This weekend we rejoiced to see signs of life from our beehives. The temperature had finally warmed up enough to encourage the bees to leave the hive in order to do some early scouting flights and spring cleaning. We also saw some of them down at our little creek, taking sips of the cool, clear water. While spring is not officially here in the Washington DC area, signs heralding its arrival are everywhere including the daffodils and snowdrops bursting into bloom, flowers emerging from the tips of redbud trees, and cherry trees laden with heavy, fragrant blossoms.
About this time each year, I start dreaming longingly of spring. While our share of bitterly cold days in the Washington DC metro area is small compared to other regions of the country enveloped in a deep freeze or buried in feet of snow, it still gets well below freezing here for days at a time in January and February. I worry about how our bees are doing. While they are well equipped to overwinter much harsher conditions, there are always unforeseen problems that can arise.
At the start of 2013, we decided that one of the major themes we plan to emphasize this year is helping our children learn the value of money. As part owners in our honey business, our three children have contributed to Bee America’s success in a variety of ways: monitoring the beehives, placing labels on honey jars, preparing orders for shipping, etc.
This is the final entry in a three-part series that I was inspired to write after reflecting on all we at Bee America had to be grateful for since we started to company—our honeybees, our customers and everyone who has helped us along our journey.
In this second of a three-part series on how honeybees have aided people and improved the quality of their lives, I’ll focus on efforts in Kentucky to reclaim surface mining land and revitalize the Appalachian economy and the role honeybees play in this promising undertaking. In part one of the series (11/29/12), I discussed the contributions honeybees made in helping pilgrims settle in America.
In the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I wanted to reflect upon three distinct ways in which honeybees have assisted humans in their endeavors—both in the present day and in the past. In this first post, I’ll discuss the contributions honeybees made in helping pilgrims settle in America. In my next post (12/06/12), I’ll describe how Kentucky is leading the way in restoring pollinator habitats and forage on reclaimed surface mining land.
References in the scientific literature attest to the healing power of honey in wound care. Due to its acidic nature, honey assists the immune system in killing bacteria and fungi. It is also hyperosmotic (i.e., due to high concentration of solids and low moisture content), which helps to pull out excess fluids and secretions from the wound. Furthermore, because it is so viscous, honey helps to maintain the ideal level of moisture to ensure proper healing. Additionally, honey contains an enzyme that converts glucose to low levels of hydrogen peroxide, which acts as an antiseptic.
As our honeybees have evolved from a hobby to a passion to our company, Bee America, our interest in all things related to “bees” has grown as well. Just recently, we acquired a stunning piece of art from a talented metal sculptor, Jeremy Maronpot. It was an early Christmas present from my wife, Tamara. Actually, it was supposed to be a surprise, but it’s hard to keep emails private when you share a computer with one another.
When resources like money and time are available, consumers have become increasingly pro-active in their selection of the types of food they buy. While the decision to purchase more locally-produced food is often driven by quality and freshness, other factors including the desire to support local farmers, decrease the carbon footprint (by minimizing transportation costs), and eliminate the need for preservatives and processing (that degrades our food’s nutritional value) often play an important role.
Honey. What an amazing food! A master beekeeper friend of mine talked about how our job as beekeepers was to get out of the way and let the bees produce one of nature’s most amazing gifts. It doesn’t spoil, doesn’t need refrigeration, and it is just so good for you. I love the taste of honey—how each taste—each batch is subtly different. It is a reflection of the flowers from which it is produced, interpreted by the bees to create a unique and wonderful food.