backyard Beekeeper
  • The Beekeeper's Bible: Bee's, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses
  • Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need To Make Your Hive Thrive
  • ​Beekeeping For Dummies
  • ​The Bee Book
  • ​The Beekeeper's Problem Solver
  • ​The Bees in Your Backyard
  • Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive!
  • The Beekeeper's Handbook

The Beekeeper's Bible


Features

A beautifully illustrated book that covers a wide range of topics, The Beekeeper's Bible is considered a classic among apiarists. This 416-page book by Richard ones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch covers the history of bees and beekeeping, the practicalities of beekeeping, and how to harvest honey and beeswax.

The Beekeeper's Bible also contains detailed instructions on how to use honey to make everything from candles and furniture polish to beauty products to baked goods and other cookery. This book, which is part-history book, part-beekeeper guide, and part-cookbook, is a great reference for apiarists of all skill levels. It also makes a great gift for those interested in beekeeping or conservation.

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

​The Backyard Beekeeper


Features

The Backyard Beekeeper is a great choice for beginning beekeepers. This 240-page book starts at the very beginning of the beekeeping process and spells out the details of caring for a hive in a practical, easy-to-follow format. The illustrated book ends with “25 Rules for Modern Beekeeping,” which on its own is a helpful resource. The Backyard Beekeeper is written by Kim Flottum, the longtime editor of Bee Culture magazine, where he answers questions of all stripes from beginning, intermediate, and advanced beekeepers.

This book is ideal for gardeners, apiarists, crafters, and cooks looking for ways to incorporate honey into recipes.

Price: $

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

The Beekeeper's Bible: Bee's, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses


Features

The Beekeeper's Bible: Bee's, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses, by Richard Jones, is about how to keep bees in a natural environment without the use of pesticides. This 670-page book is the first installment in a 3-volume series and is aimed at those who are new to natural beekeeping. The second and third books in this series also deal with natural beekeeping, but are aimed at apiarists with intermediate and advanced levels of experience.

This series advocates for a hands-off approach to keeping bees, and it presents techniques that have been refined over the years through experimentation and adjustments. It is ideal for beekeepers interested in a natural approach and in less conventional beekeeping techniques.

Price: $$

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need To Make Your Hive Thrive


Features

Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need To Make Your Hive Thrive is a thoroughly researched book that dives into the topic of bees and what happens when they swarm. Written by animal behaviorist Thomas D. Seeley, this scientific book looks at the process that unfolds each year as colonies of bees select new homes and move into them.

Honeybee Democracy focuses less on beekeeping and more on the bees themselves. It makes a great gift for beekeepers and naturalists.

Price: $$

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

​Beekeeping For Dummies


Beekeeping For Dummies (For Dummies (Lifestyle))
  • Howland Blackiston
  • For Dummies
  • Kindle Edition

Features

Beekeeping For Dummies takes a humorous and straightforward approach to the subject of keeping bees. Written in the traditional “Dummies” style, this 480-page book is easy and fun to read, but it still thoroughly covers all aspects and details of beekeeping.

This book is ideal for beginning apiarists and for those who want a thorough introduction to beekeeping in an easy-to-read format.

Price: $

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

​The Bee Book


Features

The Bee Book, by DK Publishing, examines beekeeping, as well as topics like how to attract bees and which flowers to plant to extend honey production.

This 224-page book has exceptionally strong illustrations, including schematic drawings and diagrams, that walk readers through the process of establishing a hive and eventually harvesting it. In addition to practical beekeeping techniques, The Bee Book offers guidance on how to use honey and beeswax when making candles, beauty products, and other items. The visual aspects of this book make it equally suitable as a coffee table book.

Price: $$

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

​The Beekeeper's Problem Solver

The Beekeeper's Problem Solver: 100 Common Problems Explored and...
  • James E. Tew
  • Publisher: Quarry Books
  • Paperback: 224 pages

Features

As its name implies, The Beekeeper's Problem Solver is a practical book that addresses many of the common challenges and questions beekeepers have. This book, written by James E. Tew, takes on 100 different questions beekeepers may have and explores the underlying cause of each before offering a detailed answer.

This 224-page book is a useful resource for apiarists of all levels. Photos, diagrams, and useful tips make this a practical book to take with you when troubleshooting hive issues.

Price: $$

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

The Bees In Your Backyard


The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees
  • The Bees in Your Backyard A Guide to North America S Bees
  • Joseph S. Wilson, Olivia J. Messinger Carril
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press

Features

The Bees in Your Backyard is a 288-page coffee table book that documents the roughly 4,000 different species of bees in North America. The Bees in Your Backyard, written by Joseph S. Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril, dispels many myths surrounding bees and beekeeping and offers tips for identifying the various types of bees. The book contains 900 full-color photographs of bees and gives detailed accounts of every bee family and genus.

