Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Tales of the Hive - Blood, Sweat and Honey

By xC0000005 in Culture
Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Beekeeping, Stinging Insects, Honeybees, Radioactive Mutant Cannibals (all tags)

Water, Fructose, Glucose and Sucrose.This collection of compounds together forms the substance by which Apis mellifera gains its name. The holy grail of beekeepers and bees alike, honey.Nowhere in that list will you see blood or sweat but I can testify that both are involved. The bees harvest the honey from the flowers. The beekeeper harvests the honey from the bees. There is work enough for both.


Honey is the only substance produced by an insect which humans consume, if you discount fecal matter left by pests and the occasional unlucky grub in the apple. To produce it the bees must first make a shopping list. The list contains only one product - nectar. They then make a lot of trips to the store. To produce the equivalent of one pound of honey a bee flies around the world. Twice. A bee will visit two million flowers (or one flower two million times). It will die in doing so, worn out in just a few weeks, and it will die happy.

Bees live on nectar. From day to day they eat nectar to keep going. It's a perfect fuel for an airborne insect, high in sugar and easily digested for conversion to flight power, heat, or to fuel growth. The key disadvantage of nectar is that it comes from flowers. Flowers of course have a nasty habit of dying in the winter when everything freezes.

Nectar does not keep. It spoils quite readily if allowed to, the sugar and liquid forming a perfect bacterial test bed for all sorts of bacterium. To handle this the bees have adapted and adopted a new strategy. In the summer they will live on nectar. Excess nectar will be converted into a form that lasts, a form nigh invulnerable to bacteria, a condensed fuel so potent that it can sustain the colony through months of winter or fuel a swarm on a quest to begin a new home. It will produce honey.

Bee colonies do not produce honey immediately, of course. When they first start out they don't have the manpower. That is, woman power. Workers are the only bees to produce honey. That means that the women do it all. Drones on the other hand are happy to consume it without contributing back. Not to worry - the drones get what is coming to them. When a bee colony reaches a critical mass it immediately begins to set aside nectar stores and produce honey.

The nectar comes in "flows", as the flowers bloom and fade the flows begin and taper off. The goal every colony strives for is to field a large workforce during a nectar flow. With good stores they can outlast six months of winter. Without them they will starve to death. During a nectar flow the colony is in as good a "mood" as it ever will be. The foragers begin their sorties at first light and don't stop until dusk ushers them inside. Even then the work goes on.

Nectar is not honey. To transform nectar into honey the bees transfer it into their crop, where enzymes break it down and change its structure. The nectar is then returned to the cell to repeat the process. Yes, that's correct. Honey is bee vomit. Next time you think you are better than a bee, drink a gallon of sugar water and stick your finger down your throat. If you aren't willing to eat what comes up with strawberries show some respect to the humble bee. The bees gather around their hexagonal hurl buckets, and since they're all roughly teenage females we know pretty much how the conversation goes -

"Ooohh, this is so tasty."
"Do I look fat with this much nectar in my crop?"
"Does anyone have a toothbrush I can borrow?"

As the nectar is converted it also is evaporated, resulting in an extremely low moisture content. This is the secret of honey's success. Honey is so dry that bacteria that land on its surface are torn apart for the moisture inside. There isn't much that can live on honey once it is properly condensed and that gives rise to many of its uses.

Our predecessors learned that honey helped prevent infection in wounds. Without a microscope or a concept of germs they could not imagine the destruction that honey wreaks on bacteria but they knew its benefits and used them.

These days honey is trumpeted as a health food that is easier to digest and better for you. These claims are mostly untrue. Honey is beneficial because it contains pollen from the area where it was gathered. It is beneficial because it is much sweeter than sugar. It's beneficial because it tastes good. Are there other benefits to it? Maybe. Probably not. The taste alone is reason to eat it. Honey is not the optimum food for bees. Nectar is. Honey serves as the compromise by which the bees can maintain their stores. Eating honey results in a build up of fecal matter in their gut, requiring them to take cleansing flights in the dead of winter. As I recounted in Voice of the Hive - Borrowed Warmth, the results can be fatal.

