12-14-2018. Rotarian Chadd Kreofsky led his own program today – with the assistance of Roelif Loveland – and the pair spoke about “Beekeeping”.
The club was given many facts and figures about the fascinating art of the apiarist (beekeeper). This review will include just a few of the myriad of bee facts! Both Chadd and Roelif are beekeepers – and had much first-hand info. about the hobby.
Honeybees have been around for millions of years – and are descended from wasps. They evolved from being meat eaters to becoming strict vegetarians.
Each hive contains approx. 10,000 to 30,000 bees – consisting of drones (males), workers (females) and the Queen. Drones are simply responsible for breeding – and the workers do all the tough stuff. Their jobs include protecting the hive from intruders, building wax honeycomb to hold the honey, foraging for pollen and nectar, filling cells with honey and capping them, etc. The queen has a singular job – spending all day - every day - laying eggs – up to 2500 in 24 hours!
Chadd passed around a “frame” full of honey – and talked about the physical layout of the hive and how bees are first introduced into it. A “package” of 3-lbs. of bees can be purchased in the spring – and this is the “starter” for a new hive population. (Many hives do not survive the cold Illinois winters – and purchasing that spring package is often necessary.)
The average worker bee produces only 1/12th teaspoon of honey over a lifetime. Honey is the only food that never spoils – and perfectly good honey has been discovered in the pyramids of Egypt.
Bees travel approximately 2-3 miles from their hive to forage – and use their incredible sense of navigation to always return before nightfall. Certain pesticides known as neonicotinoids are reported to interfere with the bees sense of direction – and may in part be responsible for the reports of dwindling bee populations.
During the winter, bees “huddle up” inside the hive – keeping the queen at a very comfortable 92-degrees to make certain she survives. They cluster in areas where they have convenient access to their honey stores – as that is their only food source during those frigid months.
While beekeeping is a hobby that takes serious time and dedication, the life of the honey bee is absolutely fascinating. The honey is just a small part of the overall reward.
Peru Friday Noon Rotary Club meets at 12:00 PM at Mark Allens American Kitchen – 1402 Peoria St. in Peru.