Saturday, June 1, 2024

Tools of a Beekeeper

Every job has tools that are used in special ways; beekeepers do too. These tools make it easier and safer for the beekeeper to do their work.

Beekeepers in full beekeeping suits.

One of these tools is the veil or helmet. The veil or helmet helps keep the beekeeper safe from possible honeybee stings in the head or neck. Even though honeybees don't want to sting, sometimes they do to protect their beehives. The veil is usually white or light in color because dark colors are more alarming and the same colors as other animals that like to take honey from the beehive. Some beekeepers will also wear a beekeeping suit or jacket and gloves for the same reasons as the veil is worn.


Different types of hive tools.

Another tool a beekeeper uses is the hive tool. It is used to open the beehive and to break some of the seals in the beehive. The hive tool is a piece of metal that has a sharp side and sometimes it also has a hook and the end. The honeybees seal their hive with propolis, a mixture of tree sap and pollen grains. It is really sticky and makes the beehive wind and waterproof. The propolis is the glue that the honeybees put in every crack of the hive. Beekeepers use a hive tool to pry open the hive boxes and remove frames. 
A beekeeper's smoker.

The last tool that most beekeepers use is the smoker. Smoke helps keeps the honeybees calm. When the beekeeper puffs the smoke into the beehive, the honeybees go and eat as much honey as they can. If their beehive was on fire, they would have energy to find a new place to live. The honeybees are distracted by eating the honey, so there are less honeybees flying around as the beekeeper takes care of the beehives.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Honeybees Need Help Too

Honeybees do a lot to help us, but they need some help from us too.   

In the winter, honeybees eat food that the beekeepers leave in the beehive. By spring, the hive is usually getting low on food, so honeybees need to go visit flowers to collect pollen and nectar. The first flower that gives the honeybees lots of pollen and nectar is the dandelion. You can help honeybees by letting your grass get a little longer in the spring and letting the dandelions grow to give the honeybees food. Once dandelions are mostly white, honeybees can't get anymore food from the flower; then it is a good time to cut the grass. 

 


Planting flowers for honeybees to visit is another great way to help honeybees. Planting flowers that will boom at different times in the spring, summer, and fall make sure that they honeybees will have food all the time. 

 

One hive of honeybees can go through a gallon of water every day. They have to collect that water to drink and to cool down the beehive. Honeybees cannot swim, so you can help them get the water they need by putting some stones in a bird bath. The stones give the honeybees a place to land and sit while they are collecting water. Other than helping the honeybees get food and water, there is another way you can help them. 

 

Leaving the honeybees that you see on flowers, in the air, and drinking water alone to do their work helps the honeybees. Honeybees do not want to sting you. They are working to make honey and food for the beehive. Don't swat at honeybees when you see them, and give them some space to keep working. These are all very easy ways you can help honeybees do their jobs!

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Honey from Coast to Coast

Honey is produced in all 50 states, from Alaska to Florida and Maine to Hawaii. These honeys are all different. Honey varietals differ in color from almost clear to very dark brown. There are just as many flavors of honey as there are colors. The different colors and flavors are a result of the different flowers that the honeybees visit while they are out pollinating. 

Some of the colors of honey produced in the United States
The lighter colors of honey are usually lighter and more floral in flavor, and the darker colors of honey are more intense in their flavors. Honey doesn't just come in different colors and flavors, there are also different textures of honey!

Different Forms of Honey
Honey comes in many different forms. The form of honey most people are familiar with is liquid honey. Liquid honey can be used in many recipes to replace sugar (to substitute honey for 1 cup of sugar, use 2/3 cup honey. Decrease other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup). Another form of honey is cut comb honey. This is honey that comes straight from the hive like the honeybees store it. Cut comb honey can be eaten wax and all. Many people will put it on a charcuterie board with creamy cheeses. There is a mix between liquid honey and cut comb honey called chunk honey. Chunk honey is liquid honey surrounding a piece of cut comb honey. And the last form of honey is creamed honey. This honey is very smooth and spreads like butter. I encourage you to try a new honey color and form! You might find your new favorite flavor!

Saturday, January 13, 2024

2024 Representatives Crowned

The American Beekeeping Federation held their 81st Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. The new American Honey Queen and Princess have been crowned!

2024 American Honey Queen
Kaelyn Sumner from Wisconsin

2024 American Honey Princess
Lainey Bell from Maine


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!

Monday, January 1, 2024

How Honey Bees Communicate

Honey bees communicate through various ways since they do not have ears. They use two different ways to communicate which are movement and odor. 

Honey bees have a “waggle” dance that they show to one another to tell each other the direction and distance of floral sources outside of the hive. Scout bees will point their body in the direction of the food source and will move her body and wings to produce a buzzing sound. This dance is a figure-eight pattern, with the smaller the figure-eight the closer the food is to home and the bigger the figure-eight the farther it is. 

The honey bee in the center is doing the waggle dance to tell other
honey bees where the food sources are outside of the hive.


In addition to communicating through movement, honey bees also use odors. The queen honey bee lets off a special pheromone smell so that workers know where the queen is and that she is healthy. Bee stings also produces a pheromone that alerts other honey bees that there is a threat. They will also use alarm pheromones to tell other honey bees that they need help defend the hive from outside threats. Fun fact: the alarm pheromone is said to be similar in smell to bananas!

Honey bees also use pheromones to communicate important information, 
such as if there is a threat present.


Honey Rhubarb Ice Cream

 Honey Rhubarb Ice Cream

  • 3 cups rhubarb, sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 3/4 cups honey
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

 Cook the sliced rhubarb, lemon juice, and salt in sauce pan over medium heat, until the rhubarb is softened. Place the rhubarb mixture and the desired amount of honey into a blender and puree. Place the rhubarb and honey puree into the refrigerator to cool completely. Once the puree is completly cooled, pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl and whip into whipped cream. Gently fold the puree into the whipped cream and then place the mixture into the freezer until fully frozen.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Honey Bee Holiday

 

As the Holiday season approaches, and snow starts to fall, honey bees embrace their Holiday by taking a break from collecting pollen and nectar from flowers. In the chilly weather, they choose to stay inside their hive and focus on two essential tasks: keeping warm and conserving energy. This way they will be strong and energized to visit flowers in spring time.

Honey bee hives during winter.

As we cozy up indoors with a fireplace or heater creating warmth during the winter, honey bees have to create their own heat to survive. By huddling together in a cluster, they generate heat through the vibration of their wing muscles. This clustering technique helps them maintain a cozy temperature inside the hive.

Honey bees clustering to keep warm.

During wintertime, honey bees rely on the honey reserves they had carefully stored within their hive weeks earlier before it got too cold to fly. It serves as their nourishment and ensures they have enough energy when the warmer days of spring arrive. While staying warm, all the honey bees, including the worker bees, are resting to conserve energy. After almost a year of their busy activities, the honey bees take a well-deserved “stay-cation” in preparation for the upcoming spring season.