To get the honey from a hive the beekeeper has to pull the supers containing them off. Understandably the bees are not pleased when you do this. Calm bees who need little smoke can be extremely defensive of their handiwork. The suit is hot, the bees are everywhere and you stop counting stings ten minutes in. Honey is heavy, between eleven and thirteen pounds per gallon and you lift and carry it away, leaving a cloud of angry bees only to return in just a few minutes. When you are done and the bee hive is buttoned back up, when you are miles away and the stings stop throbbing, when the sweat is no longer pouring from you, that's when it is good. That's when you celebrate a harvest. And then it's time for more work.

When a beekeeper harvests honey from a hive it's a long way from where you will eat it. Beekeepers have come a ways from "robbing the hive" and today's harvest methods often involve calculating what you leave a hive and damaging the comb as little as possible. Leaving honey is a calculated act where the beekeeper tries to ensure that the colony will have the food it needs to survive the winter. Preserving the comb for re-use is the key to large harvests.

Bees work very hard to produce comb. Some people claim seven pounds of honey produces one pound of wax. The bees don't reclaim wax often so I doubt it's that valuable but no one disputes that a colony with drawn comb, that is with some place to store honey ready, produces far more. The bees will draw comb at a fantastic rate during a nectar flow. That time could have been spent better storing honey in frames drawn last year. To that end many beekeepers use a system that attempts to preserve comb for later reuse. Here's how it works:

The drawn frame is first uncapped, a task that involves cutting off the thinnest layer possible of the top of the cells in the comb. Usually a pass with the uncapping knife is followed by a capping scratcher, which looks like a hairbrush on steroids and which punctures the cappings that remain.

Once a frame is uncapped it is loaded into an extractor, which looks a lot like a very large turkey fryer. The extractor can spin the frames in a circle so that centrifugal force flings the honey from the cells, allowing it to collect in the bottom and pool into a bucket. Once emptied the "wet" frames are removed and later stacked on a colony for the night. The bees will hurry to slurp the frames clean and store it away.

Meanwhile in the honey house the beekeeper repeats this process dozens, even hundreds of times. The rewards can be huge. A single capped frame of honey can weigh ten to twelve pounds. With a typical box holding ten frames that's over one hundred pounds the beekeeper moved just in honey, just one box. When the extracting is done the work is just beginning for the beekeeper.

The honey in the bucket must be allowed to settle. There's usually nothing wrong with it except that it contains bubbles and larger flecks of wax. Once a few days have gone by the slurm on the top is spooned off (and eaten or sold at a slightly lower price). The remaining honey is now filtered again and then bottled into smaller bottles. Particularly popular are plastic honeybears (of which I have an army on my kitchen counter).

I use a different harvesting method because I have few hives. My daughters and I cut the comb whole from the frame and crush it, straining the honey out and leaving the wax behind. It's sticky, gooey and delicious. I then wash the wax and melt it into a brick that will serve me next spring making starter guides for more comb. I won't get as much honey but I don't have to buy a huge extractor and store and clean and maintain it. Such are the tradeoffs. On my kitchen counter is a five gallon bucket with four gallons of fireweed honey.

This honey is raw. It contains pollen and tiny flecks of wax. It is delicious despite its appearance. To those raised on clover honey the sight of knotweed, fireweed or other wild honeys is one of shock - You want me to eat that? You'll be glad you did though. Local honey is always better.

When you buy honey from a beekeeper you can get a number of different products. The most common is extracted honey. This is the liquid in the honeybears that people are familiar with. Next up from that we have chunk honey, which is a jar with chunks of honey still in the comb, covered in extracted honey. You pour out the extracted honey and cut pieces from the chunk to go along. Comb honey is precisely that - honey still in the comb. Comb honey is expensive because selling it that way means sacrificing the comb instead of re-using it. In addition, comb honey production requires conditions that can be difficult to maintain - a strong honey flow and a very strong colony. Creamed honey may actually be two different products and it helps to know which you are getting. One is a sort of honey butter/cream mixture which must be refridgerated. The other is regular honey seeded with tiny crystals to promote a low level of granulation. The goal is not to produce large crystals but a consistent level of small crystals. This type is also called whipped honey. Creamed or whipped honey is also expensive because of the additional labor and time investment. Color wise the tint will often tell you the taste. Dark honey normally packs a strong flavor (like buckwheat), light honey is often mild. In theory they should sell for the same but light colored honey often sells for more to people who value looks over taste.

