Un-BEE-lievable Man’s Best Friend
By Cal Orey
Did You Know? The honey bee (apis mellifera) is one of nature’s greatest gifts.
The Key Pollinators… “The honey bee pollinates about one-third of the food we eat,” says Reno-based agriculturists-beekeeper Leonard Joy of Joy’s Honey Ranch. The honey bee—an insect—pollinates more than 90 crops, including apples, blueberries, citrus fruit, and nuts. Simply put, honey bee colonies (50,000 to 60,000 per hive that include workers, drones, and one queen) are vital to our planet.
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… And Honey Makers: Beekeepers such as Joy, Foster and Dan Baily of Sparks know that honey bees provide another service; they produce honey. Known as “nectar of the gods,” honey has been used for its medicinal powers for 5000 years. Local beekeepers such as the Bailys sell honey to locals and retail outlets for use in treating allergies. It’s believed that raw local honey contains pollen that cause allergies—repeated us might help to build up immunity to the annoying ailment. You’ll find local honey (including comb honey, beeswax, candles, and soap) around town and at farmers’ markets.
PEST FOR TWO-AND-FOUR-LEGGERS
Swarming in Your Home: Beekeepers (who tend to honey bees in layered wooden boxes) such as the Baileys will tell you that a honey bee’s instinct is to nest. They will seek a hole inside or outside a house or building—often creating a nuisance.
Stinging People and Pets: Although honey bees are gentle, if provoked, their survival instinct to protect their queen will kick in and they might strike. Some pets can have mild symptoms to a sting, just as humans can. If anaphylaxis (a severe allergic response) occurs, this can be life-threatening. Contact your doctor or vet ASAP.
Bottom line: Do not attempt to get rid of bees by yourself. Call a beekeeper to help you safely remove swarms (10,000 to 15,000 bees) or colonies.
Meanwhile, mankind is buzzing about Colony Collapse Disorder—a die-off of honey bees with an unknown cause. As researcher around the globe probe the mystery of the alarming decline, beekeepers work to keep the beloved honey bee—nature’s workhorse—alive and well.
Sweet Honey Trivia
A hive of bees fly more than 55,000 miles to bring you one pound of honey.
Honey bees must tap about two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
Each honey bee has four wings.
Honey bees communicate by “dancing.”
There are an estimated 150,000 hobby beekeepers in the U.S.
(Source: National Honey Board)
Staying Healthy with
My Pooch—My Pal
Like a wayward honey bee spreading its wings and returning to its colony, I headed home with my dog Stone Fox, to Northern California. But we got sidetracked. On the way we ended up in Fresno, Central California—a honey bee haven. I was a nanny. My job was to tend to two kids and giant, cumbersome Saint Bernard. It was a semi-rural neighborhood in the hot summertime. On my days off I’d flee on a 10-speed bicycle. My dog and I moved wild and free through the orange groves—a place where honey bees worked. I picked up oranges under the fruit trees and took them home to use the fruits of my labor.
In the kitchen, as usual, I found myself like a worker in its hive. Clad in blue-jean overalls, barefoot, and golden brown from the sun, I’d play road songs, such as “Ventura Highway” and “Born to Be Wild,” and do a honey bee waggle dance—but I was all alone. I created fresh orange juice Popsicles sweetened with a bit of local fresh orange blossom honey—used in my home remedies. The honey helped soothe dry skin, insect bites, PMS, and sunburn—all ailments I endured while enduring Central California, a place I didn’t feel was home.
(Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Honey published by Kensington, 2011.)