Honey bees are social insects that live in communities called colonies. Solidarity and division of labor are essential in colonial life, and each individual in the colony has its own duties. Communication between individuals in the colony takes place through chemical substances called pheromones, which are secreted by individuals and give messages to other individuals. There are three different individuals in a bee colony: queen, worker bee, and drones. Queen bees and worker bees are female individuals, while male bees develop from fertile eggs. There are only female individuals in the bee colonies in winter, and drones are seen in the spring with the new season. The places where honey bee colonies live are mostly man-made today.
Honey bees live in beehives. Beehives are works of art and are the home of a honey bee. Nowadays they are extremely rare in wildlife – only in hollow trees. Generally, beekeepers provide honey bees with homes. Beehives consist of five wooden or plastic boxes (frames) stacked on top of each other, in which movable wooden frames are placed to form the basis of honeycomb making. The flight hole is at the bottom and the cover is removable. Today, beehives are obtained from wood, plastic, and various industrial products. In primitive times, bees entered the tree holes and rock holes in nature as beehives and continued their lives. Today, bees escaping from hives by swarming also make their honey by finding another shelter for themselves in nature.
Inside the beehive, there are combs made of hexagons. The design of these honeycombs is great. The beehive is a kind of set that protects the honeycombs located around them. Bees provide a certain temperature inside the hive. When this temperature reaches a sufficient level for them, they start processing. They make honeycombs with the glands under their feet. Bees secrete wax from these glands. They make the waxes they secrete into hexagonal, but an engineering marvel occurs during this process. There is not only one bee in the production of a honeycomb. For this, they need to work in a team.
Each bee begins to make its own secretion after reaching a certain temperature. This event goes in a coordinated way between bees. Honeycomb formation is so smooth that even traces of connection points are not visible. None of the honeycomb thicknesses are different from each other. None of the honeycomb cells, which are in a hexagonal shape, come out trapezoid. It occurs regularly and equally. They build their honeycombs thanks to the wax they secrete themselves. Bees have a hard-working structure. The nectars left on the combs are produced through full group work. The answer to the question of what is a beehive is actually a factory. There is good cooperation between the handler waiting in the hive and the traveling bees traveling outside. Wandering bee takes flowers nectar, brings them to the hive, leaves them, and goes to collect nectar again. Processor bees drink the incoming nectar and leave it out again, ensuring that the nectar is secreted. In a few days, nectar turns into honey in honeycomb eyes.
Honey Bees Can Construct Their Own Beehive: Building Honeycombs
In the hive, the honeycomb is not made continuously. But in the face of need, it is built quickly. The construction of the honeycomb starts from above and proceeds down. After a day or two, the frame is completely filled with newly made honeycombs. Each honeycomb is made of thousands of tiny wax chambers or cells. Bees make very smooth honeycombs made of identical hexagons. One honeycomb slice expands on both sides and merges with the other two rows. This work is done in a harmonious and orderly manner. So much so that it is not even possible to realize that the honeycomb has become a combination of two or three parts.
If a honeycomb is cut in half, an extremely interesting image is encountered. Honeycombs have a partition wall. This intermediate wall, like other parts, is made of wax. It forms the common ground of the cells lined up on both sides. The floor of the cells is not flat. One is the pit to fit the other. These pits in opposite cells are inserted into each other to save space. The side walls are such that the cells can be slightly inclined downwards compared to the intermediate wall. This slope ensures that honey does not flow from filled cells.
Honeycomb slices are so smooth that although they contain hundreds of cells and angles; a single piece of a hexagonal structure appears. No joints are found on the honeycomb. This reveals that bees calculate the distance between the starting and junction points in advance. The honeycomb eyes produced by the honey bees are also standard. Width of honeycomb eyes built for honey, pollen, and larvae are between 5.2-5.4 mm. Cells prepared only for drones are around 6.2-6.4 mm. Bees measure the width and thickness of honeycomb cells thanks to their sensing (sensation) hairs. The sensing hairs are found especially in the chin and antennae of the bees. In a single antenna of a honeybee, approximately 8500 sensing hairs (Sensilla Trichodea) and 500,000 sensing cells were detected. Using these feathers, bees measure the wall thickness of the cells they built. While doing this measurement, they act extremely meticulously.