You can get your honey from just about anywhere. The place I recommend personally is a farmer's market. Develop a relationship with the local keeper and you'll get better prices and fresher honey. The pollen in it will match what blooms near you so that it benefits your allergies. The beekeeper would only get about .75 to 1.00 per pound selling in bulk so even a pint jar at six dollars is a good deal. The store would tack on a profit as well so you get more bang for your buck. With local honey everyone wins.

Now it is time for me to go back to work. The honey won't bottle itself. I'll take a frame of fresh honey to school for my daughters and their classes to enjoy and I'll give away honey to my family and friends. I'll eat a lot of it too over the next year.

"You should have three hives next year," said my wife as we finished straining a batch.
"What for?" I asked.
"More honey," she replied.
I have to agree.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
Favorite type of honey
o Clover 20%
o Fireweed 10%
o Orange Blossom 23%
o Tupelo 3%
o Mesquite 3%
o Blackberry 13%
o Heather 6%
o Acacia 6%
o Macadamia nut 3%
o Bucket 10%

Votes: 30
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Voice of the Hive - Borrowed Warmth
o Also by xC0000005


Display: Sort:
Tales of the Hive - Blood, Sweat and Honey | 125 comments (93 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
k5 needs to go all bugs, all the time (3.00 / 10) (#1)
by circletimessquare on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 10:10:54 PM EST

i'm not being snide

this bee story and the current fp brown recluse story is as good as k5 gets

+1 fp

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

I agree that bee-man is the best... (2.87 / 8) (#7)
by mybostinks on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 10:51:57 PM EST

I would buy the bee man t-shirt, bee man honey and bee man book. $100 right now, probably more if he asked.

I would even buy some for someone here that could not afford it.

PLEASE put together a book, t-shirt and honey.

bee man, I want to buy some k5 bee honey almost any price. email me at:

terryfunk <<AT>> gmail <<dot>> com

Oh yeah, btw...+1 FP.

[ Parent ]

Damn, I cant afford it, could you send (3.00 / 2) (#9)
by agavero on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:27:34 PM EST

me some too mybostinks? R0R
"Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge." Isaac Bashevis Singer
[ Parent ]
ABSOLUTELY (3.00 / 3) (#12)
by mybostinks on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:50:27 PM EST



[ Parent ]
OMG! Thank You so very much!!!! You just (none / 1) (#13)
by agavero on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:53:50 PM EST

may have saved my life!!!! :)
"Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge." Isaac Bashevis Singer
[ Parent ]
Actually, because i NEED honey!!! (none / 1) (#15)
by agavero on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:56:16 PM EST


"Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge." Isaac Bashevis Singer
[ Parent ]
i have to agree with terryfunk (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by CodeWright on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:35:00 PM EST

the t-shirt picture should be an electrically powered VW painted to look like a bee....

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
I like this one... (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:36:35 PM EST

Beegeek's Shirt

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Excellent! /nt (none / 0) (#53)
by mybostinks on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 01:36:28 PM EST



[ Parent ]
thats in the right vein = (none / 0) (#73)
by CodeWright on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 06:24:15 PM EST



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
I have done so. (none / 0) (#120)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 01:58:16 PM EST

See ads. :) No book, no T-Shirt yet (though I am grinding closer and closer on finishing the text for the book).

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
You are 100% right (none / 0) (#109)
by stuaart on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:40:56 PM EST

k5 peaks when The Bee Man submits.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective


[ Parent ]
Kurons again implore you (3.00 / 15) (#3)
by loteck on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 10:29:58 PM EST

get little 8-12oz jars. Buy an ad. Sell K5 Honey. complete the circle!
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

I'd buy some (3.00 / 2) (#57)
by rusty on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 02:13:25 PM EST



____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
i don't believe he's selling 50 gal. drums. (3.00 / 4) (#64)
by fattie genocide on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 03:51:32 PM EST



[ Parent ]
k5 honey? we need k5 vinegar (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by circletimessquare on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 12:03:36 AM EST

vinegar better matches the average emotional attitudinal mean of all of the posts here


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
but honey can sweeten us. (none / 1) (#85)
by Unski on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 07:21:25 AM EST



[ Parent ]
answer me this please (3.00 / 4) (#4)
by loteck on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 10:33:27 PM EST

you are the bee guy.

why do you not wear bee gear that protects you from bee stings?

its like mc not taking his meds, or trane not keeping a lighter around. it makes no sense.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

I do. (3.00 / 2) (#5)
by xC0000005 on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 10:38:47 PM EST

I am mostly protected.  A dedicated, determined, pissed off bee can usually find a place to sting.  When you flex your elbow the suit is tight, or bend at the knee and catch it on the kneecap, or get stung on the palms lifting frames.  

