The glass-fronted observational beehive is a key feature of our immersive food experience where Origins Market visitors can appreciate where their food comes from – the humble honeybee, and its connection to the end product.
If you’re buzzing with questions about bees, scroll down to find answers to some of the questions we had.
Origins Markets’ Observational Beehive has been built by the Honey Bee Health Research Group at the University of Western Australia (UWA).
Group Leader and UWA Research Fellow Dr Julia Grassl said Origins Market provided the ideal opportunity to educate people on the quality of West Australian honey and the complexity of our honeybees.
“WA has some of the cleanest and greenest honey in the world,” Julia said. “There isn’t another place of the same size that still has so much untouched forest to create monofloral honey from Eucalyptus trees.
“Unlike other places we don’t have to rely on agricultural broadacre crops to produce honey.
“Because of our climate, bees here are healthy all year round. There’s very little need for sugar feeding because bees in WA always have floral sources, unlike the northern hemisphere and in the south east of Australia where in winter nothing is flowering. Eucalypt forests provide year-round nutrition for honeybees.
“Through Origins Markets we hope to create awareness, educate and add value to our local honey, to create an appreciation for its quality and help beekeepers and honey producers sell their produce.
“Local beekeepers are struggling to maintain a business out of honey production for a number of reasons – bushfire, land taken over for agriculture and development, and the availability of cheaper, inferior products on supermarket shelves, yet the honey bee industry is so important for pollination,” Julia said.
By buying locally, you’re not only supporting Western Australian businesses, but you’re also purchasing a healthier, more delicious honey.
Around 42,000 bees live in our Origins Colony
Yes. Particularly when it is hot, you will notice them looking for water wherever they can find it. They also carry water back to the hive and use it the same way an evaporative air-condition works, to help regulate the temperature inside the hive to stop it from overheating.
Just like us, bees need a balanced diet to stay healthy. They collect pollen which is their protein source and nectar, which they turn into honey, which provides them with carbohydrates.
They will roam over a wide area from the hive and can travel up to 3kms or more if there is a good food source on offer. They can visit up to 100 plants, so it’s important to plant as many plants as possible for bees to visit.
Bees are amazing navigators. They use familiar landmarks such as trees and buildings, but they also use the position of the sun to guide them.
Bees have a complex range of ways that they communicate with each other. They communicate through touch, body language, smell (giving off pheromones), making noises (piping calls from the queen) and even dancing!
Only one, she’s the bee with a blue mark on her head. The blue mark signifies the year she was born. Blue means she was born in 2020.
When the queen bee dies, it’ll be up to the worker bees (like they didn’t have enough work to do) to identify the next Queen to run the colony by sorting through the available larvae and identifying the next in line.
- Queen – her role is to produce eggs to reproduce bees. A Queen’s average lifespan is 2 and 4 years but she can live as long as 8 years. A Queen must first fight at early stages to establish itself as the Queen against competing bees. Unfortunately these Queens can’t retire when they get old, they must die as Queen.
- Drones (Male Bees) – Focus is to reproduce with the Queen Bee. If a Drone Bee is unsuccessful in mating it will only live for approximately 90 days.
- Workers (Female Bees) – If born in spring, worker bees live 4 to 6 weeks. If born in Autumn, they may lay docile and live up to 4 to 6 months after activity.
The queen decides how many drones and worker bees the colony needs at any given time of the year. If she lays a fertilised egg it will develop into a female worker bee. If she chooses to lay an unfertilised egg it will develop into a male drone bee.
No. Drones, unlike the worker bees and the queen bees, have no stinger. You can safely pick up a drone bee with no risk of getting stung.
Workers bees have backward facing barbs on their stinger so if it penetrates deep enough they can’t remove it. The stinger is pulled out of their abdomen and they die. The queen bees’ stinger is not barbed so she can sting multiple times.
In early Spring, the queen will leave the hive and take about half the worker bees with her to find a new place to make a home. When the queen leaves the hive with her entourage, this is known as a swarm. The remaining worker bees in the hive will get busy and nurture a newly hatched egg so that it grows and develops into a new queen to ensure the survival of the existing hive.
A beehive is kept at approximately 35 degrees. The heat is regulated by the worker bees.
Not all flowers are the same. Some flowers produce large amounts of insect and bird attracting nectar, while others produce none. It is the same when it comes to pollen. The bees will seek out the most pollen and nectar rich flowers to visit. Once the bees have exhausted a plant’s supply they will move on to a new source and come back when the plant has replenished the nectar or more flowers have opened.
You might notice bees all over a particular bush, such as a honey suckle, first thing in the morning and by the afternoon there are very few bees taking an interest. Once the plant has produced more nectar over the night the bees will come back again.
The side of a pool is usually slippery and bees sometimes fall into the water while they are trying to have a drink.
You can encourage the bees to use a safer alternative in your backyard, such as a bird bath. Set one up in a shady location so the water stays cool. Choose a bath that has a non-slip finish such as terracotta. Put pebbles or sticks in the water so the bees have somewhere to land and climb out of if they fall in. The birds also love it.
Plant bee-friendly plants in your garden like basil, rosemary, parsley and fruits like lemons, limes and mandarins.
Bee friendly trees and flowers include bottlebrush, wisteria, lavender and sunflowers.
More for Kids at Origins
At Origins Market we’re family focused. Our space is what makes us unique and we’d love to share it with your family. Our all weather venue is perfect for families to gather, play and learn – there really is something for all ages. Origins Market is your market where kids can be kids, grown ups can do adult stuff (like drink coffee and taste wine) and everyone’s happy.