Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: The Biology of the Honey Bee

This book is a beekeeper's must have.  I learned a lot of new stuff, details about bee biology that I hadn't read anywhere elsewhere.

It answered the strange yellow stripe on the bees question.

There's a wonderful two page chart which shows the exact development day by day for all three castes - worker, queen and drone. It shows the development of egg, larvae and pupae as well as the stages of capping - this is great when viewing queen cells to see how far along they are. The chart used in queen rearing courses.

I didn't realize how many glands the workers have. Most I knew about but not all of them. Hypopharyngeal (for royal jelly), salivary, mandibular (alarm/defense), wax, poison sac, Nasonov (homing scent), Arnhart and Dufour.

The Dufour and Arnhart are foot glands. The Arnhart gland is used for footprint marking and possibly forage marking as well.

There are many detailed diagrams and charts throughout, i.e., how the worker transfers and attaches the pollen to the hind legs, grooming, use of wings, etc.

The Chemical World chapter was really interesting - how the queen's pheromones get transferred through the hive by worker messenger bees, how brood pheromones encourage workers to forage for food, etc.

The author's writing style is easy to read. There are some technical details but they're certainly not overdone (no need to skip pages or be put to sleep) and the author breaks them down in such a way that you'll get the point, regardless if you're a beekeeper or someone who's interested in bees.

Some of the chapters are: The Origin and Evolutionary History of Bees, Honey Bee Anatomy, Development and Nutrition, Nest Architecture, The Age-Related Activities of Worker Bees, Other Worker Activities, The Chemical World of Honey Bees, Communication and Orientation, etc.

References to studies are listed throughout. There's a full reference section at the back.

This book is available on I highly recommend it and certainly plan to read it again so I can absorb more of its content.

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