Podcast SNAFU

I have the unfortunate position to inform our podcast listeners that the episode scheduled to release this past Saturday is unable to be made available.

So, the episode being recorded on Tuesday, September 19 will be released the same day in the afternoon/evening.

We will be doing a live recording this Friday from the Mangelsen’s store location as we set up the Bee Smart Info Booth and talk to visitors.  The original goal was to air this live on Friday, but due to certain technical limitations, that won’t be possible.

Instead, that recording will be aired this coming Saturday as a regular, but special, episode.

 

 

Honey in the Kitchen

Did you know that you can obtain honey in at least five different forms?

  1. Liquid/extracted honey
    1. This is the typical liquid honey you get in a jar.
  2. Chunk honey
    1. This is large pieces of honey comb with honey inside of it stuck inside a jar of liquid honey.
  3. Cut-comb honey
    1. This is full combs of honey that have been cut into a square.
  4. Creamed honey
    1. This is honey that has been whipped and allowed to crystallize so fine that it seems smooth as butter and is spreadable.
  5. Section-comb honey
    1. This is honey comb filled with honey that was put into special sections and filled in with wax comb and honey and removed as a whole unit.

You can take a container of crystallized honey (no, it’s not “gone bad”) and make it liquid again one of the following ways…

  • Place the container into a hot, dry area and it will re-liquify in a while
  • Place the container in a hot water bath and it will re-liquify relatively quickly
  • Very small amounts can be placed into a microwave oven on low heat and re-liquified rapidly.

What does it mean when you see “Raw Honey” on a label?

Raw honey in this case refers to liquid honey that has not been filtered or has had very little straining and/or it has not been heated above 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is in most commercially packed honeys such as we find on store shelves?

Most commercially packed honey is honey that has been blended from two or more sources in order to deliver a consistent flavor and color.

Can I replace sugar with honey in my recipes?

As a matter of fact, yes, you can swap honey for sugar in most recipes.  As a matter of fact, honey is noted in baking as helping to maintain moisture and “keep” better.  It has been further noted that in some cases it helps to draw out more subtle flavors in a recipe.

There are times when cooking that due to honey being acidic, some recipes require that honey be neutralized.  If that is the case for your recipe you can mix in about 1/12 of a teaspoon of baking soda per cup of honey added.  that’ll fix it.

Generally speaking, you can follow the list below for conversion.  Keep in mind, honey is sweeter than cane sugar, less is more.

  • 1/4 cup sugar = 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar = 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar = 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar = 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups sugar = 1.5 cups honey

How should I store honey?

Honey should generally be stored in a cool (just under about 50°F), dry area.  If honey is heated too much, too often or is stored for too long it can darken in color

What is all this about moisture content in honey?

Moisture content is very important to honey because if too much moisture is present, the honey can start to ferment, that’s not a good thing unless you meat to make mead.

For example, U.S. Grade A Honey is not supposed to be above 18.6% moisture content or it isn’t Grade A anymore.  As a matter of fact, if it isn’t at least or lower than 18.6%, it can’t even qualify for most honey judging competitions.Interestingly enough, if any honey is at or below 17.1% moisture content, it pretty much just won’t ferment.

Defining Honey

So what kinds of honey do we usually find in our honey hunt?  The has a list of definitions available used by a great many who work with honey professionally.  Look this list over and see if you know which honey is which.  Let’s do this Jeopardy style.  I’ll give you the answer fit then I’ll post the question.

  1. This is honey that has been filtered to remove various solids (like wax particles) and pollen grains.
    1. What is…Filtered honey.
  2. This is honey is it naturally is inside of a sealed comb or that is extracted but not filtered or heated.
    1. What is… Raw honey.
  3. Honey that has been heated and to meet certain temperature and time conditions mostly to destroy yeast that may be present but also to minimize crystallization for long shelf life.
    1. What is…Pasteurized honey
  4. These are any number of very thick honey products we can eat sometimes blended with various fruits, flavorings, nuts,spices but not other sweeteners.
    1. What are…Honey spreads.
  5. This is honey that has been very finely crystallized on purpose to make a spreadable and delicious smooth consistency.
    1. What is…Creamed honey
  6. Honey that is comprised of two or more different sources regardless of floral source, flavor, density or color.
    1. What is…Blended honey.

What about honey for diabetics, Is it OK to use instead of sugar?

There’s an interesting thing about honey and diabetics.  On the one hand, there is glucose in honey.  Of course, glucose is a problem for diabetics and should be avoided in general.

Having said that, Honey has invertase which helps invert the sugars in nectar.  Combine the inversion with dehydration and now you have honey.  Because of that inversion though it has been noted that honey is more readily absorbed into the bloodstream.

