Last week we spoke with Shane Gebauer, President of Brushy Mountain Bee Farms, while at the Mother Earth News Fair 2018. He shares how bees make their beehives and what we can do to help bees build them.
Gebauer grew up on a dairy farm in northern New Jersey, selling calves to other dairy farms. He graduated from the University of Maine with a Masters of Science in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. He has been working at Brush Mountain Bee Farm for over 10 years. To read more about his life, visit Bee Culture Magazine.
As Gebauer shares, bees create their hives by building honeycombs. The combs are made of beeswax, which is shed in flakes from bees abdomens. From there, bees shape them into the efficient, space-saving hexagon shapes. Incredibly strong, the hexagon shapes help hold the heavy honey. One frame of hive in an apiary (bee farm) can hold six to eight pounds of honey.
Gebauer enlightened us how two million flowers are needed to produce one pound of raw honey, and seven to eight pounds of honey is needed to produce one pound of wax (which would be sixteen million flowers). If one bee only produces one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime, then then it takes 256 bees to make a pound of honey and 2048 bees to make a pound of wax.
Even though we can't all have sixteen million wild flowers on acres of property allow two thousand bees to visit, we can help by supporting our bees with good pollen and nectar producing flowers. Every little bit counts.