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
sting on the elbow? (3.00 / 3) (#8)
by loteck on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:20:19 PM EST

aaaauuuuugggh..

people have committed suicide for far less daunting injuries than such an affliction.

for instance, mindpixel.
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

[ Parent ]

Try one on the tip of the thumb (3.00 / 6) (#14)
by xC0000005 on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:54:02 PM EST

As I recall, Mindpixel committed suicide when his cat was stung on the elbow.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
I swelled up to my shoulder... (none / 0) (#19)
by BJH on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:11:12 AM EST

...from one sting between my ring and little fingers.
I've been too scared to risk getting stung since then.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Wasp or Bee? (none / 1) (#21)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:14:10 AM EST

The chains of proteins they produce are not the same.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Bee (none / 1) (#25)
by BJH on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:22:50 AM EST

Dread to think what a wasp could do.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Wasp venom is not (none / 1) (#26)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:32:12 AM EST

chemically the same. Most people who are allergic to wasps are not necessarily allergic to bees and vice versa. Across vespids the makeup is similar enough that it's likely that if a paper wasp makes you swell so will a yellow jacket. Wasp venom, btw, is not actually a perfect venom for mammals. Still hurts like hell though.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Speaking of wasps, the other day... (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by BJH on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:45:20 AM EST

...I removed a wasp nest on the exterior wall of my house after I ran into one of these building it - length from head to tail was around 3cm.

I've also seen everybody's favourite, the suzumebachi, flying around the roof. Hope there's not a nest up there...
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

Where do you live? (none / 0) (#28)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:48:44 AM EST

That looks like a monster.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
About 60km outside of Tokyo. [nt] (none / 0) (#29)
by BJH on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:49:32 AM EST


--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
I really feel for you. (none / 1) (#30)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:54:27 AM EST

I get forwarded that story about how they kill an entire hive every few weeks. That's pretty amazing until you watch a group of bald faced hornets do the same trick at 1/3 the size.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Back east... (none / 1) (#118)
by SvnLyrBrto on Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 09:00:29 PM EST

... we had a similar problem. Every summer, every nook and cranny in the outside of our home and yard would get invaded by wasps. Not quite as scary as the monsters BJH mentions, but not exactly neighborly beasts.

What we wound up doing, was making friends with the local bluebirds. They're fairly easy to befriend, and quite smart. They'd sit on your hand and eat peanuts, and eventually let us carry them around the house and yard to our trouble spots; assuming they hadn't found the wasp nests themselves yet... I guess they considered our yard part of their territory.

Once we'd show one of them a nest of wasps, assuming the one bird wasn't big enough to just tear the thing off its mounting and fly off with it, he'd go fetch a bunch of his family, and it'd be a regular bug holocaust! The wasps NEVER learned to stay off our property. But the birds sure learned that that fact meant dinner!

cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

Another well done story on bees and (none / 1) (#10)
by agavero on Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:28:40 PM EST

the work that goes with gathering the honey. +FP when gone to vote. Thanks!
"Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge." Isaac Bashevis Singer
Do you sell your honey commercially? (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by chalchiuhtlicue2 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:01:03 AM EST

Or is it only for home use?

I don't sell at all. Yet. (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:06:31 AM EST

I might sell some later on once I determine how much to store away and how much to save, and after I have given out honey to my family. In particular I expect I'll be selling some comb honey and potentially some chunk honey (comb+extracted). I'll buy an ad if we sell it on here - this story wasn't supposed to be a thousand word long commerical, not even for VotH, which I wrote it for.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
It sounds like a tremendous amount of work. (none / 0) (#40)
by rpresser on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 11:40:30 AM EST

Even if you begin selling honey, I don't see how you can avoid losing money on every harvest.
------------
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
[ Parent ]
There is a saying... (none / 1) (#41)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 11:51:28 AM EST

"Any man who can make 40,000 dollars keeping bees could make 80,000 dollars doing anything else." If you are really ramped up, if you don't have to buy bees each year, if you already have your equipment and drawn comb, the products of the hive begin making money. It's not much but most people do honey as a side business to pollination.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
+1fp (none / 1) (#23)
by tsunami on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:16:58 AM EST

but I don't understand the sentence, "Not damaging the comb is an act of greed."

