Making of hives is a necessity to bees, because they have to conserve honey, feed themselves during harsh conditions like winter and rear their young ones. Bees therefore make hives in quite unique places that scout bees believe are suitable for their colony. Such places include rock crevices, abandoned rodent holes, hollow trees, thick grass that are under sheds, in bird boxes, in trees and in compost heaps. They also have a tendency of nesting behind bricks by carefully selecting parts that have no traces of grout, thus allowing proper ventilation.
So, after finding an appropriate place of habitation, how is the bee hive made. Worker bees begin to make the hive from high sugar honey. The sugar content of the honey will then be converted into wax, which oozes from their small pores on their abdomen to produce tiny flakes of wax. The pieces, or flakes, will then be chewed by worker bees until they turn into soft and workable substances. The chewed substance is then added to the honeycomb construction to create densely packed groups of six-sided tubes of the hive.
How Bees Know Where to Make Hives
In every colony, there are scout bees whose role is to search for new places to make hives. They communicate with each other about the place of site by dancing. They will perform a waggle dance for suitable sites and will stop waggling for non-suitable sites. Scout bees will try to grab the attention of observing bees by rapidly increasing their waggle dance about the new site. By doing this, they hope to convince them. Thus, the longer the waggle phase the farther the place of site.
In other species of bees like bumble bees, the queen searches for a place to make a hive. She will use both her site and smell to investigate the environment. If it is a hole, she will go into it and if not suitable, she goes into another one until she finds a suitable site.
Bees also make hives in places where man has made to artificially attract them. If you would like bees in your garden, simply follow the below steps;
- Plant many native flowers and herbs of your area. They should also have single petals, bright colors and be able to bloom in sequence. The more the flowers the more bees attracted.
- Decorate your yard to be a bee haven by making it a little wild. Construct a bee bath that isn’t too deep then provide them with shelter. Their shelter should consist of rotting vegetation and stumps inside a brightly colored box.
- Cease from using any kind of pesticides. Pesticides and any other chemical sprayed make bees susceptible. If you want to use any pesticide, use natural pest-ridding remedies that keeps the garden pesticide-free. In case you want to spray, do so after dusk.
- Aim to plant flowering trees because they also attract bees. When they are in full bloom, they provide large amounts of food.
Characteristics of Places Where Bees Make Hives
- They have openings and cracks on them e.g. knotholes on trees.
- These places have sheltered and darkened enclosures.
- The site they select is usually near their original home site. This type of selection is commonly done by European bees.
- There is presence of vegetation around the area they make hives.
- The site of selection has a nearby water body.
Factors Influencing Where Bees Make Hives
Before bees settle in a place to make their hives, they usually consider the various biological and physical factors of their environment. Below are some of the factors;
1. Nectar and Pollen Abundance
Bees will make hives in a place where there are a lot of flowers thus high concentration of nectar and pollen. They require nectar because it’s a source of carbohydrates and complex range of sugar that provide them with energy, whereas pollen is their vital source of fats and proteins. Without these sources of food, bees can’t produce honey nor survive in their place of habitation.
Bees need water in places where they live, because they use it to cool their hive during hot weather. Water also helps them in the dilution of stored crystallized honey, food digestion, metabolism and control humidity of the colony.
3. Quality of Cavity
Bees consider the condition of their cavity thus their nesting place, before they make their hive. They prefer a cavity which is not occupied and dry. Did you know that bees are attracted to the scent of previous bee occupancy? This is because the scent has a specific appeal to them.
4. Nest Exposure
Bees prefer a site that is less exposed to the wind and excessive sunlight. Exposure to windy conditions brings uncomfortable conditions inside the hive due to cold air from outside. On the other hand, excessive sunlight slows down their workforce due to hot temperatures.
5. Size and Position of the Entrance
Bees prefer smaller entrance holes over larger entrances. They like to make their hive openings at the bottom of the nest, facing southwards exposure. This protects them from prevailing winds.
6. Ground Height
Although some bees build their nests on ground sites, most bees prefer to build their nests on higher ground sites usually 5 feet and 9 feet. This keeps them away from predators and interferences.
7. Volume of Nest Cavity
Most bees prefer nest cavity volumes ranging between 20-100 liters with a mean of 40 liters, though smaller cavities are preferred by tropical bees. This is because they are ready to nest in the open.
Measurement to Take on Bees Infestation
Bees can make their hives in any place, including your compound or outside your wall. This can make them a nuisance to you and your neighbors. If you find yourself in such a scenario, below are the measurements you should take;
1. If bees infest your brick wall, you should first inspect it, because their hives are not visible in such type of places. This is will help you determine where the buzzing sounds are loudest. If the bricks are not damaged, you will then use your masonry tools to extract the bricks. After locating all the bee hives, gently spray them with pesticides. The following evening, spray the hives again. Finally after all bees are dead, remove the hives and replace the bricks using the masonry tools.
2. Remove underground bees by first locating the hive. In order to trap the majority of bees in the nest, you need to approach it in a period of low activity. This is typically early in the morning or late evening. Make sure you put on long clothes that cover your entire body, including a hat, gloves and a beekeepers hood.
Using a short hose, insert one end into the opening to the hive. Trim the hose using a pocketknife to prevent it from protruding. Make a solution of dish soap, laundry soap and water then pour it into the hose. It should then be covered with a shovel full of dirt. This process should be done as fast as possible incase bees start to swarm. Watch for any beehive activity around the area every day for at least seven days. Dig up the nest if you suspect all bees in the hive are dead. This prevents new bees from rebuilding into the place.
3. You can also get rid of bee’s nest that they make on tree limbs, side of the house and in bushes by smoking them out. Although it is a natural effective method, you still need to take safety precautions to prevent ignition of fire. Directly under the bee’s nest, start a small fire by using twigs, small sticks and newspapers to keep the fire going. Run into your home for shelter if they begin attacking. Remember to keep an eye on the fire so that it doesn’t get out of control.
Before attempting to remove it, allow the smoke to rise for an estimate of 20 minutes. Approach the bee hive’s place and hit the section it is attached to using a long stick or a rake. Immediately it falls to the ground, use your tool to push it to the fire. Make sure the nest burns fully then examine the area on the next day if the bees and its nest have disappeared.
Tips and Precautions
In every measurement of removing bee infestation, make sure you first consider your safety and the people around you. Alert your neighbors of the activity you’re about to take so that they too can take extra precautions.
Always have a place to shelter in case they start chasing after you.
Wear protective clothing’s to prevent bee stings and if you can’t do it, call in a professional especially when dealing with Africanized bees.
Bees can make their hives anywhere, especially if they find that the place has suitable conditions favoring them. Compared to others species of bee, only bumble bees like making their hives inside abandoned rodent holes, under sheds and in compost heaps.
2 thoughts on “How Are Bee Hives Made?”
I live with my bees,
they are great guard dogs & totally sentient.
An interesting comment, thank you!