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What do honey bees do all day?

You’ve seen bees buzzing around the garden but have you ever wondered what goes on inside the beehive?

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAThe honey bee has many duties during it’s life. You can see in the chart all the different tasks depending non their age

  • 0-4 days: Call cleaning and incubation
  • 3-12 days: Feeding larvae
  • between 6th & 10th day: First nurser flights, around midday
  • 6-15 days: Wax-making and comb-building
  • 8-16 days: Reception and storage of nectar; packing of pollen in cells
  • 14-18 days: They get to guard the entrance( this is when I see them!), clear debris and funeral bearer duties
  • 19th day: Begin to pay attention to the waggle dance (google search results)
  • 18-30/35 days: Foraging for honey and pollen ( this is when you see them)
  • 25-30/35 days: Collecting propolis

A normal healthy colony of bees will have 10,000 or less in winter to over 50,000 in the high summer. The queen can live 3-4 yrs but is only efficient for 2 yrs. She gives of a pheromone that the worker bees need to stay happy and this reduces as the queen gets older. The worker then may decide to replace her!

During high summer the foraging worker bees are working very hard and may only live for 5 weeks but during the winter can live 6 months.

In the short video below you can see the bee bringing in pollen attached to their legs…

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Bees’ Needs – 5 Simple Actions for Pollinators

Part of Jacobite’s strategy is to raise awareness of the pressures that pollinators are under and show ways we can help make a change. This article is from the Wildlife trust in conjunction with the Governments National Pollinator Strategy ( read it here

Insect pollinators matter. Through pollinating wild and garden plants they contribute to biodiversity. By pollinating crops they provide variety in our diets. They are valued by YOU, the public.

At least 1500 species of insects pollinate plants in the UK including bumble bees, the honey bee, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths. All have complex life cycles and specific needs. Most require food in the form of pollen and nectar, and need a home for shelter and nest building. The number of insect pollinators is highest in the summer coinciding with peak plant growth and supplies of nectar and pollen

Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees

Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees that provide nectar and pollen as food for bees and other pollinators throughout the year. For example, pussy willow, primroses and crocuses in spring, lavenders, meadow cranesbill and ox-eye daisies in summer, ivy and hebes in autumn, and mahonia shrubs and cyclamen in winter. 

2. Let it grow wild

Credit: Nadine Mitschunas, Urban Pollinators ProjectLeave patches of land to grow wild with plants like stinging nettles and dandelions to provide other food sources (such as leaves for caterpillars) and breeding places for butterflies and moths.

3. Cut grass less often

Credit: Nadine Mitschunas, Urban Pollinators ProjectCut grass less often and ideally remove the cuttings to allow plants to flower.

4. Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots

Credit: Nadine Mitschunas, Urban Pollinators ProjectAvoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects, in places like grass margins, bare soil, hedgerows, trees, dead wood or walls.

5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides 

Think carefully about whether to use pesticides especially where pollinators are active or nesting or where plants are in flower. Consider control methods appropriate to your situation and only use pesticides if absolutely necessary. Many people choose to avoid chemicals and adopt methods like physically removing pests or using barriers to deter pests. If you choose to use a pesticide, always follow the label instructions.

 Read the full article at

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Biodiversity in Scotland

Bryden McKinnie

The initial idea of beekeeping was a community venture, and now after 3 years of looking after the bees, I feel I know enough to pass on knowledge and move forward with the social aspect. More importantly I have enjoyed beekeeping, as well as the interest that the wider public have.

Many of Jacobite’s aims are in line with the Scottish government’s strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland with the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity plan.

That is:

  • Connecting people with the natural world for their health and wellbeing and to involve them more in decisions about their environment (via apiary site visits & gardening)
  • Protect and restore biodiversity ( by increasing the number of bee colonies across East Lothian)
  • Maximise the benefits for Scotland of a diverse natural environment and the services it provides, contributing to sustainable economic growth (by improving bee health and plant diversity, educating people on how they can help )
  • Provide opportunities for everyone to experience and enjoy nature ( voluntary opportunities)
  • Increase access to nature within and close to schools, and support teachers in developing the role of outdoor learning across the Curriculum for Excellence (honey bee workshops )
  • Environmental volunteering is another important means of increasing physical activity and engagement with nature. (bee friendly gardening & training volunteers to be beekeepers)

Plans for 2015 & 2016

  • Meet the Bees (summer 2015) –  Get up close and personal with the bees safely inside a beekeeping suit and veil. You can watch as we do our weekly inspections. See bees inside the hive producing honey, watch pollen being brought in.  (bee suits provided with funding from xxx)
  • Volunteering opportunities (summer 2015) Would you like to learn about beekeeping or just like to help? Throughout the summer we do weekly inspections, tag along and we will teach you about the honey bee. Great opportunity to learn a new skill or even just to get out into the countryside on a sunny day! 
  • Free school visits (summer 2016)  –  supporting teachers with a fun educational workshop for primary school children. We bring equipment, training hives, bee suits to try on, and a safe observation hive allowing the children to see the bees at work
  • Help the bees (and other pollinators) – With our free advice and ebook we’ll show you how to plant a bee friendly garden
  • Help make East Lothian a bee ‘friendly’ county through education, planting programs. Did you know that many adults and children do not know the difference between bees and wasps!
    So what is the difference? check this site

What pressures are the bees and other pollinators under?

  • habitat loss
  • pests and diseases
  • extreme weather
  • competition from invasive species
  • climate change
  • use of some pesticides

What can you do now to help bees and other pollinators?

If you would like to volunteer and be part of the project do get in touch, would love to hear from you.