Can Bees Solve Math Problems?

5+2=?

 

The answer’s 7.

 

It’s easy enough, right?

It is, but at the same time, it isn’t. Adding, as well as subtracting, are actually complex number skills. You have to remember multiple things when figuring the answer to an addition or subtraction problem. First, you need to remember the rules. Next, you need to remember the numbers and what they mean. Finally, you need to remember what addition is, and how to do it. This series of events takes both short-term working memory and long term memory.

 

Looking at our example, you need to remember several things. What is “5”? Or “2”? What does “+” tell you to do? Can you figure out how to do it to “5” and “2”? And what do you get when you do that? That’s a lot to remember and do all at once.

 

For the longest time, scientists believed that very few animals besides humans might be capable of such complex numerical thinking.

 

But in recent decades, scientists have assembled an increasing list of animals who are capable of performing just such complex number skills. February 6th, Australian and French scientists publish a scholarly article which added the humble honeybee to the list. Already on the list: Humans as young as 1 ½ years old, chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, vervet monkeys, orangutans, African grey parrots, and pigeons. Recently African jumping spiders, and golden silk spiders were added to the list. Now, honeybees take their rightful place on the same list.

 

 

 

 

Are you are wondering how exactly scientists checked to see if honeybees can add and subtract? I sure did! To understand, follow along.

 

Imagine you walk into a room. There’s a door on the other side of the room. Next to the door are four blue shapes on the wall. After you walk through the second door, you enter a second room. In this second room you see two more doors. One door has five blue shapes next to it, and the other one has three blue shapes next to it.

 

Which door do you go through next? If you picked the door with five shapes, you get a sweet, yummy treat. And if you picked the door with three shapes, you get something yucky and bitter to eat.

 

Now, do this 100 times, using either blue or yellow shapes. You will eventually figure out that blue means” add one” to the number of shapes on the first door if you want the yummy treat. Yellow means “subtract one.” Once you figure this out, you will have learned something new. Another way to say it is that you will have been trained.This type of training is called reward-punishment training.

 

This is exactly how scientists taught bees how to add or subtract one from a starting number that was between one and five. Each bee had 100 training runs, before they were tested. If bees didn’t learn how to add or subtract 1, scientists expected they would get the answer right 50% of the time when they did test runs. But when bees tested, they got the right answer 63% to 72% of the time. These numbers are very statistically significant, and show that the bees did indeed understand the ideas of “add one” and “subtract one.”

 

This study also shows that large complex brains, and language skills aren’t needed to understand and carry out complex numerical concepts.

 

Finally, this articles adds to a growing list, the number of surprising mathematical concepts that honey bees understand. Previous experiments have shown that honeybees can learn and use the concepts of “greater than” and less than,” and understand the concept of zero.

 

Who knew bees could do math. Did you?

 

The following link will let you read the full scholarly article, which was released on February 6th, 2019:  Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction Science Advances  06 Feb 2019: Vol. 5, no. 2, eaav0961 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0961

 

This following link is to  the article that explored the honey bees understanding of greater than, less than, and zero.  S. R. Howard, A. Avarguès-Weber, J. E. Garcia, A. D. Greentree, A. G. Dyer, Numerical ordering of zero in honeybees. Science 360, 1124–1126 (2018).

 

Fraudulent Mānuka Honey from New Zealand

Today, I saw an article that floored me, the headline read “New Zealand brings first ‘fake mānuka honey’ prosecution”. I know many who buy and use mānuka honey, so I just had to share it with all of you. I mean; when you love something you want to know about it and make sure it is what is says. It’s scary when something you love turns out to be fraudulent. Sometimes it is minor, at other times it can be dangerous. But what about this fraudulence in the case of mānuka honey?

 

What is this Honey

For those of you who aren’t familiar with mānuka honey, here’s a quick little blip. Mānuka honey is prized by honey enthusiasts worldwide as a panacea – a magical elixir made by the honey bees that will cure all your that ails you.

