Unsung heroes: The Beekeeper

Posted by David Travis on 1 Oct 2018

Unsung heroes: The Beekeeper

What do beekeepers do all day? I went to Longsdon Apriary to find out.

Longsdon Apiary.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/1000s, f/3.5, ISO 800.

The face and neck are the most important areas to protect from bee stings, so most beekeepers wear at least a veil. Defensive bees are attracted to the breath, and a sting on the face can lead to much more pain and swelling than a sting elsewhere.

Canon 5D Mk III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at 70mm. 1/1600s, f/2.8, ISO 100.

Almost all the bees in a hive are female worker bees.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/2000s, f/11, ISO 6400.

Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk II with 60mm f/2.8 M-Zuiko lens. 1/800s, f/2.8, ISO 1600.

Beekeepers use a "smoker" to calm the bees. The smoke masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees or when bees are hurt during an inspection.

Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk II with 60mm f/2.8 M-Zuiko lens. 1/500s, f/2.8, ISO 200.

The smoke creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the beehive and work without triggering a defensive reaction.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/320s, f/3.5, ISO 500.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/800s, f/3.5, ISO 1250.

Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk II with 60mm f/2.8 M-Zuiko lens. 1/1600s, f/2.8, ISO 200.

The Langstroth was the first successful top-opened hive with movable frames. The design of this hive (the National) is based on the Langstroth.

Canon 5D Mk III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at 70mm. 1/400s, f/4, ISO 100.

Canon 5D Mk III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at 24mm. 1/400s, f/4, ISO 100.

A beekeeper checks a honeycomb.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/125s, f/4, ISO 500.

The queen (marked with a red dot) is the only sexually mature female in the hive and all of the female worker bees and male drones are her offspring.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/800s, f/3.5, ISO 500.

The queen may live for up to three years and is capable of laying half a million eggs in her lifetime. The queen influences the colony by the production and dissemination of a variety of pheromones or "queen substances".

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/80s, f/3.5, ISO 500.

Experienced beekeepers tend not to use gloves because they prevent delicate manipulation of the hive.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/400s, f/3.5, ISO 500.

A portrait of the head beekeeper, Dr Nick Mawby.

Canon 5D Mk III with 100mm f/2.8L lens. 1/200s, f/4.5, ISO 320.


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