Bee love in action

  • Thursday, March 27, 2014


Although bees are among the most industrious animals on earth, their significance is underestimated. It is underestimated until bees begin to disappear, that is.

These are among the vital insights Tom Francis, a beekeeper from Surfside, shared at a Saturday morning presentation at Brookgreen Gardens.

One hundred people or more attended, and only a few shuffled out until the program ended. Even then, Francis was inundated by a clutch of folks eager to ask more questions.

The truth about bees is far and away too much to share in an hour.

Most are probably aware of the fact that beekeepers have struggled with “collapsed colonies” in recent years. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the result of multiple stresses, according to Francis. He makes note of the fact that there have been colony collapses throughout history, but our generation faces increased environmental pressures. A positive outcome of the renewed publicity of CCD is a revived interest in bees.

Bees are responsible for pollinating at least one third, probably more, of our food sources. They pollinate and cross pollinate all sorts of fruit trees and crops our society depends on.

In addition to the great task of pollination, they also transform the nectar of the flowers they ingest into one of nature's finest commodities … beeswax combs dripping honey.

Here are a few of many interesting facts gleaned from Saturday's presentation:

One hive of honeybees is home to 30,000 to 50,000 bees. Each hive has only one queen. If there is more than one queen, they will fight until one queen survives. Then she will lay approximately 2,500 eggs every day.

Drones exist only for the purpose of mating with the queen. When the weather cools and the hive's resources begin to dwindle, female bees toss the drones out to die.

Guard bees use a keen sense of smell to keep out intruders – like hungry bumblebees.

Nurse bees attend to the queen's needs.

Worker bees are the heartbeat of every hive. Aptly named, they gather food from all available flora to create the honey that sustains the hive – and delights human consumers.

Unlike sugar, honey – perfect for baking and sweetening – is chock full of nutritional value. Honey delivers a hearty measure of antioxidants, important enzymes, antibacterial components and more.

For environmental and other reasons, there is an increased interest in raising bees – for personal pleasure and cottage industries. It's a flash back to the past. Rev. Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, born in 1810, is considered the “Father of American Beekeeping.” A Presbyterian minister, he successfully created a cottage industry to supplement his modest income as a member of the clergy.

Beekeeping is not as complicated as one might expect. An investment of less than $500 can establish a beekeeping hobby or fledging business. A clutch of hives can be established even in subdivisions. Contact beekeeper Tom Francis for input and suggestions. He also sells honey. His contact information is beesbythesea@gmail.com or 843-274-8624843-274-8624. The website address is www.Bees-by-the-Sea.com. Call Send SMS Add to Skype You'll need Skype CreditFree via Skype

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