Monday, July 11, 2016

Ask A Beekeeper: Mountain Laurel

I get lots of honey related question as a beekeeper and this question was asked by a fellow beekeeper C!

Does Mountain Laurel make honey toxic?

The simple answer is yes it does, but there are two reasons not to worry about it.

First, bees don't seem to like Mountain Laurel much and will use other nectar sources first. If it is a really dry year, they may seek out the Mountain Laurel but  in most years it accounts for a tiny fraction of a portion of the nectar used to make a given hive's honey.  For most folks you have to consume a vast amount of the honey to get sick.

Second, the honey that bees make from Mountain Laurel is bitter. Most people are very unlikely to consume over a cup of the bitter honey to get sick.

One of the best discussions about toxic honey I've seen comes from a regional beekeeping group, the Picken's County Beekeepers. Check out the details here.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Blue Hive goes on Parade!

Blue Hive Honey is going to the Parade!  We are marching the the 4th of July Parade in Brookline, NH our new home. It has been easy to bring out the patriotic colors since our hives are already blue!

A little spray paint and, of course, duct tape and the trailer is looking pretty spiffy! We found some great flowers that we chose because there were honeybees visiting them!  

We mocked up a hive to put on the float. There are no bees here but this is what our hives look like. Fresh coats of paint, stacked tall, and looking good - the box is screwed together. I got to use my new drill. This girl likes power tools!

This was a mid way photo. There is more bling and sparkles on the float now!  Just waiting until tomorrow to be reassembled before the Parade. We start marching at 10 am.  

Ask A Beekeeper

A friend of mine, Lili, asked me about beeswax. She was curious about what color wax is when the bees first make it and if the color was different in the wild.

Excellent questions - Bees make wax from wax glands (mirror glands) on their abdomens. The wax is a translucent white when it is first excreted and as it ages it changes color.

What changes the color is the footprints of the bees. The more bees that walk on the wax the darker it is. Wax that is used to cap honey isn't walked on much so there are few footprints and the wax remains creamy colored.

Wax used to make cells were brood is located gets lots of traffic and gets dirty faster.

You can see where the brood or babes were located on this old frame - the cells are dark, almost black. The honey was stored in the corner so the wax is much lighter in color. 

The wax is a wild colony is the same - lighter where the honey is stored and darker where the bees have the babies. 

If you have a question, comment below or find me at the Brookline, NH 4th of July Parade!