Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fueling Stations and Filling Station Bees

When you're relaxing in the rec room do you have a bar fridge close by that you keep snacks in? 
If you do then you're thinking like a bee.

The bees use the center of a frame as the brood area.  But to make it easier for the nurse bees to feed the hungry brood the bees deliberately put food close by.

They store honey and pollen in the top corners of every frame in the brood chamber.  As the bees work outwards from the center the frames will become full of just honey.

After the brood box is filled they'll move up and put honey and pollen in the supers.
Have you every noticed on a frame of fully capped cells that there's the odd cell here and there that the queen didn't lay in.  She didn't miss that cell.  It was done by design.  It's a fuel cell.
The workers use these cells as fueling stations. As you can see in the photo the cells are very close at hand for hungry nurse bees.  Remember they feed the larvae royal jelly created by their bodies so they need to fuel up so they can put the fuel out.

You can tell a fuel cell because it'll be full of nectar.

A worker chore that I had not known about before is a filling station bee.  These bees are charged with the task of filling up the fuel cells for the nurse bees.

Jurgen Tautz reported on these fueling cells in his fascinating book, The Buzz about Bees.  I highly recommend this book.  I learned so much about bee biology in this easy to read book.  See a review of it on Amazon at: The Buzz About Bees

I don't think the bees will ever stop being amazing.

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