We truly are a Pollen Nation. Not because we’re mucus mongering eye- itchers. No! But because ALL of our major crops are pollinated by… BEES. The humble honey bee serves as the backbone of our veg food chain, and I am heartily glad to have them. Here are a few of the things that we eat that depend on honey bees: Okra, kiwi, onions, cashews, almonds, apples, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, apples, caraway, papaya, COFFEE, lemons, limes, persimmons, cotton, lupine, any tree nuts, and all grains except corn *rice is a seed, not a grain, smarty pants. Come to think of it, corn might be, too...hmmm... (I know I said apples twice, but, really, who wouldn't??).
A complete list can be found, here.
Did you know that there are 20,000 known species of bees, but only 7 of them are honey bees? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty much only interested in that 7... and maybe Bumble Bees. Because, ... they Bumble!!
Here in Alaska, we have no native honey bees. So I import mine from Russia. Historically, as in Prehistorically, bees all came from Southeast Asia. Only one specimen of a honeybee native to the Americas has ever been found. What does that tell you about the foods that we eat here in the USA? They all come from far flung places! If you are in the UK or Eastern Europe, or Asia and are eating a potato, you're welcome. Otherwise, we thank you thank you thank you, because without the foods native to your regions, we wouldn't have cereal in our boxes in the mornings :)
Pssst...! I am dying to go to an apiary where they gather the bees to send to me. What does it look like? How in the heck do they get my 15,000 bees into my box?? Is it just an enormous Indiana Jones warehouse buzzing with gadzillions of bees, and guys in bee keeping suits running around with nets trying vainly to capture them (probably not, he he!). Or enormous vacuums to suck them up and spit them back out into my little screened in box? Hmmm! I can tell you one thing, I'm gonna find out. And when I do, I'll tell you, too :)
But I digress;)
This post is about Honey Bees and Pollen and a celebration of Mid-Summer. So let's get to it!
My bees bring several different varieties of pollen and nectar home from their foragings. They use the pollen as a protein source when they're feeding up babies. And as anyone who has ever breastfed knows, babies take ALOT of feeding. Only baby bees don't have teeth. Which is nice.
My Alaskan-Russian bees have been bringing home a truly lovely assortment of pollens in the high light sweet yellow to the golden yellow and nutty brown range. I think I'm gonna have to make a pillow to go with the Bee-Inspired Quilt and Canvas Pillow, in celebration of the Gals and their work. Woohoo!
My worker Girls brought home Alder and Willow pollen in the early spring,
|Woohoo! dig in, Grrrl!!|
|See those thigh bags??|
She is stowing away pollen!
My honey bees do not multi-task. Each girl has her job and she sticks right with it. I have been watching, and I have noticed that the more mature bees seem to be the ones who are collecting nectar, while the younger ones seem to be collecting pollen. How do I know how old they are? Well, I would never ask a lady her age, so I check out their posteriors!!!!! I'm admitting it right here.
And of course, the whole object of the beekeeping game is to gather HONEY, sweet honey, and here is what it's from,
|Can you see that some of the bees are darker than the others? They|
are the more 'mature' ones. The new bees are all yellow :) how cool is that??!
This is Nectar. Sugary goodness and a lot of water! (water after nectar's broken down by... do you really want to know???)
I thought you might like a tour of the MidSomer hive :) So come along!
|Here is the first layer, just for honey. Hmmm. Looking suspicously|
|But wait! Someone is starting to store nectar in there! Yahoo!|
See the shiny parts? That's the nectar. :)
And here is a frame removed from the hive so you can see that everyone
is hard at work. The shiny stuff is honey that they will cap when it is dry enough,
the yellow covered parts are baby bees, getting ready to hatch,
and you can see a few larvae in the upper center in hexagons
that are dark and uncapped. They are being fed royal jelly by the new worker bees.
Can you see that the honey comb is different colors? The yellow comb is for honey,
and the brown is for brood. Any honey
stored there later will be a darker color when I extract it!!
And Now, on to the pillows...
|Do I add the blue for the MidSomer Sky??|
So lovely to see you again!!