Our first field experience for Sticky Innovation was to Greenacres. Beforehand, all I knew was that they had hives of bees, but they weren’t doing too well. I wasn’t sure if I should expect bees constantly flying around everywhere, but when I arrived, it felt like just a regular farm. When we arrived, we learned a little bit about the bees’ communication and how the bees use dances to communicate the angle and distance of food based on the angle of the sun. Afterwards, we went outside and tried to observe the bees firsthand. It was still chilly out, around 60°F and cloudy, so it was difficult to initially find any bees whose ideal weather is 70°F and sunny. As someone who is afraid of being stung, I didn’t imagine myself being so willing to get so close to bees to observe, but since the bees were so focused on their job of getting nectar from plants, pollinating as they go, they seemed unbothered by us getting close to take pictures. One thing I noticed about their behavior, is that they only went to a few flowers on each plant, then would fly off to the next. Did they receive communication about which flowers still had nectar? Could they sense which had not been visited? Were they perhaps leaving these for the other bees? I also observed that the honeybees only pollinated one specific type of flower, whereas the other bees went to several different types. These native bees were found just as commonly as the honeybee. We were told that they are more solitary, and don’t use the same communication methods that the honeybees use.
We eventually arrived upon the hives. We were told to stay away from the them, so we wouldn’t bother the bees. There were three hives of different heights with bees flying around them. The makeup of the hive was explained to us. The bottom was where the bees lived and where the queen was located. The top was where honey was stored, and there was a barrier between the levels, so the queen would be unable to lay eggs in the honey. We were told about how taking too much honey can be harmful for the bees, because they will not have enough nectar to sustain themselves through the winter. This made me wonder how many hives have collapsed because too much honey was taken. How do they know the right amount of honey they can take? Does a long or harsh winter mean that they must leave more honey for the bees, and do they account for that? I was surprised that each hive had a personality. Some were more relaxed while others were more aggressive. Through my observations, I was able to see firsthand the strange behaviors of bees and how that allows them to be efficient pollinators. I was able to get up close to bees while they were working which allowed me to understand their behavior in a way that I couldn’t understand from simply reading about them. This of course prompted many more questions and sparked more curiosity about the life of a bee.