What that ultimately means for diabetics is that if you are really watching your blood sugar levels, are getting plenty of active exercise, and are feeling a bit risky, then a little it of honey is lot having a bit more table sugar.  Less goes further in this case.  Seeing as honey is actually said to be sweeter than table sugars, you really don’t need to use that much at all.

Obviously I’m not a doctor and I’m not about to give you medical advice.  But now you have some information to start you off on a sweet investigation hopefully leading you to a much better informed decision you can make for yourself.

That’s it for today folks.  Keep coming back to visit us at the Bee Smart beekeeping project and we’ll bee sure to share some more sweet info your way.

 

Bee Smart is talking about…more bees!

YES!  It’s a great day to bee alive.

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is expanding it’s coverage of bees to actually fulfill the phrase “All things bees and beekeeping.”

This means that beeginning today, you will also see posts, videos, and hear podcast chatter about bees of all kinds but not just limited to honey bees.

We are so excited to bee all about bees of all kinds.  You name it, bumblebees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, miner bees, lots more bees!

Yes, we obviously are still bringing you plenty of content covering honey bees.  After all, they are the primary kept and managed bee out there.

Bees, bees, bees, bees, bees!

 

 

Honey and allergies? Does it help?

Honey, Help Me

The idea that consuming honey being able to alleviate allergy symptoms has been around for a very long time.  It’s a bit of a complex issue.

There’s the pollen, there’s the honey and there’s the person.  All of these things and the things about them have to be taken into consideration.

The basic idea falls into a treatment or therapy called immunotherapy.  Trying to get the human body to build up an immunity to the agent through minor exposure is what’s going on.

The Honey

First of all, honey, raw honey is what we’re talking about in this case, has a number of extras in it that get processed out through filtering and pasteurization otherwise.  Honey entirely unfiltered will have a certain limited amount of pollen grains mixed in it.  Most honey, even processed has some amount of pollen grains, only raw honey has the most not having any filtered out.

Consider also that most honey is harvested in the late Summer and early Fall.  To have the type of pollen necessary to make immunotherapy work, there has to be enough for the body to work with yet not so much as to trigger the allergic reaction that we are trying to reduce.

Some suggest there may even be trace amounts of bee venom in honey.  Not very likely as the “business end” of the bees where venom is produced, stored and released has nothing to do with and is nowhere near the cells when nectar is being deposited, sugars are inverted and it is dehydrated to turn it into honey.  I’m not saying it’s impossible, just highly improbable.

Another much more valid concern is that the honey is not dehydrated enough (ideally between 17 and 18 percent water) and may become fermented, moldy or otherwise compromised.  Again, not likely but it does happen if beekeepers aren’t checking the honey they harvest properly.

A third concern is that of certain bacteria called “Botulism”.  It’s interesting to note that websites like WebMD add a warning about unprocessed honey possibly leading to botulism when raw honey naturally contains certain enzymes which inhibit and prevent the presence of many bacteria, botulism being one of them.  The very act of pasteurization kills the inhibiting enzymes, thereby allowing bacteria to grow unchecked.  Though the author of the article at WebMD and others similar fail to acknowledge this.  I suspect their study for such articles failed to even include talking with a beekeeper or beekeeping related research person.

The Pollen

Because plant pollens are very largely genetically similar, the saying that, “The Devil is in the details” applies here.  Honey is mostly collected later in the year and primarily from every flowering plant the bees find.  However, some of the biggest pollen allergy triggers are from grass and grain pollens.  The bees rarely pick these types of pollens up.  If a persons allergic responses are primarily exclusive to grass pollens, honey won’t bee the source of relief they had been hoping for.

Also, in unfiltered, raw honey, there potentially could be enough of a pollen type present to initiate an allergic response in someone who might likely not even know they had an allergy to a particular type of pollen.  It has happened.

The Person

Of course, people themselves are each different and have different reactions to exposure to various stimuli.  The severity or degree of allergic response is unique for each person.  Each individual also has their own immune system that may be strong or not-so-strong depending on a variety of factors.

One person with few allergy triggers and a strong immune system may find that only a small amount of honey in only a few instances  has helped them feel better.  Someone else with perhaps a lower immune system might need more or more frequent consuming of honey to experience relief.  It’s all a big crapshoot really.

So, Can it or Can’t it?

Ultimately yes, raw honey has been found to help people with certain types of pollen allergies find a reduction in allergic responses and experience some degree of relief from allergy symptoms.  Whether it can help for any person will require some experimentation by that person.  Trying various amounts, various frequency of intake, even different honeys from different areas might make a difference.  Or, it might not make any difference at all for those unlucky enough to have the wrong pollen allergy, low immune systems, greater allergic symptom responses or some combination of any or all of these.

One thing I can tell you for sure is, honey  tastes so darn good, it makes all the experimentation worthwhile.

 

Story Review: Earl Pruitt’s Smoker by Patrick Frievald

Patrick Frievald is an Apiarist.  He makes part of his living working with bees.  He is also an author of several books in the horror genre.  When you combine beekeeping and creative writing, interesting things can happen.

