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Life Inside The Hive

August 18 is National Honey Bee Day. Just another day to most people but to all the honey bee and honey lovers out there - this is an opportunity to celebrate that delicious amber colored, natural sweet treat. 

Honey is delicious, and most people are very interested in learning about how it is produced. We did the research on how all that deliciousness is created, and wanted to share our findings with you.


What bees actually live inside the hive?
To look inside a hive, you first must use a smoker which creates smoke from burning pine needles. The smoke calms the hive and allows you to look inside.There are three main types of bees which occupy a hive. At the top of the realm is the Queen. The Queen is the bee in charge, and she is supported by thousands of female workers – the “worker bee.” In the summer, hundreds of male drones join the hive. The function of the drone bee is to compete for mating with the queen and approximately 20 will succeed.

What does the Queen Bee do?
The Queen is central to the survival of every colony, and her main purpose is to lay eggs. Although she may be central to the hive, she does not “rule” it and, in fact, has a smaller brain than the worker bees; she is, in fact, an egg-laying machine.

A healthy queen bee is continually emitting pheromones (a bee perfume) that only the bees in the hive can smell. These pheromones tell the bees in the colony that the queen is still with them and all is well in the hive.

What is life like inside the hive?
Hershey Lodge is part of the vibrant beekeeping community with 60,000 Italian Honey Bees that live in three hives at a remote location on the property. At the Lodge there are three bee boxes, each containing a hive. The boxes contain wooden frames that are used to collect and store nectar and provide a place to raise the bees.

Inside the hive are three different types of wax cells that are used to store the eggs.

In the smallest cells (5mm diameter) the Queen lays fertilized eggs, which in 21 days produce the female worker bees essential to keeping the colony fed. In larger cells (7mm diameter) unfertilized eggs are laid which in 24 days become the male drone bees.

The most interesting of all the cells in the hive are those used to produce new queens. Colonies typically construct up to 20 wax queen cells which are acorn-like and hang down vertically.

The life span of a Honey Bee:
The lifespan of a bee is very short. In the summer a worker bee only lives for about 40 days. As no young are raised over the winter months, the workers born in the autumn will live until the following spring. A queen can live up to 5 years but is considered past her prime in her third year.