Friday, October 1, 2021

The Relationship Between Beekeepers & Farmers

Have you ever heard about "mutual relationship"? A mutual relationship is when both individuals benefit from the interaction. In this case, we are going to look at the relationship between beekeepers and farmers and the benefit they each receive from working together with one another.


Benefits to the Consumer

With the joint effort of farmers and beekeepers, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. There are over 90 different crops that are pollinated by insects like honeybees. Some of your favorite may include melons, berries, pecans, apples, cucumbers, and so much more all because of the pollination from honeybees! Without farmers, our diets would look drastically different and without honeybees and beekeepers, 1/3 of the food that we eat wouldn't be possible. 


Working Together- Farmer Benefits

Beekeepers and farmers may work together for a multitude of reasons with one being pollination. When beekeepers introduce honeybees into fields of crops, the pollination that these honeybees help increase not only the yields but also the size and uniformity of the produce in that field. If large scale farmers have acres and acres of crops, there may be a chance that the local bees will not be able to effectively pollinate all of those crops leading to decreased yields and revenue for the farmer. Farmers receive the benefit of better crop production made possible through the partnership with beekeepers and their bees. 


Working Together- Beekeeper Benefits

When farmers and beekeepers work together, not only do the farmers benefit in this relationship but so do the beekeepers. When farmers ask beekeepers to bring hives of bees to crop fields for pollination, farmers typically will pay them for these pollination services. The payment from these pollination services can be a good source of income for the beekeeper as some beekeepers focus on providing these pollination services over producing honey. In addition to the payment that these beekeepers may receive, the bees that are placed in these crop fields will have the opportunity to collect nectar and pollen to store away as food. Some beekeepers may be able to receive specialty honey depending on what crops the bees are pollinating such as blueberry honey, orange blossom honey, and even cranberry honey. These specialty fruity honeys take on a faint taste of the flavor in which the nectar is gathered making orange blossom honey have a slight citrus flavor to it. Beekeepers can then go on to sell this honey as a specialty item as these types of honey are less common.


Small and Large Scale Beekeepers

There isn't just one type of beekeeper that farmers work with. Small scale beekeepers may not be solely focusing on providing pollination services to their local farmers. Rather, they may inadvertently be helping surrounding farmers as their bees visit the surrounding crops and orchards leading to increased production. These small scale beekeepers are typically keeping bees for a few reasons including pollinating their garden, receiving fresh honey, or for the joy of keeping bees. Large scale beekeepers, especially those that are focusing on pollination have a slightly different goal for their hives. While large scale beekeepers might focus their efforts on honey production, there are many other large scale beekeepers that partner with farmers for the purpose of pollination. These commercial beekeepers will transport their hives to wherever the farmer needs bees depending on which crops need pollination. 


Communication for Success

In any relationship, communication is vital! Through communication, beekeepers and farmers have the opportunity to prepare and plan for pesticide and insecticide applications on crop fields. When a beekeeper knows that a farmer is going to be applying chemicals to their crops, beekeepers have the ability to remove their bee hives from those fields to reduce the chance of those bees coming into contact with chemicals. Not only does this benefit the beekeeper as less bees will be affected by the chemicals but the farmer also benefits as there will be more bees available for crop pollination.  

Maintaining the relationship between farmers and beekeepers is mutually beneficial to both parties. Not only do the farmers benefit from larger yields of crops but the beekeepers also have the opportunity to receive payment for pollination services that are provided. Since 1/3 of the food we eat is impacted by pollinating insects like honeybees, don't forget to thank your local beekeepers and farmers that are responsible for providing us with delicious food for our tables! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Let’s Celebrate National Honey Month!

While honey may be the most well-known product from the beehive, honey bees' greatest impact is through pollination of food crops. But how do honey bees collect pollen? They use an invisible force called static electricity Today, I have a neat activity for you to try. With these experiments, you will be able to see and feel static electricity as it pulls on different items.


Move It - Salt and Pepper on Plate with a Spoon

Step 1) Pour about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper onto a plate.

Step 2) To combine, stir the ingredients with your finger and then spread the pile out into a thin layer.

Step 3) Rub the spoon through your hair or on a piece of wool for about 1 minute.

Step 4) Slowly move the spoon, almost touching the plate, across the salt and pepper. What happened? The pepper weighs less than the salt and is lifted up by static electricity. To remove the pepper, simply touch the pepper flakes or gently tap the comb against the plate.


See it - Balloon and Hair

Step 1) Take a rubber balloon and inflate it to nearly its full size, stretching the rubber tight.

Step 2) Rub the balloon vigorously on unpinned hair for a full minute.

