The Aftermath and Some Surprising News on Notre Dame

News That Lit Up the World

Fire and smoke rising from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns April 15, 2019 (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Everything was in a uproar earlier this week when the world watched as Notre Dame was consumed by fire on Monday. The fire broke the hearts of many around the world, as they watched the spire burn and collapse. It was feared that the many precious catholic relics and artworks housed at Notre Dame could have been lost. The world held its breath as it waited to learn the fate of the historic French Catholic cathedral, and the relics and artworks housed there.

As the next few days went by, many the world over were thankful to learn that no lives were lost, the fire was believed to be accidental, most of and  the relics and artworks were saved, and the stone structure of the church was found to be intact. With enough time and money, the iconic church can be repaired. And with that said, what else could there be left to say?

 

Did You Know Notre Dame Had Residents?

Yes, and most, if not all, of the residents of Notre Dame survived… nearly 180,000 of them. Right now, you’re probably thinking “Wait?! More Bees, what do you mean? Did the church have termites? Ants?” No, friends. The church had bees. The bees were placed there in 2013 as a part of France’s efforts to help the decreasing bee populations. Their beekeeper;  Nicholas Géant, was quite relieved as a drone flying over showed all three hives had been untouched by the flames and some photos even showed bees clustered on a gargoyle not far from the sacristy.

What More?

In conclusion, at this time there isn’t too much more. People have pledged money to rebuild and constructions plans to repair the cathedral that took nearly eight and a half centuries to construct are underway. Nicholas awaits the time to see his bees and the saved relics are safe. And the beloved Rose Windows seem intact as well. However, it could have been so much worse.

 

This post is a bit short but we had to share. We are more than happy to find and inform you of events concerning the bees around the world. We need the bees for so much and all efforts to preserve and protect them is an incredible step in the direction to saving them.

 

More Bee News With More Bees

Did you love this article and want to see more? Well, check out some of these links for other great articles on things like bees learning math or how bees can save elephants.

For more information on the fire of Notre Dame and bees  take a peek at these articles.

https://www.theblaze.com/news/cathedral-notre-dame-our-lady-bees-are-still-alive

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/15/europe/notre-dame-artifacts/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/notre-dame-beekeeper-waits-learn-fate-his-180-000-bees-n995676

Stay tuned with us for more news on bees and the conservation efforts. For the time being share this article with your friends and family. When you share posts like these you help us spread the good news in the world of bees.

 

To Spray or Not to Spray: It’s Okay to Spray

The Final Stand

Our journey on garden care for this series is coming to an end our friends. Thus, we wanted to finally cover The use of bee safe sprays. There can and has been debate due to new developments in scientific research and new discoveries being made. So, hold tight and enjoy as we wrap up our “To Spray or Not to Spray” series.

 

To Spray, I say!

Let’s say you don’t like the idea of having more bugs in your garden and/or they simply didn’t last as long as you hoped. Rotating and cleaning your tools has help but now you are simply getting too busy but you still want fresh fruits and veggies, or just a nice garden to relax in. That is no problem at all, sprays can be incredibly helpful and rather effective. But that effectiveness can come at a price since they can kill bees quite easily. What can you do, what are your choices?

 

Follow Some Instruction First

Depending on the spray, you may be just fine to use it. However, certain forms of applying this may cause problems for the bees or even your plants. Here are a few basic practices to help ensure the safety of the bees and other pollinators.

  • Always use the products you buy at the recommended concentrations and with the recommended frequency.
  • Always try to treat after dusk, or before dawn, when bees will be in their hives.
  • Never spray liquid treatments or spread powered treatments when it is windy. The wind will scatter the treatments to unintended areas.
  • Never treat open flowers or soon to open flower buds directly. Bees and other pollinators feed off of the nectar and/or pollen from flowers. Treating the flowers or flower buds can lead to contaminated nectar and/or pollen.

Here are some treatments that are believed to be safe for the bees:

 

Neem Oil 

The oil pressed from Neem seeds can be used as a pesticide/fungicide. It is biodegradable and short lived. When used as an insecticide, it should be use in concentrations below 0.3%. Higher concentrations of neem oil can damage plants. Because of this, it is recommended to treat a few leaves of each type plant, and waiting 24 hours, before treating all of your plants. To make a 0.3% mixture, disperse 1 tablespoon neem oil into 1 gallon of water. Shake every time before use, since the oil and water can separate. Only insects that eat the sprayed plant are harmed. If sprayed when bees are not flying, and blooms/buds are avoided, it is relatively safe for bees. This treatment has been shown to be effective against aphids, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies, and mites, and other insects that eat plant matter. Only young insects in the larval stage are harmed by neem oil.

