15. Bee Hives

Beekeeping is a popular hobby that can be done in your own backyard. When active, there are thousands of bees living in our manmade hives.

Bees are social insects and work together to survive. In each colony of bees there is one queen, male drones, and female workers. The queen lays all the eggs, and the male drones mate with the queen; however, the majority of the hive population is built up of female worker bees. These worker bees tend to the baby bees (known as larvae), make wax, build honeycombs, clean the hive, store pollen, guard the hive, and make the honey.

Some worker bees will leave the hive to forage for nectar. They will then store the nectar in their crop – also known as a honey stomach. When the forager worker bees get back to the hive, they regurgitate and transfer the nectar to honey stomachs of worker house bees to process the nectar. Here, enzymes are added to the nectar and then regurgitated into a honeycomb cell to ripen. The added enzymes help to break down the honey into water and 2 simple sugars (glucose and fructose). Bees will then fan their wings to help evaporate the water from the nectar until it ripens into honey. The cell of honey is then sealed off with wax until it is time to eat it.

Bees make honey from spring to fall and feed on the stored honey in the winter.     

A bee keeper will remove the framed honeycombs filled with honey from these man made hives and spin them in a centrifuge or honey extractor to remove the honey. The honey is then put into jars and sold. Look for Honey Horn Honey is the Museum gift shop.