Naturalists explored the nature of bees

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Sheila Edwards, MVFN member
October 28, 2005

Naturalists explored the nature of bees 

BeesBeekeeper John Nelson captivated his audience of naturalists on Thursday, October 20th during the regular meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) at the Almonte United Church. The talk was of interest to honey consumers, amateur bee keepers, biologists, and all those who have paused in their busy day to watch a bee visit a beautiful flower.

Following introductions, an excellent documentary short film was shown. The film was produced by Jim Robertson and featured Mr. Nelson himself, and of course his bees. Afterwards Mr. Nelson handled questions which led to an in-depth exploration of bee keeping. There was no doubt about the interest shown by the audience. Mr. Nelson commented that he had never received such an excellent response to his favorite topic. Many fascinating and likely little known ‘bee facts’ emerged. For example:

1. Drones can be quite mysterious in their foraging patterns, sometimes searching out flowers 5 km away.

2. Local beekeepers need electric fences to protect the hives from skunks, raccoons, and bears.

3. It can take ~ 11 million flowers to produce one kilogram of honey.

4. The first queen bee to hatch, will kill all the other queen larvae, and then take off in the mating flight. If a hungry Flycatcher spots this awkward morsel, the only queen becomes lunch, and the hive will stop producing.

5. Domestic hives in Canada are at high risk of a fatal mite infection which is treated for each spring. Current research is directed at this problem.

6. If poor weather hits while a drone is out foraging, it may hide in a protected area, such as under a leaf, possibly not returning to the hive until the next day.

7. Similar to maple syrup production from sap, the bees create honey from nectar by concentrating it about 40 times.

8. Most important of all, buy local honey! Some honey sold in Canada may be a mixture of imported and domestic honey.

Host for the evening, Mr. Noel Noyes-Brown, thanked the speaker and presented him with a gift basket. The next indoor MVFN event will be Thursday, November 24th when we will host guest speaker Brian Cumming as part of our continuing series on “Change in our Natural World”. Dr. Cumming is an Associate Professor at Queen’s University and an expert in ecology and paleolimnology. For more information on this and other MVFN events, please visit our website at

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