This is a great choice for those who want a detailed reference guide or for those who appreciate a comprehensive collection of bee photographs. Whether someone's interested in beekeeping or just likes nature-watching, it makes a great gift.

Price: $$

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need To Make Your Hive Thrive!


Features

The Beginning Beekeeping takes an almost-encyclopedic approach to everything you need to know about bees. With more than 900 pages and more than 1,000 photos, this book is a staple on the shelves of serious apiarists. Written by ALPHA and Tanya Phillips, this book covers honey bees, beekeeping, and beekeeping practices and equipment.

It is a handy reference book that apiarists of all levels will find useful. With a comprehensive overview of bee culture that not only describes practices, but also details the reasons for them, this book is ideal for anyone seriously considering beekeeping as a hobby or even business.

Price: $$$

Where To Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

The Beekeeper's Handbook


The Beekeeper's Handbook
  • Diana Sammataro, Alphonse Avitabile
  • Publisher: Comstock Publishing Associates
  • Edition no. 4 (05/13/2011)

Features

The Beekeeper's Handbook by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile, examines the history and science behind the lost pastime of hunting bees. Although it offers a thorough treatment on the subject of bee hunting, this 184-page book also serves as a meditation on the beauty of the natural world. Much like The Bees in Your Backyard, Following the Wild Bees will be just as much of interest to those serious about hunting bees as to naturalists.

Price: $

This can be found in Amazon.

Where To Buy

The Verdict

​The Beekeeper's Bible is one of the best beekeeping books available. We loved this book for its beautiful illustrations and its comprehensive approach to a wide range of bee topics, including the history of bees, life in colonies, and the ins and outs of beekeeping. As a bonus, the final chapter of The Beekeeper's Bible includes information on how to incorporate honey and beeswax into home cooking and crafts. Easy to read and moderately-priced, this book is considered a classic among apiarists and is a great resource for beekeepers with all levels of experience.

How Long Do Bees Live? A Look At Their Life Span

How long do bees live? A few days, a few weeks? Even longer? Insects often have varying lifespans, so it is not always clear how long one lives, and this is no different for bees. Whether you’ve got a beehive in your back yard that you’re keeping an eye on, are doing research for a project, or just have some genuine curiosity about our bee friends, you’re in the right place. This article will cover everything from different types of bees and factors that can affect their lifespan to their main life stages. By the end, you should have all the buzz you need on bees and then some.

A Brief Look at Bees

In recent years, there has been some anxiety surrounding bees. Plain and simple, bees are an extremely important part of the world’s ecosystem. They’re so important, in fact, that the high rate of bee decline and their potential to become extinct in the near future could spell out disaster for all other life on earth. This is because bees – the honey bee specifically – are the world’s most important pollinators. Without them, humans and animals would not have any of the food we need to survive. These foods include:

  • Honey
  • Tree fruits – apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, lines, plums, lemons
  • Other fruits – bananas, melons, mangos, grapes
  • Berries – strawberries, blackberries, cranberries
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Tea plants
  • Nuts – almonds, cashews, coconut
  • Seeds
  • Beans – green beans, lima beans, kidney beans
  • Vegetables – broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Chocolate
  • Sugarcane

With this in mind, we must know what is putting our bees at risk, how to help them, and what a normal, healthy lifespan looks like for these creatures.

Types of Bees

One answer to the “How long do bees live?” question is “It depends.” Certain factors can affect a bee’s lifespan like the type of bee it is. Different bees have different functions, which means one’s lifespan might differ from another’s depending upon what the bee does.

Honey Bee

Honey bees in thier hiveVia Pixabay

Honey bees are known as “superorganisms” due to their well-organized and highly efficient colonies. In fact, a honey bee colony can be made up of between 50,000-60,000 bees, all with their different roles to keep the hive running. There are several types of honey bee with different functions, and each may have a different lifespan. What’s more, the time of year a honey bee is born can also affect how long the bee lives. For example, worker bees born in the spring and summer usually have shorter but busier lives, while bees born in autumn have longer, albeit harsher, lives due to their having to endure the winter. Here’s a breakdown of each type of honey bee.

Queen Honey Bee

A healthy queen honey bee could live for 4 or 5 years, so long as she is free from disease and living in a safe environment. Since the queen is highly favored amongst the colony, she is always protected, which helps extend her lifespan even more. However, if a honey bee queen is no longer favored by the colony, she may be removed by the worker bees. When this happens, a new queen is produced, and the old queen is replaced in a process called “supersedure.”

Worker Bee

The lifespan of a worker honey bee is dependent on the season in which they are born. Worker bees born and raised during the spring or summer can live for 6-7 weeks. These weeks are usually incredibly busy as the workers are fitted with a variety of tasks. They have to feed larvae, produce honeycomb, collect nectar and pollen, and feed the colony at large.

