GWCCA bees are back and bee-tter than ever! But what exactly have our bees been up to this year?
In January, our bees were in a temporary location near our loading docks, awaiting a brand new home adjacent to the beltline connector. Inside the hives, the honeybees were clustered in a ball around the queen bee to keep her warm. Our queen bees must be kept at 95 degrees Fahrenheit at all times throughout the colder months. They rarely fly outside of the hive when the temperature is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit! During the winter, they were eating honey, conserving heat, and only flying if necessary (maybe to go to the bathroom!).
From March through May, our honeybee colonies grew extremely fast. They were re-installed in time for Earth Week in April. Right now, hundreds of thousands of baby bees are being born, which means the hive can get overcrowded. As a superorganism, they have a biological urge to spread as a species once they’ve filled their cavity.
They do this through a process called swarming. When a colony outgrows its home, about 60% of the colony, plus the old queen, will leave the hive in search of a new one.
This is a sign of an extremely strong and healthy hive! New queens will hatch and fight to the death until only one queen remains in the original colony. The group that leaves will take flight together, cluster up, and then latch onto a branch, tree, or maybe even a car door for a day or two while scout bees look for their new home. A swarm is pictured below.
GWCCA bees started making their first bit of honey last month, which will continue until June. The excess honey will be removed before beginning to harvest again. Did you know honeybees are the only insect that produces food that humans consume? Or, that 70 of the top 100 food crops in the United States are pollinated by bees?
In the past two years alone, GWCCA honeybee colonies have produced more than 250 pounds of honey right here in the heart of downtown Atlanta! As of June 2021, there are more than 150,000 honeybees in our hives near the entry point of the Westside Beltline Connector. This means 18,000 acres in the surrounding area are being positively impacted and pollinated by our little furry friends. We hope as you celebrate Pollinator Week, you take the time to notice all the little insects buzzing around you. After all, according to the USDA, every third bite of food you eat is thanks to a honeybee!