October 1, 2008

My honeybees are alive and well

There's been much disturbing news in recent years about honeybees and something called Colony Collapse Disorder, where seemingly healthy bees suddenly disappear, abandoning their hives. I am happy to report that my beehives are so far very healthy. In fact, we just harvested the honey and had a very nice yield.

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My beehives are located right next to the vegetable garden and the berry patch. The white boxes on the ground are called supers and that is where the frames are placed in which the bees store the honey. After the frames are removed, we let the bees consume any remaining honey from the empty supers. The bees do a great job of cleaning.

Here is some interesting information about honeybees:

I raise honeybees not only for the delicious honey they produce, but also because these busy creatures assure me of a bountiful harvest by pollinating my fruits and vegetables. Honeybees are in search of nectar, the sweet fluid produced by flowers. The worker bees drink the nectar and take it back to their hive. The nectar is passed along to the "house bees" who mix it with special enzymes and place it into honeycomb cells. The open cells are fanned by the bees' wings to evaporate any water, and miraculously, honey is formed. The cells are capped with beeswax, storing the honey for winter food.

A worker bee visits hundred of flowers each day in its quest for nectar. Along the way, pollen sticks to the hairs on its body. Bees have special basketlike groups of hairs on each of their hind legs and they move the pollen grains there. Pollen is the bees' source of protein and is essential to feed the queen and the larvae in the hive. Of course, some of the pollen drops from the bee as it flies from flower to flower, and plant pollination occurs. Little honeybees are diligently feeding and caring for their population, and in doing so, they are absolutely essential to our food supply.

More from marthastewart.com

Sweet and Savory Honey Recipes

Backyard Beekeeping