The engineering wonder honeycomb eye is 12 mm deep and the wall thickness is 1/500 inches; The most suitable form for storing the maximum amount of honey by spending the least amount of wax is the hexagonal prism built by bees. Honeycomb building bees work in perfect harmony and in an orderly manner. So much so that they can produce hexagonal cells of the same size, although each starts from different places. When they combine these hexagons in the middle, their joints are in no way obvious. There are no shifts in the angles of the hexagons.
The filling of these eyes with honey, pollen, and eggs also take place in a certain order. If a ranking is made; a bee comb contains honey to the middle, starting from the top. There is pollen in the intermediate section and larvae chambers at the bottom. Honey storages continue on the sides of the hive. However, worker bees necessarily store a few rows of pollen between the larvae chambers and the honey chambers. In this way, honey and larvae do not mix.
Where Have the Honey Bees Lived Throughout History: The History of Beehives
The history of beehives goes back to tens of thousands of years when people lived in cave life. Paintings drawn in caves dating back to 7000 BC, bee fossils dating back to ancient times, and similar historical finds confirm this view. The first people naturally took advantage of their honey by killing bees nesting in tree hollows and rock cavities. From the stone age in the historical development; first, mushrooms and tree stumps, and then containers made of earth and clay were used as beehives, and beehives that were used today were developed over time. The real beekeeping started with people taking some honey without killing the bees nested in tree hollows. Since the gene centers of bees are Middle-Eastern countries, the emergence of beekeeping occurred in these countries. However, the mention of bees in the stone inscriptions in Boğazköy from the Hittites period, believed to be from 1300 BC, shows that beekeeping also dates back to ancient times in Anatolia.
Beekeeping, which has been made primitive for a very long time until the last few centuries, has lived up to today’s beekeeping in the light of many scientific discoveries and developments. Today’s beekeeping is developed thanks to the contributions such as the detection of queen bee mating in the air in 1787, explanation of bee reproduction biology in 1845, the discovery of framed science hive in 1851, the discovery of basic honeycomb molds in 1857, the invention of honey the strainer machine in 1865, the discovery of queen bee technique by larvae transfer method in 1882, and the presence of artificial insemination in queen bees in 1926. Technical beekeeping can be named as “The Art of Using and Managing Bees” for a purpose. Knowledge and experience are needed for technical beekeeping. Otherwise, it is not possible to do technical beekeeping or even ordinary beekeeping without knowledge and experience. Before starting beekeeping, be informed about the bee family (colony), family members, and the lifestyle of the colony and other issues related to beekeeping. Beekeeping without knowledge and experience will fail, let alone economic gain. When starting beekeeping, the region where the beehives to be located should be chosen well, and the vegetation and climate of the region should be suitable for beekeeping.
Today, beekeeping is one of the most common agricultural activities in the world. Today, there are around 56 million beehives in the world and 1.2 million tons of honey is produced from them. Approximately 1/4 of the honey produced is traded and 90% of the export is made from around 20 honey producer countries. The country with the most beehive assets (65 million) and producing honey (211 thousand tons) is China. The world’s average is 20 kg per hive for honey production, and this figure corresponds to 33 kg in China, 40 kg in Argentina, 27 kg in Mexico, 64 kg in Canada, 55 kg in Australia, 40 kg in Turkey, and 16 kg in Hungary. These countries are also the world’s top honey exporting countries. The countries that import the most honey in the world are; Germany, the USA, Japan, UK, Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria, and other European countries.