People have been using honey to remedy a variety of problems since ancient times. This makes sense, since modern science has shown that honey is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and packed full of nutrients. Scientific findings are mixed on whether mānuka honey heals or aids conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or stomach ulcers. That said, honey has been shown to help with pain, and the healing of wounds (cuts, abrasions, burns) and topical infections (viral, bacterial, and fungal). Mānuka honey is said to be the most potent of honeys in this respect.

 

The Science Behind The Wonder Honey

How can that be? It’s because the degree of such activity is highly dependent on many factors. The factors include the quality of and type of food the bees take in, the climate  and the environmental health of the area the hive is located in, and health of the hive itself.

 

Which brings us right back to this incredible liquid gold. WHY do people covet it so? What’s so special about it? And why are there so many big claims out there about it? It all comes down to location, location, location. Which comes down to the broom tea-tree, which originated in one region of the world, New Zealand and Australia. The mānuka myrtle thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. There are many countries that host mānuka plantations across the world. As a result, not all Mānuka honey produces comes from down under.

Most honey gets the bulk of its antimicrobial ability from hydrogen peroxide. Unlike other flowers, the nectar of the mānuka tree is very high in dihydroxyacetone. Bees convert this compound into methylglyoxal (MG) when they take the mānuka nectar and turn into honey. MG is found in most types of honey, but it is usually only in small quantities. But in mānuka honey, MG is found in much higher concentrations which makes it the antimicrobial powerhouse of honey.

The Bittersweet Truth

Because this honey often goes at a premium cost, the chance of fraud is quite high. Recently New Zealand is charging a company who chose to add synthetic chemicals to mānuka honey. Afterwards they would mark this crude imitator as mānuka honey. This is the first ever case of honey tampering of it’s kind brought. The company, Evergreen Life Ltd is the manufacturer/seller of the honey in question.

As quoted from the article:

 

“Details of exactly which products the company is accused of tampering with are expected to emerge during the court case, which is scheduled for a hearing next month.

 

Evergreen’s website says it sells health products internationally to countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.”

 

Click on the link to read the full article published by The Guardian on Jan 30, 2019

New Zealand brings first ‘fake mānuka honey’ prosecution

Thank You and Please Remember

Thank you for joining us again this week and please remember that we are not doctors or health professionals. Online information can be helpful but they aren’t as knowledgeable as certified professionals. Never replace ongoing treatment with natural remedies without discussing your specific condition or situation with your doctor. Diabetics should consult with their health professional before ingesting honey, or using honey topically on broken skin.

 

Interested in growing a Mānuka tree? They grow in USDA hardiness zones 9 and 11. You should be plant these in full sun in coastal areas or under partial shade inland.

The Good That Just Got Better; If It Were Possible

Wouldn’t it be nice if you always had the things you loved? Good things never seem to last as long as we would like. They seem to deplete so quickly and it can be troublesome to remember to procure more. But here, we can help keep the good coming straight to your door.

We now have subscriptions so you can get the products you love when you want them without the memos and reminders. Whether you need it every month or every three months. The good can keep on coming and all you need to do is enjoy it. You can use it as a chance to try new scents, flavors, or combinations. Whether you want the lip balm, soap, solid lotion, or the variety bundle you can have what you love.

 

Personalize your pack or get a sampler, whatever you want, when you want it. Maybe even get this as a gift for those you love for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. What could be better than a good gift that keeps giving. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? So if you have a loved one who loves More Bees, consider sending them a link or buying them a subscription.

What is the Real Break Down on Plastic

The Price Behind Plastic

People held out so much hope for plastic. It was seen as a solution to so many problems just a few generations ago. But now we know that the rampant use of plastics comes with a hefty price. It fills our dumps, litters our land, clogs our streams, and creates huge mats of debris in our oceans.

And it can last from several to hundreds of years before it a plastic item breaks down. It depends on the type of plastic and the conditions (Temperature? Sunlight? Oxygen present? Buried? In the ocean? etc.).

