Raw WIldflower HOney
- by John Morse
Tampa Bay Beekeeper
Inspired by the thought of a perfect eco-system with fruit trees and garden, John's journey into beekeeping was launched. After attending bee mentoring classes for 2 years at the USF Botanical Gardens, John quickly gained a respect and passion for the hobby. His passion grew deep, even after sustaining an anaphylactic reaction to being stung 30 to 40 times. John found a local doctor who specializes in bee sting immunology and after 5 years of monthly shots, his tolerance is maintained by being stung monthly. The hands on precision work, learning new wonders of the honey bee, and sharing that knowledge are the most rewarding parts of being a beekeeper. What started as a one hive hobby to pollenate his own fruit trees, has grown to so much more. It’s now multiple apiaries in the greater Tampa / St. Petersburg area.
The Wonders of the Honey Bee
It takes a bee its whole life to make just 1/12 teaspoon of honey and will live an average of Six weeks! Everyone knows how yummy and sweet honey tastes on your cereal, in your hot tea, or your favorite recipe, but did you ever think of the work that goes into making it? A typical hive consists of 40,000 to 60,000 bees and they are all females! You go girls! That’s not completely accurate. There are males, but their only job is to fly high in the sky and mate once with a queen, then they're finished and kicked out. That queen, who is noticeably larger, goes on to laying tens of thousands of larvae from that one mating! That’s up to 1200 per day.
Honey bees never sleep and can flap their wings 11,400 times per minute producing that distinctive buzz. The females are highly organized with specific roles: foragers, guards, housekeepers, comb builders, royal attendants, and nurses. The foragers fly out up to five miles to find pollen and nectar. Once a good source is found, they come back to the hive and perform a kind of dance called the waddle which directs the rest of the foragers to the site. They all travel back and forth gathering nectar. Through the nature of the bees, the nectar is made into honey and stored in perfectly formed and very efficient, hexagon shaped combs. Once a comb is full, it is capped and saved for future meals for themselves, the queen and her growing larvae.
Other bee groups remain in the hive protecting the door, grooming the queen, and doing all that is needed to grow that larvae into the next group of girls, since a bee’s life expectancy is eight weeks at best! The queen, once fertile, never leaves the hive and can live up to three years. If the queen dies or slows her laying, the nurses instinctively know to feed several of the one day old larvae “Royal jelly” to produce a few new queens who will fight to the death to take over the hive. So enjoy that scrumptious teaspoon of honey on whatever you like, but don’t ever forget you are eating a bee’s life work!
Some Health benefits of honey include the following:
- Energy boosting natural carbohydrates
- Reduce the impact of pollen allergies
- Lowers cholesterol
- Boosts Immune system antioxidant and antibacterial properties