 

A 1% neem oil solution (3 tablespoons into 1 gallon of water) can be used as a fungicide. Saturate the roots of infected plants. In this capacity, neem oil can be used to treat rust, black spot, root rot, and sooty mold.

 

Insecticidal Soap

You can make your own insecticidal soap using a liquid castile soap. Spray a 2% solution directly on insect infestations to kill insects. The soap makes the cell membranes of the insects leak their contents, which leads to insect death. Make by adding 1 tablespoon of liquid castile soap to 1 quart of water. Alternatively, you can purchase an insecticidal soap. This is a very effective insecticide against many insects, especially soft bodied insects. There is no residual effect, so once dry, it will not kill insects. Because will be killed if directly sprayed, so do not use if bees are flying. Instead, spray between dusk and dawn.

 

Garlic 

While garlic will kill some insects, it is most effective used as a deterrent for soft bodied and crawling pests. To make a garlic concentrate, blend 2-3 heads of garlic in your blender with 4 cups of water, then blend until liquified. Strain the liquid into a clean 1 quart jar and store in your refrigerator. When ready to use, mix 1 part garlic concentrate to 3 parts fresh water. Spray this mixture onto plants- avoid blooms. Scientific evidence indicates garlic is not harmful to bees. Garlic can also be planted in your garden, in flower beds, and around trees to act as a deterrent.

Turn Up the Heat for the Garlic Solution

Some people like to include a hot pepper when they make their concentrate. Hot peppers contain capsaicin. It’s what makes them hot. It is non-toxic to reptiles, birds, but it can cause diarrhea, indigestion, stomach pain, gas, and excessive thirst in most animals, but acts a nerve toxin for invertebrates. That means it will kill insects, including bees. If you choose remember it can harm the bees and many other pollinators. Spray between dusk and dawn, when the bees are not flying. Never directly spray the flowers or flower buds. Never spray water sources – it will kill aquatic invertebrates, and can poison the water for beneficial insects. And finally, peppers can burn plants if used in too high of a concentration.

The Wonders of Garlic Continues

Garlic can also be used as a fungicide. A 2008 report in the European Journal of Plant Pathology found garlic effective against tomato leaf blight and tuber blight. Baker, dubbed “America’s Master Gardener,” writes that “there’s nothin’ fungi hate more than garlic.” To use garlic as a fungicide, add ½ cup baking soda to your 1 quart of garlic concentrate. To treat fungal infections, mix 1 part  of the concentrate/baking soda mixture with 3 parts fresh water. Use this to saturate the soil around plants suffering from fungal infections. Just use with caution is you have cats or dogs since garlic, chives, and onion can be toxic to both.

 

Kaolin Clay 

Kaolin clay is used as a barrier. Insects don’t like it, so they stay off of treated plants. It needs to be used before you develop any pest problems, It should be reapplied every 1-3 weeks, for a total of 3 applications. To use the clay, mix 2 cups of clay with 1 gallon water, and 1 T liquid soap. Use a pump sprayer. This solution of finely ground kaolin clay is sprayed onto plants, including developing fruits or vegetables. The solution needs constant agitation or shaking to keep the kaolin clay particles suspended in the water. Application of the clay will not harm the produce but does deter pests from feeding on the plants or produce. Kaolin clay treatments can be used up to the day of harvest. The Kaolin film can simply be rinsed off the produce when harvested or before consumption. Kaolin clay is non-toxic bees.

 

Final Notes

A few important things to remember when choosing to use treatments:

  1. Treatments approved for use on organic produce are not always safe for bees. So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if a treatment is approved for organic farming/gardening, it must be safe for general use.  List of organic treatments

 

  1. Natural does not always mean safe for the bees. For example, Natural pyrethrums (isolated from chrysanthemum plants), once believed to be safe for use around bees are now know to be harmful.

 

  1. Just because a treatment is believed to be safe around bees at this time, that doesn’t mean that in the future we won’t discover that it is actually harmful. A case in point is glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer. So, when you use a “safe” treatment, you might unknowingly be contributing to the problem of colony collapse disorder in the bees. Because of this, try to limit the exposure honey bees receive.

Okay Now, POP QUIZ!

