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!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Commercial Beekeeping

There are an estimated 115,000 – 125,000 beekeepers in the United States. The vast majority are hobbyists with less than 25 hives. Commercial beekeepers are those with 300 or more hives. Men and women that keep hundreds or even thousands of honeybee hives do so as a full time job. They depend on their honeybees for most or sometimes all of their income. Commercial beekeepers will produce large amounts of honey to bottle and sell, rent their hives to growers for pollination, raise honeybee hives to sell to new beekeepers, or sell other products produced by the honeybees. Commercial beekeeping operations are frequently family businesses that are handed down from generation to generation. Their job is so important because all of the world needs to eat. Many of our crops have to be pollinated in order for them to grow and produce.

Hives near almonds for pollination
Pollination is the single most important service that honeybees provide for us, and commercial beekeepers are responsible for a large portion of that! Pollination is the fertilization of plants necessary to produce nuts, fruits, and even seeds. For a plant to be pollinated, the pollen grains need to be moved from the stamen (the male part of the flower) to the pistil (female part of the flower) so that fertilization can occur. There are many different animals and insects that pollinate plants. Honeybees are especially good pollinators because pollen is their main source of protein. They need protein just like you and me do to grow healthy and strong. As they travel from flower to flower collecting pollen to eat, they pollinate our crops.

Migratory beekeepers move their bees across the country
Many commercial beekeepers migrate their colonies during the year to provide pollination services to farmers and to reach the most abundant sources of nectar. There is a special type of commercial beekeeper called migratory beekeepers. Beekeepers who “migrate” move their honeybee hives all across the country so that their honeybees can pollinate crops. These beekeepers have to plan and prepare plenty of time in advance. The honeybees are moved at night after the foragers have returned to their hive so that honeybees will not be left behind. To ship the honeybees, the beekeepers load the hives onto large flatbed trucks (450 hives per truck!), and the bees are then driven to crops which need to be pollinated. 

Queen bee 
Another very important part of commercial beekeeping is buying queen bees. When the bees travel around the country, the queen bee has to be replaced more often. The queen bee in a honeybee hive is the mother of all the other bees in that hive, which makes her the single most important bee in the entire beehive. Because the queen is so important, there are beekeepers who focus just on producing new queens. Queen rearers focus on raising and breeding healthy new queens to keep hives strong. The queens are shipped to beekeepers all over the country once they are ready to begin their duties in the hive. The commercial beekeepers get these queens in the mail and then put them into their hives (we call this re-queening). This keeps the hives healthy and strong, ready to be most productive at their job of pollinating.

Commercial beekeeping is important to every single one of us! Without honeybee pollination, we would not have 1/3 of the food we eat! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Winter Preparation

Beekeepers care about their honeybees and want them to survive through winter to spring. Ways to achieve this vary by the region the beekeeper calls home. In the northern United States, we have harsh winters to deal with. It is our job to give them the best chances of making through our frigid temperatures. Leave enough honey for the bees to consume throughout the cold season. This is where they will get their energy to shake their flight muscles to maintain proper thermoregulation, or generate heat. The bees will form a cluster and move upward through their honey stores. If possible, provide the hives with a good windbreak.

Moisture levels can also be an issue. Some beekeepers will put moisture board in place of their inner cover. The board will absorb moisture and any air flow over the board will wick moisture from the hive. Other may also choose to wrap or insulate their hives. It is also important to make sure the hives are pest and disease free going into winter.

In the southern United States, many of these same concepts still apply. However, there is much less worry about below-freezing temperatures and wrapping hives. Ensuring that hives are healthy and have a good supply of honey are key to the survival of the hives.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Honey In Medicine

Did you know honey is used as a medicine?  

In ancient science and medicine, honey was appreciated for its unique healing properties. Some of the earliest known medical writings, including the Ebers Papyrus, include honey as an important ingredient in many remedies. Today, honey is used to heal burns and wounds, treat allergies, fight infection and soothe sore throats. 

Honey can be used to heal wounds, cuts, scrapes, burns and for other medicinal purposes. Honey is antibacterial which means it kills germs; honey is also known as a humectant. This means it will hold in moisture. Since it is antibacterial, it keeps the wound clean and its moisture helps the wound to heal well. Wounds sometimes can show no signs of healing after long periods of time. It has been found that when wounds like this are treated with honey, the healing process and cell regeneration begins. Honey does this by promoting the formation of granulation tissue and by stimulates cell growth and the growth of epithelium (a type of tissue) over wounds. These two necessary tissues basically form the new skin of the wound when it begins to heal or is healed. Honey will prevent infections, help the cut heal faster, and prevent scaring by forming tissue. 

Honey is also excellent if you have a sore throat or cough. Eating honey or adding it to hot tea can help coat and soothe your throat. Also, eating 1-2 tablespoons of honey a day can help to boost your immune system!

Honey in general is very healthy! The next time you head to your local farmers market or buy honey from a local beekeeper, remember honey is not just for eating! It has a multitude of other uses. Think of honey as nature’s medicine chest! For more information on honey as nature’s medicine check out the book Honey: The Gourmet Medicine by Joe Traynor.