Besides honey, bee products such as propolis, royal jelly, pollen, and beeswax are also included in world trade. On the other hand, beekeeping is made in order to increase the quantity and quality of vegetable production, in addition to the production of beekeeping, bee products, and even more importantly, in the countries where agriculture is developed. For example, producers in plant production in the U.S. pay $ 41 million of bee rent to beekeepers to ensure pollination of the plants they produce, whereas they earn $ 3.2 billion from the contribution of bees to their production. In another study conducted in the USA; It has been found that $ 10 billion, which is approximately 1/3 of the total product value of $ 30 billion obtained from about 40 plant species, is provided due to honey bees. On the other hand, bee products such as honey, propolis, bee venom, royal jelly are used in many countries for “Apitherapy”, which means “Treatment with Bee Products”. However, beekeeping is one of the rare agricultural activities that can be done without harming nature and the environment. In this respect, beekeeping will be one of the most important sustainable agricultural activities of the future. Due to the reasons explained above, beekeeping is maintained as an indispensable agricultural activity all over the world.
Beehives in Beekeeping: Technical Information on Living Spaces of Honey Bees
The main rule of beekeeping is to work with technical beehives. Working with a technical beehive is important both for the efficiency of beekeeping and its longevity. There are many beehive types in world countries. Usually used hive types are; Langstroth beehives and Dadant style hives. The beehive consists of 5 pieces in total. These are bottom board, hatching, honeycomb, cover board or cloth, and hive cover. The bottom board is now used as a plastic sleeve base, and wood bottom boards are almost not used anymore. Because the plastic hive base as a whole has the feature of collecting pollen, it provides great convenience to beekeepers. If it is to be made of wood, it should be firm and no holes and gaps should be left and should be protected against disease and pests.
This part, which forms the body of the beehive, is also the living place of the bees used as hatching. The queen bee is located in this section and the breeding takes place here, and the flying hole with the bee inlet and outlet is in this section. The number of bees growing in this section increases by going up to the upper floor beside the honeycomb section according to the seasonal situation and honey is usually made in this part. When the winter season comes, the bees go down to the hatching section, so this section should be better.
A cover board or cover cloth can be used on top of the honey chamber or on the body. Take care that the cloth you will cover here is healthy and not made of a chemical substance. Because the material in this section will be directly on bees and honey frames, it should be good for health. To buy beehives, you will not experience any measurement problems between the hives when you buy from people who are experts in this field and who have been dealing with beehive business for many years. But if you buy a beehive from someone whose main job is not the manufacture of hives, you may encounter problems. Being standard is important for business practicality.
The characteristics to be considered in a beehive are generally:
- Body thickness should be at least 2.5x 3 cm. The trees to be used should be straight and without knots. Pine trees are generally used in hive construction. But the linden tree can also be preferred.
- The beehives you get should be standard. Therefore, it is important for you to work with only someone who manufactures beehives or is an expert in this field.
- Apiary models accepted worldwide should be selected. Because these models were discovered for the best and easy honey making and living of bees.
- The joints of the beehive should be well made that it should be healthy against humidity and similar conditions.
- The outer parts can be painted with open paints, to be used for many years.
- In order to work comfortably in beehives and for the health of bees, it is also necessary to consider:
There must be a 7.5 mm gap between the two frames on the sides and the inner surface of the hive,
There should be a 10 mm gap between the frame heads and the inner surface of the hive,
There must be a 25 mm gap between the bottom board and the frame bottom lath,
The gap between the middle of one frame and the middle of the other frame should be 36-38 mm,
There should be a 12 mm gap between the upper laths of the frame,
There should be a 10 mm gap between the frame upper laths and the covering board.
The bottom board should be inserted so that it can be removed and installed during cleaning.
By sticking to the above dimensions, we can modify the hive according to ourselves. But if we pay attention to the hive inner dimensions and frame dimensions, we will not have any difficulties in exchanging frames between our own hives and among other standard hives.
What Are the Beehive Types That Honey Bees Live In?
