Welcome to The Bee Hive

"No Bees, no honey, no work, no money." Old Proverb

Welcome to the official website of The Bee Hive.

The Bee Hive is a group of novices, professionals, amateurs, high school and college beekeepers who are concerned with the mystery and management of bees. Our goal is to learn about the life of bees and promote their beneficial contribution to earth.

The original group sponsoring this blog broke into other groups and the blog is now the property of Nan Sherrill Smith, a concerned citizen who wants to help save bees.

Email may also be sent to nan.sherrill@gmail.com

"The careful insect 'midst his works I view,
Now from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew
With golden treasures load his little thighs
And steer his distant journey through the skies."
--- John Gay

Monday, April 25, 2016

What is the difference between Bees, Wasps and Hornets?

What is the difference
between bees, wasps, and hornets?


There are many similarities and differences between our little wing-whipping friends. For starters, all can sting you. That said, you may derive some solace in the fact that when certain of them sting humans, they die- not so when they sting many other animals. The barbed stingers on honey bees particularly end up getting lodged in our soft flesh, ripping out their backsides when they try and get away after stinging you.  When they sting most animals, this doesn’t happen.

Further, all three live in hives or combs. These humble abodes are always in cooler and sheltered areas, often within the shade of trees. Bees, wasps, and hornets all proliferate in warm weather, their hives growing in the spring and early summer. By late summer, food becomes scarce and that’s when they, especially wasps and hornets, start finding their way to human food and your picnic.

While the colors are all pretty similar (brown/black, yellow, with some white) on bees, wasps, and hornets, the markings differ. This is where the insects we all tend to lump in the same category (flying, stinging, and scary), begin to show their differences.

We start with the humble bee. Bees are furry pollen collectors, who rarely have any need to interact with humans. As the expression “as busy as a bee” insinuates, worker bees (usually the only type of bee most people will see) spend their lives going to and from the hive, acquiring nectar (and pollen on their bodies) during their trips. They play an integral part in the pollination of various plants, and some of them provide us with tasty honey.


They feed the acquired nectar to their young, developing the new generation of bees. They also protect the queen bee, allowing her to lay the eggs. There are over 25,000 known bee species, but the two most common types of bees are honeybees and bumblebees. Both produce wax, but only the honeybee produces honey.

Another big difference between the two is that the bumblebee is nearly double the size of the honeybee. Bumblebees are fat (at least in bee terms) and hairy, their size relative to their wingspan giving rise to the myth that science can’t explain how they are able to fly. Honeybees are more sleek. They both are yellow with black stripes, though the bumblebee often has a red/orange or white tale. Additionally, honeybees live in large colonies, topping out at 25,000 bees. Bumblebees tend build their nests underground (though they have been found in walls), and sometimes in tunnels constructed by other animals. Their colonies are much smaller than bumblebees, only numbering into the hundreds.


Wasps, unlike bees, are aggressive and predators. There are over 30,000 species of wasps and they are distinguishable from bees by their pointed lower abdomens and narrow “waist,” a petiole, that separates the abdomen from the thorax. They also have little to no hair on their bodies (as opposed to bees) and don’t play much of a role in the pollination of plants.  Their legs are shiny, slender, and shaped like cylinders.

All wasps hunt for their food and build nests for shelter. What exactly they prey on and how they build their nests depends on the type of wasp. There are two general types of wasps: social and solitary. Social wasps build colonies and start from scratch every spring, never nesting in the same spot twice. They design their home sweet home out of chewed up wood fibers and their own saliva. The nests may hold up to five thousands wasps and are typically found in protected spaces, like attics, inside of walls, or under decks. Social wasps eat many different types of things (they are omnivorous) including fruits, plants, human food, and other insects (flies, bee larva, caterpillars, etc.)

Solitary wasps do not form colonies and live under ground or in tubular mud nests. There’s no caste system, as in the queen cares for it’s own young. The queen seeks out prey – flies, bee larva, cicadas (there’s actually a species of wasp known as “cicada killers”), and paralyzes it with its sting. They take the still-living insect back to the nest and feed it to their larva.

It’s during the late summer when wasps begin to get aggressive. This is due to the fact that the worker wasps job is done for the year and they’re, literally, waiting to die. After taking care of the queen and feeding the new generation of worker wasps, the old ones are now useless. They become disoriented and begin to venture away from the nest, in search of food and something sweet.

As absurd as this sounds, these wasps have nothing left to live for besides satisfying their sweet tooth. So, they become aggressive, bold, and persistent. They land on a human hand that’s holding an ice cream cone. They dive into a can of soda. They munch on a half-eaten apple. In fact, in September of 2013, the British Red Cross warned citizens that wasps were getting “drunk” on fermented fruit and were going all out in search of more. Said Joe Mulligan of the Red Cross to the British newspaper, The Independent, in 2013:

It’s hilarious that, now worker wasps have finished their life’s work, all they are doing now is feasting on fermented fruit and getting ‘drunk’.

All that being said, wasps aren’t just pests, but benefit humanity in some ways. They prey on many other “pest” insects and have actually been used by the agricultural industry as an effective means to control crop pests, resulting in a much more environmentally friendly way to do this over many pesticides.


Hornets are actually a species of wasps. Hornets differ from other wasps in that their stings are more venomous (they contain more acetylcholine); they tend to attack for food as a colony, and their nests are all aerial (as opposed to many wasps species).

The Giant Asian Hornet, native to parts of Russia, China, Vietnam, and the mountains of Japan, can grow to be about 2 inches long with about a 4-5 inch wingspan. It is the world’s largest and most venomous wasp. It is colloquially known as the yak-killer, due to the venom’s ability to dissolve the tissue of even the largest of mammals.

Because the honey bee is on an individual level incapable of harming the Giant Asian Hornet and just a handful of Giant Asian Hornets are capable of decimating an entire hive of honeybees, the Japanese Honeybee has come up with an alternate strategy to stopping the mass-destruction of their populace by the hornets.  When the Giant Asian Hornet is detected, first the honey bee will emit a pheromone that the Hornet can pick up on that’s basically an “I see you” warning.  The scouting hornet then may leave in this case.


If not, and the hornet continues towards the hive, the honey bees will ball the hornet– essentially surrounding it completely with as many bees as possible.  They will then exert themselves as much as possible to raise their body temperatures.  Inside the ball, the temperature will rise rapidly, while simultaneously the carbon dioxide levels will also increase.  Once the temperature inside the ball passes 115 degrees Fahrenheit or 46 degrees Celsius, it exceeds what the hornet can tolerate, but is still well under what the honey bees can handle (around 50 degrees Celsius).  The combination of heat and low oxygen level will eventually kill the Giant Asian Hornet.

Several of the honey bees will likely die before the hornet and this means of defense isn’t effective against a large number of Giant Asian Hornets, but it works well at eliminating the scouting Giant Asian Hornets, which can potentially stop a large scale attack from happening in the first place.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy subscribing to our new Daily Knowledge YouTube channel, as well as:

Can Honey Go Bad or Make You Sick?
How Honey Bees Keep Their Hives Warm Given That They are Cold Blooded
Bumblebee Flight Does Not Violate the Laws of Physics
Honey Bees Know the World is Round and Can Calculate Angles
What the “Bee” in “Spelling Bee” Means



The “tarantula hawk” is extremely frightening to look at, but you can rest easy that they want nothing to do with you. These bright black and blue wasps find tarantulas, sting, paralyze, and drag them back to their nests. They then lay a single egg on the spider’s abdomen. When the wasp larva hatches, they feed on the still live, but unable to move spider. They avoid vital organs while feeding to keep their prey alive as long as possible. These “hawks” are docile and don’t bother humans, unless of course you step on their nest. In that case, their sting is considered one of the most painful of any wasp. Fortunately, the sting isn’t particularly venomous (swelling goes down within 48 hours), but the intense pain can last several minutes.

