The Buzz Blog

Welcome to our blog 'The Buzz'.  Here we will keep you updated on what is happening in the world of bees and honey and anything else that we think you would be interested in.  If there is a topic you would like to hear about drop us an email and I'll see what we can do.

Types of Bees

Written by Stephanie on August 26th, 2016.      0 comments

Did you know there are three types of bees in the beehive?  They are the queen, worker and drone bees.


The Queen

The queen is fascinating!  As a growing larvae she is feed exclusively royal jelly.  Royal jelly, with it's special proteins, is responsible for giving the queen bee a long, long life plus an elegant and large body, which make her very fertile.

As a new queen her first job will be to fight and kill any other queens in the hive.  There could be an old, weak queen or one or two new queens hatched around the same time.  The worker bees create queen cells when the pheromone of their existing queen is getting low, therefore at the end of her life.  

The young queen will then take her virgin flight, mating with an average of 7-17 drone bees in mid air, she may take about 1-3 flights.  She will have enough sperm (about 5-6 million) stored in her sperm pouch to fertilise all the eggs she will spend the rest of her life laying.  She will not leave the hive again, unless she swarms, and will lay about 1500 eggs per day over her four to five year life.

The queen will determine how many worker and drone bees the hive needs. She will lay unfertilised eggs for drone bees and fertilised eggs for worker and queen bees.


The Worker Bees

The worker bees are all females and they are called worker bees for a reason, they are hardest worker creature I can think of!  The worker bees carry out all the jobs in a hive, except laying eggs.  The job they are allocated will depend on their age.  There are so many jobs to be done including carrying away waste, cleaning out cells and preparing them for new eggs, feeding larvae, tending to and feeding the queen, building wax, guarding the entrance of the hive, collecting pollen and nectar, fanning honey to dry it, capping honey cells, etc.  

Worker bees generally live for 15-38 days in the summer, 30-60 days in the spring and longer in the winter.  There main job in the winter is to keep the queen alive and warm but clustering around her.  The colder the temperature the more compact the cluster becomes.  The worker bees create heat by shivering and they also move back and forth between the inner part of the cluster and the outer part.  In this way no bee will freeze in very cold climates. 


The Drone Bees

Drones are the only male bees in the hive, their role is to mate with the queen.  They seem to have no duties in the hive and do not forage. They do not have pollen baskets, wax glands or stingers, so therefore can not sting.  

Once sexually mature, around 12 days old, they fly out of the hive looking for queen bees and will either mate with their queen or another queen from another hive.  Once mating is complete the drone will, as the penis is torn from his body after he falls away from the queen.  Any drones that do not mate live for a few weeks but if conditions get tough and food storage starts to dwindle the drones are kicked out of the hive, as they have no purpose once the queen has been mated and are just taking up space and resources.

Types of Bees (from Britannica
Types of bees from

Of course there also different varieties of bees.  Have a look a this link and find out more about the different varieties of bees, hornets and wasps around the world! 

The Anatomy of a Worker Bee

Written by Stephanie on August 19th, 2016.      0 comments

Bees, like all insects, have three body sections - the head, thorax and abdomen.


On the top of the head the bees antennae is it's sense organs, they are responsive to both touch and smell.  It has five eyes, 3 compound eyes and two simple eyes on the top of the head that are sensitive to light.  Bees have a keen sense of smell, the guard bees smell each bee that enters the hive and they can tell if the queen is healthy by the smell of pheromone she produces.  Their proboscis is uses like a straw to get nectar into their mouth and is flexible to allow a lapping motion.  The mandibles are used to fight, mould and cut wax, and cut at flowers to get the nectar.



The thorax has two wings and three pairs of legs. The back legs have combs for collecting pollen and moving pollen to the pollen baskets for storage until the return back to the hive.  The forelegs are used to clean the antennae. 



The bee has a crop (or honey stomach), where the worker bee can store one third of it's body weight in honey.  At the end of the abdomen is it's stinger, only the females have stingers.  The worker bee's stinger has a barb so it can only sting once, as the barb and some of the abdomen is left in the victim.  The queen bee's stinger is smooth so she is able to sting over and over, but don't worry she doesn't leave the hive (unless she swarms with her hive).

Bee Body Map (from Britannica
Bee anatomy from



The Life Cycle of Bees

Written by Stephanie on August 12th, 2016.      0 comments

Like other insects a bee starts it's life as an egg.  The queen bee lays an egg the size of half a grain of rice into a comb cell.  After a few days it hatches into a larvae.    

The larvae now looks like a grain of rice with a mouth. Worker bees will visit up to 1,300 times a day to fed the larvae bee bread, a mix of nectar, bee pollen and a small amount of royal jelly.  If the larvae is to be a queen it is fed solely on royal jelly.  Within about 5-6 days the cell will be capped by a worker bee and the larvae will spin into a silk cocoon to then pupate.

The pupae doesn't eat or move but takes the shape of a bee.  About ten days later the adult bee emerges .

Lifecycle of a Bee (from Britannica
Life Cycle of a Bee from

Sharing the Surplus

Written by Stephanie on August 5th, 2016.      0 comments

Ever wondered what we do with the empty honey jars we get given back?  The local Rural Women of NZ group I am involved in has a 'Share the Surplus' project. We often see fruit trees laden with fruit and not picked and it seems such a shame when there are so many people struggling to put food on the table.  Our project turns that surplus into preserves!  We collect fruit from people who have surplus fruit on their trees, make preserves and give it to those in need.  

We've recently made strawberry jam (from strawberries we had frozen from summer) and marmalade from citrus that was donated to us.  We then got busy washing and sterilising our jars, cutting and blending fruit, measuring ingredients, stirring pots and filling jars!  Here are some photos of our process:

          Sharing-Surplus-1   Sharing-Surplus1   
Sharing-Surplus2  Sharing-Surplus3

It was fun and we love that we are helping people in our community. The jars have gone to 
Ngaurawahia Community Care Centre to be included in their food bank parcels.  We are going to meet regularly and carry this on, so if you have or know of any surplus fruit or would like to help please contact us.

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