The First Book of Bees

May 2, 2015 by

beesThe First Book of Bees by Albert B. Tibbets was originally published in 1952 and is a wonderful resource for anyone young or old interested in bees. Mr. Tibbets style is very conversational and chatty, as evidenced in his cute dedication at the beginning of the book:

“To my wife Helen, my busiest little bee”

Here are a few paragraphs to give you a feel for The First Book of Bees

“Back at the hive, a field bee may give part of her load of nectar to a house bee. She opens her jaws and squeezes a drop of nectar out over her tongue. The house bee stretches her tongue out full-length and sips the nectar from the tongue of the field bee. Bees are most likely to do this on hot bright days when many flowers are in bloom and a great deal of nectar is flowing. No matter which bee has the nectar, this is what happens next: The bee spends about twenty minutes squeezing the nectar in and out of her honey sac and rolling it around on her tongue. This takes some of the moisture out of the nectar. Probably some chemicals from the bee’s glands are mixed with it, too, so that it is ready to ripen into honey.

Now the bee looks for a cell in the honeycomb where she can store her honey. She may find one in the comb that the workers have built on the ground floor of the hive. But she is more likely to take her honey to one of the upper stories. When a bee with a load of honey finds a cell that is empty, she crawls in. Then she forces the honey out of her honey sac and uses her tongue as a brush to paint the honey onto the top of the cell walls. If she finds a cell in which there is already honey she just adds another drop to it. So that a bee can crawl into a cell, her wings unhook where they were fastened together on each side for flying, and slide, one on top of the other, becoming very narrow. Without her hooking and unhooking apparatus, a bee could never crawl into a honeycomb cell to do her work.

When the cell is full, the honey is still quite thin. More moisture has to be dried out of it to keep it from spoiling. This is the job of the air-conditioners, who stand at the hive en- trance, fanning with their wings to keep a little breeze circulating. During the busiest time, when many flowers are blooming, bees are busy day and night. Field bees bring in the nectar as long as there is daylight, and house bees work even after dark, keeping the air moving through the hive.”



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