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This Thanksgiving, we took a turkey break and went in search of bees. Rather, we had heard about a bee tour we could take at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa (which, by the way, looks to be a very family friendly resort, we discovered, when we had lunch there after our tour). The resort was kind enough to host us so we could experience this unforgettable tour for ourselves.
At the beginning of the tour, all I knew about bees was they seem to be dying and there are fears that if we lose the bees, our food supply will cease to exist. At least that’s the internet hype. When I looked it up, the consensus was mixed as there are other animals and natural phenomenon (hummingbirds, birds, animals, wind) that also spread the pollen that helps produce healthy harvests. But we learned so much more from our gracious host, Executive Chef Joel Delmond, whose passion for bees we felt through his every enthusiastic word, concern for the health of the hives and the transmission of bee hive information suitable for all ages, especially the youngers.
We learned that the hive is divided by the labor the bees will be assigned for the duration of their lives (I might have sorta known that one too). The nursing bees determine what jobs the bees gestating in the larvae will perform before their birth. There is only one queen bee and her job is to fertilize eggs. She averages about 3000 bees per litter! But what I didn’t know is she could be fired and replaced. If she’s doing a bad job or setting a bad tone to the hive, she could be kicked to the curb when the nursing bees make a new queen. The males are drone bees and their only job is to impregnate the queen. Then they die. That’s it. Bye bye. They’re incapable to doing anything else. A few jokes come to mind, that will stay there.
It’s the women who do all the work to keep the hive operating. Hmmmm. They go out and forage for food and pollinate in the meantime. They build stuff in the hive and keep it meticulously clean. They guard the hive from intruders and encapsulate them in propolis (wax) when they make it in anyway. They care for the queen by grooming and feeding her. Their work is literally never done.
Below, Chef Joel explained all this and more while we got up close and personal with our buzzy new friends. If you take this tour, you’ll never look at bees the same way. The tour is never the same twice. Everything depends on what the visitors want to know and how the bees are feeling. In our case, they weren’t feeling chipper the day we visited. The one thing that is consistent though, is Chef Joel’s love for the sweet creatures.
The idea for this trip originally came from this article.