In the new anthology called “Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders“, Patrick has a story titled “Earl Pruitt’s Smoker”.  It took me awhile, but I finally got to read the story.

Having read most of the other books by Patrick Frievald, I was curious how this would turn out given his great passion for bees and beekeeping and making delicious, spicy honey things and his supernatural thrillers that make up most of his author endeavors.

I’d bee lying if I said that “Earl Pruitt’s Smoker” was an innocent walk through the flowers in regards to telling a tale based on beekeeping.  It’s an earnest story though, giving us a passionate tale of bees, beekeeping and the smoky motives and pressures of the people who find the practice nearly an obsession.

Patrick spells an imaginative painting using his own passion for beekeeping to give an honest rendering of the world of beekeeping as only a beekeeper can see it.   I like it a lot.  It’s engaging and challenges preconceived notions about who people really are beneath the veil.

I hope you get a chance to read this story.  There just aren’t enough ‘good’ things to read about the world of beekeeping.  In fact, I can see this single tale being the beginning of an anthology in it’s own right both in following the possession of the smoker in question and the lead for other stories based on the beekeeping theme in general.

Bee Smart and read “Earl Pruitt’s Smoker” by Patrick Frievald.

How to Bee Real

So, you talk a big game about being down for the environment and how you got our beneficial pollinators backs.  Do you put your money where your mouth is though?  Do you go further than money and put your actual effort into it?

If you’re a beekeeper, then you have the creds.  You are making it happen.  But for everyone who isn’t a beekeeper, what about you?

Now, not everyone who is interested in bee conservation wants to be a beekeeper.  Just like not every beekeeper is solely focused on honey bees.  We have apiarists who manage mason bees, bumblebees, honey bees and more.

A person concerned about the environment and beneficial pollinator bees doesn’t have to be a beekeeper either.  But if not a beekeeper, what can you do to “bee real” in the bee conservation effort?

You can do any, some or all of the things listed below.

Big Bear’s List of Ways to Bee Involved

  1. Become a hobby beekeeper or professional apiarist.
    1. If you already are or are just getting started, YOU ROCK!
  2. Hire an Apiarist to manage an apiary for you.
    1. Just Beecause you don’t manage the bees yourself doesn’t mean you can’t have bees and have your own honey and beeswax to use for home or business purposes.
  3. Provide support to research into keeping bees alive, healthy and thriving.
    1. For ground level research, you can’t go wrong by supporting Randy Oliver at his website.  He does awesome work not only doing the research but by making it accessible directly to hobbyists and apiarists himself.
  4. Provide support to education and training efforts that increase awareness, teach and train people about bees and beekeeping.
    1. Yes, you can sponsor someone to take classes or begin a training program like the Apiarist Apprentice Trade program at BBE-Tech Apiary Services in Omaha, NE.
  5. Offer a location for a hobby beekeeper or professional apiarist to establish an apiary.
    1. If there’s one thing bees and beekeepers need most, it’s quality places to set up and maintain an apiary.
  6. Buy from a local beekeeper.
    1. Whether it’s honey, beeswax items, or any of the hundreds of delicious and awesome things made from honey and other hive products, supporting local beekeepers means supporting local bee conservation.
    2. Check your local Farmers Markets.  Not only are beekeepers there selling their stuff but all kinds of local growers whose crops got help from pollinating bees are too.
  7. Implement an IPM plan in your lawn care and gardening activity.
    1. Integrated Pest Management is perhaps the best way to prevent our beneficial pollinators from being unnecessarily exposed to toxic pesticides.
    2. The Label Is The Law!  Mix and apply ANY pesticides you use exactly as the label describes.  Not more, not different.  You don’t need to dump a gallon of weed killer on a single dandelion.
  8. Bee an advocate for bees and beekeeping in your community.
    1. There are many cities and towns that don’t appreciate, understand or “get” all the benefits to bees and beekeeping locally.  Even if you don’t intend to have your own hives, you CAN bee a proponent for bees and beekeeping at town council meetings, neighborhood associations, city, county and state elections, etc…

So, this list above is a good start.

Whatever you do, DON’T just be someone who talks about environmental and bee conservation issues but doesn’t actually do anything about it.  The world is full of fakes and phonies.  We and the bees need you to Bee Real.

What’s the point?

So, the Bee Smart beekeeping project and that goes into it here…   What’s the point of it all when there are so many other beekeeping websites out there?  I ask myself this every so often.

I am always come back to the notion that I believe that there are things about bees and beekeeping that can be introduced and communicated differently, if not better in general.

The one thing about the web is that it contains so much information yet in many ways, so little context.  People can do a Google search on seconds to get information yet still not understand it because it lacks context and perspective.  In some cases, it does get presented with context and perspective but sadly, in a way that leaves people no better off or with any better understanding than before.  In some cases, even in a worse place.