The Breakdown of the Plastic Break Down

When it breaks down, most plastics release toxic chemicals and further crumple or break into smaller pieces of plastic. Very little of the plastic littering our world breaks down into new, non-hazardous compounds. And these smaller and smaller pieces of plastic, along with breakdown chemicals, have now entered the food chain. Animals eat plastic, where it clogs digestive systems, disrupts endocrine and reproductive systems, and pollutes bodies with hazardous chemicals, like bisphenol A, which is a known carcinogen. It’s the very reason the use of plastic nanobeads is banned. And now, plastics, and their bi-products are showing up in humans.

 

Knowing all of this, people ask us, how we can wrap our soaps in plastic.

Benefit of Biolefin

It’s because not all plastics are equal when it comes to environmental problems. We have gone to great lengths to be as environmentally conscious as we can be, while at the same time balancing other demands placed on us. For example, some of the markets we participate in require that body products be packaged and labeled. We researched materials and settled on Biolefin shrink wrap, made by Wells Plastics using Reverte technology. It is an oxo-biodegradable polyolefin plastic film that breaks down to simple non-toxic compounds in a shortened time frame. It is food-grade and acid free. According to the manufacturer, the Reverte additive causes the plastic polymer chains in the film to break down into much shorter fragments, which can then be consumed by bacteria that is abundant in the environment.

 

When exposed to sunlight, heat, and air, the wrap we use begins to decompose within 1 year. When fully decomposed (1-3 years), only water, carbon dioxide, and biomass are left behind. The biomass is chemically different than plastic and is consumed by microorganisms in the environment. If left in the dark without oxygen, the biolefin breaks down to methane and biomass that can be consumed by microorganisms. This process takes longer, around 4 years according to the manufacturer.

More Bees Wrap

We like it because it keeps the soap dry, clean, and contained. It allows us to affix labels so the customer knows what they have purchased. It has the added benefits of allowing the soap to breathe, and allowing the customer to smell the soap. We even chose paper labels without a plastic coating. Are our choices perfect? Probably not, but we’re trying.

National Geographic article on marine plastic waste

Article about microplastics in human stool

Time for garbage to decompose

National Geographic on degradation of ocean plastics

Biolefin information page

Wells plastics Reverte oxo-biodegradable polyolefin page.

Reverteplastics page

Magic Mushrooms: A New Hope for Bees Plagued By Mites

Today, I read an article that I just had to share. It isn’t the longest, but it could turn out to be quite significant.

Tiny Mighty Terror

It was about varroa mites, honey bees, and a possible remedy to some of the problems plaguing the honey bees. Introduced to the US in the 1980’s, varroa destructor, a parasitic mite, has been wreaking havoc with beehives across the country. These mites sap the strength of the bees on which they feed.

But they do even more than that. You see, just like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can carry illnesses that infect humans, varroa mites can carry viruses that infect bees. As rodent fleas caused the Bubonic Plague, the varroa mites are contributing to the die off of a large percentage of honeybee hives in many parts of the world. It is estimated that in the US, 40% of hives were lost from April 2017-April 2018.

Plight of Flight

There is more than one virus that the mites can pass to honey bees, but the most significant seems to be deformed wing virus (DWV). It causes wing deformities in the bees, particularly those incubated with the mites. The wing deformities range from mild to severe. But any deformity is significant in a species that has to be able to fly to feed itself.

It’s easy to see why varroa mite infestations are a concern for beekeepers. The varroa mites spread from bee to bee and larval cell to larval cell within a hive very easily. Mites can also be spread from hive to hive when hives are kept in very close proximity to each other, or when a infected bee comes into contact with other bees when foraging. They can even jump off one bee, hang out on a flower, and jump onto a bee from a different hive.

Scientists have know for a few years that the mites can spread diseases such as deformed wing virus (DWV). For that reason, beekeepers try to control levels of varroa mites. Most do this with with chemical miticides. While initial results seem good when hives are treated, some beekeepers have noticed the miticide resistant populations develop quickly within their hives. Since resistant varroa can thrive in a hive, and pass viruses on to the bees, some scientists are looking at treating the viruses that infect the bees.

