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.

HuffPo Calls Honey Vomit, Wrong As Usual

Loathe as I am to ever willingly refer reasonable people to a source that is so low that they don’t pay the contributing writers for their work except in “exposure”  (while they rake in millions from advertising) when it comes to spreading misinformation about bees, I am compelled to correct it.

A European honey bee (Apis mellifera) extracts nectar from an Aster flower using its proboscis.

In this recent article, the author tries to make an educated seeming run at referring to honey legitimately as “bee vomit”.   Their argument is founded on the generality of definition of the word “vomit”.    If you use a “real” dictionary she says, then vomit is merely ejecting contents of the stomach through the mouth.  If you use any other definition, you must be relying on Wikipedia and are subject to scorn and ridicule.

However, even though she goes to lengths to describe that bees have two stomachs and that honey transported by bees is carried in the non digestive “crop” or proventriculus of the honey bee, but still counts as “vomit” to her.

The “crop” (proventriculus) is the first organic in the abdomen (colored green) before going to the “midgut” (ventriculus)

While she focuses on the definition of vomit as her ace-in-the-hole, she completely overlooks, or perhaps ignores, that in her own description she has already shown that she is incorrect.

Vomit is material ejected from “the” stomach.  In a mammal having one stomach in which digestion occurs.  In an insect such as the honey bee and having two stomachs (as fellow Beehooligan Dean Stiglitz points out, the proventriculus or “crop” is actually a gland and not a true stomach, further making the point that it is not vomit), the proventriculus NOT engaging in digestion, it would be more accurate to refer to it as a process of regurgitation.

A nationally viewed media source (not being worthy of the more credible term “news” since news sources actually pay their sources)  to toss around words blithely is disappointing.  Words have not just meaning my friends, but specific meaning.  In casual discussions, words are often loosely bandied about.  In a technical discussion, such as one actually involving science, medical, and other fields where specificity is necessary, words meanings take on greater importance.

So, technically speaking (as it seemed the article author was hoping people would see her point), honey is regurgitated nectar from “a” stomach called the “crop” not used for digestive functions by an insect.

It is not vomit from “the” stomach of a creature having only one in which to conduct primarily digestive functions.

Maybe if HuffPo would actually pay their sources, they could be taken more credibly on important topics like bees.

 

 

Good Stuff From The Hive

Apiarists are like farmers in that we take colonies of honey bees and knowing what they can produce in excess of their own needs under the right conditions, we try to arrange things to get the bees to do exactly that.  Make a lot of good stuff, more than they need, so that we can harvest it and make use of it.

What kinds of things can we get from honey bee hive’s and what are they good for?  This simple yet informative image found on the www below can show you the awesomeness that is brought to us by honey bees.

What’s In Your Honey

The World Wide Web is chock full of cool information about all things bees.  Sometimes it’s a trick to find it.  Instead of re-inventing the wheel, we like to bring you the awesome things that don’t need to be redone.

For example, the image below gives you some basic information on the chemical makeup of honey.  How cool is that?

What are bees doing? Making Honey

Honey, the golden flow.  The nectar of the Gods (or is that Mead?)  For us bees, it is the stuff of life.  Whatever you might think of honey, it’s not nearly as what it is to honey bees.

First of all, what is honey?  Honey is nectar, a sugary sap-like substance produced by flowers that is mostly water with varying amounts of sugars in it.  Actually honey is nectar that has been changed and dehydrated by the mixing of special enzymes found in every worker bees “Crop” also known as the honey gut.  We’ll gut more into that later.

First of all, flowers aren’t as nice as you think they are.  Oh sure, they want you look at them and say how pretty they are and how great they smell.  You don’t understand though, it’s all a plot.  Plants are conniving things that are manipulating us bees into helping them to multiply and take over the world.

It’s true.  See, for millions of years now, plants have been adding this addictive and tasty substance you call nectar to trick honey bees and some other insects into pollinating them and help them to reproduce, multiply and spread out.  With bee pollination, some flowering plants can take over entire landscapes and no-one bats an eye except to look at the pretty sight.

Puh-leeze.

They lure us in with this tantalizing nectar.  We brush past all the pollen, covering ourselves in it, drink up the nectar and store it to take home and share with the colony.  On the way, bees stop at other, similar flowers and as we go in for the nectar again, the pollen we picked up from the previous schemer is brushed off onto the next one helping it to reproduce more efficiently.

Meanwhile, we take the nectar home, mix in a variety of enzymes from our Crop and as we pass it to the next bee or into a stores cell, we mix even more of the “special enzyme mixture” into the nectar which, among other things, converts the sugars and helps to dehydrate the nectar until it’s only about 18% water.  When you consider that nectar starts out as maybe 80% water or more, that’s one heck of a transformation we put it through.

So it get’s converted, dehydrated, stored and then we save it and make more.  It gets eaten, eventually.  depending on the time of year or the season.  This is the primary food of all adult bees.  We do collect some of the pollen also to feed the brood but for adult bees, we get the good stuff.

However, we have to live with the knowledge that we are willing accomplices to plants’ diabolical plot to take over the world.  Really, when it all comes down to it, we don’t mind.  The plants and bees were here long before you people and we’ll pretty much bee here long after you are gone.  Not that I’m wishing anything bad on anyone, just, well, you know, that whole “Survival of the Fittest” thing.

A single honey bee colony in a beekeeper’s hive is capable of relatively easily producing anywhere from 50 to 300 pounds of honey depending on the resources, environment and weather.  Of course, it also depends on the bees.  I have got some cousins that, well, let’s just say if they don’t get motivated, they will be “Naturally Selected” before you can say “Honey”.

I have sisters who will spend their whole lives as a forager collecting about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey.  Don’t worry too much about it though, I have more sisters than most cities have people.  This is what they are made for.  True story.

My Momma, the Queen bee, she told me once, “Bubba Bee, when you’re sisters give you food, you’d better eat all they give you beecause that stuff took a whole lotta effort to make and we’re all counting on you to go make some future Queen bee mighty successful at laying eggs.  So you eat that honey and become healthy and strong.”

Truth bee told, my Momma didn’t call me “Bubba”.  She just said, “Boy”  beecause when she’s laying that many eggs to beecome drones, it’s hard to come up with that many different names.  One of my sisters did tell me once that one colony in a hive can fly a total (combining all the flights of all the foragers) of about 55,000 miles, getting nectar from approximately 2 million flowers just to make one pound of honey.

Did you realize that honey bees are considered to be the only insect that make food edible by humans?

You’re welcome.