MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: How are bees affected by smoke?

Date: Wed Oct 11 09:39:29 2000
Posted By: June M. Wingert , RM(NRM),Associate Scientist
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 971190797.Zo

Hi Joey,

That was a good question , the information below should help answer your 
question. Also, make sure you visit the websites I have listed, you will 
be able to get more information about bees. 

Beekeepers usually have a smoker, filled with straw or wood chips. The 
beekeeper blows a bit of smoke at the bees. The smoke confuses and calms 
the bees while
the beekeeper takes some honey away.

Here are some interesting facts about Bees taken from the following 

Making Honey

People have kept bees to make honey since ancient times. The way the bees 
make honey is quite simple. The bees collect nectar from the flowers.
Nectar is mostly water and some sugar. In the hive most of the water 
evaporates from the nectar while on bees' tongues or in the cells,
leaving honey. The finished honey is still runny, but it will soon start 
to harden unless the beekeeper treats it in a special way.

People have been eating honey for thousands of years. Today you can buy 
different kinds of honey in the shops. The honey may come from other


Flowers don't have their bright colours and nice smells just so that we 
can enjoy them, they need their scents and colours to attract bees and 
insects. Bees need the flowers for food, while flowers need bees to help 
them make seeds. Taking pollen from the anther of one flower to the stigma
of another flower is called POLLINATION.

Bees feed on a sweet sugary liquid called NECTAR which is made by the 
plants. On its way to the nectar the bee gets some of the pollen stuck to 
body. In the next flower the bee visits, the pollen brushes off onto the 
stigma and so pollinates the flower.

Bee Senses
Bees do not see, smell, taste, hear or touch in the same way as we do. 

The bee's eye is made up of many tiny 'eyes' - as many as bee's eye is not 
as good as your eye at seeing things clearly at seeing small movements.

Bees don't see the same colours as we do. We can see all the colours of 
the rainbow but bees cannot see red, they see it as black. Bees however do
see ultra-violet which we cannot see.

Smell and Taste
Bees don't have a nose, they smell with their antennae (feelers) and they 
taste things with their feet.

Bees do not have ears on their heads but can hear some sounds as they have 
ears on their antennae and legs.

As well as its antennae, the hairs on a bee's body are sensitive to touch.

How do Bees keep warm in winter

If the air inside the hive gets too warm, some of the workers start 
fanning with their wings. This draws fresh air in, which helps to cool the 
hive. Other
bees spread water about inside the hive, when this evaporates, it also 
helps to cool the hive.

Why are cells heaxagon shape?
Scientists have found that the six sided (hexagon) cells are the strongest 
possible shape that could have been used. They have more storage space
and take less wax to build than other cell shapes.

Busy Bees

Helping in the Nursery
After a worker hatches, she cleans herself and begins cleaning out cells 
(the queen will not lay eggs in cells until they are cleaned and polished).

Feeding the Larvae
When the worker bee is 3 days old, she changes her job. She now helps to 
feed the newly-hatched larvae in their cells. They grow very quickly as
they are fed hundreds of meals a day by the 'nurse' bees! 

Helping with Building Work
After about 2 weeks, the worker begins to make wax, which it chews and 
shapes into the combs where the honey and pollen are stored and the cells
where the eggs are laid. 

Guarding the Hive
The worker, now over 2 weeks old, begins guarding the hive. Every bee in 
the hive has the same smell because they all eat the same food. If a bee
with the 'wrong' smell tries to enter, the guards drive it away.

Collecting Food
Finally, at about 3 weeks old, the worker begins making trips to collect 
food. A worker may make about 400 trips before its flight muscles simply
wear out and the bee dies, usually on its way back to the hive. 

Dancing Bees

Bees can't talk or write but they can still tell other bees where flowers 
with plenty nectar and pollen can be
found. When a bee returns to the hive, it 'dances' on the comb. Bees have 
two dances:


This dance tells other bees nectar is not far away. Other bees then fly 
off looking for the flowers.


The waggle dance tells other bees the nectar is further way. The bee moves 
round and waggles its body as it
moves along the middle. The waggle dance tells the other bees in which 
direction to fly

Bits and Bobs about Bees

It is estimated there are around 65 million hives worldwide producing 
nearly 1 million
tonnes of honey each year.

It takes 75 foraging trips to produce 1 gram of honey.

To produce 1 lb of honey, foraging bees must fly the equivalent of three 
times around the world.

Bees can travel up to 10km from the hive foraging for food.

The honeybee was the first insect to be drawn under the microscope (1625).

The world's first Beekeeping Club was founded in Glasgow in 1942.

Throughout the ages, bees have been used as weapons. Beehives were dropped 
on or thrown at opposing soldiers. As recently as 1915 in Africa, the
German army used bees to delay the advance of British troops.

During the 2nd World War, the Japanese used bees to carry microscopic 
documents across enemy lines.

For centuries bees have been used to guard valuables. In India bandits 
used Apis dorsata, one of the largest and most dangerous bees, to guard 
in mountain caves.

The largest recorded number of stings was 2,243 to a 30 year old man in 
Zimbabwe - he survived the ordeal!

The largest recorded honeycomb measured 7 ft. x 6 ft.

It was ancient practice to preserve the dead in honey.

Taking a bath in honey was said to cure aches and 'strong itches'.

In the past, people thought that dead bees mixed with honey and put on a 
bald head made the hair grow back.

For centuries bee stings have been used as a treatment for rheumatism.

Honey has been used to preserve human corneas for transplants.

Because of its antibiotic properties, honey has been used for dressing 
wounds and burns.

As well as calming bees with smoke, chloroform and even laughing gas have
been used.

Bee stings on a hot day are said to be more painful.

The pollen eaten by a bee affects the strength of the venom.

Every marriage contract in ancient Egypt required the bridegroom to 
promise to
supply his bride with honey throughout their marriage.

Here is another site to go to.

Hope this answers all your questions about bees.

June Wingert
Mad Scientist


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