Magic Mushrooms

Recently, it was discovered that a couple of different conk wood mushrooms, amadou and reishi, are effective against DWV. Conk wood mushroom extract, when mixed with sugar water, and delivered by feeder has proved effective at combating DWV. Not only have these mushroom extracts shown positive results against DWV, they have shown an even greater antiviral effect on Lake Sinai virus, which is also causing serious problems in some beehives.

Studies are just beginning on the effectiveness of these mushroom extracts. It will be interesting to see if the initial results carryover to real world beekeeping situations. This could turn out to be a new front for helping the bees. We all know they could use all the help that they can get. If you would like to read more in depth on the topics we covered above, feel free to follow the links below.

 

The article that started this blog post

Basic info on Varroa Destructor

Mushroom extract as medicine

Cool article on conk wood mushrooms

 

The Sweet Secrets of Honey: A More Bees Q and A

Honey: Asked & Answered

Customers at markets and even everyday friends always come up to us with bee or honey related questions. Things like: “What is honey made of?”, “Why does various honeys taste different?”, “Why does honey crystallize?” “Can I stop or slow the crystallization?”, and “Can honey freeze?”. Well, we are here to answer these questions of yours. Just keep reading and if your question wasn’t answered here, leave a comment and we will get to it next time.

 

What is honey made out of?

For some people, the answer is simply as follows:The bee drinks up the nectar, takes it back to the hive, and spits it back up. This is what becomes the honey we are so fond of.

 

But that’s not enough for others. They want to know what honey looks like chemically? Is it all one compound, or is it a mixture?

 

Honey is a little bit of water (averages ~18%)  with lots of other stuff dissolved into it. Mostly, different types of sugar. Fructose (~30% – 44%) and glucose(averages ~25% – 40%), are the two most abundant sugars in honey; these are both monosaccharides. Monosaccharides are  the simplest form of sugar that when broken down become energy. Several different disaccharides (a double sugar made of two sugar molecules bound to each other, like sucrose) are next, with a combined average percentage of ~9%. Then oligosaccharides (sugar molecules made up of chain of several single sugars attached to each other) are next with a combined average percentage of ~4%. These are all followed by the minute amounts of enzymes, amino acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, organic acids, pollen, and other substances that make honey more than just a mixture of sugars in water.

 

Why does various honeys taste different?

The exact percentages of the different substances in honey determine how a honey tastes. These percentages are highly dependent upon the types of flowers that provided nectar to the bees. This is why honey from one plant source tastes different than honey from a different plant source. The relative concentrations of the different sugars affect how sweet the honey tastes. Honey’s with higher fructose concentration taste sweeter. On the other hand, differing relative ratios of the trace aliphatic acids (amino, and organic) in honey are what impart the characteristic flavors to different types of honey.

 

Why does honey crystallized?

The sugars cause a phenomenon called crystallization because honey is a very concentrated sugar solution. When it first forms, there is more sugar dissolved in the water than the water should be able to hold. That means when it forms, honey is a supersaturated sugar solution. If a seed crystal forms in the honey, or is introduced into the honey, sugars can come crashing out of the solution.

 

Differences in water content of the honey, storage temperature, and glucose content all affect weather or not a honey will crystallize, and the texture of the crystals that will form. Honeys with higher glucose content, as well as those with lower water content are more likely to crystallize. Any given honey is most likely to crystallize fastest between 55℉ (13℃) and 63℉ (17℃). Seed crystals occur at the greatest rate between 41℉ (5℃) and 46℉ (8℃).

 

Below 41℉ (5℃), crystallization will not occur at all.

 

Because different honeys have differing ratios of sugar to water, and fructose to glucose, different honey varieties are more or less likely to crystalline.

 

Can honey freeze?

Water freezes, so does honey? The short answer is no, at least, not like you might think. And here’s why. Honey is more than just water. It is a little bit of water (14%-20%), with a mixture of mostly sugars dissolved into that small amount of water. This solution is very viscous, and It doesn’t behave like pure water at all. As water cools, the water molecules become regularly arranged, it becomes a crystalline solid (ice) at 32℉ (0℃). The process of going from a liquid to a crystalline solid is called freezing.

