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he decline in bee numbers is a major concern. Their survival is linked to the well-being of all living creatures. Bees are critical to a healthy biodiversity and food chain (as an irreplaceable and effective pollinator). Plus, they provide products used in apitherapy, industry and which are also delicious to eat. There’s been a lot of publicity about the plight of bees. So, nobody will be able to say that they did not realise the danger.

A little bit about bees • There are many species of bee – the best known is the honey bee. • Within a colony there’s a queen, worker-bees (female) and drones (males). • Each bee come from an egg laid by the colony’s queen. • The worker-bees (about 90% of the colony) hatch from fertilized eggs. • The drones hatch from a virgin bee’s un-fertilized eggs. • To become a worker-bee a fertilized egg is nourished by pollen and honey. • There is only 1 queen bee in a colony. • The queen is fed by the workers with royal jelly. • The queen lays up to 200 000 eggs per year. • The choice of site for a new colony is a collective decision-making process. • The brain of a bee is 1mm3 but it communicates, navigates and learns. • The average size of a colony is 40,000. • The life expectancy of a worker bee is 3-5 weeks. • The life expectancy of a queen bee is 3–5 years. • Bees are non-aggressive unless attacked.

Worker-bees have many tasks but are adapted to suit • They feed the bee larvae • They feed the queen with royal jelly secreted from special glands on their heads. • They gather nectar to make honey. •They build combs with their wax glands. • They collect and distribute pollen using the hairs on their legs. • They guard the hive’s entrance. • They forage up to 7km from the hive.

What do bees do for us? They produce Honey created from the nectar they harvest. The composition, colour and taste of honey varies with, amongst other things, which flowers they have visited. A useful, healthy food source with antibiotic properties. They produce Royal Jelly which is a secreted by the nurse ‘worker-bees’ to feed the queen. It’s produced in small quantities and is pale and acidic. This jelly allows bee larvae to become queens. It’s rich in vitamins, trace elements and amino acids. A sort-after ingredient for human well-being. They produce propolis by mixing their saliva with their wax, they use this to seal and protect their hives. This is then used for some traditional medicines, as well as some manufacturing and industrial processes. They gather Pollen from the stamens of flowers, as a protein food for themselves. This also contains carbohydrates and vitamins. Making it an excellent dietary supplement. They produce wax in their wax glands which can then be used for making cosmetics and candles.

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The Périgord Local Issue 2 May - June 2018  

The free regional magazine for the ‘English speaking’ people, their businesses & the limitless culture of the ancient Périgord region of Fra...

The Périgord Local Issue 2 May - June 2018  

The free regional magazine for the ‘English speaking’ people, their businesses & the limitless culture of the ancient Périgord region of Fra...