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Summer of Love & Honey

Suzanne Pollak


It's been a Summer of Love at the Academy. The bees have got it going on! The Academy hives are sizzling hot, not just because of the steamy weather in Charleston; because they've been making babies by the tens of thousands, plus producing at least 70 pounds of honey. To keep all this activity thriving and the happiness factor up, the hives had to be attended to, and soon! The bees needed more room in their beehive condos. Two more stories, AKA supers, were added to each hive this Summer -- one super two months ago, another last week. 35 to 40 pounds of honey already fill the two month-old supers. 

The supers are for honey only. The bottom box of the hive, called the brood box, is for the queen to reproduce, lay her eggs, and raise her young. A cross section of the center of the brood box would show a large round ball, the size of a volleyball, full of eggs and babies. In the corners honey is stored for winter. The bees keep warm during the cold months by beating their wings to give off heat and eating the brood box honey. In hot months, bees live 35 to 40 days. In the cold months they don't work as hard so their life expectancy doubles. Except for the drones….

The females have been throwing the drones out. Females kick them out this time of year because the drones are useless; they don’t collect nectar, they must be fed, they don’t sting (only the girls do!) All these Romeos do is mate. They are tossed out and die on the ground. Yes, it’s heartbreaking and ruthless but Mother Nature is tough. It’s a jungle out there, and this jungle is crowded. Who would suspect that the honey bee population in one tiny walled garden on Rainbow Row may be triple the human population in all of Charleston county?