The Birds and the Bees: Edison Ponari

If you clicked on this article and did not expect to read about beekeeping and bees, I apologise for my misleading and deceptive conduct.

Being graduate law students, we are always as busy as a bee with our plethora of readings and lives outside of the law school that it’s hard to find time for ourselves. For me, beekeeping is a rewarding way of doing something that is completely away from the law and work.

Beekeeping isn’t your most conventional hobby, but it is an important one. Bees are vital to human food production through their cross pollination of plants and crops, assisting in their growth and development. Despite their importance to the environment, not many people know much about bees. My curious friends constantly ask me about bees and I hope by writing this piece that the subject peaks your interest too.

The initial outlay isn’t large, needing only boxes and frames to build your hive, protective equipment and a smoker – you’ll bee buzzing with excitement in no time. Protective gear is essential, particularly for your face. There was a reason Mohamed Ali said ‘float like a butter fly and sting like a bee’. Getting stung is definitely not the bees knees and it will leave you looking like you’ve used the latest Snapchat filter.

Bees are a complex social society that rely on each other to live. There are three types of bees in a bee hive. The first and most important is the Queen Bee (not to be confused with our human queen, Beyonce). She lives up to roughly 3 years and is given the task of giving birth to every bee in the colony and maintaining tranquillity in the hive.

The second type are Worker Bees, who ensure that the hive is clean, produce wax, building honeycomb, all while looking after the queen and collecting nectar to make honey. For a hive to make one kilogram of honey, it would take roughly 1,100 bees and they would need to visit over four million flowers.

The average lifespan of a single worker bee is roughly six weeks. While my research shows that playing ‘Stayin Alive’ by the Bee Gees or Bee-thoven’s ‘Symphony 5’ can increase the average life span by 30 percent, this isn’t conclusive. An average bee hive contains roughly 20,000-50,000 bees and there are all three types within every beehive.

Finally, drone bees have the primary role of mating with the queen bee. After mating, a drone’s reproductive organs are ripped off and stay in the queen, killing him.

With over tens of thousands of bees, communication can be difficult. However, this is aided through the release of chemicals called pheromones that trigger a reaction from other bees. This can be released to alert other bees if a bee has stung an intruder, or when the queen wants to maintain social order. Another form of communication is when the worker bees do a waggle dance. This is a specific dance to show other workers where flowers that have good nectar are located. A worker bee walks a series of figure eights and straight lines, while shaking their wings with increased intensity depending on how great the supply is.

Beekeeping isn’t the most strenuous hobby, you’ll only need to check up on them every couple of weeks and once you’ve started they’ll almost look after themselves. Oh, and you get to harvest some of your own delicious honey which is also a huge plus.

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