Posts Tagged: Honey
For years, uninformed folks have declared that honey is "bee vomit."
These things are inequitably false.
1. The world is flat.
2. Einstein said that "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."
3. Honey is bee vomit.
Yet people gleefully insist that honey is bee vomit. Why do they say that? Who knows? To make people stop eating it? To deter them from consuming honey as they eagerly spread it on their waffles, toast or English muffin? To make fun of people who love honey, a wonderful treat that's sometimes called "the soul of a field of flowers?" Sensational or junk "news," the kind that tabloids print without checking?
Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who retired this June after 38 years of service, says: "I make the distinction between honey bee regurgitation and mammalian vomit based on the fact that the nectar and honey being processed by the bees never have direct contact with food being processed, or expected to be processed, 'digestively' as is the food in a mammalian stomach."
"Although many sources refer to the honey bee crop as the 'honey stomach,' it is not a place where consumed foods are being digested in honey bees."
In their book, Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping, authors Dewey Caron and Lawrence John "Larry" Connor define the honey stomach as a a "honey sac."
It's "an enlargement of the posterior end of the esophagus in the bee abdomen in which the bee carries the nectar from flower to hive."
Bee vomit? No way. It's where nectar is stored. It's not a stomach as we know it.
Honey is not bee vomit. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Not just on National Honey Bee Day, which is Saturday, Aug. 16, but every day.
This year's theme is “Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees.”
Some grassroots-minded beekeepers established the day in 2009 "to build community awareness of the bee industry, through education and promotion," according to their website. "Our commitment is to continue that philosophy."
"Oh, but I'm just one person!" you say. The NHBD's response to that is a quote from Edmund Burke (1729-1797): "No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."
Here's what we did: We removed our lawn: no lawnmower, no edger, no lawn. Our garden is a bee garden. We planted lavender, artichokes (and let them flower), catmint, alyssum, cilantro, cosmos, tower of jewels, zinnias, guara, blanketflowers (Gallardia) sunflowers, Mexican sunflower (Tithonia), lantana, California golden poppies, honeysuckle, salvia, oregano, African blue basil, sedum, peach, tangerine, pomegranate, lemon and other bee favorites. A drip irrigation grid system, timed to turn on at 4 in the morning, keeps the plants healthy, and the nectar and pollen flowing. It's a veritable oasis. It's a welcome mat. It's a pool of floral resources. C'mon in, the flowers are fine!
It's also important to select seasonal plants, especially for late summer and fall, when food resources are scarce. Avoid pesticides. Buy local honey. Support the bees. Support the beekeepers. Become a beekeeper or let beekeepers maintain their hives on your property, if you can.
Get involved with bees!
If you're like me, you love to photograph them. I can sit for hours in our bee garden and just watch them go about their bees-ness. Here are several of my favorite images:
Honey bee heading toward tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Golden bee (Cordovan) on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee on a California golden poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee on pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You'll probably like lima bean honey.
Lima beans are a honey production crop, and this varietal is one of the six honeys to be sampled at the UC Davis Department of Entomology's free honey-tasting event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 at Briggs Hall. It's all part of the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen has been staffing the activitity at the UC Davis Picnic Day for more than three decades.
Every year Mussen tries to offer something new and/or different for visitors to taste. He's gathered everything from cotton honey to starthistle honey. (Starthistle, by the way, is his favorite, and is also favored by many beekeepers.)
This year, in addition to lima bean honey, the varietals are manzanita, pomegranate, orange blossom, almond blossom and northern desert shrub (from Nevada). (See the National Honey Board website for information on varietals.)
Honey bees are trucked to California from all over the country to pollinate the state's 800,000 acres of almonds. But have you ever sampled almond blossom honey? Most people haven't. It's rather strong and leaves an aftertaste, Mussen says.
What many folks are also eager to try is the reddish-tinged honey from the northern desert shrub.
The honey tasting will take place in the courtyard of Briggs Hall, which is located just off Kleiber Hall drive. Each person will be given six toothpicks, one for each varietal. Due to popular demand, two tables will be set up to accommodate everyone.
Guess which one will be the last honey to be sampled? Almond blossom honey. That's because of the aftertaste.
Honey-tasting is a popular activity at Briggs Hall during the UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading toward almond blossom. Almond blossom honey will be one of the honeys to be sampled at the UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, we borrowed a plastic spoon and offered a taste of honey to newly emerged honey bees.
It was their sisters' making and now it was theirs. And soon, they will be making their own.
Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and author of the newly published book, Honey Bee Hobbyist, the Care and Keeping of Bees, writes that "When all conditions are ideal (good weather, long days, intense nectar secretion and very populous colonies), bees can collect enormous quantities of nectar--perhaps around 6 pounds or more in one day--yielding around 2 to 3 pounds of honey per day."
Still, we often hear folks complain about humans stealing honey from the hives.
"Bees consume most of the honey they make," writes Gary, who has kept bees for more than six decades and continues his work as a professional bee wrangler. "Honey is primarily food for them and secondarily a treat for us because they produce more than the require for sustenance, which is 200 pounds per colony annually. The extra honey--anything over 200 pounds--is known as 'surplus' honey because it can be harvested without jeopardizing colony survival."
However, hobby beekeepers usually expect to produce around 100 pounds of honey per hive, he says.
That's definitely more than just a taste of honey!
Honey bee sipping honey in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of bee sipping honey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee quickly finds the honey in a spoon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Things are buzzing over at the Robert Mondavi Wine and Food Science on the University of California, Davis campus.
The RMI folks are gearing up for the big Honey! event, set for 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 21 in the UC Davis Conference Center.
It's not every day that there's an all-day event about honey. Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director of RMI and executive assistant Kim Bannister promise a "sweet" event--"too sweet not to miss."
Yes, there will be talks about honey and bees, a honey-themed lunch, honey tasting and a honey taste-off. To add to the sweetness: Gimbal's Fine Candies of San Francisco is donating individual-sized packets of Honey Lovers, its popular candy made with honey. This company generously donates 5 percent of the proceeds from the sale of Honey Lovers for UC Davis bee research (Department of Entomology).
And, then there's the sweet harmony of the Honeybee Trio, comprised of three teenagers from Vacaville. They'll sing "Sugartime," and...cross your fingers...they may come up with a version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Honeycomb."
Meanwhile the "bee guys"--Eric Mussen, Brian Johnson and Norm Gary--are polishing their speeches as are the other speakers, Louis Grivetti and Liz Applegate, all UC Davis faculty or former faculty.
Beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton will bring in two bee observation hives. Other displays include a beekeeping exhibit from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and bee specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Check out the Honey! agenda on the RMI website. You can reserve your space there or contact Kim Bannister at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-5171.
Honey bee nectaring lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bee observation hives loaned by Brian Fishback of Wilton will enable folks to see a retinue. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Fingers dipping in a honeycomb at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey).