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Honey Comb Crunch

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Published on: Dec. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

mite, but show little resistance to varroa mites. There is only one approved chemical treatment to control the mites, a miticide used during the non-honey producing season. "The mites contact this," Meyer says, "and it eats through their exoskeleton; they just shrivel up and die." New mite-resistant strains of domesticated honeybees are expected through time to replenish the numbers of feral honeybees.

Meyer says that raccoons and all of the other furbearing animals eat things like wild berries, wild roses, persimmons and clovers, and that bees are important in the production of these foods. He thinks that, if these food sources decline for a lack of pollination, animals will be competing for less food and that, ultimately, wildlife populations might decline. "The whole food chain is dependent, in part, on little honeybees," he says, "and we have lost most of them."

Billions of dollars worth of crops, as well as wildlife foods, are dependent on honeybees for pollination. "Honeybees do more than 50 percent of the pollinating work in the United States," Meyer says. "Moths, flies, wasps and solitary bees do the rest." Some growers would be out of business, he adds, without honeybees. "Their crops would only be a small portion of what they are with bees doing the pollinating."

David Pitts is a wildlife management biologist who has worked with Meyer to bring his bees to Conservation Department lands. "I was not seeing honeybees around my home," Pitts says. "I learned honeybees were succumbing to parasites and realized the loss of the bees that normally pollinate wild plants could hurt wildlife too. I invited Michael in to have his bees help pollinate the native plants that wildlife depend on for food."

Meyer says his bees are only on a conservation area during the pollinating season, and they are well away from the areas people most frequently use. He considers conservation areas safe for bees because there are no insecticides present. He later moves the bees to a cucumber grower who needs them for pollination. Beekeepers need a special use permit to put their bees on conservation lands.

"At the end of the day," Meyer says, "I feel like I have done something good. Beekeeping is not mechanized like much of the rest of farming, and there are not many full time beekeepers. Many people only have one or two hives."

Unlike other exotics, such as carp and starlings, honeybees have only been a benefit to people and the environment, pollinating both farm crops and wildlife foods. Should they be completely destroyed, an important part of the natural world would be lost.

Sweet Statistics

  • Honey bees must tap approximately two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
  • If a worker bee lived long enough, she would have to fly over 55,000 miles to bring in a pound of honey.
  • An average worker bee makes approximately 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • Each honeycomb has six sides.
  • Honeybees fly about 15 miles an hour.
  • Honeybees have six eyes.

A Taste of Honey by Amy Anderson

People have long used honey as a sweetener. Beekeeping likely began in the stone age, although techniques were primitive and hives were generally destroyed to extract the honey. People also gathered honey from wild bee hives in rock crevices or trees.

Honey is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. The kinds of flowers determine the color and flavor of the sweet liquid. Clover or alfalfa honey is usually light-colored and delicately flavored, while buckwheat honey is strong and dark. Many commercial honeys are blends of honey from several sources.

The honey found on grocery store shelves contains no added chemicals or preservatives. The sweetener's natural density prevents molds, bacteria and fungi from growing. If kept at temperatures below 60 degrees, honey will crystallize, but it can be liquefied without loss of sweetness or nutrients by placing the jar in a pan of hot water.

Substituting honey for all or part of the sugar called for in recipes will increase the nutritional value of the finished product. Bakers especially like honey, because it helps keep their goods fresh and moist.

Substitute 3/4 cup of honey for each cup of sugar and reduce the total amount of other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used. In baked goods add 1/2 tsp of baking soda for each cup of honey used. Also lower baking temperatures by 25 degrees to prevent overbrowning.

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