Leitch's Honey, Randy Leitch, Orangevill,e Ontario, Canad,a local honey, raw honey, comb honey, beeswax, pollen

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Honey bees pollinate more than 90 food, fibre and seed crops. In fact, honey bees pollinate about one third of the food in the human diet. 
Honey bees, although small, play a very significant role in food, farming and the environment. They also produce nature's unrefined sweetener - honey - from the nectar of flowers

Bees and the beekeeping industry are of the utmost importance to the health and vitality of Canada's agricultural industry and to the country's economy. Bees play an indispensable role in the pollination of our essential crops. In fact, bees are responsible for the health of $170 million worth of crops in Ontario each year.

Honey bees are called "social insects" because they live together in a cooperative society where adults and young share the same dwelling. No individual honey bee can survive on its own; they are all dependent on each other. A colony generally contains one breeding female, or queen, a few thousand males, or drones, and a large population of sterile female works bees. The population of a healthy hive in mid-summer can average between 40,000 and 80,000 bees.

The life span of a worker bee is only 25 and 30 days - during which it will travel about 500 miles in its quest for nectar and propolis. "The bees hatched in the fall, (mid-August or later) will over-winter, and then be replaced by the end of March or early April."

A queen bee, on the other hand, can live up to seven years, during which time she typically leaves the hive only once to mate. A stay-at-home mom, she can lay 1,000 to 3,000 eggs a day, fertilizing most with sperm she has stored during a brief mid-air mating session (at only two-weeks of age) with 12 or more males. That sperm will last for her entire reproductive term, typically about three years. Most beekeepers, however, replace their queens every other year to keep egg production at peak capacity.

Every worker bee engages in a series of different tasks during its month-long life. "First they're wax builders, then they're cell cleaners. Then they go through a period as funeral bearers - getting rid of debris (dead bees) from the hive - then they become water bearers, bringing back water to the hive; and finally they become foragers."

Although it is believed these roles are all assumed instinctively, Leitch is among a growing number of bee experts who believe that bees possess a remarkable ability to communicate with others of their kind.

"There's a dance language, the bee dance. One bee, a scout bee, will go out early in the morning to find a nectar source." On returning to the hive, the scout notifies the other bees the precise location of its find. "It tells them what direction to travel and how far it is, using the sun and the hive as navigational reference points." Leitch says he's seen this phenomenon many times.

Bees do not hibernate. "From February on, when the queen starts laying a small patch, they'll keep the very centre of the hive at 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) by vibrating their wing muscles. The outer layer of bees acts as an insulation blanket. And they rotate, changing positions with the bees in the centre.

Proud Recipient of the Dufferin-Caledon 2010 Agricultural Business Excellence Award

Leitch's Honey, Randy Leitch, Orangevill,e Ontario, Canad,a local honey, raw honey, comb honey, beeswax, pollen


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