No, It’s Okay, Put the Pencil Down, We Were Kidding

 

We hope all of these have helped you in your efforts in improving your garden and making your life a bit easier. We all can accomplish great things when we work together so help us in protecting the bees simply by sharing this article series with your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, or even the next stranger you see in the grocery aisle. Okay, sorry, please don’t go asking strangers to read articles you find on the internet- that isn’t safe and we would like you to remain safe and healthy. How about you simply considering sharing this article on facebook and let us know what you thought out all of this. As always, we love hearing from you and we hope you take care.

 

If you haven’t read it yet, check out last week’s article. It goes hand in hand with this one.

To Spray or Not To Spray: The Infection

References

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw591_1.pdf

https://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/xerces-organic-approved-pesticides-factsheet.pdf

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/pesticides/kaolin-clay-insect-control.htm

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/organic-pepper-spray-insects-78401.html

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/pesticides/neem-oil-uses.htm

 

The Buzz of Rainy Days: What Can You Do?

Do you have little ones in your life? It could be your kids, grand kids, nieces, or nephews. It could be your friend’s kids, the kids you babysit, or the ones you teach. I bet they’re getting restless right about now. Snow and rain and cold, Cold, COLD! Just when many of us though that winter was going to be mild this year, it slammed into us. That means lately, kids have been kept in a lot more than they would like. They’re getting bored, irritable, and antsy. They’re probably starting to bicker, and drive you crazy. So what can you do?

Here are a few activities that will occupy them, alleviate some boredom.

 

Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough

Here’s a fun, edible clay that will keep many kids occupied for hours. You will need to mix together:

  • 1 C creamy peanut butter
  • 1 ½ C dried milk
  • ¼ C honey

Mix until the mixture forms a ball. Knead until smooth. Add more dried milk as needed while mixing/kneading to make a smooth, pliable ball that doesn’t stick to the hands, bowl, or the surface it is kneaded on.

Hand out chunks to the kids. Encourage the kids to form the dough into animals and other shapes. Or, break out the cookie cutters. The really cool thing about this clay is that the kids can eat their masterpieces, if you’re OK with that. If the kids will be eating their creations, consider making available dried fruit, candies, baking chips, nuts, seeds, pretzel sticks, and/or shredded coconut to decorate their project. Before letting the kids eat their sculptures, or putting the clay back into the storage container, consider immortalizing their creations with a quick photo. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator. If the dough develops an off odor, throw it out.

Things to consider:

  • Make sure any kids involved do not have nut or milk allergies.
  • This activity is not recommended over shag carpeting. Consider covering the carpet if you will be doing this activity in a carpeted area..
  • Have kids wear an older shirt, since the oils from the peanut butter can transfer from the clay, to their hands, and onto their cloths.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile before cleaning up.
  • Make sure kids wash their hands before and after playing with the clay.
  • Clean the play surface before handing out the play dough.
  • Even the best behaved kids are going to be tempted to nibble on the clay (which is ok, if you’re OK with it). Keep this in mind when handing out chunks of clay to play with.
  • Refrigerate unused portions for another day.

 

Sensory Play Box

Let your child play with a homemade sensory box. In a box or bin, place dries pasta, dried beans, beads, small toys, buttons, small smooth pieces of glass, washers, small pom poms, etc. Pebbles, sand, fake paper grass, toilet paper tubes, and fake flower tops and leaves can be fun too. Make sure to use a variety of textures, colors, and sizes.

Allow the kids to free play. Some will make up little games, others will play pretend, or they will explore differences between the items in the box. For extra fun, include a spoon, a measuring cup, and a magnifying glass. A pair of chopsticks, tweezers and/or tongs can also be very fun when added to the box.

To get a bigger bang from your box, you can change things up. You can turn your sensory bin into more than one activity. For example, give your child an ice cube tray or egg carton and encourage them to sort by different textures, colors, shapes, types of item, etc. Or challenge them to see which items they can pick up with chopsticks. Regardless of how the kids choose to play, many kids will play quietly with a sensory box as long as you let them.

Things to consider:

  • Small items pose a choking hazard.
  • If the child will be sitting on the floor to do this activity, consider putting down a small blanket or sheet. When the child is finished playing, simply pick up the floor covering, and pour the items back into the box.
  • Shorter, flatter boxes/bins work better than really deep ones.
  • If you want to occupy the kids, let them play for awhile.

 

 

Movie Day

Recreate the magic of a movie theater right in your home. Our top picks are: Epic, A Bug’s Life, James and the Giant Peach, and Antz . A single movie, or a marathon –  your choice. All it takes is a good movie(s), a few treats, a drink, some popcorn, and a very dark room, and you’re ready to go. Besides candy and popcorn, consider cheese chunks, dried fruit, nuts and small pieces of fresh fruits and veggies. Don’t forget to have intermissions as needed, for bathroom breaks, to stretch, and to refresh treats and drinks.

