Random bits about honey

As I mentioned last week, my last Conservation class was about honey.  Well, ostensibly, it was about sustainable agriculture.  But, it was really about honey.  Honey, I found out, is super interesting!  I cannot do the presentation justice, but here are a few interesting tidbits from Bill Crandall’s presentation.

  • Honey made from different flowers tastes different.
  • Most areas of the country like lighter honey, but our area prefers the taste of darker honey.
  • Bumble bee hives have 200 bees at their peak, and the queen overwinters in a compost pile.  She is the big bee you see in the spring.  She has to go out and gather her own food until the other bees get older.
  • A honeybee hive can be made up of 50 to 60 THOUSAND bees.
  • A bumble bee hive only has 4-5 days of honey for food; a honey bee hive can store enough honey for the whole winter.
  • If a plant suffers from a lack of pollination (which is accomplished by bees), the fruit can be lopsided, and the seeds will not be fully developed.
  • California needs 2.1 million hives for 1 month to fertilize the almond fields.  The bees get trucked in from Florida and Mexico for the month.
  • The trucks carrying the bees have to keep moving or the bees will suffocate.
  • The hives get moved 4-5 times/year to the different flowering monocultures (green deserts) around the country.  The movement is stressful on the bees.  This is ANOTHER reason why monocultures are so bad for our environment.  They are not sustainable.
  • Africanized bees have not yet figured out how to survive our winters.  They can take over a hive in the summer, however, because an africanized queen bee will emerge 4 hours earlier than a regular queen bee, and she will kill the other queen larvae.
  • The disapperance of hedge rows has been detrimental to the bee populuations.  This is where the bees used to live.
  • Honey bees are not indigenous to the US, but bumble bees are.
  • A queen lives 2-3 years, a drone lives 1.5 months, and a worker bee lives until she has 500 miles on her wings.
  • Bees stay warm in the winter by using their shiver muscles.  The move from the inside to the outstide of the hive, rotating around, so all the bees stay warm.  However, if it’s super cold, the bees will not move to a new area of the hive and can starve from lack of food.

It was a great presentation.  Bill treated us all with the cutest little bottle of honey (see pic in my Instagram feed on the right).  Very interesting stuff!

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