Beekeeping Foundation Course
I have been fascinated by bees since I was a little boy. In summer 2014 I finally decided to do a beekeeping foundation class at the Bienenfreunde Zurich house of learning. This course is targeted at people who are interested in bees. The course teaches you the most important basics within half a day. If you are more interested afterwards and would like to start with your own hive, you can sign up for a two year long beekeeping course. This course is a lot more intense and practically orientated.
I totally recommend this course! I really enjoyed watching the work of a beekeeper and learning some amazing knowledge about bees and beekeeping in general. The course is divided into two parts. First you learn about the theory of bees and beekeeping. Afterwards you get dressed in a bee suit to inspect the beehives and the bees at work :)
The most fascinating things I learned about bees:
– The so-called 'waggle dance'. The bees tell each other where the best food sources are located by performing a certain kind of dance in the beehive. This dance shows the other bees in which direction and angle of the sun the flowers are located. Have a look here
– The queens 'wedding flight'. The queen only flies out to mate with drones (male bees) once in her lifetime. While she is on this wedding flight, she mates with about 10 to 20 drones. The drones die instantly after having sex with the queen. Once the queen is back in the bee hive, she produces eggs for the rest of her life (about two to five years). Have a look here
– The 'bee swarming'. We saw this phenomena live. A bee colony usually only has one queen (mother of the hive). When there is another one growing up, the old queen leaves the “nest" or “hive" with half of the bees to create a new independent “bee family". This is the only other time that the queen leaves the hive, besides her wedding flight. Bee swarming is a good opportunity for beekeepers because they can catch the swarm naturally. This way they don’t need to buy a new bee colony. And it's very interesting that the swarmed colony is not aggressive because they don’t have anything to defend at the moment. Have a look here
Thank you Bienenfreunde Zurich for this very nice afternoon. Thanks a lot Andreas Berger for the great pictures!