Backyard honeybees

Wednesday, January 18th 2006, 10:38 am
By: News On 6

Bees are fascinating creatures. They help pollinate our gardens, they produce honey, and they literally work themselves to death.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells talked to two of Tulsa's bee experts about bee culture, where the queen is king and all the useful worker bees are women. Carl and Euvonne Harrison have been tending bees for 20 years.

Carl got started using them to pollinate his backyard garden. The garden is long gone but the bees are still here. Euvonne Harrison: "there is just no end to the fascinating things about honey bees."

She used to tend the hives more, but health problems she says have turned her into a rocking chair beekeeper. She does the reading and research. "They have a marvelous social life, when morning comes they know what their duties are that day." And she says they will change jobs instinctively for the good of the hive.

And dedicated, bees never really sleep. "In the summer in their really working season a honey bee only lives four to six weeks, she literally wears her wings out."

The Harrison's have 65 hives around the area, four in the backyard of their home, that's all the city will let them keep. During the winter when there is not a lot of food, they supplement with sugar water, or a cake like product made from sugar and water.

All along the Harrison's referred to the bees as she. I thought the workers were male, they're female. Most of the time the males are useless, the females get rid of them. "They'll drag his body out and make sure he can't get back in the hive." It's making me very uncomfortable, interesting but uncomfortable.

Euvonne Harrison will be teaching a 6 week class at the OSU Extension Service on beekeeping beginning Saturday. For more information call her at 425-2026.