[nafex] Bee Behavior

Don Yellman dyellman at earthlink.net
Thu May 10 17:46:08 EDT 2001

1.  Don't worry, Tom, there is no such thing as a stupid question about
bees.  While they have been kept by humans for several millenia, and
while advantage has been taken of certain of their predictable
behaviors, they are still poorly understood.  I have subscribed to
professional bee journals for a number of years, and there are always
new theories about some aspect of bee behavior.
2.   For example, it is commonly accepted that the "bee dance" is a
method of communicating the direction of nectar sources, but no one is
really certain of that.  Nor is anyone sure of just how bees navigate,
although contract pollinators take truckloads of bees out to new fields
every day, and they find their way back to their own hives.  Sometimes,
bees engage in behaviors, such as swarming, that seem not to be in their
own best interests.
3.   Compared to keeping bees, raising fruit is a walk in the park.
Especially now, with the varroa and tracheal mite infestations, but it
was never easy.  Nor is it cheap.  In addition to the high initial costs
of the hives and equipment, medications for the wide variety of bee
diseases and ills are expensive, and none are fully effective.
Sometimes it takes a combination of things to keep bees healthy.  When
you lose a swarm you have lost a lot of money, in addition to the loss
of your beloved creatures.  I say this even though they do occasionally
sting the hell out of you.
4.   I have never been able to figure out how people make money
producing honey, but somehow they manage to hang on, in spite of
low-cost competition from foreign sources.  I think that at its current
supermarket prices honey is quite a bargain.  Some years I get a nice
amount of honey, but I know that I could buy it cheaper than I can
produce it.  So why do I do it?  Ask the people who keep climbing Mt.

Rgds, Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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