Monday, July 1, 2019

Three Tools of a Beekeeper

As beekeepers, we have three very important tools that make working our bees easier: the veil/suit, the smoker and the hive tool. When all the tools are used properly, you can work your bees and can do so without being stung. 


Before doing any job you always want to have the proper safety gear. In beekeeping, you always want to protect your face from being stung. With the veil, your entire head is covered and safe. Some beekeepers choose to have a full suit that covers their entire body so they are covered from head to toe. The veil is attached and only the hands and feet are exposed. This suit can come in a variety of materials such as nylon or cotton and can be a little heavy, but it’s great at protecting beekeepers from bee stings. There are also special gloves made of leather or thicker material that protect a beekeeper's hands. 

Beekeepers use a smoker to calm down the bees when they open the hive. A fire is started in the can using wood chips, leaves or sticks. Then, you pump the bellows to force smoke from the spout. The smoke masks the bees alarm pheromones and could simulate a fire response for them--filling their stomachs with honey to prepare to leave their "burning" home.

The hive tool is a mostly flat scraper made of steel. Beekeepers use the hive tool to separate the hive boxes and honey supers, loosen frames and scrape propolis and beeswax from boxes and frames. Honeybees secure their hive with these sticky substances and it would be very difficult to open the hive without your trusty hive tool.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Medical World of Honey

Image may contain: textHoney is a food that never spoils and a substance most commonly used for eating. Yet, the wondrous properties of honey don't stop there! Honey can also be used as a medicine. Honey has antibacterial properties which help create an ideal wound healing environment for any scrape or cut you may have. If you do end up getting a cut or a scrape, just apply honey to the wound and wrap it in gauze. The honey will keep the wound moist and sterile to help it heal from the inside out which will reduce scarring!

Honey has been used as medicine for ages.  During the World Wars, many supplies were rationed and people had to make sacrifices. This rationing also affected the doctors and surgeons in war zones. In order to still provide for the injured, doctors would use honey on their medical equipment! They would dip the medical utensils into the honey which would then sterilize the equipment before they used it. While it would create a sticky situation, the benefits of the honey were pretty sweet!

Image result for honey as a cough syrup
Throughout the year, many of us struggle with a sore throat at some point. If it's from a cold or simply from how much you talk in a day, honey can aid a helping hand! Honey, especially buckwheat honey, has been proven to be a better sore throat aid and cough suppressant than the normal cough syrup you get at a drug store. Next time you suffer from a cough, give honey a try!

Whether you want to use honey on your toast in the morning or keep it in your first aid kit, the many uses of honey are endless!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Honeybees Throughout History

The buzz about honeybees has been around for thousands of years. Honeybees helped humans in Ancient Egypt, Greece and early America. Rock art shows "honey hunting" in early civilizations in Africa, India and Spain, and organized beekeeping happened in ancient Egypt, Greece, Italy and Israel. The greatest minds throughout history have studied the fascinating honeybee. 

Ancient Egyptians are thought of as the first beekeepers in history. Historians have found hieroglyphs of bees dating back to 2422 BD! The oldest jar of honey found in the world came from the tomb of King Tut. Ancient Egyptians knew that honey was more than just a food. They used honey to clean wounds and to promote beauty and youthfulness in cosmetics. They used bees wax to make candles. Today, people are still using honey and hive products for the same purposes! 

Some of the greatest ideas about honeybees came from Ancient Greece. Before this point in history, most ideas and observations were passed down through oral traditional and stories. The Greeks wrote down their knowledge. One of the most well known minds to study bees was Aristotle around 342 BC. He was not a beekeeper, but that did not stop him from studying bees. Some of his ideas were correct but some of them were not. He knew there were three bees in the hive. He got the worker and drone bees correct, but he thought the queen bee was a king bee! 

Early settlers in America brought honeybees from Europe to North America in 1622. There were native bees already in North America but the colonist introduced domesticated bees. In colonial times, bees were extremely beneficial. Honey was used instead of highly-taxed sugar and beeswax was used for making shoe polishes, lipsticks and candles. The beehives featured on early American coins convey how important honeybees are in our history.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Flowers for the Honeybees

Happy Spring Everyone!
Image result for seed ball plants
The life of a beekeeper is always buzzing, especially in the spring of the year! Beekeepers are beginning to get their new bees as well as prepare their honeybees for the adventures of the summer to come. The spring is an important time for honeybees. If you are looking for an easy way to help honeybees, leave the dandelions in your yard! Dandelions are the first floral sources for honeybees and will help get their hive off to a great start.

Are you looking for an activity to help honeybees? One thing you can do is to plant flowers in your yard that provide pollen and nectar for honeybees. Check out this activity on making seed balls!