 

As honey is cooled, it becomes increasingly viscous and slow moving. At 32℉, where water freezes to ice, honey is still a free flowing liquid. Once honey gets down to -4℉ (-20℃) it appears to be a solid, but it is actually still an extremely slow moving liquid. When it reaches -44℉ it begins to change into a glass.  By the time it reaches -60℉, the honey is now in a glassy state. A glassy state is a semi amorphous state. An amorphous state is made up of a disordered jumble of molecules bound together. Since honey does not turn into a crystalline solid, it technically does not “freeze.”

 

Can I keep my honey from crystallizing?

The best option for long term to store the honey is to keep the honey below 41℉. While your fridge should be set down around this temperature, the temperature can fluctuate allowing the honey to reach the 41℉ to 46℉ the danger zone for seed formation. The freezer is a safer bet because it is not likely to reach the danger zone even with opening and closing and causing the temperature to fluctuate. As was said before when the temperature is below 41℉, all crystallization stops. So, if you have the freezer space, this is an option but make sure that there is a 1 inch head space, to allow for any expansion of the honey as it cools.

 

You basically have two choices. Between 70℉ (21℃) and 104℉(40℃), or below 41℉(5℃).

 

If you want to slow down the whole crystallization process, store your honey above 70℉. So, not your unfinished basement in the winter. If your cupboards are on an exterior wall, check their temperature to make sure they stay warm enough. Also make sure your storage area doesn’t get too hot. Storing honey above 104℉ degrees will cause a loss in quality. And remember, given enough time, raw honey stored above 70℉ may develop crystals, but storing at this higher temperature will greatly slow it down.

Closer look at the crystallization of  honey

Any More Questions?

So, with that we hope covered some questions you all may have had about honey. However, if we haven’t, feel free to leave us some more and we will answer them in due time as well. If you have other questions regarding our products then click this link if you have a question like: “My dog just ate my lip balm, will he be okay?”. As crazy as it sounds, we have even answered that. Stay tuned and we will see you all again!

All about honey

Composition of honey

Honey and temperature

Is Glass Liquid or Solid

Can Honey Stand Against Time?

Honey through the Ages

What do a Georgian Noblewoman who lived 5,500 years ago, Egyptian King Tutankhamen who lived over 3,300 years ago, and a modern day prepper have in common? Honey stores!

 

In the southern Caucasus Mountains of Eurasia, a Georgian Burial Mound was discovered in 2003 when the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline was built. A rich young noblewoman was entombed there, with everything she would need for the afterlife. The 5,500 years old tomb contained the oldest honey found to date, and also gave the oldest indications of humans keeping bees! A 4,300 year old tomb since investigated has been found to not only have honey stores, it was used to help preserve virtually everything entombed. From the timbers used to make the burial chamber, cloth, baskets, nuts, and fruits that were embalmed with  honey to help stop decay!

Honey Tombs

Before the Georgian tomb was discovered in 2003, the Ancient Egyptian tomb of King Tut was found to have perfectly preserved honey. Like the Georgian find, the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics show that not only did ancient Egyptians eat and use honey, they also kept bees.


 

If  5,500 year old honey is edible, the honey you bought two years ago is still perfectly fine. That said, 20 year old honey you found at the back of your mom’s pantry. Some of you may be thinking “But what about the use by date stamped on the jar?” While not required; if sold directly by beekeepers at farmers markets. Honey sold in stores must be stamped with a “use by” or “best if used by” date. It’s required by law, but in this case, not really necessary.  When it comes to honey, you can just ignore it.

Survival of the Honey

A modern day prepper will tell you just that, “Just ignore it.” They believe in maintaining extensive stores of food and water/water purification means, medicines, and other items that may be needed in long term emergency or survival situation like a natural disaster. One of the food stores suggested is honey, since it does not spoil, and has some medicinal properties.

So, remember, honey may darken in color. It may crystallize. It does not do bad!

