An apiary is a place where bees are kept, a collection of beehives. We, the Flaming Phoenix, visited an apiary in the outskirts of Bangalore as a part of our project for the 2016 FLL challenge. The location was very serene and without many urban buildings or the polluting sound of traffic. If we kept silent, we could hear the calming buzz of the bees.
This apiary is managed by the members of The Hive Trust, all so passionate about bees. The Hive Trust is an NGO, which experiences farmers and beekeepers in developing skills of innovative methods of agriculture and its allied activities. Apoorva BV, the chairman of The Hive Trust, is a very knowledgeable and passionate beekeeper. He is also the technical and sourcing head of Spruce Impex, a company founded by beekeepers all over India. They have their own apiaries and sell their fresh honey to pharmacies, cosmetic industries and Ayurveda industries. Spruce highly promotes backyard beekeeping and will give you a helping hand if you are interested in providing a safe home for the bees.
When the news reached our ears, that we would be visiting an apiary, we did not know what to expect. Being the inquisitive children that we are, many questions popped up immediately. Would there be bees flying everywhere? What if they sting us? Do we have to take any safety precautions? But, the moment we stepped through the apiary's gates, we knew that this exciting experience would be a completely safe one.
Scattered all over the place, were loads of bright blue bee-boxes. Few bees buzzed around the boxes and fewer even dared to come near us. We wandered around, curious and inquiring, inspecting each box. Soon, we decided we were ready to get a look inside a box. Apoorva, wearing a netted veil to protect his head, lifted us the cover of the bee-box to reveal a hollow enclosure with eight frames fitted into it. He gently elevated one of the wooden frames to expose a well-built honeycomb. Bees were swarming all over the pale wax combs, minding their own business and finishing up their respective jobs. In the bottom three-fourths of the honeycomb structure, we could see tiny, white, rice-like pellets – the eggs, one per honeycomb. However, not all combs were filled with these eggs. Some had white larvae peeking out and others had been capped of with wax. We were informed that these honeycombs contained a bee in the stage of a pupa. As we inspected each frame, we noticed that the top few rows of honeycombs contained honey and some pollen. We lost track of time, learning so much and scrutinizing the frames, all crawling with our tiny, striped allies. Although we were not given any protective gear to wear, each of us got a chance to handle the bees. The tiny winged creatures even licked honey off our fingers. It tickled!
Soon, we left the area and walked to a large enclosure dotted with more bee-boxes, this time white and bigger. We were informed that the bees living in these boxes were of the species Mellifera, much bigger than the Cerana, which were the bees living in the blue boxes. Another species we learnt about is the Dorseta, a more aggressive type that cannot be domesticated and are commonly seen in urban areas. We studied the frames of the Mellifera's bee-box.
Later, we joined Apoorva in a very interesting discussion about bees and learned a load of facts about them. It was unreal to observe the bees' behavior and at the end of the day, the whole team was exhausted but very educated. A new type of passion had rose from within us for the bees and now we will do everything to save our dear striped friends.
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