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Gardening with Backyard Bees

Articles: Gardening with Backyard Bees

Decked out in fresh white bee suits, we look like clumsy cosmonauts as we shake the three-pound box of honeybees into the new hive. About 10,000 Apis mellifera dart around in circles, a buzzing vortex of stinging insects. We are nervous. Why won’t they go into the hive? Nerves become panic. What did we do wrong?

Later, consulting our resources, we read that newly introduced honeybees fly in a figure-eight pattern to orient themselves to the position of the sun, horizon, and other important navigational reference points in their new location. There seemed to be no end to the fascinating mysteries we encountered as we embarked on our backyard beekeeping adventure.

Before literally pouring those bees into the hive, we lodged the captive queen deep in the hive, safe in her pill bottle-sized house. Most of these bees were thrown together at the apiary: they’ve just met and need to be bewitched by the queen’s royal pheromones to become one with the hive mind. Until this happens, she is seen as an invader to be destroyed. But once the worker bees catch her pheromone drift (we’re told it smells like lemongrass) they become desperate and gnaw away at the strategically placed marshmall...

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Articles: Calochortophilia: A Californian’s Love Affair with a Genus by Katherine Renz

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