Friday, September 1, 2017

Does Honey Ever Spoil?

        Once there was a king of ancient Egypt, whose name was King Tut.  Upon his death he declared he wanted honeycomb put in his tomb so that he could enjoy it in next world. Little did he know that 3,000 years later people would find his tomb and discover the very same honeycomb within. Surprisingly, the honeycomb was not spoiled and still edible!

Honey never spoils, but why? How is it that every other food will go bad at some point but honey always stays good? The answer lies in how honey is made.

 When a honeybee makes honey there are a few things done to the nectar before it turns into honey. First, a honeybee gathers the nectar from flowers. A honeybee has a long tongue called a proboscis. The worker bee uses her proboscis to suck up the nectar from the flower and store it in her special honey stomach. Honeybees have two stomachs, their regular stomach that they eat with and their honey stomach that they use to store nectar and make honey. Some people also call it a honey sack. Once their honey sack is full they will fly back to the hive. As they fly, the honeybee mixes three enzymes into the nectar. It is one of these specific enzymes makes the honey never spoil.

Once the honeybee gets back to the hive she dehydrates the nectar by fanning her wings to remove most of the water. After the nectar is dehydrated it becomes honey and is placed into a wax cell.  The cell is capped over with wax, which acts as a lid to keep the honey clean.  

Honey will never spoil as long as nothing else is added to it. However, if honey is not properly dehydrated and the water content is too high, the honey will ferment but not spoil.  Also, honey can crystalize.  This does not mean the honey is bad, this means the liquid honey begins to thicken and become solid by forming sugar crystals. If honey becomes crystalized, it can be returned to normal by warming it at a low temperature.  It is important that the temperature is not too hot so that beneficial enzymes in the honey are not harmed.

When the honey was found in King Tut’s tomb, people were able to taste it because honeybees added a specific enzyme 3,000 years ago! Because of the honeybee and their special enzymes, honey never spoils and can last forever! Honey is an amazing topic and we learn more about it all the time.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Beekeeping World
In the world of beekeeping there are small scale hobby beekeepers, larger scale hobby beekeepers, and commercial scale beekeepers. For hobby beekeepers they can have one hive to 500 hives, and once you go over that limit you are considered a commercial beekeeper. But everyone starts at the beginning. But how do I start?
If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper, the first thing you want to do is find a local beekeeper’s club and become a member. You will then want to find a mentor who has been beekeeping for a few years so they can help you get started. You will also want to take some beekeeping classes and try and learn as much information as possible so you will know what you are working with.

When you are going to work with your bees you will want to be prepared. Some of the basic things you will need are a veil, bee suit, smoker, and hive tool. These are all used when you will work with your hive. When entering your hive, you will want already started your smoker and have your bee suit and veil on. When you walk up to your hive there are guard bees that will let off a pheromone that works like an alarm, alerting the other bees that they are in danger. By using the smoker, it will mask the alarm pheromone, preventing unnecessary panic. The bees will also think there is a fire and begin storing all of their honey in their honey stomachs which makes them rather slow. This makes it a lot easier to get into your hive.