Also, Bee Smart beekeeping project is here to entertain and inform anyone who wants to understand bees and beekeeping better not just a specific group.  I want to help non beekeepers understand every bit as much as I want beekeepers of any skill level to understand.

I just hope to do so in a way that isn’t necessarily the same way as everywhere else on the internet.  That is from the perspective of beekeeping as a professional trade.    The Point of presenting information to you about bees and beekeeping isn’t so much as to influence anyone to being pro this or anti that.  It’s more of a “here’s what it is, here’s how it works, here are the pro’s and con’s of it.”

The goal is to help people be successful.  To be successful in anything to do with bees or beekeeping, you have to be informed and you have to be interested.  The Bee Smart approach to achieving being informed is to provide you with as accurate and honest information as possible.

The way we address being interested is to present the information in an entertaining (we hope) way.  When people are having fun with something, they pay more attention and usually remember it better.

Anything you can access on this website is zero cost to you.  Listen to the podcasts, watch videos, read articles and posts, download useful documents, interact on the forums.  No charge.

I have a Patreon page for people who beelieve in what I am doing here and their support helps make it possible to make everything available at no upfront cost.  I hope to get more Patreon supporters so that I can offer better quality content and more of it.  In order to get more people to become Patreon supporters, they have to beelieve in the Bee Smart beekeeping project and what it’s trying to achieve also.

Thanks to everyone who is visiting us here and finding this content useful, informative and entertaining.  Thank you greatly to our Patreon supporters for continuing to help us make it happen.

 

There is no contest, all bees rock

Sometimes looking at particular articles or watching videos, etc… a person might get the impression that some folks want you to beelieve that some bees are more important than others or that some species of bees are more important to expend effort and resources on than others.

Of course that’s ridiculous.  I know it, you know, and deep down, even those people know it too.  All bees are pollinators, true.  Some species are more effective and others are more efficient.  Some specialize in specific types of plants and others aren’t so limited, but they all get the job done one way or another.

Some bees considered native bees can bee fantastic pollinators that often get overlooked and not much attention.  Others, like honey bees, get lots of attention but get the “outsider” treatment because they are considered feral or non-native.

Why is it that honey bees get so much attention even when other bees may be more effective or efficient pollinators?  In large part because of honey.  Honey bees not only pollinate, they selectively or specifically pollinate and they produce harvest-able stuffs like honey and beeswax in great quantities.  They are also extremely manageable, much more so than most other types of bees.

Not that makes honey bees “better” or more worth saving or getting attention.  It just means that they offer something unique to human society that is extremely desirable.

Bumblebees, honey bees, mason bees, alkaline bees, squash bees and all the other bees are awesome insects and provide a super necessary service in pollination that allows people to have crops in abundance.

Let’s not focus on one or another.  Instead let’s show them all some bee love.

Bee Smart: Buzzed About Bees

Starting Saturday August 12 9:30 -10:30am at Chick-Fil-A in Bellevue, NE.  Every second Saturday of each month afterward. Come on down and talk to a professional apiarist.  Ask your bee related questions.  Find out about beekeeping, honey, pollination, beeswax and anything else that has to do with bees that you’ve got on your mind.

Sit down with Tony “Big Bear” Sandoval from the Bee Smart beekeeping project and the Beehooligans podcast to talk about anything and everything bees.

Want to get started in beekeeping?  Come on down.  Have questions about cooking with honey?  Come on down.  Want to know about making beeswax crafts?  Come on down.

Got a story to share about bees?  We want to hear it.    Get a little something to munch on or drink, and sit down with us to get all the buzz on everything bees.

Cicada Killers; Menacing Predators or Ugly Butterflies

This is the Bee Smart website but you won’t beelieve how often I get asked about other flying critters.  That’s OK though.  Most of the time it leads to some very cool teaching opportunities about bee conservation.

One of the most trepidatious questions involves the Cicada Killer Wasps.  Yes, they are actually wasps and they are really big, really ugly and really aggressive.  They scare the beejeebers out of most people.

The female is the larger of the two and also the predator.  She is a hunter of other big, ugly insects that most people don’t want around.  She does have a stinger but it’s pretty much reserved for prey.  It’s a rare thing indeed to hear of a female Cicada Killer stinging a person or animal unless they were actively trying to make her sting them.

The males, those wild flying acrobats that seem to dart aggressively at anything near them?  They couldn’t hurt you if they wanted to.  They are males and as such, they are born without a stinger.  They couldn’t hurt you if they tried.

Yes, the female is a devastating predator, only to other insects, and the males are aggressive acrobats that are pretty much not much more than ugly butterflies.

When you see them, don’t bee afraid.  They are pretty much harmless to people and animals.  They also put on a great aerobatics show.