Bees are perhaps the most fascinating insect (To me anyway. Actually, when you get right down to it, that’s whose opinion I value most) that there is. They pollinate flowers, orchards, and crops. In some instances, like the almond industry, Bees are so vital that their pollination during the almond bloom period is likely the single biggest indicator of almond yields (In California, revenues of the almond industry alone creates 21 billion dollars of revenue per annum).
Their economic and environmental value doesn’t end there. Bees also create delicious honey. Not coincidentally, honey has had a decisive impact on my personal bottom line—and by that of course I mean my weight (I love fresh bread with butter and honey. It’s like candy to me).
Even then it doesn’t end! They create wax! Beeswax is used for candle making, lip balm, moisturizers, cosmetics, and, of course, constitutes the ‘wax’ in the very important but highly underrated mustache wax.
One other reason they have most recently reminded me of their uniqueness is that in spite of all the cold and wind that Boise area weather throws at them, they survive through the winter.
Here is a picture of some of my hives in Nampa:
Though they look all snug, remember that they reside in what amounts to a wooden box, without insulation or central heating. However, they do have a form of heating that is really awesome. And it has to be, because for a hive to survive temperatures inside the hive need to be between 90-95 degrees!
The female worker bee is in charge of regulating the heat inside the hive. She does this by agitating or vibrating her abdomen, and/or by decoupling her wings from her muscles (so she can move that muscle without using her wings) and then exerting the muscles to create body heat. Exercising this way, a worker bee can elevate her temperature to 111 degrees! Now imagine a whole colony of workers doing the Bee equivalent of P90X or Zoomba and, well, you get the point. They can heat an entire colony this way.
This sort of exercise and heat generation takes an enormous amount of energy, energy that is supplied with the honey that they’ve stored during the growing season. All responsible beekeepers always leave sufficient supplies of honey in the hive to allow for their survival. Incidentally, the honey also acts as a thermal barrier, or insulator, and also acts as a thermal mass that stores heat as well.
A couple of final takeaways: Bees are awesome, they do exercise, make an important ingredient in mustache wax, and I love hot rolls and honey.