Shouldn't that be "Damaging the comb is an act of greed" or have I missed something?


--------------
I also saw a madman crazily pumping this polygon thing to roughly the same timing as a functional wank. - A Trolled An Anonymised Englishman

Comb is very valuable. (none / 1) (#24)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:19:34 AM EST

Beekeepers preserve the comb not because it's better for the bees. In some cases it's not (might have been contaminated with chemicals or disease). Drawn comb increases a hives output more than I can convey, so beekeepers don't want to harm it in some cases.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
he's right, i got confused too (none / 0) (#31)
by circletimessquare on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 01:06:45 AM EST

so it's an easy fix while this is in editing mode: just paste exactly what you just said above, right after you say it is an act of greed

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Changed structure shortly (none / 1) (#32)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 01:11:13 AM EST

the next paragraph was supposed to explain this statement. My intent was to leave the reader saying "huh?" until he reads the next bit which says why greed drives preserving the comb. Changed now anyway.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
please explain poll (3.00 / 3) (#33)
by loteck on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 01:32:27 AM EST

for those of us who are less cultured in sweet brown bee vomit, what are some of the key differences between poll options?
--
"You're in tune to the musical sound of loteck hi-fi, the musical sound that moves right round. Keep on moving ya'll." -Mylakovich
"WHAT AN ETERNAL MOBIUS STRIP OF FELLATIATIC BANALITY THIS IS." -Harry B Otch

WIPO (none / 0) (#34)
by brain in a jar on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 01:57:03 AM EST

Acacia

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Bought some of that once (none / 0) (#46)
by nebbish on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:06:24 PM EST

Delicate flavour. A real difference.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

yeah (none / 1) (#79)
by brain in a jar on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 02:07:39 AM EST

definitely my favourite, but I like to get the really dark honey that you get from hives in coniferous forest sometimes too, totally different but also good.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Now with even more pollish options$ (none / 0) (#47)
by xC0000005 on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:11:35 PM EST



Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
xC0000005 == automatic +1FP! $ (2.40 / 10) (#35)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 05:00:12 AM EST



WIPO: Macadamia nut (big island FTW) (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by cDiss on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 01:48:05 PM EST



Just in time for Rosh Hoshana next week! (none / 1) (#62)
by rpresser on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 03:20:06 PM EST

apples and honey ... mmm. I'm going to try to score some local honey for dinner at my sister's.
------------
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
-1, Doesntt mention MichaelCrawford. /nt (1.42 / 7) (#74)
by MichaelCrawfish on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 06:38:20 PM EST



WIPO - Manuka (2.66 / 3) (#75)
by livus on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 08:55:56 PM EST

Did you know that New Zealand has the world's highest honey consumption per capita, at nearly 2kg?

There's a 2kg thing of Manuka Honey in my fridge as we speak.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

does it have dead wetas in it? nt (1.50 / 2) (#77)
by circletimessquare on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 11:58:31 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
No silly that's Weta Honey! (none / 1) (#101)
by livus on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 08:38:06 PM EST

btw the plural of weta is actually weta. Like how the plural of sheep is sheep.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Gawd... (none / 0) (#121)
by deadnancy on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 06:17:59 PM EST

I’d never heard of weta before.

I’ll be damned if they’re not some of the biggest, creepiest bugs I’ve ever seen.

Thanks...

DN

[ Parent ]
Indeed (3.00 / 2) (#81)
by BJH on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 02:53:35 AM EST

When I was a kid, my mother would by raw comb filled with manuka honey from an apiary not too far from our place at ridiculously cheap prices. We used to spread it on our morning toast, wax and all. Mmmm...

My grandfather used to like what he called "wild" honey; don't know where it came from, but he bought it in big jars, and it was dark brown - somewhere between golden syrup and black treacle. Tasted pretty bad to me at the time, but I'd like to try it again as an adult.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

hmm, maybe from wild bees (none / 1) (#102)
by livus on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 08:41:10 PM EST

so it would be what they call "bush honey", a mixture of everything in the area. Good so long as there's no poisonous flowers around.

