It’s honey harvest time at the Bee America Apiary—something our family looks forward to with great anticipation. It’s really not until the hives are opened up and the frames carefully extracted that we get a sense as to whether the bees had a bountiful season. There’s nothing sweeter than tasting honey directly from the hive—knowing that one is afforded a special gift from nature. We’re big supporters of the farm-to-table movement and feel that our honey contributes to the network of locally produced food that is enjoyed by many in our neighborhood and surrounding communities.
Every summer since our children were old enough to toddler around, I have taken them berry picking at a local family-run farm, Butler’s Orchard. While we all enjoy the delicious fresh fruit and the resulting jam and baked goods we make from our haul, it is the ritual of the outing that appeals to me most.
I talk to my bees. It’s not as if I have actual conversations with them, but I do find that I can often solve problems or come to decisions when I’m working in the Bee America apiary. Beekeepers must maintain a calm and measured approach to tending their charges–one can’t rush through the maintenance and care of bees—else the hive will become agitated. Agitated bees are more likely to sting and while I’ve been stung before, it is something I hope to avoid.
When I go into the classroom to teach elementary students about honey bees, I like to tell them that honey is actually “bee vomit.” As expected, there’s a lot of “Eews!” and “Ughhs!” and “That’s gross!” accompanied by scrunched up faces of disgust, but when I get the children all settled down again, I ask them whether they like honey. They all nod their heads in agreement and a few of the bolder ones, shout out “Yes!” and “I love it!” Once they start thinking about it, they frankly don’t believe me about the bee vomit and think that I’m tricking them.
Looking for beautiful perennials to add to your garden this year? These easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plants are a welcome addition to any garden. The following six sun-loving plants (requiring at least a half day of sun) provide bright spots of color and interest in your yard. While they can be readily mixed in with existing plantings to enhance specific areas in your garden, planting any one of them en masse makes for a striking focal point.
Over a period of 140 million years, flowering plants and pollinators have co-evolved to create a process of pollination that ultimately sustains all life on the planet. While pollination may appear to be just a simple transfer of pollen grains from one flower to another, it is in reality an interlocking puzzle of specificity and adhesion.
A bee’s brain has about one million neurons – compared to the 90 billion neurons in a human’s brain. For a long time, animal behaviorists thought it was the power of the hive that led to bees’ impressive feats and that a single bee really wasn’t that bright. That thinking has begun to change and now some scientists believe that an individual bee’s mental abilities may be on par or exceed that of many mammals.
Cold and blustery winter air can leave one’s skin dry, chapped and itchy. If you’re looking for an all-natural ingredient to use that will banish these symptoms, honey is a wonderfully effective hydrator. It works by first attracting water to your skin cells and then sealing in the badly needed moisture. Because it is also chock full of antioxidants it is also good for pampering aging skin. Its antibacterial properties make it surprisingly effective at treating and preventing skin blemishes such as acne. Honey also helps to clarify skin by opening and unclogging pores.
As a child I thought honey was ‘just honey’ and it came in a squeezable honey bear bottle from the grocery store. As a beekeeper, I have learned that ‘honey’ encompasses a diverse collection of flavors and aromas. This diversity is due to the floral source(s) that the bees visit, the area’s climatic conditions, its geographical location and other variable factors. For example, varietal honeys like Bee America’s Orange Blossom or Tupelo have characteristic flavors that are fairly consistent over time.
In our house, honey is king, or I should say queen given that it comes from our beloved bees. People sometimes ask me whether honey is better for them than granulated sugar, and I have to tell them that, “Sugar is sugar and honey is mostly sugar.” However, if you are deciding whether to stir in a teaspoon of honey or white sugar into your tea; make pumpkin bread with a cup of honey or white sugar; or drizzle honey or sprinkle white sugar over cereal—chose the honey.