We’re back with the second round of questions in our Ask a Beekeeper series! If you missed the first post, check that out here. If you have any other questions that aren’t on this list, feel free to contact us or follow us on social media for regular updates.

1. What are Varroa Destructor Mites and how are they harmful to bees?
Varroa Destructor Mites live on the bees and are known to carry many viruses. They infect pupating bees in the cell which inhibits the bee from fully developing. It takes only one mite to destroy a bees health.

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Two varroa destructor mites attach themselves to a honey bee

2. How do bees know to come home to their own hive and not a neighbouring hive?

Bees brains are about the size of a grain of rice and have 100,000 times fewer neurons than human brains. It is astounding that they can register routes several kilometers long and have no trouble flying the most direct way home to their hives again – a task that humans can often only achieve with the help of GPS devices. Speed neurons and direction neurons work separately but likely cooperate in generating the memory a bee uses to fly back home to the hive. They integrate and collate all segments of their foraging trip to find the direct path home. (Read more here).

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Home!

​3. Is the bee population really declining at a rapid rate? What is the main cause?

Bee populations are indeed declining due to the loss of sheltered, healthy, natural habitats. If man does his part in sustaining nature, bees will indeed survive and perhaps even thrive for years to come. (Here is some good news for Canada’s bees!)

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Danny demonstrates the hive

4. Why is the shape of the honeycomb a hexagon?
Bees are very resourceful; it seems that the hexagon shape is absolutely perfect in economizing labor & wax. Architects, engineers, and mathematicians have all studied honeycombs. Their findings suggest that six-sided cells are the strongest possible shape, while giving more storage and using less wax to build than other cell shapes Another interesting fact about how bees build their hexagons is that they never build them on a perfect horizontal axis; if they were to, the stored honey would very easily drop out of the comb. Instead, they are wise enough to build the hexagon shape at somewhat of an upward angel to keep their honey stores in place. Genius!

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Look at those intricate hexagon-shaped cells!

 

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