My whanau get honey in exchange for hosting bees. I get it from them.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

I'll have to give that a try (none / 1) (#106)
by stuaart on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:18:03 PM EST

Is manuka honey related to manuka bush? I've been tramping through manuka bush recently and I can recommend it as a useful pulling-yourself-up-a-steep-hill bush.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective


[ Parent ]
yes, it's from the flowers. (none / 0) (#108)
by livus on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:38:19 PM EST

Meanwhile the berries are a good cure for diarrhoea and the leaves make a good tea drink with mild antibacterial properies.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Ah, ok (none / 1) (#111)
by stuaart on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:52:53 PM EST

I've only been here since July so I guess I won't have seen them in bloom yet.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective


[ Parent ]
small and white with UV centres. (none / 0) (#112)
by livus on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:55:57 PM EST

At christmas, in some places the kanuka (like manuka only a lot taller) almost look like they're dusted with snow.

I had no idea you were here. It came as quite a surprise.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Yup (none / 1) (#114)
by stuaart on Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 01:34:22 AM EST

Enjoying tramping and snowboarding of late. On the South Island till December, then it's back to the Yoo-Kay. I prefer your winters here. Much much milder than ours back home. However you should really sort out your houses, i.e., enable them to retain heat.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective


[ Parent ]
Yeah I know (none / 0) (#115)
by livus on Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 04:34:10 AM EST

it really freaks out new immigrants when they come to buy a house. Our houses suck. Sth Is seems a bit better than up here though (I suppose because it's colder).

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Manuka is interesting (none / 0) (#119)
by jd on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 04:23:11 PM EST

It's very expensive in the UK, it has a slight aftertaste and if you dissolve it, you get something that is a deep red in colour.

[ Parent ]
first post (1.07 / 13) (#76)
by boners on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 09:26:18 PM EST



Local Honey and Allergies (none / 1) (#80)
by brain in a jar on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 02:16:14 AM EST

I recently discovered that I have developed hayfever (teh suck) and so I've been looking at whether there is anything I can do about it other than buying generic Loratadine (claritin).

Well, I did some research at the library (fortunately my college has a really good one) and found that apparently regular oral exposure to airborn allergens does lead to desensitisation over time.

so based on that, the local honey thing seems to make sense. However, the plants that cause most allergies are wind-pollinated rather than bee pollinated (e.g. grasses and some trees) and the bee pollinated plants don't generally cause allergies because the pollen is sticky and heavy and doesn't stay in the air much. So essentially I wonder how much of the "problem pollen" from wind pollinated plants actually gets into the honey, and whether other kinds of pollen have any effect. Sadly, I don't think anyone has researched this yet.

I may buy some local honey anyhow (I'm rather fond of honey) but whether it will benefit my allergies remains to be seen.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

It wouldn't be much. (none / 1) (#94)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 11:20:48 AM EST

If you have flower allergies I have no doubt it helps but I don't hawk honey as a miracle cure. Just as tasting very good.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
You left out the best kind from the poll... (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by israfil on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 02:56:49 AM EST

Borrage honey.  It naturally crystalizes into the very tiny crystals you mention, without whipping or creaming.  It contains many of the known beneficial qualities of the Borrage plant.  Most importantly, however, it is the single best substance with which one can decorate coffee or tea, bar none.  It is manna from heaven, and the nectar of the gods.

Cheers,
i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.

More importantly (none / 0) (#84)
by daveybaby on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 06:30:20 AM EST

it rhymes with porridge. How rare.

[ Parent ]
WIPO: Linden tree (none / 0) (#83)
by Stereo on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 06:00:32 AM EST

It is of a pale banana colour but has the most strong, delicate, flowery taste. It's done a lot where you find native mellifera, do you do it in the US too?

kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


Have not had it. (none / 0) (#87)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 08:58:18 AM EST

Most of the poll options are from ones I've had (or ones that got suggested in editing). The thing I enjoy is learning about all the types of honey I never knew existed. Like Linden tree. We have one here that tastes of butter. Like a butter scotch. No idea what it is but the taste is unmistakeable.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
I believe it's also known as Basswood. (none / 0) (#90)
by diesel travis on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 10:30:02 AM EST

I always try all the honeys at the NY state fair every year. It's one of my favorites. While I was trying them this year someone bought 4 jars of Linden.

Blueberry Blossom is my favorite though.
...
[ Parent ]

Interesting related link: (2.00 / 2) (#86)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 07:48:23 AM EST

Bees trained to detect bombs.

Yeah - how'd you like to be the Bee Handler? (none / 0) (#88)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 08:59:18 AM EST

"Come here girl. Down girl. Don't sting."