Worker honey bees born and raised in the autumn, however, do not have to care for larvae since the queen stops producing eggs during this time. During the autumn and winter months, then, worker bees usually huddle around the queen to keep her warm. They stay this way until they are ready to emerge in the spring to begin foraging for food, nectar, and pollen. In total, worker bees born during the latter half the year can live between 4 and 6 months.

Drone Bee

Drone honey bees are known to live for up to 4 months. On the lower end of the lifespan, however, they can survive for just a few weeks. Drones are the bees responsible for mating with the queen to produce more eggs. After mating with the queen, drones immediately die.

Bumble Bee – Differences

Bumble bee on a white flowerVia Pixabay

It is important to note that bumblebees differ from honey bees in a few key ways: appearance, temperament, longevity, and nest/colony location. Let’s run through the differences:

Appearance

While honey bees are more slender, have little body hair, and have translucent wings, bumblebees are much larger and more “robust” in appearance. They have more hairs on their bodies, are usually colored yellow, orange, and black, and have thicker, darker wings. The tip of their abdomen is also rounded while the abdomen of a honey bee is pointed.

Temperament

While both honey bees and bumblebees are not overly aggressive, both will sting to defend themselves and their colony. The biggest difference is that a honey bee will sting only once (and usually die immediately after) while a bumblebee can sting multiple times; so watch out!

Longevity

While a honey bee queen can live for 4 or 5 years, that is not the case with bumblebee queens. These queens typically live for just one year.

Nest/Colony Location

If you see a hive above ground, chances are you’re looking at a honey bee colony. Bumblebees tend to make their nests underground. While some do nest above ground, bumblebees most commonly live at ground level.

Bumblebee Types

A bumble bee on yellow flowerVia Pixabay

Queen Bumble Bee

A queen bumble bee will spend part of her year-long life in hibernation. New queens usually emerge during the late summer or early autumn and will complete their full lifespan if disease, predators, or pesticides do not bring harm. After emerging, the queen will mate and feed to store fat for the winter.

Worker Bumble Bee

The lifespan of a worker bumblebee can last anywhere between two to six weeks. The length of life depends on the species, but other factors may come into play as well. Like honey bees, when the bee is born can play a role in how long or short their lifespan is. In addition to that, most worker bumblebees with nest duties tend to live longer than those who are tasked with foraging. This is because these bumblebees are more exposed to predators, weather conditions, and human interference.

Of course, bumblebees are equipped to withstand most conditions. They do not sting unless provoked, which can help them fight off predators. If they are caught in the rain or heat, they may need a quick rest or a drink of water before going about their business. If a human gets in the way, they may be able to defend themselves with their stingers or avoid the threat altogether.

How Long Do Bees Live?

So, how long do bees live? The answer is anywhere from two weeks to five years, depending on the type of bee and its role in life. But, what about the natural life cycle of a bee? All bees, whether drone, worker, or queen, go through four key stages. These key stages are the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Let’s take a look at them in a bit more depth.

The Stages of a Bee’s Lifespan

A dying bee on a black backgroundVia Pixabay

Egg

A bee’s life begins when its egg is laid and hatched by the queen. During this life stage, the digestive system, nervous system, and outer covering of the bee are formed. Each type of bee has a different timeline between hatching and adulthood. For queens, the process takes 16 days. Drones develop in under 24 days while worker bees need 21 days total.

It is important to note that queens will lay over 2,000 eggs each day. However, not every egg is fertilized. Fertilized eggs will produce worker bees while non-fertilized eggs develop into drones.

Larvae

Three days after hatching, the larvae stage begins. Larvae are identifiable by their white color and nearly minuscule size. Over a couple of weeks, the larvae grow and shed their skin more than five times. This happens because of how quickly they are growing and eating (they consume over 1300 meals in a day!). Larvae are raised on a diet of royal jelly and “bee bread” (a mixture of honey and pollen). Though it takes them a few weeks to grow out of this stage, in just five days, a larva will have grown ten times its size. Once a certain size has been reached, the larva is then sealed in beeswax by a worker bee where it will spin itself a cocoon to develop into an adult.

Pupa

The pupa is the stage of the cocooned larvae. During this time, the eyes, legs, and wings are starting to develop and take shape. For example, the eyes are first pink, then purple, and then they become the black we are all familiar with. Finally, they grow hair over their bodies and increase in size until they are strong enough to chew their way out of the cocoon.

Adult

After about 12 days in the pupa stage, an adult bee will chew its way out of its cocoon and emerge. From here, the bee will either be a new queen, a worker, or a drone and live out the life allotted to it.

So, there you have it: four key stages, various types of bees, and tons of tasks to finish in a quick but jam-packed lifespan. Remember, we must protect our bee friends since they are at risk now more than ever. If you come across a bee, remember that if you do not bother it, it won’t bother you!