 

I was asked over my shoulder a few moments ago “But what does this have to do with honey bees?” My answer to all of you is, as much or as little as you want it to. The Play dough can just be play dough, or it can turn into a discussion on bees, how they make honey, and why. The sensory boxes can be bee themed if you like. Or not. If they are, you can ask “What/why”  type questions to get your kids minds going. Questions like “Why do you think bees like flowers?” The movies can be any type of movies. They can just be a movie if you want. Or they can be the starting point for many discussions on insects, pollinators, or bee. That’s the beauty of these activities. They can be whatever you want or need them to be.

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.

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

bee and elephant over words bees vs elephants

Saving the African and Asian Elephants, Who Could it Bee?

We were lied to!  Who remembers being told that elephants are scared of mice when they were little? Turns out, it was a lie!

Turns out that elephants are afraid of something much smaller than mice- Honey bees! I bet you’re wondering how that can be when the skin of an adult elephant is up to 2 ½ centimeters thick. That’s an inch thick to you and me.

But Why the Bees?

Africanized honey bees are very aggressive. If africanized bees even remotely sense a threat, they are prone to attacking en masse. African elephants are terrified of these bees. Even with their thick skin, elephants can be hurt by bees. Think eyes, mouth, and nose. These tissues are very vulnerable on elephants. And getting stung hurts. I can’t even begin to imagine being stung in the eye or inside the nose.

 

Add to that the fact that some specialists speculate that a very young calf, whose skin is much more easily penetrated, could be killed if it were to be attacked by a hive. Even an adult could be hurt if swarmed by enough bees. Knowing this, and coupled with the fact that elephants are very protective of each other, you know that’s not something elephants will let happen if they can help it. Even Asian elephants have a fear of bees. Their fear of bees is real, though not as profound as for African elephants. This difference is like due to the fact that Asian honey bees are relatively docile, and much less likely to attack than Africanized honey bees.

It turns out that elephants are so averse to bees, that they will go to great lengths to avoid them. They can hear a single buzzing bee almost 600 meters away, and African elephants have a specialized call to let other elephants know about the bee danger.

The Opportunity for Change

This fear of bees was noticed in 2002. People are beginning to use the elephant’s fear of bees to good use in an ingenious solution that benefits people, bees, and the elephants themselves. The first bee fence was put in place in 2012.

 

14 countries in Africa and Asia now encourage farmers to use bee fences to protect crops and property from elephants. Bee fencing entails placing beehives approximately 65 feet apart, around the perimeter of the property. The hives are interconnected, so that crossing the perimeter triggers the hives to sway, and the bees to buzz and fly. The initial cost of fencing a 1 acre farm is approximately $1,000. That’s only about one fifth the cost for electric fencing, and no onsite electricity is required.

The benefits of bee fencing for elephants, bees, and people are numerous, while the negative effects are few. They include, but are not limited to those listed below.

 

For the elephants:

  • Reduced confrontations with people
  • Decrease in elephant deaths and injury
  • Reduction in animosity of people towards elephants
  • A slowing of sprawl and deforestation (since additional bee fencing costs money to put in) which means a slowing in loss of habitat

 

For the honey bees, which are seeing declines in many areas of the world:

  • An increase in the number of hives
  • A vested interest of humans to establish, tend, and protect beehives.

 

For the people:

  • Decrease in death or injury from confronting an elephant
  • Reduction in the loss of crops/increase in crop yields
  • Reduced property damage
  • An additional resource in the forms of crop pollination, and harvestable honey.

 

The biggest negative that we could find mentioned:

  • An additional cost to farmers in the maintenance of the beehives and fencing

 

The solution is not foolproof (about an 80% success rate if hives and fencing are maintained). And it isn’t free with the initial cost of fencing for an acre of farm being approximately $1,000, and maintaining the established hives costs some money. This has led some to look for other bee inspired solutions.

Where Else Could the Bee Fence Help?

In India, where elephants are killed or injured every year when they wonder onto train tracks, the most troublesome areas of some tracks have been fitted with speakers that transmit a buzzing sound. Called ‘Plan Bee’ by the Indian government, this program has been effective at reducing the number of train elephant collisions in India.

And in South Africa, research is being done to develop a bee pheromone based elephant repellent. Initial work has already been done, showing that pheromones that are released by bees when they become distressed are effective at keeping elephants away from watering holes that they normally frequent.

