O Honey Bee

It has been a couple years since I’ve done a Christmas post. I was inspired this year by a reader comment and my own thoughts of the season, so I’m introducing a new tune. This adds to my previous classics such as The mites before Christmas, O Little Hive in My Backyard, and my most recent Silent Hives. This will be my seventh post of a bit of Christmas poetry, based on the song O Christmas Tree. See the most recent post for the full list of songs.

From my first year of beekeeping, a photo of a queen and workers in the springtime. Can you find the queen?

O Honey Bee

This year’s selection is around the biology of the honey bee. As always, the text is biologically accurate. Enjoy.

O honey bee O honey bee,
How lovely your biology!
O honey bee O honey bee,
How lovely your biology!
With lives so short in summer’s heat,
But o so long in snow and sleet.
O honey bee O honey bee,
How lovely your biology!

O honey bee O honey bee,
Three segments are most lovely;
O honey bee O honey bee,
Three segments are most lovely.
Your head has mandibles and eyes
The thorax legs and wings that fly!
O honey bee O honey bee,
Your abdomen is lovely.

O honey bee O honey bee,
Your body’s full of mystery;
O honey bee O honey bee,
Your body’s full of mystery.
Spiracles for breathing air,
Antennae find the scents so fair
O honey bee O honey bee,
Your body’s full of myster
y.

O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree)

The German Christmas carol O Tannenbaum was written in the mid-1500s. Based on the word tanne meaning “fir” as in fir tree, the song was originally not about Christmas. Indeed, the song is about the general qualities of fir trees and only mentions the holiday in the signature title. According to a few sites, including this one on Scottish country dancing, the lyrics we use today were written in in 1824 by the Leipzig organist, teacher, and composer Ernst Anschütz.

For this post, I was looking for a simple song where I could highlight some aspects of a honey bee’s biology. We were at a Christmas concert recently and the idea of O Honey Bee based on this song came to mind. The biology mentioned includes the following:

  1. In the summer, honey bee workers live around six weeks, while in the winter they live as long as six months.
  2. A bee’s body is composed of three segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen.
  3. Insects do not have lungs. In honey bees, there are 10 pairs of air holes called “spiracles” that facilitate the transfer of oxygen into the bee’s body.
  4. A bee’s antennae is their primary sensory organ, for both identifying hive mates and nectar in flowers.

In the coming twelve days we will explore the biology of the honey bee in an epic Twelve Days of Honey Bees. I hope you enjoy.

May you prosper and find honey.

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