Step 3) Slowly lift the balloon away from your hair and watch the hair stand up towards the balloon! If you move the balloon close to your hair again, the hair will bend towards the balloon as it comes close.

Tips: This experiment works best on thin or naturally blond hair. If your hair is shorter, you may want to stand in front of a mirror to see the full effect. Alternatively, you can try this process on your arm hair.


Feel It - Feet and Doorknob

Step 1) Put on your shoes and move to a carpeted area.

Step 2) Shuffle your feet across the carpet for about 1-2 minutes. This will build a small electrical imbalance, creating static electricity.

Step 3) Shuffle over to the nearest doorknob and touch the handle. You will feel a quick zap that shows the static electricity discharging and returning to normal levels. If you want to feel the zap again, you will need to start again by shuffling on the floor. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Queen of the Hive

If you had to pick your favorite bee in the hive, would it be the worker bee, drone bee, or queen bee? All bees play an important role in the success of the hive but the favorite for most is probably the queen bee. Her role within the hive is instrumental to the success of the entire hive making her one important bee!



The Beginning
Let's start at the very beginning to how a queen is created. When a hive is queen-less or the queen is beginning to fail in her ability to lay eggs, the worker bees will start the process to create the next queen for the hive. In order to create the queen, the worker bees will create queen cups which are large cells where the queen will start to develop. In these queen cups, workers will place a single female egg in each of these cells which are now destined to become a queen. While the larvae begins to develop, worker bees will feed her royal jelly until the cell is capped over at day 9. On day 16, the queen will chew her way out of her cell with the help of worker bees. There can only be one queen bee in the hive so the first queen to emerge from her cell will kill the other developing queens or if multiple queens emerge at the same time, they will fight to the death with the strongest queen surviving. 


Queen cups have been created to start drawing out (creating) a new queen.


The Largest Bee
Each of the three bees found within the hive are a different size which correlates to the job that those bees have within the hive. The queen bee is the largest bee in the hive because of her responsibility to lay eggs. It was because of her diet of only royal jelly while she was developing in her cell which played an important role in allowing her to become the largest bee. Her body can be up to 20 mm long and she will have a large area on her thorax which will be free of hair making it easier for a beekeeper to identify the queen. Because her body is so long, her wings are only about half of the length of her body as she rarely has the need to leave the hive and use her wings. Another aspect that makes the queen unique is her stinger. Her stinger does not have a barb on it meaning that she is able to sting multiple times but she also uses the stinger to help position the eggs she lays in each of the cells. The next largest bee is the drone bee (male). The role of the drone bee is simple as they have one sole purpose which is to mate with a queen. The bees that do the majority of the work in the hive are the worker bees (female). A hive can be comprised of up to 50,000 worker bees each with different roles to support the hive. The different jobs that a worker bee has changes as she becomes older so in her short 5-6 week lifespan, she may do up to 8 different jobs!


The size of the bee plays an important role in the job they will have during their life.


The Role of the Queen
The queen has an important job for the rest of her 1-2 year lifespan which will focus around producing eggs and keeping the hive strong with worker and drone bees. Shortly after the queen emerges from her cell she will leave the hive in order to complete her mating flight. After returning to the hive, she will lay up to 1,000 eggs every day of her life. She is the only bee within the hive that is able to reproduce and determine the gender of each egg that she lays. The majority of the eggs that she will lay are female with the purpose of becoming worker bees. 


One egg is layed in each cell by the queen.


Caring for the Queen
Since the queen has the sole responsibility of laying eggs, she has servants to care for her. These servants are called the queens court as seen in the picture below. The queens court will surround the queen in order to take care of all of her needs. These worker bees will not only feed the queen but they will also keep her clean each day of her life.


The queens court surrounds the queen to care for her.

While there is only one queen bee in the hive, she has a very important role everyday of her life. The success of the hive is dependent on her ability to lay eggs that will grow up and have important roles within the hive. No wonder she is called the queen because she is so important! 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

If I were a Worker Bee...

The jobs of the worker honey bee correspond with their age. The older the worker bee, the more responsibility she gains. She cares about the colony as a whole and does everything that she can to help her family. This article is written by a newly emerged worker bee. Read on as she shares about the jobs that she does throughout her life!

Mortuary Bees (days 3-16)

From the first day I am born, I clean the hive from top to bottom. By taking the scraps of wax, grass, and dead bees out of the hive, I help protect the colony from dirt and disease. Because everyone pitches in, our home is spotlessly clean! It has to be clean because there are 2,000 new bees being born every day! 