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Blueberry? Apple? Basswood (Linden)? (2.50 / 2) (#89)
by diesel travis on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 10:22:43 AM EST

Your list was missing my 3 favorite kinds of honey. I'm guessing you don't live in upstate NY? ;-) You'll have to try blueberry blossom honey, it's the best, IMO.

My wife and I are both honey lovers and we're thinking of getting some bees. I use it in making ale so it can get quite expensive. I plan to start making mead soon as well.

Great article, I've been reading K5 for about 4 years now but this is the first one to make me sign up for a K5 account.
...

Blueberry (none / 0) (#93)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 11:19:07 AM EST

We have that around here. Tastes in honey vary a lot, because I can't stand blueberry. My wife on the other hand is one of those who likes buckwheat.

My honey list comes from ones I'm familiar with and thus it's missing a lot. Given the right circumstances you could pull in a fair amount of honey. Upstate NY has Goldenrod as I recall.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

I use it in my jams (none / 1) (#95)
by riverheart on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 03:14:10 PM EST

Last year I made a raspberry-honey jam with about 8 cups of crushed raspberries and 1 1/2 cups (all I had) of raspberry honey. It was fantastic. This year I've done the same with blackberries, organically grown right here on my land, and blackberry honey. I get all my honey at the farmer's market from a local apiarist who places hives for pollination. I can only get it from May - October, though, because that's the only time we have the farmer's market, so I had to get a half-gallon of fireweed honey from somebody else last year. All good stuff.

Next year I hope to get those beekeepers to place their hives on my land when the blackberries are in bloom, so I can get some blackberry honey from my own blackberry flowers and make blackberry-honey jam with that. That ought to be outstanding.

[ Parent ]

It sounds great. (none / 0) (#96)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 03:30:00 PM EST

I'm contemplating the fate of a few gallons of fireweed myself, having faced the fact that one family of six cannot consume more than twelve honeybears. It's just not rational. Now cooking, that it would be good for. I made strawberry jam but didn't think to use honey. Next time I'll look up a recipe for jam made with honey.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Bug Juice (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 11:05:59 AM EST

Honey is the only substance produced by an insect which humans consume, if you discount fecal matter left by pests and the occasional unlucky grub in the apple.

No, that's not true. Shellac is secreted by lac bugs, and is sometimes used as a glaze on candy. And one could argue that honeydew also qualifies, though I think that's more from trees, and it just passes through insects who are eating it too.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

I've read that bees (none / 1) (#92)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 11:15:16 AM EST

will gather honeydew from aphids. Haven't seen it myself but I wonder what the honey from it tastes like. Didn't know about the shellac coming from insects.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Vegans don't eat honey (none / 0) (#97)
by Gruntathon on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 07:44:38 PM EST

Some at least. I found that suprising for some reason.
__________
If they hadn't been such quality beasts (despite being so young) it would have been a nightmare - good self-starting, capable hands are your finest friend. -- Anonymous CEO
they think it exploits bees (none / 0) (#103)
by livus on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 08:43:05 PM EST

then again the vegan who told me that was dressed in sweatshop clothes probably made by Chinese children.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Specifically the killing of bees during harvest. (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 09:03:43 PM EST

I probably killed 30 or so harvesting - I was gentle with the brush but it happens, despite my desire to be careful. Some are killed with every inspection too. Such is life.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
What about an uncapping "fork"? (none / 1) (#98)
by sudog on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 07:44:41 PM EST

A local meadery who keeps his own hives (visiting the guy is magical) says that he uncaps the comb cell by cell with what he calls an uncapping fork and if I recall correctly doesn't use machine extraction.

In your story you write about an uncapping knife. What is the difference, and are you both referring to the same thing? Also, would doing it by hand be even more beneficial in terms of the hives? (Does by-hand uncapping of the whole harvest mean that he can return the empty comb back to the hives so they don't have to re-draw comb at all the next nectar flow?)

The guy is extremely old school, but by GOD his sack mead rules over all other liqeurs.


