For eleven months out of the year the Community Gardens of Santa Clarita is buzzing with bees. These beautiful hard working insects spend the warm part of the day flying from one flower to the next collecting pollen to bring home to their hive. Although the Community Gardens does not have a bee hive, which is most unfortunate, it is still home to the local natural hives found around Central Park. Every inch of our garden is buzzing with the hard work of these majestic little workers. These little workers are one of the most important pollinators in the world.
The The Honey Bee:
The Honey Bee, genus Apis, whose origin is from South and Southeast Asia, represent only a small fraction of the 20,000 known species of bees worldwide. The Western Honey Bee, Apis mellifera has been domesticated for honey production and crop pollination. There are other bees that produce honey and are stingless, but only those in the genus Apis are considered the true honey bees. Those who study bees, including honey bees are called melittologists and those who tend to domestic hives for honey and crop pollination are called apiarists.
Life Cycle of the Honey Bee:
The life cycle of a honey bee is perennial. Each colony (hive) contains three adult castes; the queen, the sperm-producing male drones, and the non-reproductive female worker bees. The male drones only live up to the time in which they mate with the queen and then die shortly afterwards. The work bees can live up to six weeks and a queen can live up to five years. The life journey of a honey bee begins when the egg hatches. During the first stage of development the offspring develop a digestive system, nervous system, and outer covering. Each member develops into an adult over a varying amount of time.
Queens are full grown within 16 days, drones are full grown in under 24 days, and worker bees require 21 days during larval and pupal development. The queen is the one who rules over her drones and workers, future queens develop inside large cells why constantly eating royal jelly. Drones and worker bees are only fed royal jelly in the first few days of their lives.
When the current queen dies or is incapable of laying eggs, the worker bees raise the new queen.
Africanized Bees are a hybrid between the European stock and one of the African subspecies, Apis mellifera scutellata. This hybrid species is more aggressive and does not create as much of a honey surplus. However, this species is more resistant to disease and are better foragers. The accidental origin of this species was Brazil and they have made their way up to North America. Apis mellifera scutellata does not winter well and can not be found in some of North America's colder areas. The species found in Brazil are very popular amongst beekeepers as they are resilient to the tropic conditions and can produce good yields of honey. Beekeeping: Beekeeping or apiculture is the maintenance of honey bees inside man made beehives. The beekeeper or apiarist keeps bees in order to collect their honey or other bee products, pollinate their crops, and raise more bees for other apiarists. The area in which the beehives are located is called an apiary. Humans have been collecting honey from bees for well over 10,000 years. In Northern Africa bees were kept in pots to collect honey over 9,000 years ago. Egyptian hieroglyphics show the domestication of bees over 4,500 years ago.
Today beekeepers use different styles of beehives to collect honey and they wear protective clothing and use a smoker to avoid getting stung by their bees. Natural beekeeping, urban/backyard beekeeping, and indoor beekeeping are all popular styles of keeping bees today. The use of observation hives allow both adults and children to observe the inner workings of a beehive.
On October 14th, 2015 an ordinance was passed in the city of Los Angeles allowing for residents to have beehives in their backyards. The ordinance went into effect on December 6th, 2015. Hopefully soon the city of Santa Clarita will pass the same ordinance allowing for the Community Gardens of Santa Clarita to have a beehive of their own.
For more information on Bees and Beekeeping please check out the links below: