All about wild bees

The oldest insects on the planet are wild bees. As excellent pollinators, they rightfully occupy a special place in the ecosystem. The number of insects is inevitably decreasing, since humanity, settling on the ground, leaves less and less suitable territories for survival.

If you do not stop the death of these amazing creatures, then, according to the calculations of scientists, they will disappear from the face of the planet by 2035. Only one active reserve currently maintains the population of the species. These are the unique forests of Bashkiria, where they still protect “free” melliferous plants and collect the medicinal product of their vital activity – wild honey.

Origin

Bees are a group of flying insects. She belongs to the order of Hymenoptera. Appearance, behavioral features, life activity are studied by the science “Apiology”. The ancestor of honey plants is a predatory wasp.

The transition from insectivorous feeding to eating pollen supposedly took place gradually in the process of consuming insects that pollinated plants and were covered with pollen. The oldest fossilized bee was found in amber in 2006. The age of the find dates back to the Cretaceous period (100 million years).

The word “bee” itself has an ancient Slavic origin. This form of notation is onomatopoeic “bučati” – “buzz”. Any insect of this group has two pairs of wings, a proboscis, a sting, and glands with poison.

Where does the wild bee live

All about wild bees

The favorite natural habitat of the sang is forest plantations, woodlands. The main condition is distance from roads, industrial centers, human settlements.

An ideal place for a family is this hollow. The nest can also be built between branches of trees in a dense crown, in crevices of walls or mountains. Burrows dug in the soil are also suitable for settlement.

Sometimes a comfortable place to live is near a person. A gap under the roof of a shed or house, the space between frames, etc. is suitable.

A place for a family arrangement should be suitable in many ways. The most important of them is the presence of a constant source of water nearby.

Types of wild bees

All about wild bees

More than 20 thousand species of winged insects have been described by modern scientists. Their main use is pollination of plants, production of honey, propolis, wax, bee bread.

Most genera are considered “public”. Each member of the community has its own “place” and specific responsibilities:

  • young insects feed the uterus, raise brood;
  • individuals at the age of 10 days produce wax and are engaged in the construction of honeycombs;
  • bees become scavengers and cleaners by 15 days of life;
  • adult “workers” collect honey.

Semi-social species live in small colonies. The number of families reaches 12. They are distinguished by a one-year development cycle and a common goal – to survive the winter.

Solitary species do not collect honey, but are good pollinators. The osmium bee is a subspecies of solitary insects. This is one of the most active pollinators. In some regions of the United States and Canada, it even began to be cultivated. A distinctive feature of the species is the simplicity of its content.

All about wild bees

Osmium uses natural hiding places to lay eggs:

  • reed cavities;
  • holes in the wood;
  • cracks in the bark, etc.

At the bottom of the “house” the uterus lays eggs first of the female, then the male. They develop faster. The female places a supply of food in each cell and seals it with a cork.

The larvae remain closed until spring. The uterus, having filled several nests, dies. With the arrival of warmth, the younger generation goes outside, and the cycle begins anew.

This type of bee is very peaceful, which makes it possible to use them in greenhouses.

There are also parasites among them. They got their name for the similarity of behavior with the bird Cuckoo. Trying to provide better conditions for their offspring, they penetrate into someone else’s nest and lay their eggs there. The larvae grow and develop on the family’s food reserves. They do not build their nests.

A distinctive feature of the species is the absence of an apparatus for collecting pollen. Hair cover is practically absent in most individuals. Outwardly, they look more like wasps. There are several thousand species of such bees – parasites.

Appearance

All about wild bees

Wild honey plants and domestic workers have a lot in common. But the species bred by nature differ from the selection ones even outwardly:

  1. The first difference is color. Wild individuals are distinguished by a monochromatic, discreet coloring. The tones are muffled. Domestic “workers” are very smart and bright.
  2. The size. Selection breeds are much larger than their forest relatives.
  3. Wild individuals have a protective carapace on their chest.
  4. The front pair of wings is longer than the rear. The thick hairline protects from the cold.

Characterization

All about wild bees

Wild individuals have the same body structure as domestic ones:

  • two pairs of wings;
  • head;
  • breast;
  • belly;
  • paws;
  • proboscis;
  • the sting.

They are also characterized by a hairy covering and a chitinous skeleton. Excellent vision is evidenced by the presence of two faceted and three simple eyes. Females and males have antennae in different quantities. This organ of smell is endowed with increased sensitivity. Serves to determine the level of heat, humidity, the presence of carbon dioxide in the nest.

There are taste buds on the proboscis and paws. The lower lip has transformed into a proboscis. The upper one looks like a chitinous plate. The sting is located at the end of the abdomen. There are a few notches on the surface. Therefore, after the bee stings the enemy, it lingers in the body. The bee itself always dies at the same time.

What to eat

All about wild bees

Wild honey plants, as well as “noble” ones, eat nectar and pollen collected from flowering plants. They prefer trees such as linden, bird cherry. From shrubs – viburnum. From herbs – clover, oregano, thyme, angelica, mother – and – stepmother, chicory, mint, sage.

Where they hibernate

“Free” honey plants hibernate in their nest. With the onset of the cold season, the house is cleaned. The bees clean out the debris, drive out the drones, and seal the honeycombs with wax corks. Protecting their home from drafts and excessive moisture, insects seal the cracks with propolis.

By the end of autumn, honey plants gather in a large lump. Its density depends on the ambient temperature. The colder it is outside, the tighter they get confused. Insects of the upper tier are inactive. Inside, individuals move actively, emitting heat. The core temperature reaches 350.

All about wild bees

Gradually, the bees change places. Individuals, moving inward, heat up and begin to generate heat themselves. The family, using the food supplies, is slowly moving up.

For a successful wintering, the main conditions must be met:

  • strong large swarm;
  • stock of honey;
  • preparation of the house (no draft and dampness);
  • peace and quiet around the winter hut.

When in cold weather the metabolism slows down for one bee, up to 7 mg of food per day is enough.

What does a forest bee nest look like?

All about wild bees

The houses of wild families are located in the hollows of trees. The internal structure always exactly matches the size, shape of the “room” and the location of the taphole.

Construction always starts from the bottom tier. The honeycomb is tightly attached from the sides and top. The bottom is rounded. The new family rebuilds 5-7 plates. Their size depends on the size of the swarm, place, time of “building”. However, the distance between the cells is always the same – 12,5 cm.

With an increase in the number of individuals, the house expands and can grow up to two meters in diameter. Insects will necessarily “close” a large opening at the entrance, while a small one will be gouged.

The lower entrance is located at a height of up to 7 meters. The nest is being built on the south side of the trees. There should be a water source nearby. Usually bees choose an old linden tree or an aspen tree with a hollow. If, when tapped, the barrel begins to buzz, then the nest is nearby.

Useful properties of honey

All about wild bees

The beekeeping product collected by wild honey plants is environmentally friendly. It is highly valued for its unique healing properties.

The collection is made once a year. By the end of summer, honey finally ripens and matures. Excess moisture goes away.

The product is distinguished by its dark color, thick consistency and strong honey aroma. It tastes a little bitter. Does not crystallize for a long time. Due to its composition, it is used both in folk medicine and in traditional medicine.

Trees for real beekeeping are very rare. The bulk of the population lives today in Bashkiria. Only in the forests of this republic the extraction of wild honey is carried out in large volumes.

Bortniki – professionals collect honey stocks without harming families. The usual volume of product from one nest is 1 kg, more is very rare.

How wild bees differ from domestic insects

All about wild bees

Signs of a common bee colony can also be observed in wild nests. The womb dominates the entire community. She lays eggs. The main composition is workers. At different stages of life, they are responsible for certain areas of activity:

  • care of the uterus;
  • brood rearing;
  • cleaning the hive;
  • construction of honeycombs;
  • collecting honey.

Differences:

  • inconspicuous color;
  • small size;
  • high level of vitality;
  • great diligence and high activity;
  • strong immune system;
  • external protection in the form of thick hairs allows you to survive in severe frosts up to -500;
  • aggression, attacking the enemy without warning.

Appearance and behavior must protect against external enemies and promote survival.

How to catch

All about wild bees

For the cultivation of honey plants, the most important thing is to provide them with their usual “housing”. They choose trees, build hollows. You can prepare decks.

You can catch a family in different ways:

  1. During swarming, specially prepared traps are set. They are placed in a quiet, secluded place in a tree.
  2. Having smoked the inhabitants of the nest, they collect the combs with the brood and place them in a new nest.
  3. A laborious method is cutting out a hollow with a tree.

Technique of fishing

All about wild bees

Swarm traps are made from plain plywood. Frames are placed inside. No more than 8 pieces. For the bait, they put one or two old ones, the rest are just enough to tighten with wire. A free space of 2 cm is left between the bottom of the box and the honeycomb.

The trap is fixed with ropes and slings closer to the crown at a height of 5 meters. It is better to choose trees near a clearing or felling. The box is checked every 7 days. The swarming period lasts from late May to July. If the swarm has settled in a trap, it is lowered from the tree and transported.

Take away the trap after sunset on the return of the bees. Carefully, without making unnecessary noise, the beekeeper climbs the tree, closes the latch. It must be secured to avoid accidental opening during transport. When organizing the descent, it is necessary to take into account that the weight of the temporary hive will be more than five kilograms.

Domestication

Forest beekeeping – insect breeding in natural conditions. This work requires experience and knowledge. Families are regularly fed. Provide fresh water. If left to live in hives, then winterization is mandatory.

Taking honey from wild bees is dangerous! You cannot do it yourself without the help of an experienced beekeeper.

Forest bee sting

All about wild bees

The concentration of poison in a wild insect is much higher than that of a domestic insect, so the pain is much stronger. Swelling of the affected area and an increase in the body temperature of the victim are possible.

First aid for bites:

  • remove the sting;
  • squeeze out the poison;
  • treat the affected area with any available disinfectant;
  • take an antihistamine (Fenkarol, Suprastin, etc.);
  • apply a cold compress;
  • drinking plenty of fluids is recommended.

Numerous stings of wild bees are dangerous to human life and health. A severe allergic reaction is possible. You should immediately consult a doctor.

How to fight

All about wild bees

Wild bees settle in woodlands. Nests also appear next to human habitation. Such a neighborhood scares people, because they have an aggressive character.

You can get rid of “neighbors” in different ways:

  1. Protect the area from insects with a high fence. Flying over a large obstacle for wild honey plants is very tiring, they will look for a more accessible place of “work”.
  2. Lavender bushes planted on the site will protect the area from intruders.
  3. Fumigation of premises inside and outside with herbs with a strong aroma (mint, oregano, sage) will drive away unwanted neighbors.
  4. You can get rid of the swarm by handing it over to the beekeeper. The beekeeper will help to catch the family and transfer it to a sufficiently remote distance from the old place.
  5. Earthy species do no harm. If the nest interferes with planting work, then it is flooded with boiling water or treated with pesticides.

In order to preserve the population of honeybees, they were included in the Red Book. They disappear. Protecting the insect gene pool, an important niche in the planet’s ecosystem is preserved, and a person uses a unique product of bee’s vital activity – honey.

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All about wild bees
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Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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