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i am going to give a talk to some high school students that want to start bee keeping for the ffa program. (future farmers of america.). i was trying to find how long the worker bees perform various duties but it was kind of vague. new hatch bees work around the comb, then there are undertaker bees, attendants to the queen , guard bees and foragers. i probably missed some too. can anybody give a time line on about who and how long they perform duties. tia
 

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I can't figure out how to attach a documents, so I will just cut and paste it. This was for a talk I did at a girl's retreat, so I simplified some of the processes since they don't have the "bee lingo". You are welcome to use any/all of it for your talk.

Girl’s Retreat BCBC Aug 2016. God Makes Beautiful Things: Planting & Growing

In some things, it is easy to see their beauty---like the Monarch butterfly. Other things, you may have to look a little more closely to see or appreciate the beauty that God has bestowed on them. Take the honeybee, for example, most of you just probably cringed when I said the word “bee” (well, all except Samantha, because her mother raised bees). But most of you think bees equal stings, painful. But for nature lovers though, bees = pollination and sometimes a sweet little reward of honey. Honeybees, although not native to the US, are responsible for the majority of pollination that happens with our food crops. They estimate that every third bite we eat is pollinated by some type of bee.

Now bees may not seem all that glorious. You may have looked at the ones in my display hive, and they are just sort of yellow and brownish stripped insects with stingers. But a colony of bees is truly amazing! The whole colony works together as one, and is called a super-organism. One bee cannot exist on her own for very long without the help of her sisters. And the majority of the bees in a hive are female. A colony consists of one queen bee, who lays all the eggs, and many thousand of worker bees, that are all female. There is also a very small minority of boys bees, called drones.

The worker bees are the ones that leave the hive on a daily basis to collect food and water for the little baby bees, called brood. The pollen that the bees bring back is the protein source, and the nectar is the carbohydrates. During the spring and summer months, a single worker bee may only live 4-6 weeks. She will literally “work herself to death”.

As soon as a bee is “born”, she begins working inside the hive. She is called a House Bee as most of her duties will be inside the hive for the next 2-3 weeks. She will clean her little cell that she hatched out of, along with polishing any empty cells beside her. That will make them ready for the queen to come along and lay more eggs. Then she will begin feeding the other baby bees, called larvae. She does this by eating pollen and honey and manufacturing a substance in a gland on her head. If she is feeding a larvae that will become a worker, she manufactures bee bread. If she is feeding a larvae that will become the new queen, she manufactures royal jelly. This is what the queen bee eats exclusively throughout their lifetime and what scientists believe contributes to their extraordinary long life. Where as a worker may only live 4-6 weeks in the spring/summer or 4-6 months in the winter, a queen can live up to 5 years and lay over 1,000 eggs per day. Whew…she is one busy Momma!

But back to those worker bees that have to feed all those hungry mouths….for about a week the newly hatched bee feeds the developing larvae and feeds the queen. Then they get to fly just outside the hive for what is called “orientation flights”. This is where the bees “memorize” their surroundings and location of the hive in regards to buildings and bushes. She doesn’t do any foraging yet, although she might occasionally leave the hive to “take out the trash”, which might be a dead bee or something else like a leaf that doesn’t belong in the hive.

One Day 12, the wax glands inside the bee are mature and they are promoted to building comb. This is how the bees build more wax comb to hold the honey and the brood. By eating nectar, the bees can manufacture wax pieces that they work with their legs and mouth into a 6 sided hexagon shape. This hexagon shape is so efficient that it allows the bees to pack in the most amount of honey with the least amount of resources, which is the wax, because there is no wasted space between each cell. The cells are also build with a 15 degree upward angle so the nectar doesn’t dribble out of the comb. How cool is that? God is an Amazing Creator!

The next step for the worker bee is ripening the nectar from the forager bees into honey and ventilating the hive. Nectar straight from the flower can be over 75% water and the bees need to evaporate the water down to less than 18% become a product that will not spoil or grow bacteria. When the field bee returns with a full load, the house bees will slurp the nectar into her own special honey sack. There it is mixed with enzymes that convert the complex sugars of the nectar down into simple sugars. Each time the droplet of nectar is passed from bee to bee, more enzymes are added. A worker bee will finally deposit the drop into a honey cell. A bee for its entire life, will only collect enough nectar to equal 1/12 a teaspoon of honey. House bees will then use their wings to create a draft in the hive that will evaporate the water off the surface of the honey cell.

The honey making duties continue until Day 21, when they are finally graduated to Field Bees that leave the hive every day in search of nectar and pollen. The bees leave at sun up, and won’t be finished until sun set. They might make numerous return trips to the hive to offload their goods, or they may take all day to fly around to find enough for one load. The bees can forage for up to 3 miles away for food, but the long trips take a toll on their wings or they might met a windshield on the way back to the hive.

Now when a bee lands on a flower, their purpose isn’t to “pollinate” the flower. The bee is after the sweet nectar and pollen. But in collecting the pollen and nectar, they move around the flower parts and drop the pollen from one part of the flower onto another part. They also bring pollen from one flower over to another type of flower. The neat thing about honey bees, vs. a bumble bee is that the honey bee will forage on a certain type of plant all day. So if you have a border of different garden flowers, a honey bee will find say the zinnias and stay on the zinnias for her entire trip. She will go from zinnia to zinnia, but she doesn’t hop over to the salvia. And in doing this, the honey bee is a better pollinator because it takes the pollen around to the same type of flower so you get better cross pollination on the same crop. Take blueberries as an example, they set a heavier crop with larger berries when they are pollinated with a different type of blueberry pollen. And guess who does the job, yep, the honey bee.

And here is the neat thing about it the bee is just doing her job of collecting nectar and pollen to sustain the bee colony. And in doing her job, God is using her for a far more important task of pollinating the flowers so that they set fruit and seed and provide for our nutrition and sustains the plant species by reproduction. So here is the take away thought. God has uniquely gifted each one of you girls with talents and abilities that might look very different than your friends. It is ok to be unique. Use your life and skill set to honor God and serve Him with those talents, whatever they may be. It may not seem like you are doing anything very important at the time, but God can use that to accomplish something completely different that what you thought you were doing. I Cor 10:31 says “whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do. Do all to the glory of God”. And with that, I will wrap it up and take any questions you all might have, and then I have brought in some honeycomb that you are welcome to try. It is quite a treat and some will say it’s like nothing they have ever tasted before, it is so good.
 

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> i was trying to find how long the worker bees perform various duties but it was kind of vague

It's vague because it's flexible. It depends on the season, the age of other bees and the current demands of the colony. Any bee can do any job at any time, there is just a "normal" flow if things have not been disrupted and there is an even distribution of bee ages.
 
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