Parasitic wasps is a particularly type of wasp that lay their eggs inside of other insects (the tarantula hawk is this type of wasp, and the Jewel Wasp is another even more amazing example). The larva eventually hatch and feed on their host, ultimately killing it. These are the type of wasps that are generally used by the agricultural industry to control pest populations.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Poem Queen, you are fathomed

Queen, you are fathomed

Exalted life
not because you know
slavish attention
                            or sit
bathed in the royal jellies
     and rarer distillates

not because it commences
            backlit all

by droning buzz and the mellow

            scent of lilac

             but for your ignorance of desire

             for your cloistering, Liege

Never wondering
                 what tastes abound
              in distant clusters

                                               so rich is your interior
                                                your fecundity

                          your mulitple dark imaginings

Never saying
                           as I do

Why     and again     Why

Never saying
                    as I do
                    to the world of surrounding combs

          Do you think I may someday escape

Joseph Spece

Sunday, November 9, 2014

We Can Help Bats Too

Chrysalis is on the threshold of beginning a Permaculture project on the Chrysalis property. The members have already planned to donate seedlings, plants, and other supplies to get the Permaculture started. As the leader in the project we are lucky to have Jose Oscar Mediavilla and Stacey Hessler who will administer the parts of the project and act as custodians of the property.

Below is an article about one Permaculture Project to help preserve bats.

If you are experiencing severe insect infestations in your area, building a bat house might be the solution to your problem. And with quality bat house plans, it is easily done too even if you're no skilled woodworker.

There are things you need to consider, however, in building a bat house of your own. These will make the dwelling habitable for bats. These are:
Location is a very important aspect in bat house building. You need to have the dwelling situated where the needs of the bats are provided. For example, the structure should have direct exposure to sunlight for at least 10 hours everyday for proper roosting of the bats.Though, more is better.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that bats need water nearby. This is why it's a very good idea to build a dwelling for bats near rivers or streams. Also, the area should not be near to bright lights and be sure that the area has clearance for the bats to swoop in and out of their house.
Lastly, the house should be mounted high above the ground. It has to placed on a pole that's at least 12 feet high.
Materials are also one aspect you need to consider in building a house for bats. You won't b needing costly materials for this task unlike other woodworking projects. However, it is imperative that you have the right one.
For example, you need to use untreated wood as the treated one may contain chemicals which may prove harmful to bats. Also, it is more appropriate to use galvanized or exterior grade screws rather than nails.
Bat House Plans
The interior of the bat house should be designed in such a way that will attract the bats to this dwelling. And you'll have better chances at that when you use top notch bat house plans. Additionally, with a good blueprint to guide you, you can be sure that the specifications are correct.
If you are looking for good bat house plans to use for this project, I strongly suggest that you go for plans that has step by step instruction. Also, blueprints with detailed illustration will help you implement the plan correctly and follow the instruction to the letter even if you're not a skilled woodworker.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Quotes About Bees

Nobody around here had ever seen a lady beekeeper till her. She liked to tell everybody that women made the best beekeepers, 'cause they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting. It comes from years of loving children and husbands...
I hadn't been out to the hives before, so to start off she gave me a lesson in what she called 'bee yard etiquette'. She reminded me that the world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places. Don't be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don't be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants. Don't swat. Don't even think about swatting. If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee's temper. Act like you know what you're doing, even if you don't. Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved....
Bees have a secret life we don't know about.
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower.
~ Isaac Watts, Against Idleness

Article About Albert Einstein Comments on Bees:

Did Albert Einstein Ever Link Doom of Human Race to Bees?

Probably, the most common bee controversy ever associated with Albert Einstein is if he had ever predicted this: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live"?

Perhaps why this dispute created a huge buzz was because it was rather unimaginable for Albert Einstein, who was neither an entomologist nor an expert in beekeeping, to speculate about bees.
bee quotes graphic Nevertheless, we all would miss the most important lesson in this hoo-ha if our minds are fixed on verifying the authenticity of the quote. The unnerving question is "How true is this statement?" Isn't it? 

We can brag relentlessly about our knowledge on the advancement of science and technology today, but how much do we really know about the world we live? Have we blatantly and foolishly taken nature for granted? 