 

The inquisitive reader may wonder how can that be. Honey has an incredible make up composed of unique and complex combination of sugars, amino acids, minerals, enzymes, and  hydrogen peroxide, all in an acidic, low water environment. This unique composition not only keeps honey from spoiling, and makes it antimicrobial. But we’ll talk more about some interesting uses for honey another time!

If your honey crystallizes, don’t throw it out. Simply heat it gently to re-dissolve the crystals, and it will return to it’s viscous, golden glory. If that’s too much trouble, use it as-is as a stir-in for your tea or oatmeal.

 

And remember, even though honey never spoils, it can make a child under one ill. Honey often contains spores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. While the spores in the honey won’t hurt you or me, they can make an infant sick.

 

Video about 5,500 Georgian tomb

National Geographic article on archaeological finding of a 4,300 year old Georgian burial mound .

If you would like some ideas to use up any old honey, you can check one of our favorite posts here.

Turn to Face the Ch-Ch-Changes

These Scary Changes

“Change is a good thing!”  Except when it isn’t. I’m thinking climate change right now.

 

Longer heat waves, hotter drier summers (and winters in some places), and higher average temperatures overall. Add to that the increasing frequency of, duration of, and devastation from drought, fire, and severe weather events, and climate change definitely does not look like a good thing. We’re already seeing the effects. Mega-storms, 500 year floods, and fierce wild fires that destroy town and life.

The Black Friday Climate Report released by the Trump administration a few weeks ago spells it all out. Over 300 scientists employed by 13 different federal agencies concluded that Climate change is real, it’s here, and we are to blame. The report spells out what we can expect in the United States through the end of this century.

The Assessment

 

The report makes a region by region assessment, in terms of losses to the economy, damages to infrastructure and private property, and the effects on the health of Americans if current releases of greenhouse gasses go unabated. They also explored the effects of limiting the carbon emissions so that the temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees above the norm (we are currently at 1.8 degrees over the norm). The conditions in either scenario of increased global temperature investigated by the Black Friday Climate Report would be devastating because plants and animals have trouble adapting in real time to rapid climate changes.

 

But why are the predictions so dire? Because, climate change is about more than a the daily weather. Whole ecosystems result largely from their climates. When climate changes suddenly, ecosystems are stressed and damaged because plants and animals adapt slowly. Water supplies change as do average surface temperatures. Plants bloom at abnormal times, or not at all, while others die because they cannot survive in the new conditions. These in turn impact the animal species that are dependent upon them for survival. This is why changing environment can lead to mass extinction in plants and animals. Many believe we are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction right now.

But this is all very general. Here’s a look at how changing climate can have more of an effect than just the temperature and when it rains.

What the Heat Does to Our Trees

Drought and increased heat can weaken trees. It makes them more susceptible to pests like the bark beetle. Trees have a natural defense against the beetles. It’s their sap. When beetles burrow deep enough into the wood, the sap, which is toxic to them, flushes them out. But with years of drought and hotter temperatures, the sap doesn’t flow as freely in the trees, making this natural defense virtually useless. Combine this with shorter, warmer winters that allow bark beetles to start earlier in the season, and reduces the likelihood of larval die-off during the winter, and the effect can be devastating. This has lead to mega infestations in some areas. And with dead, dry wood, comes the increased risk of wildfire. This has already been seen in several notable fires across the west.

Over the last few decades, with changes in climate, the problem of tree mortality due to bark beetles has risen sharply. Just as climate change is a global problem, so is the damage to forests from bark beetles. Major infestations have been found throughout Europe and Siberia.

What About the Bees?

Looking at the example of the bark beetles, I cannot help but wonder if the problems faced by bees are being climate driven in ways that might not have been previously considered. Every fire, superstorm, and drought reduces habitat and livability. As the temperature inches up, how much does the stress on the bee’s environment impact them? How much of a change in environment will be too much before we see ever accelerating losses in wild and domestic bee? And what will it mean for the food supply? Which brings us back to where we started. Climate change.