The technical features of the hive, in which the bee colony has spent its entire life, are closely related to the efficiency of beekeeping. Today, many different types of hives are used in the world, but the most common are Langstroth and Dadant type hives. Although many beekeepers use Langstroth type hives in the world, since these hives are made in different sizes, intermediate models approaching Dadant type are in the majority. The hive consists of 5 parts: bottom board, body-hatching, honeycomb, cover board, and cover. Langstroth and Dadant type beehives are removable framed beehives. There are also fixed honeycomb beehives.
If the beehive bottom board cannot be made from one piece, no gaps should be left at the joints of the pieces. Because every cavity and crack in the bottom board provides living space for bacteria, fungi, and insects from outside. Especially the moth butterfly lays its eggs inside these cracks. It is the main habitat of the brooding bees with its body. The entrance hole of the bees is in this section. Queen bee is usually found in this section and performs spawning operations on the honeycomb here. When the bees cannot fit into the hive body in the appropriate season, they go upstairs. As the bee colony spends the winter season, more attention should be paid to the robustness of the hive body and its resistance to winter conditions.
Solid cloth or sack pieces can also be used as a cover board. Many beekeepers even recommend it. The advantage of the diaper piece is that it does not make the bee angry by making a sound while opening the hive cover and it helps to ventilate the hive, especially in the summer. It also helps remove moisture and moisture from the hive. Vent holes should be found on the cover and these holes should be opened in summer. Again, the cover of the sleeve should be made in a way that fits well and protects the sleeve from the weather. If the hive is to be purchased ready, it must be obtained from companies engaged in beekeeping. There are many technical errors, especially in the hives made by local carpenters that do not deal with beekeeping.
Removable Framed Beehives
These types of beehives are the most common. They are the easiest to work with and hives which allow full access to the hatchery floor control. Stroller beekeepers often prefer them the most, as they require fast transportation. It is the standard of the industry in many countries.
- Langstroth Hive
In Langstroth beehives, hatching and honeycomb are at the same size. These hives are suitable for stroller beekeeping conditions in regions with weak flora, short nectar period, warm and dry climate where winters are warm. In Langstroth type hives, the hatchery and honey chamber body and frame dimensions are the same. There are 20 frames in total in Langstroth hive, 10 frames in hatching, and 10 frames in the honey chamber. The hive body thickness is 25 mm. Hatching and honey chamber dimensions from outside to outside are 505 mm x 435 mm x 260 mm; inside is 455 mm x 385 mm x 260 mm. The dimensions of the frames of Langstroth beehives from outside to outside are 440 mm x 250 mm and the frame seat width is 37 mm. The length of the frame from the outside to the outside increases to 472 mm with the fit of the sleeve. The main parts of the Langstroth hive are hive bottom board, hatching, honey chamber, frames, cover board, and hive cover.
- Beehive Bottom Board
It is located at the bottom of the hive. The bottom board should not be fixed and should be easily removed if necessary. However, in some parts of the world, since the stroller is widely used, the bottom board is fixed. The flight board is made hinged and closed along with the bottom board. The flight board is a guard post for the bees guarding the hive and the stopping place for the bees that flap and pump air into the hive during the aeration of the hive. At the same time, this wooden instrument makes it easier for bees to enter and exit the hive.
Hatching is the main part of the hive, which is placed on the bottom board and has a flight hole in the front bottom. As the name suggests, it is the section where the brood bees raise the offspring. Hatching is also the part where bees overwinter and winter food stocks are made.
- Honey Chamber
It is the floor placed on the hatchery when the presence of bees in the hive increases and becomes incapable of hatching. Almost all the honey to be harvested is taken from these floors. When the queen cannot find a vacant place in hatching to lay eggs, she maintains her spawning in the honey chamber cells.
These are the hive parts that are placed side by side in the hatchery and honey chamber, allowing the bees to save effort and time by being equipped with the basic honeycomb and as a result, to be more productive.