Sometime in 2006, the sudden, mysterious disappearance of honey bees in the United States, Europe and Brazil was a reminder of the quote attributed to the scientist, and a wake-up call for mankind. Beekeepers lost a bulk of their hives and suffered significant losses in honey production, and up till now are still stumbling over the understanding of this so-called "colony collapse disorder" syndrome and its cause. No one could explain why the bees became disoriented and failed to return to their hives!

We are told that the honey bee is totally responsible for the pollination of over 90 fruit and vegetable crops worldwide, so it would be devastating if we were to lose a majority or all of our honey bee pollinators for these crops which are not self-pollinating and rely on the insects and other pollinators such as birds to help them reproduce. The bee is a fragile part of our system and an important indicator of our out of balance world. Their weird disappearing act has far-reaching implications for our agricultural food supply and is definitely not an issue to be ignored.

Where have all the bees gone? Until now, the cause of this strange phenomenon remains unknown. Some of the possibilities postulated by scientists include:

• Global warming accelerates the growth rates of pathogens such as the mites, viruses and fungi that affect the health of bee colonies. The unusual hot-cold weather fluctuations wreak havoc on bee populations which are accustomed to consistent seasonal weather patterns.

• Increasing use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, which honeybees ingest during their daily pollination rounds have weakened or killed them.
• Increase in atmospheric electromagnetic radiation as a result of growing numbers of cell phones and wireless communication towers. Cell phone radiation interferes with bees' ability to navigate through the air.

Ultimately, whether Albert Einstein did ever discuss about the bees becomes an irrelevant concern in the light of a much graver question, "What should we do to encourage the return of the bees?"

quote image

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

quote image

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stop Syngenta's Bee-killing Pesticide Plan

Stop Syngenta’s bee-killing pesticide plan. Posted 09-29-14

The United States has already lost more than half of its managed honeybee colonies -- and the problem could soon get much worse.

Techno-bee with chip
Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta, which is one of Monsanto’s biggest competitors, just filed paperwork with the EPA requesting permission to increase the amount of the bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam it uses on alfalfa, corn, barley, and wheat crops by up to 40,000%.1 If approved, this proposal would be absolutely devastating for bees and other pollinators.

The EPA has opened a crucial public comment period to take feedback on Syngenta’s bee-killing proposal – but we only have a few days to flood the EPA with comments and save the bees.

Tell the EPA: Reject Syngenta’s bee-killing pesticide proposal. Submit a public comment before the October 6 deadline.

A growing number of scientists place the blame for the rapid collapse of bee populations on neonicotinoid pesticides, including Syngenta’s thiamethoxam, which suppress bees’ immune systems and make them more susceptible deadly viruses and bacterial diseases.

That’s why governments and individuals around the globe are taking action to save bees and other pollinators by restricting or prohibiting the use of neonicotinoids. In Europe, after a major report found that these pesticides posed “high acute risks” to bees, the European Commission enacted a two-year ban in order to conduct further studies.2 And just a few weeks ago, Canadian beekeepers filed a $400 million lawsuit targeting pesticide manufacturers Syngenta and Bayer for their role in contributing to the deaths of honeybees.3

But here in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to continue studying the issue until 2019 before taking action, despite the fact that bee populations continue to collapse.4 Bees can't afford to wait for the EPA to get its act together -- and neither can we.

Syngenta’s new proposal to radically increase neonicotinoid pesticide spraying could be a death sentence for bees. We need your help to build massive pressure on the EPA to reject it.

Submit a public before the October 6 deadline telling the EPA to reject Syngenta’s bee-killing pesticide proposal.

1. "Syngenta asks EPA to raise tolerance level for 'bee-killing' chemical," E&E Publishing, September 5, 2014.
2. "Colony Collapse Disorder: European Bans on Neonicotinoid Pesticides," Environmental Protection Agency.
3. "Beekeeper 'Frustration' Led To Class Action On Neonicotinoids," Huffington Post, September 6, 2014.
4. "Schedule for Review of Neonicotinoid Pesticides," Environmental Protection Agency.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Queen Of The Sun Video

Enjoy this new video about bees.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014



August 16th people will be posting globally on social media to help save the bees. Join one of the 'Swarm the Globe to Save the Bees' events and add your voice! www.facebook.com/...