♫We’re in the Honey…♫
Well the day has come to gather the honey from at least two hives here at Hunny-Bunny Farm. From the looks and weight of the honey supers we can expect at least 70# of honey. Yeehaw! If this is so this will be the biggest haul of honey in the history of the Hunny-Bunny Farm hives going back to 2000. To date our best production was a mere 30# and an average of about 15# over the whole time.
Meantime, all is in readiness as the uncapping tub, honey extractor, and other equipment for the task is assembled and cleaned. Canning jars, although cleaned from last use, have been run through the dishwasher and sanitized to remove any accumulated dust from storage. Additional new boxes of various size canning jars are in the ready and set to fill. A new stainless steel strainer has been purchased along with a sharp eight inch knife for the uncapping of frames into the tub. All in all it is T-10 and counting.
The honey supers, four, consisting of 10, 6 inch frames have been set in the basement and opened to allow the few straggler honeybees to escape to the basement, (honey house), storm door to be released back to the yard to busy themselves for foraging the upcoming fall honey harvest. The result is the basement is filled with the sweet scent of wafting honey. While the preparation, extracting, and bottling is much work, it is certainly a labor of sweet love. Some people believe that taking honey is stealing from the honeybees, but nothing can be further from the truth. Effectively, beekeeping is a symbiotic collaboration between man and nature. The beekeeper provides shelter, sustenance, and other necessities of the honeybees and in return splits the “profit” of the end result… honey. In actual fact, the beekeeper in his own way is a cooperative partner with the honeybee and is therefore, entitled to a share in the production. Some extreme greenie watermelons, (remember, green on the outside, but red on the inside), don’t see it this way. So now off to the honey house to begin processing nature’s own sweetener… honey.
Sweet, Sweet Surrender
So here is a picture of the honey harvest and I’ve still got another 2.5 gallons left in the capping tub. There are various sized jars from sample 3oz. to quart sized and all the cardboard boxes are jock-full with honey laden jars.
While on the subject here are some interesting facts on honeybees and honey.
- Honey bees, scientifically also known as Apis mellifera,
- Are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.
- It is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
- Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water; and it’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
- Honey bees have 6 legs, 2 compound eyes made up of thousands of tiny lenses (one on each side of the head), 3 simple eyes on the top of the head, 2 pairs of wings, a nectar pouch, and a stomach.
- Honey bees have 170 odorant receptors, compared with only 62 in fruit flies and 79 in mosquitoes. Their exceptional olfactory abilities include kin recognition signals, social communication within the hive, and odor recognition for finding food. Their sense of smell was so precise that it could differentiate hundreds of different floral varieties and tell whether a flower carried pollen or nectar from metres away.
- The honey bee’s wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus making their famous, distinctive buzz. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
- The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
- A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey.
- It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a bee’s flight around the world.
- A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
- The bee’s brain is oval in shape and only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things and is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency.
- A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female, live for about 6 weeks and do all the work.
- The queen bee can live up to 5 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2500 eggs per day.
- Larger than the worker bees, the male honey bees (also called drones), have no stinger and do no work at all. All they do is mating.
- Each honey bee colony has a unique odour for members’ identification.
- Only worker bees sting, and only if they feel threatened and they die once they sting. Queens have a stinger, but they don’t leave the hive to help defend it.
- It is estimated that 1100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal.
- Honey bees communicate with one another by “dancing”.
- During winter, honey bees feed on the honey they collected during the warmer months. They form a tight cluster in their hive to keep the queen and themselves warm.
The more I learn about the honeybee and its highly organized society, how it acts with such intricate cooperation, and the various bee products produced, the more I realize that there is indeed a Divine Creator and not just a series of accidents of evolution.
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Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.