Nurse / Queen Attendant (days 4-12)

Speaking of the young bees, also known as brood, someone needs to feed those mouths; that’s my next job! During this time, I make a special high-protein, a white milky substance called royal jelly. All honey bee eggs, queens, drones, and workers get fed royal jelly for the first three days. After that, there is a diet change. The drones and workers are fed bee bread for the rest of their life. Starting from the outside of the comb and moving in, I take some honey, mix it with pollen to make bee bread. The queen bee however is fed royal jelly throughout her entire life! 


While I am a nurse, I assist the egg-laying queen by cleaning, grooming, and feeding her constantly. The other assistants and I help pass the word to the rest of the colony that the queen is in good health. If the queen were to get sick, we could make a new queen by feeding royal jelly to the female bee eggs.


Pollen Packing / Honey Sealing / Honeycomb Building / Water Collecting (days 12-35)

When the forager bees bring in pollen, I store the pollen baskets in the wax cells and keep everything organized. We bees eat pollen for our protein just like humans eat meat, eggs, and almonds.


When the foragers bring in nectar from flowers, I have to process it before storing it. I take a small drop of nectar and roll it back and forth on my proboscis (bee tongue) to remove the water and concentrate the sugar that is inside the nectar. Once the nectar has begun to thicken, I place it into the comb cell and fan it with my wings. With the help of my sisters, we create a strong airflow that blows across the comb and dehydrates the nectar even more! As the cells fill up and the nectar gets super thick, we will seal the cell with a layer of beeswax to preserve it for later. We eat honey for our carbohydrates like humans eat fruits and vegetables.


Many times, people wonder how honey bees make the magnificent wax combs that we use for storage. Let me tell you! First, we eat a lot of honey. In order to make 1 pound of beeswax, we have to eat 8 pounds of honey!  And then we link arms and legs forming what looks like a bee ladder from the top of the frame to the bottom. Since we have six legs, we use our middle legs to take the wax flaxes that are secreted from our abdomens and work it like you would with play dough or clay. As I work the wax flake, it warms up and is easier to build with since it can move. We have found that by making the wax combs in the shape of hexagons we are able to store more honey and use less wax. Once I put the wax flake in place, it begins to cool and harden so that we can walk on it later. 


Guard Bees (days 18-21)

Now that I am almost three weeks old, I stand guard at the entrance of the hive. Traditionally, castle guards have swords and shields. However, I do not have those weapons. I have a stinger that delivers a dose of venom to intruders like mice, bears, and skunks! When a worker bee stings, they have a white venom sack that stays attached to the stinger after the bee flies away. Sadly, worker bees die shortly after they sting, but they are willing to die to protect their hive. Honey bees only sting when they feel threatened or that their colony is under attack.


If you are ever playing in a field of flowers and I accidentally sting you, take your fingernail and scratch it out quickly! Tell an adult as soon as you can so that they can help you as well.


For insect intruders like wasps, I call my sisters by releasing a certain smell (alarm pheromone) and we cluster around the insect. Our stingers cannot penetrate the intruder’s hard exoskeleton, so we warm up our thorax by wiggling our wing muscles. This clustering and heating action cooks the insect to death!


Forager Bees (days 22-42)

As a forager, we bees are looking for food that we can take back to the colony for food. 


Forager bees are the most common that you may think of because of their important role in helping to produce human food. Honey bees pollinate 80 different crops in the United States of America! They help produce apples, blueberries, cranberries, oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, and many other favorite fruits, veggies, and tree nuts! 


Dear human, thank you for planting lots of flowers for us to gather food from! As we gather pollen and nectar from the flowers, our plants will produce more flowers and continue to look beautiful while giving us more food for the bee colony. We all benefit when you plant and water your flowers year-round! I look forward to visiting your garden and seeing your wonderful flowers!


More Info: https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-life-of-bees/the-role-of-the-worker-bee


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies


2021 American Honey Queen Jennifer Hinkel



Ingredients

1/2 C. Butter or Shortening

1/2 C. Honey

1 Egg

1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1 3/4 C. Flour

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1/4 tsp. Baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 C. Chopped nuts

1 C. Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips


Directions

Cream shortening or butter with honey until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Stir together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Bee Healthy with Products of the Hive

Honeybees are the only insects to provide humans with products that we can use. But did you know that these products of the hive can help to keep you healthy? Humans have been harvesting honey for more than 8,000 years while Ancient Egyptians used honey as part of their beauty regiment 3,000 years ago. From beauty care regiments to health supplements, the products of the hive can make you beautiful and healthy both inside and out.