 

The effects of climate change will be profound, and are already starting to be felt. They will only become more pronounced, unless drastic measures are taken. Even then, we might not be able to set things right. We’re going to be stuck with a new reality, and it starts right now. How we choose to respond will determine how livable our planet will be. Will we halt climate change where it is? Or will we act as if there is nothing to worry about?

 

Weather we believe in this stuff or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have 12 years to figure out how to get greenhouse emissions under control, before the effects become catastrophic and irreversible.

 

To read more about bark beetle infestations, and the impact they have, check out this article by the Yale School of Forestry.

The US forest service also has a very informative page on bark beetles.

This article discusses how climate change can affect plant biodiversity.

Seven Great Bee Books for Kids

Bees on the Brain

When we’re at markets and bazaars, the kids, and even their parents, ask questions about the bees. We love talking about the bees. How better to engage people than to let them hear our passion, our awe, and our concerns about the bees, beekeeping, challenges facing the bees, and what our changing world might mean for the bees, and for us.

 

Children love to learn about the world around them, and books are a great way for them to explore. I was a child who loved books. I still love books, and am glad that some of the others in the family have developed a love of books too. This actually lead me to our local bookstore looking for holiday presents. While being there, a couple of children’s books on bees caught my eye.

These books made me wish my kids were still children. How they would have loved these books!

Introducing Bees to Your Children

Some of the books that I saw are very fact filled, while others are more whimsical in nature. Either way, these books all delved into such topics as bee anatomy, behavior, and social structure; flower pollination, nectar and pollen collection by the bees,  the connection between bees and the foods we eat, and honey production; and environmental factors and illnesses affecting honey bees, our changing environment, and how we can help honeybees and other pollinators.

The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi explores the activities of an urban beekeeper, and the hives he tends on the rooftop of his apartment building. It is in a story format, but still quite informative.

For a fun presentation, consider the The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive by Joanna Cole. Join Ms Frizzle and her class as they explore the world of honeybees. Even if TV show based books aren’t your thing, reconsider The Magic School Bus series of books, and dare I say, the TV show itself!

Bee Educated

There is notable and interesting books that look at the plight of the honeybees are next in line. All four of these titles explore bees in general, the troubles honeybees are experiencing, and what those troubles could mean for people. These books are aimed at middle to older elementary school aged students.

The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing? by Shelley Rotner

This book takes a look at the factors that could be causing or contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It also explores what scientists are doing to study the problem, and what we can do to help the bees.

What If There Were No Bees?: A Book about the Grassland Ecosystem By Suzanne Slade

This book looks at what might happen if just one species, the tiny honey bees, is lost. How might it affect the surrounding plants and animals? Grasslands are found on all the continents except Antarctica, and the ideas in this book can be applied to other ecosystems.

The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle

These book takes a look at the roll of honeybees in our food chain, the many factors that could be causing or contributing to the disappearance of the honeybees.

Aimed at children in the early grades, The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner, has 48 fact filled pages clearly presented in an easy to follow format. For a more in-depth, beautifully illustrated look at all things bees, check out

 The Bee Book By Dorling Kindersley Publishing Staff, Emma Tennant (Contribution by), Fergus Chadwick (Contribution by) This book is very thorough at 244 pages, and begs to be read! It is aimed at older kids, and even adults.

Bee Ready for More

These are just a few of the many bee books out there aimed at children of all ages.

Books make wonderful presents. They are books enduring and something to cherished. So, if you’d like to find a gift that will fascinate, entertain, educate,and motivate, why not give the gift of a book to a child in your life. If you give a book, consider one of these great titles on honeybees.

 

Bees are incredibly important and the more we educate people on them the more we can do to help them. Likewise; our children are incredible and important and the more we teach them the more they can make an impact on our future. Moreover, education is the key ingredient to provide for our youth so they can make a positive changes and developments for the world. Despite not having the clear answer on what we can do for the little pollinators, we can help improve the tools of our youth to help build a brighter future.

How Sweet it is to Bee Thankful; Dinner Ideas

Have you ever planned a holiday dinner around a unifying idea or ingredient? We’ve seen it done before, in articles, on TV, and at friends houses, with mixed results. Anyhow, somehow, we, here at More Bees, got to thinking about what a table full of holiday food might look like if honey was the unifying ingredient.

