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Stumper #19.
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- Out of Sweetness Comes ... ? -

The swarm of honeybees had constructed themselves a hive under the roof over-hang, beside the chimney; they had made their way through a crack and were building more hive inside the roof. This was bad news. The bees had to be removed.


Picture 1.

Picture 2.

Bees are valued insects especially since the recent decimation of their numbers due to mite infections. There was even a possibility that this swarm was mite-resistant. So, Mike and his colleague Jim, both beekeepers, had been invited to remove the swarm and add it to their collection. They set up their gear early in the morning. The hive was large and the number of bees impressive. It would take most of the day to cut the hive away piece by piece with the forager (worker) bees busily coming and going, seemingly calm despite the human interference. Moving slowly and deliberately Mike puffed smoke from his smoker onto the swarm. Bees moved away revealing for a few minutes the yellow edges of rows of comb so that Mike could see where to cut away each section of the hive most effectively. (Picture 1)

Much later in the day, gently holding the edge of yet another piece of comb, Mike carefully cut the top and lifted away a section about ten inches by twelve and lowered it dripping with honey and covered with bees (Picture 2) into the white super resting on a chimney ledge. Then a cloud passing across the face of the sun cast a shadow over the wall. Mike paused as a crowd of the foragers returned to their hive. The sun came out again, foragers returned to their foraging, more smoke was puffed onto the hive, and more of the comb was cut away and carefully lowered into the box. The task took Mike and his colleague about eight hours.

The pieces of comb and the brown undulating mass of the thousands of bees, with their queen, was eventually taken to a bee farm (apiary) and introduced to a wooden hive. From here the workers continue to forage for nectar. They collect the nectar (a sweet liquid) by sucking it through their special mouthparts and convert most of it during digestion to honey.

In humans one result of sugar digestion is fat. None of the sugary nectar collected by the worker bees is converted to fat. What substance, chemically similar to fat, is produced from nectar by bees and what is it used for?


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