Honey

One of the most apparent products of the hive packed with many health benefits is honey! There are trace amounts of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Besides the trace vitamins and minerals found in honey, this golden liquid has antioxidants but also improves your health by lowering blood pressure and has been shown to improve cholesterol. In addition to using honey as a sweetner or in your cooking, it has other uses like a moisturizing hair mask or skin scrub. Honey is a humectant helping to draw moisture to the skin when used as a mask leaving your skin smooth and hydrated and helping to combate acne and inflammed skin. It is the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties found in honey that make it a great option when you have a cough and are looking for a soothing remedy or as a wound treatment. For years, honey has been used as an alternative wound care treatment on cuts, scraps, burns, and sunburns because of its ability to promote healing and prevent infection.

Pollen

Pollen is not only food for the bees but also something that we can enjoy because of the numerous health benefits. In pollen, there are over 250 proteins, amino acids, minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, E, D, C, and B. Pollen also has high quantities of antioxidants which can decrease wrinkles and signs of aging but also can decrease free radicals that lead to cancer. But those are not the only health benefits as pollen can lower high blood pressure and the risks of heart diesease. So the next time you are cooking, try incorporating some of those delicious yellow, green, and brown pollen pellets into your recipe to get a flavor boost in addition to the numerous health benefits found in pollen!

Propolis

The bee glue as it is sometimes referred to can close the openings within the hive but also be consumed as a way to keep you healthy. Because of the antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties in propolis, it has been used for thousands of years for wound healing in medicine and for beauty. Propolis can help to stimulate blood flow while also decreasing inflamation from bug bites, rashes, and other skin irritants. Your oral health can also benefit from consuming propolis as it can reduce plaque and heal sores. 

Beeswax

Besides the pleasant aroma of a beeswax candle to calm and relax you after a long day, the additional health benefits of beeswax may surprise you. When using beeswax in skin care products like lotion, makeup, chapstick, and face masks, the vitamin A works to rejuvenate and soften the skin. A beeswax lotion will add moisture to the skin but also help your body to retain the natural moisture found in the skin by creating a barrier from the elements. The healing properties of beeswax reduce acne as well as black spots but also help to reduce the appearance of scars. Incorporating beeswax into your skin care routine is easy and will benefit your skin.

Bee Bread

Bee bread is not only food for the bee larve but can also be consumed by humans. Bee bread is comprised of pollen, honey, beeswax, and enzymes mixed in from the bees and is filled with vitamins and amino acids. Besides the trace nutritional benefits, bee bread can help you when stressed to sleep better at night. 

Royal Jelly

Royal jelly sounds like it has to be healthy because it is royal. Royal jelly is nature's superfood for the bees and the queen. The queen bee is fed a diet made up of only royal jelly which helps her to develop into the largest bee and the bee responsible for laying eggs each and every day. The most common use of royal jelly is in beauty creams to promote collagen production. In addition to promoting collagen production, royal jelly is both antibacterial and antiviral which can assist in boosting the immune system. 


From pollen to honey, it is easy to be healthy with the many products of the hive. These poducts can be incorportated into your daily beauty regiment, your daily meal prep, or even into your health care routine! 


Saturday, May 1, 2021

What’s So Special About Pollen?


Check out this picture! Do you know what the tiny yellow bits are called? They are pollen! But did you know that not all pollen is yellow? It’s true! Pollen comes in many colors, and it all depends on what plant that it came from. 

Pollen is often brightly colored

Pollen that is transferred between plants helps to produce food. Each type of flower has a different pollen DNA. Just like human DNA, pollen (plant DNA) is unique to each species of plant. Pollen can help identify the origin of the plant because not all plants grow in all regions of the world!

Some specific physical characteristics of pollen are found on the outside shell of the pollen. Pollen can be transferred by 1) insects, 2) wind and 3) water. Today, we will focus on insect and wind pollen. Insect pollen has tiny barbs that hook on to the hair of insects and fibers on clothing. Wind pollen is smooth and lightweight so that it can be picked up easily and float in the air. In general, pollen’s color is bright reds, oranges, and yellows. However, some plants produce green or blue pollen. 

There are many different colors, shapes, and sizes of pollen.

Surprisingly, there are 380,000 pollen-producing plants worldwide! These plants range from flowering honeysuckle vines to tall, cone-bearing pine trees. Some popular snack foods that are pollinated by honey bees include blueberries, strawberries, oranges, avocados, watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers, just to name a few! Pollen is the plant’s way of reproducing itself. In fact, one-third of our food is pollinated by honey bees. Isn’t that amazing?!

This sunflower is made of multiple small buds,
making it a valuable resource for pollinators.

Bonus: While bee pollen can be eaten, always check with your doctor before you try it. Pollen can be sprinkled on salads, mixed in your protein shake or added to your hot chocolate. Honey bees collect pollen to eat as their protein resource! 

This pollen is a shade of white/tan.