 

If you would like to help in the construction of more bee fences, click on this link for the Elephants & Bees Project. There are also links below for some pertinent articles on the use of bees to repel elephants.

 

New York Times article

National Geographic article

Smithsonian.com article detailing bee pheromone use as opposed to live hives

 

The Birds and the Bees; It’s Not What You Think, Tale of Our Grim Lesson

Who knew that chickens and bees would have one very tragic similarity?

 

Certainly not us.

 

You see, chickens and bees can both easily drown.


We discovered this quite traumatically this past Wednesday; at 5:30 P.M., all three of our daughter’s chickens were hanging out on the back deck, sunning themselves. Less than two hours later, when our daughter went to put the chickens in their coop for the night, one of them was nowhere to be found. We frantically searched our backyard, and then the immediate neighborhood. Out of desperation, we traversed the backyard again. To our great horror, we found Lily in the pond. The poor thing had drowned.

We didn’t know that chickens aren’t the best swimmers, and they cannot fly out of the water like water birds. They can float, and even swim a bit, but once their feathers get wet, the weight of their soaked feathers causes them to sink like a rock. This means that even if they do manage to swim for awhile, the chicken still is in danger of drowning.

 

So, ponds are a very real hazard for chickens. Same with buckets, kiddie pools, and even deep puddles. A chicken is very likely to drown in the event their feathers become drenched and begin to weigh them down.

Unlike bees, you cannot just throw a few rocks and/or floats in the water, and assume that the chicken will be able to get itself out of danger.

If they cannot get out by themselves chickens are in danger. They will swim until they become exhausted and then drown, become waterlogged then drown, or they can become soaked and succumb to hypothermia if it is too cool outside. If the chicken panics and flails when it hits the water they will saturate themselves and possibly breath in water, making them even more likely to have trouble in the water.

 

Providing  a walk-out pool or pond does not ensure that the chickens will be safe. It turns out, when thinking chicken and water, think 1-year old human baby and water. If you would worry about your infant or toddler drowning in a given situation, it is a concern for your chickens too.

 

So; If there are chickens in your lives, make sure that you are aware of this danger.

 

If you let your chickens near water, keep a vigilant eye on them, and help them out, if they find themselves in the water. Even if they are in a walk-out pool or pond, if they get soaked and are in water that is too deep, get them out of the water before it is too late. Dry them off it is cool, since they can get hypothermia easily when soaked. Finally, consider chicken-proofing water features and emptying other sources of water that pose hazards to you chickens.

 

Chicken are land fowls that depend on foraging and roost in low sitting branches. Case in point, they aren’t like ducks, they don’t do well with water. So; if you have chickens as a pet and want them to live long and happy, keep an eye on their surroundings. If there is remotely deep water, consider putting up your chickens up for the time as rain passes and puddles dry. If you have ponds, try out some netting to keep your chickens out to prevent unnecessary tragedy.

Our post tonight is in loving Memory of Lily the Chicken.

She will be dearly missed by her chicken sisters,

as well as her human friends and family.

Informative Link discussing how chickens are different than waterfowl with respect to swimming.

Plant Poppies For Our Fallen

Poppies for the Fallen

Imagine the breeze making brilliant scarlet flowers swing and sway. Buds of lush red bouncing against stems of green in a field of stark and stunning beauty. Small and sedulous bees visiting each bud, collecting and pollinating. All is peaceful as nature unfolds before you, the blue sky is deep and expansive as it stretches passed rolling hills and looming, majestic mountains along the horizon.

 

How beautiful, ethereal, and captivating right? But to those who know; those who understand, it is a constant reminder of battles fought and life lost. A memento of struggle, conflict, and loss; whether a brother, a parent, a child, these lovely flowers are also a reminder of those lost to war.

The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower made to represent a common red field poppy. It was promoted by Moina Michael after the WWI poem “in Flanders Fields” was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

The American Legion adopted it as a symbol to commemorate fallen soldiers in 1921. Today it is still used as a symbol in America. It was also adopted by the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where it is still used extensively in those countries.

 

Poppies for the Fallen

This Memorial Day, why not take the time to remember those who have fallen by planting poppies. Every time you see the bright red blooms, it will be a reminder to remember all that was beautiful about those we have lost.

For those of you planting for the bees, not only are the poppies a beautiful reminder of those you’ve loved, and an honor to those who have lost their lives serving, it is also a plant that the bees love.

Check out this link for an in depth discussion of poppies and memorial day.