Seed Balls:
2 parts potting soil
5 parts potter clay mix
1-2 parts seeds
Water

Mix together the soil, clay, and seeds in a large container. Once combined, add water little bits of water until it has the consistency of cookie dough. The balls should not be sticky. Once combined,  use your hands to form 1-2 inch balls. Let them dry overnight.

Now that you have your seed balls, it's time to plant them! Find an area with sunlight, flat landscape, and won't get mowed over. Next, place the seed ball where you would like the flowers to grow and let nature take care of the rest! There is no need to plant or water the seed ball as these require little to no maintenance to grow flowers. Best of luck planting!

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Buzz About Beeswax

When people think of honeybees, one of the first things they think of is the honeycomb's hexagon shape. The six-sided comb is where the bees store honey and nectar, but what is it made from? Honeycomb is made from beeswax and is one of the many products we can can get from our bee hives. A female worker bee does many interesting things in her lifetime, and how she makes beeswax is one of their most impressive skills.

When a worker bee eats honey, she produces a clear wax in scales from eight 
glands on her abdomen. These special glands take the sugar from the honey and make it into beeswax. The bee who made the wax will remove these scales with her legs, or another bee will come and help her remove them. The bees take that scale and shape the beeswax using their legs and strong jaws to make it into a soft ball. Then, it is able to be taken around the hive and placed wherever it is needed. 

Beeswax has many uses outside the hive and is great for many homemade crafts such as candles, lip balms and beauty recipes. 
Beeswax is also a great moisturizer found in a lot of cosmetics. Lip balms and lotion bars are very popular products made with beeswax because beeswax acts as a barrier to trap moisture and leave your skin feeling soft. Search "homemade honey beauty recipes," and try one today!


Beeswax candles are environmentally friendly and burn clean (meaning they create little smoke). Beeswax candles are also known to burn brighter and longer with a strong natural smell. Beeswax candles can be made either by rolling colorful sheets of beeswax around a wick or by melting beeswax and pouring it into a candle mold. Search "make your own beeswax candles" for more information.

Honeybees work hard to produce beeswax, and they use it to store all their most important belongings. Keep an eye out for some amazing products made with beeswax.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Love and Beekeeping

Happy Valentines Day! Did you know that Saint Valentine is the Patron Saint of Beekeeping? Valentine's Day is all about love and cherishing those around you. This is the same concept Saint Valentine shares with beekeeping. Being the Patron Saint of Beekeeping means Saint Valentine watches over the beekeeping industry, protecting the beekeepers and the honeybees.

This love for beekeeping is still cherished by many today. During winter months in northern states, beekeepers have to provide their bees with extra love to help them survive the winter.  The winter months of the north mean temperatures and snow are constantly falling. Beekeepers either keep their bees in the North or send the honeybees to the warmth of the Southern states.

Wintering in the North
Hives snowed in for the winter
Temperatures in the North can get as low as -30°F or colder. While the temperature of the air outside is that cold, the inside of the bee hive will be as warm as 98° throughout the entire winter! The honeybees are their own heating system. Honeybees will be in constant motion creating heat with their bodies, and then they fan their wings to move the heat around! To ensure the safety and warmth of the queen bee, she is at the center of the cluster of honeybees. 


A common path of states visited by Migratory Beekeepers
Migratory  Beekeeping
Migratory beekeepers move their honeybees throughout the United States to help pollinate crops. A migratory beekeeper might go to California to pollinate almond crops in the winter and then to Washington in the spring to pollinate apple blossoms. Summer could be spent in Wisconsin pollinating cranberries or North Dakota pollinating sunflowers. Migratory beekeepers are always on the move and help advance agriculture from coast to coast! 



Sunday, January 13, 2019

2019 Representatives Crowned in Myrtle Beach

The new American Honey Queen and Princess were selected at the 2019 American Beekeeping Federation Convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

2019 American Honey Queen
Hannah Sjostrom from Wisconsin

2019 American Honey Princess
Nicole Medina from New Jersey

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!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Lessons from the Honeybee

Happy New Year! Here are some fun and educational activities to learn hands-on about pollination and honey. Try them at home or at school! Click on the "Lessons" tab above for more resources.

Cheese Balls Pollination Activity
Draw two flower shapes on a white piece of paper. Glue a white muffin cup in the center of one and fill it with cheese balls. Eat all the cheese balls--be careful not to lick your fingers! Then touch your fingers to the other flower. You just "pollinated" your flower! The cheese residue represents pollen and your fingers represent the fuzzy bees!


















Honey, I Love You!
There are so many ways to use honey! It is delicious to eat, can soothe a sore throat or heal a cut,  helps beautify skin and hair and provides energy! See if you can use honey in these four areas this month: baking, healing, beauty and energy. Print off the coloring sheet below (made by a former honey queen!) for ideas.