Monday, May 1, 2017

Can Honeybees Talk?

Animals communicate in many different ways. Some communicate through touch, while others use sounds or smells. With between 20,000-80,000 honeybees per hive, have you ever wondered how honeybees communicate? A hive of honeybees works together so seamlessly and instinctively--their communication process is fascinating! Honeybees communicate using three different methods: dance, vibrations, and pheromones. 

The honeybee uses several different types of dance. One of the dances is called the waggle dance. You can see an example of the waggle dance below. After the honeybee comes into the hive with a full load of nectar and pollen, she uses this dance to tell her sisters what she has found and where it is located. The worker bee will face a certain direction and wiggle at a certain speed during the dance. This will share with the other honeybees the direction of the nectar source, how far it is, and how many honeybees need to go there to collect the nectar. The other bees then follow her directions and find the flowers to forage for the hive. Another dance they use is called the round dance, which tells the bees that the flower source is close to the hive. 

The honeybee also communicates through vibrations and pheromones. Honeybees vibrate their bodies and let off certain smells which tell the other bees in the hive what needs to be done. The queen will send a scent to the queen’s court if she needs to be fed or groomed. She is constantly communicating with the worker bees through vibrations and smell. The worker bees will also communicate to other worker bees if the baby bees need to be feed or if the hive needs to be cooled. By vibrating and letting off pheromone smells, the other bees know exactly what is needed throughout the dark and crowded hive. 

Even though honeybees cannot talk like you and me, they are still able to communicate beautifully. It’s remarkable to see them use dance, vibrations, and pheromones to live in harmony and work together. What an amazing insect!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Natural Honey=Natural Beauty

Honey is a great sweet treat, but you can also use honey in beauty products. Honey is a natural humectant, which helps lock in moisture. In winter, the weather can be tough on your skin. There are many different ways to help take care of your skin, and honey can be one of them.
A very easy way to make a body scrub is to mix equal parts honey and brown sugar. Combine these two ingredients together, and you will get a great body scrub that you can use for smooth skin. When using this scrub, apply it in a circular motion on your skin, then rinse with warm water and dry off.

There are so many different ways of using honey and other products we get from honeybees in beauty products. For example, you can use beeswax to make homemade lip balms and lotions. You could also try using honey in different face masks and body scrubs. 

Making homemade honey beauty products is simple and cost effective, so if you have anyone with a birthday coming up, this is a great gift idea!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Enzymes in Honey

Did you know that the honeybee is the only insect that makes food for humans to eat? Honey is the only food that never spoils! When the honeybee puts the flower nectar into her honey sac inside her body, she mixes three important enzymes into the nectar that makes it into honey. What is an enzyme? An enzyme converts one thing into another. The three enzymes honeybees add to nectar are called invertase, diastase, and glucose oxidase. These enzymes are what give honey its medicinal properties and allows it to stay fresh for many years. 

Once the honeybee flies back to her hive box, she puts the nectar into a wax cell in the honeycomb. When the wax cell is full of nectar, she fans the nectar with her wings to reduce the water content, and now she has made what we call it honey. She caps the cell with a thin layer of wax to protect the honey to use as food later.

Each enzyme added by honeybees serves a purpose. Invertase converts most of the sucrose of nectar into glucose and fructose. In other words, it converts one kind of sugar found in nectar into two alternative sugars. Diastase becomes an essential part of the honey which breaks down starch into glucose. It is important that this takes place because glucose is the easiest sugar molecule to digest. This means that these first two enzymes help make honey healthy for eating. The last enzyme, glucose oxidase works to produce gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Each of these helps protect unripe honey from getting bad bacteria and helps to protect against fermentation. Without these three enzymes, honey could easily become spoiled, would be harder to digest, and could even become contaminated with bacteria.  

Honey is great for eating and baking, but honey can also be used outside the kitchen as well. It has many healing properties and can be used to help with allergies, provide all-natural energy, boost memory, suppress coughs, aid sleep, treat dandruff, heal wounds and burns, strengthen immune systems and even help in anti-cancer treatments. Honey is truly remarkable. Without the honeybee and the special enzymes they produce, we would not have honey. We can be thankful for this special insect ~ the honeybee!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Make Your Food a Little Sweeter

There are 300+ varieties of honey in the US!
Add a little sweetness to your life this month! What is your favorite way to add honey to your food? You can use honey in meat marinades, candy recipes, baked goods or simply on your toast in the morning. Honey enhances browning, adds a beautiful golden color, retains moisture and enhances flavor in the things you eat. Did you know there are more than 300 types of honey available in the United States? Each floral source (like clover or orange blossom) has its own unique color and flavor. In general, the lighter the honey, the milder the flavor. Darker honeys like buckwheat have a stronger flavor. 

Honey is a natural sweetener, and it's unique taste and blend of trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids make it a beneficial substitute to sugar. You can substitute honey in recipes by reducing the liquids of your recipe in to half of what the recipe calls for, you then reduce the heat by twenty-five degrees. When you substitute the sugar with honey, use half the amount of sugar the recipe calls for. 

Our challenge for you this month is to try a recipe with honey! Ask your mom or dad for help. For Valentine's Day, try these Easy Honey Nut Valentine's Day Cookies (Gluten-Free) or Peanut Butter & Honey Rice Krispie snacks. And for President's Day, try a presidential favorite! President Obama loved this apple pie recipe made with local honey, and President Bush loved eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch. Check out for more recipes, and comment on our Facebook page with your favorite honey recipe!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Representatives Crowned in Galveston

The new American Honey Queen and Princess were selected at the 2017 American Beekeeping Federation Convention in Galveston, Texas.

2017 American Honey Queen
Maia Jaycox from Iowa

2017 American Honey Princess
Hope Pettibon from Texas

Congratulations ladies! They will travel the United States promoting honey and beekeeping and post interesting articles about bees and honey along the way. Keep an eye out for the sweetest representatives in America!
2017 American Honey Queen Maia Jaycox & 2017 American Honey Princess Hope Pettibon

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Keeping Busy in the Winter

Winter can be a slow time for the beekeeper. This time can be utilized for a few different endeavors, the first being education. Especially for beekeepers that are approaching their first or second year of beekeeping, attending education courses can be extremely beneficial. These courses will provide them with a basic foundation of knowledge to help prepare them for their adventure in beekeeping. It is also a way to meet more experienced beekeepers that can be called upon in a time a need or for mentorship.

University of Minnesota Beekeeping in Northern Climates (February):

University of Florida Bee College (March & August):

University of Wyoming Extension Bee College (March):
Full house at University of Minnesota beekeeping class

Another way to engage with fellow beekeepers is attending meetings for local, state, and national organizations. These meetings or conventions typically offer breakout sessions to share information with one another or discuss current issues. Many sessions are also held during summer and fall.

American Beekeeping Federation Conference & Tradeshow (January):

Eastern Apicultural Society Conference (July):

Western Apicultural Society Conference (October):
Dr. Marla Spivak speaks at ABF Conference

Winter is also a great time to take care of any woodenware repairs or build new hives for the coming year. If a beekeeper is just getting started in their first year, assembling hives and reading up on beekeeping knowledge can be a fun way to spend a weekend. Regardless of how the beekeeper chooses to spend their winter season, they are certainly in for an adventure!