This past weekend, we sold our honey at a local holiday craft fair. While most of the people who came by the Bee America booth were looking for gifts for family, friends and coworkers, there were a few who were curious to try our local honey. Inevitably, these were who people had lots of questions about beekeeping, the plight of the honey bees and environmental conservation.
While raking leaves this past weekend, a neighbor walking by stopped me to ask which one of our Bee America honeys would go best in her tea. With the weather taking a definite turn toward chillier temperatures, hot tea seemed just the thing after hours spent outside. However, there are so many more uses for the golden nectar than flavoring a pot of tea. Throughout history, humans (and lots of animals) have been eating honey for its nutritive sweetness.
It’s not too early to start preparing for winter. About this time of year, I set about cleaning out the gutters, changing the furnace filter, inspecting the chimneys, reversing the ceiling fan…and all the other items on my honey-do list.
With federal employees on furlough and vital government programs and services on hold, the impact of Washington gridlock is spreading across America. I believe that “honey bee politics” might be able to provide our Congressional leaders with some profound insights about governing. As revealed by the prominent animal behaviorist, Thomas Seeley in his fascinating book, Honeybee Democracy these amazing insects have much to teach humans when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision-making.
Albert Einstein was rumored to have said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live." While it is a strikingly dramatic and dire statement, there is no compelling evidence that Albert Einstein ever made such a claim. In fact, if you attempt to trace the history of the quote via Google, it looks like it surfaced in the early 1990s.
Want more sweetness in your life? Try baking with honey. Honey will enhance your baked goods and make them irresistible to family and friends. By substituting honey in your recipe for sugar or other sweeteners, your baked goods will have a beautiful golden crust, enhanced flavor and superior moistness. There are a variety of honey flavors to choose from when deciding how best to compliment your recipe. A honey’s particular flavor is based upon the type(s) of flowers the bees gathered nectar from in preparation for producing the honey.
Beekeepers often develop personal attachments to their hives and can lose themselves in the Zen of beekeeping. While some beekeepers have naturally calm personalities, others—like myself—have acquired a sense of serenity when dealing with the buzz of 80,000 thousands insects out of necessity. Honey bees respond positively to a peaceful atmosphere—if I am relaxed and not stressed, so are they. So, it’s often easy to forget that it is the very nature of the honey bee that makes it so valuable. Throughout history humans have benefited from their ability to manage these social insects.
Here at Bee America we naturally think mostly about the honey bee. However, we have such a bountiful profusion of flowers in our apiary at this time of year that our attention is drawn to the other pollinators that often visit, particularly butterflies and bumble bees. I’m often charmed by the sight of a bumble bee gently and slowly ambling from one pollen-laden flower to another. A distant cousin to honeybees, its body shape is more rounded than elliptical.
I must confess that I love maps and map-based technology. On my smartphone, I have multiple direction-finding apps including Google Earth, iGPS and Google Maps. I also have two GPS navigation devices that I use in the car and when they don’t agree on a specific route—I enlist my smartphone’s map-reading apps to be the tiebreaker.
Honey hunters collect honey from wild bee colonies and this ancient custom is still practiced by aboriginal societies in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. In some ancient cultures, hunting for honey was considered a competitive sport like hunting animals and fishing. Not only was honey hunting an enjoyable pastime in these cultures, but it was also a profitable endeavor as well. Sweet honey and comb could be traded or sold to other tribes at an advantageous price.