 

And then it struck us how appropriate it is to pay homage to the humble honey bees this way, when you realize that much of the bounty on the holiday table is due to the tireless work of these little creatures, as well as other natural pollinators.  And when we thought about it like that, we just had to do it.

 

At our house holiday dinners are usually big. These are the types of things that usually find their way onto the table. Included are some tasty ways to incorporate honey into these foods:

Turkey- Figure out how long your turkey should be baked (consult information provided by turkey grower). Bake as instructed until last two hours of baking time remains. While your turkey is in the oven, make a glaze by combining ½ C Honey, ⅓ C dijon mustard or brown mustard, 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme, 2 tablespoons softened butter, ½ teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and smoked paprika, and ¼ teaspoon finely ground pepper. When 2 hours cooking time remains, remove your turkey from the oven and glaze generously. Place the glazed turkey back in the oven and continue to baking, basting with pan drippings every 20-30 minutes. Bake until your turkey is done (consult information provided by turkey grower). Remove the turkey from the oven, and let rest 15 minutes before cutting.  

 

Gravy – Use your pan dripping from your honey glazed turkey to make gravy, as you usually would.

Veggie – Cook 1 pound pared, cut up veggies until they are just tender. Remove from heat, and drain any liquids. Mix 1 tablespoon butter/oil, 2 tablespoon honey, and the juice of ½ lemon or ½ orange in a saute pan. Mix on medium heat until bubbly. Add warm veggies back in, stir to coat. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper if desired, and serve. This works really well with snow peas, sugar snap peas, carrots, beets, baby corn, pearl onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, or a combination.

Rolls – Serve warm rolls with whipped honey and butter. To make honey butter, allow one cup (2 sticks) of butter to soften to room temperature. Whip with ¼ C of your favorite honey until light and fluffy. A whisk attachment works best.  Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and/or ½ teaspoon vanilla if desired. Refrigerate any leftover honey butter.

Fruit Salad – Whisk together 4-6 ounces of flavored yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 2 tablespoon honey in a 2 quart bowl or container. Add 6 cups of assorted chopped, bite-sized pieces of fruit. We like 1 banana (peeled and chopped up), 1 apple (cored and chopped up), 1  cups strawberries (hulled and halved), 1 C grapes (halved), 1 small can well drained mandarin oranges, ½ can well drained pineapple chunks. If desired, add 1-2 C mini marshmallows. Mix well with the yogurt dressing. Make at least 4 hours in advance if you want the marshmallows to soften. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, stirring once or twice until serving time. Stir before serving. And if you desire, fold in 1 C walnut or pecans just before serving if desired.

Spinach salad –  Make a honey mustard dressing by combining ½ C plain yogurt or sour cream with ¼ C oil and 1 clove crushed garlic. Add 2 tablespoons each honey, spicy brown mustard, Dijon Mustard, Lemon juice, cider vinegar, and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste then set aside. Place ½  lb clean, dry, raw spinach (torn up into bite size pieces) onto a dinner plate or small platter. Top with 2 tablespoons each nuts (walnuts, pine puts, and sliced almonds work well. Toast and cool the nuts completely before adding to the salad if desired), dried cranberries, thinly sliced sweet onion, bacon bits, and crumbled cheese (feta, gorgonzola, or blue). Thinly drizzle with the dressing, and/or serve with the dressing on the side. Don’t care for spinach? That’s OK. Just use your favorite salad greens instead. Refrigerate any unused portions.

Candied Yams –  replace part or all of the brown sugar in your yam recipe with honey, for a yummy change.

 

We don’t really know any good recipes for mashed potatoes, stuffing, relish tray (pickles and olives), or deviled eggs that use honey. If you have any, please share with us. We would love to see what you all have added honey to. You know we love hearing back and seeing what you all have done for an even more delicious meal time. Happy Thanksgiving and be safe if you are going to do some Black Friday shopping.