- Cover Board
It is in the form of an inner cover placed under the cover of the hive. The cover board can be made as 2-4 pieces or as a single piece. It is more suitable to be one piece in terms of stroller beekeeping.
- Hive Cover
It is the protector of all the hive parts listed above as well as the bees that live inside it. It may be straight or backward. It prevents rain and snow water from entering the hive. Especially in the case of stroller beekeeping, there should be ventilation holes at the front and back of the hive cover.
2. Modified Dadant Hives
Modified Dadant hive with its inner dimensions of 455 mm * 455 mm, the inner height of 310mm, and the body wall thickness of 30mm, is a beehive type with 12 frames. In modified Dadant hives, the bottom of the hatchery is not perpendicular to the hatchery, it is perpendicular to the frames of the hive or 90 degrees of the hatchery according to summer or winter months. It is a type of hive that its hatchery can also be placed in a parallel position to its frames. Modified Dadant hive is a beehive that is generally used in places where the winter is cold and severe with half a layer of honey chamber.
Fixed Honeycomb Beehives
These types of hives are usually quite common in countries where there is a long-term tradition of beekeeping.
- Warre Hives
In the Warre type hive, no basic honeycomb, i.e artificial honeycomb is put, the bee knits the honeycomb itself with the wax it produces. Apart from that, it has many advantages over science hives. For example, since bees adjust the honeycomb sizes to suit them, it is easier for them to fight diseases and pests, there is no need to use harmful chemical drugs.
The material used in basket hives is made of suitable tree sticks in the region and generally willow tree branches. It has a handle at the top. The diameter of the cone base is 45 cm and the height is around 65 – 70. These tapered basket hives are suitable for bee development and wintering. It is placed on a wooden base wider than the basket floor, a hole is left in front of the bees and the surrounding of the base is plastered with the same mud to prevent looting bees and bee pests from entering. Bees are fed well in spring, filling and swarming the basket, so the number of bees is increased.
If swarming is not desired, a beehive hatchery is taken and a frame with a basic honeycomb is placed, a four-plywood cover with a hole as much as a basket base is placed on it, a basket with a bee is placed on it and the surrounding is plastered. The bee now begins to enter through the hatchery hole, if desired, the hatchery will be lowered and put into the hive at the end of the harvest season.
- Log Hives
The log hive is produced from smooth spruce or juniper wood. Trees that are 30 to 35 cm in diameter, ie empty, are obtained from the forest. These trees are cut close to the length of the other beehives of the beekeeper. It does not have a standard size, but in an apiary, hives should be of the same size. The cut wood is carved with tools and turned into a log beehive. This work takes hours. The thickness of the wooden part of the bucket depends on the tree, but it is around 5 – 6 cm. After the carving of the tree is finished, a wooden cover is made on the entrance side and backside of the bucket. The entry hole is opened to the front of these covers.
- Sun Hives
It is produced from a skillful combination of baskets and support mechanisms. Bees fly in their own airspaces at a certain height from the ground.
The designer of the hive says that: “The driving force for its development was caused by the need to save bees from a world-bound cubic principle against all laws of existence – here we deal with laws that are specific expressions of a living’s life. There are many reasons for bees’ current problems. However, we can be assured that one of these reasons is that it is no longer possible for the creature to live its life as a physical and spiritual being.
For this reason, our initiatives have been directed to counteract the plunder of the bees’ vital forces through the stability forces that exist in the form. These last powers generally have a slightly therapeutic effect on the colonial living organism, but they must be supported by animal husbandry methods, which give up some old habits and replace them with new ones. On the one hand, the new basket we have developed offers the means to live the life of the bees to match their presence, and on the other hand, the portable honeycomb system provides the beekeeper with the means to control the hive and take any appropriate action that may be required. For this reason, the Sun Hive is an intermediate form between a fixed honeycomb hive and a mobile honeycomb system.”
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