Same as a capping scratcher (none / 1) (#99)
by xC0000005 on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 08:05:32 PM EST

and yes, skilled hands can do it with minor comb damage. The knife is a wide blade about 24 inches long, the capping scratcher or fork is looks like an old style hairbrush gone crazy. Both methods mean that you can return the comb for a major benefit. The downside of the knife is that it is a pain to use and never gets all the cells. You almost always have to fall back to a scratcher. I have no doubt he produces kingly mead.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Few bits of trivia (none / 1) (#100)
by jd on Fri Sep 15, 2006 at 08:28:41 PM EST


  • Honey is a source of antibiotics. Honey made from nectar of the New Zealand tea tree carries the most antibiotics of all honeys.
  • Different types of honey contain different amounts of ash. Typically, darker honeys contain more ash.
  • Fermented honey is called Mead*

*Unless it is:


  • Very sweet, then it is called Sack
  • Mixed with fruits other than apples, grapes or myrtle berries, then it is called Melomel
  • Mixed with apples, then it is called Cyser
  • Mixed with grapes, then it is called Pyment
  • Mixed with myrtle berries, then it is called Myritis
  • Mixed with spices, then it is called Methoglyn
  • Mixed with medical herbs, then it is called Hippocras
  • Mixed with beer, then it is called Braggot
  • Mixed with rose petals, then it is called Rhodomel

Anyone producing a mixture not listed above is just being obstinate.

nostalgia.... (none / 0) (#105)
by JennyB on Sun Sep 17, 2006 at 07:32:33 AM EST

It is the second your story about bees I read here at k5. My grandpa used to have the apiary and I my vivid child memories are connected with bees, with aromatic tea with honey. I remember the smell of smoke when he take the honeycombs...
Thanks for the story, your are incredible!

-----------------------
A politician will find an excuse to get out of anything, except office.

Scale insects (none / 0) (#107)
by stuaart on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:25:22 PM EST

``Honey is the only substance produced by an insect which humans consume''

Here in NZ, I've found that amongst the black sooty mould that clings to beech trees in the bush, there are tiny little white filaments sprouting out here and there. They are made by scale insects, and on the end of each filament (they're about 0.5cm long) is a little blob of honeydew. You can eat it straight off the tree, and it tastes pretty much like pure sugar.

So although it's pretty obscure, you can eat other insect excretions, just not in the same quantity as honey!

Top article, BTW. As usual.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective


Bee Man! (none / 0) (#110)
by stuaart on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 07:41:32 PM EST

You've surely written enough for a book now. You should publish.

I'd buy.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective


44,000 words and counting (none / 0) (#113)
by xC0000005 on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 11:29:14 PM EST

and nearing my "vision" for what I want it to be. You can read a prelim version at Voice of the Hive.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
yowell, Could you filter it more? (none / 0) (#116)
by newb4b0 on Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 12:53:44 PM EST

Your 5 gallon bucket is full of extracted honey?

http://www.netmoneychat.com| NetMoneyChat Forums. No Registration necessary. Ya'll.

It was. (none / 0) (#117)
by xC0000005 on Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 05:51:07 PM EST

Now there's about 3/4 of a gallon left. It was a small harvest by most standards but I have enough honey for the family and an army of honeybears for...other purposes.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
i'd buy some (none / 0) (#122)
by the77x42 on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 01:02:24 PM EST

But you'd have to look into import/export regulations regarding foodstuffs -- especially if it contains pollen. I know our Canadian border crossing have signs everywhere regarding bees.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Still trying to determine requirements (none / 0) (#123)
by xC0000005 on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 02:24:03 PM EST

for shipping to the Soviet Repulic of Canada. If I get it figured out I'll let you know. The US FDA and individual states have specific laws that allow beekeeper->consumer direct sales under relaxed guidelines but I have no idea about canada.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
How timely (none / 0) (#124)
by boren on Thu Oct 05, 2006 at 10:34:19 AM EST

Thanks for the article.  It was great to read about someone else's experiences.  We were looking at starting a couple hives next spring and had done a couple podcasts interviewing a bee keeper in Wisconsin.  Then a local beek gave us a hive 3 weeks ago.  So now we've jumped in with both feet.  The hive is very strong so hopefully it will survive the winter.

Good luck with the hives over the winter.

-Andrew

---

www.geekfarmlife.com -- The ongoing story of two geeks that left California for a farm in rural Indiana.

I've read your blog. (none / 0) (#125)
by xC0000005 on Fri Oct 06, 2006 at 03:24:55 PM EST

So good luck with the hives. Feed them well and keep condensation away - condensation kills more than cold (though starvation is of course the counter to that).

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Tales of the Hive - Blood, Sweat and Honey | 125 comments (93 topical, 32 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!