Gordon Kubanek, CACOR Board of Directors, writes:
A Drop of Honey
What is this mystery we call honey?
Consider the following:
A honey bee must visit 200 flowers to make a drop of honey.
Each honeybee makes only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
To make one pound of honey honeybees must make 2,000,000 visits to various flowers.
Over the year the queen will produce between 100,000 and 200,000 bees.
During mating the males unlucky enough to “get lucky” will have their genitals ripped from their bodies when the mating is done, then fall to their deaths.
The queen then lays eggs for the rest of her life without mating again— as frequently as one every 20 seconds. Her egg production will eventually slow down, and once it does, her daughter bees will surround and suffocate her, then toss her corpse out of the hive.
A honeybee colony can grow up to 80,000 bees over a summer.
When frost comes all male drones are unceremoniously kicked out of the hive where they freeze to death.
Until recently it was the only source of sugar for most of humanity.
Raw honey is the only food that will NEVER go bad; it has been found in the tombs of ancient Egypt and was perfectly edible.
Wax from the honeycomb has been the major raw material for candles, a major light source, for most of human history.
Propolis, the hard sticky substance bees use to seal holes and hold their hives together is rich in natural antibiotics. Current antimicrobial applications of propolis include formulations for cold syndrome (upper respiratory tract infections, common cold, and flu-like infections), wound healing, treatment of burns, acne, herpes simplex and genitalis, and neurodermatitis.
Bumblebees & honeybees increase the pollination rate of commercial blueberry fields significantly.
Bumblebees are very efficient at pollinating blueberries with activity at lower temperatures than honey bees, faster visits to flowers, and higher rates of pollen transfer per flower visit.
We would have to hand pollinate many crops if pollinators weren’t around, for example, say good bye to apples, peaches, apricots, plums, lemons, limes and cherries, bananas, melons, mangos and papaya, grapes, coffee and chocolate!
Honeybees work themselves to death: those who overwinter live many months while those who collect pollen are lucky to live 3 brief weeks.
A worker bee can gather her own weight in nectar—about 70 milligrams—in one trip.
Honeybees only sting in self-defence as doing so kills them.
If you know what you are doing being among even thousands of bees is perfectly safe.
Hundreds of bees can surround & kill huge killer hornets by cooking them to death – cooperation and numbers makes them almost invincible. All this is made possible by honey as honey allows up to 10,000 bees to survive in the hive over the winter and thus allow the building up of a huge summer population.
Raw honey, bottled without heat or stabilizers, contains layers of flavor and aroma matched only by fine wine and tea, as each colony’s honey is uniquely defined by the pollen it collects during that particular season.
Honey is made when younger worker bees suck nectar out of foragers’ honey sacs and mix it—in their stomachs—with a naturally occurring enzyme called invertase that breaks the nectar’s sucrose down into glucose and fructose.
Many people eat bee pollen as it is a complete protein, rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and anti-oxidants, it is considered an immune system builder that will also enhance vitality: it is a great brain booster, lifting brain fatigue, improving alertness and helping concentration levels over an extended period of time.
Neonicotinoid [a new family of pesticide] concentrations of 1 ppb, often reported in plant nectar near agricultural lands, affect the foraging behaviour of bees, reducing their foraging motivation and often slowly killing the hive by reducing the amount of nectar that is collected.
Honeybees aren’t really the cute symbol of the natural world that they are portrayed as because they’re a managed species, like livestock, bred by beekeepers to make honey and shipped around the country to pollinate crops like almonds and not native to the Americas as they were brought over from Europe.
The smell of honey entices us, as this description of Lady Gaga’s new perfume makes clear: “the bouquet is like tears of belladonna, crushed heart of tiger orchidea with a black veil of incense, pulverized apricot and the combinative essences of saffron and honey drops.”
Finally, bees and honey have been an inspiration for many people as they seek to find metaphors that will help us better understand how we can better cooperate with our fellow man.
A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal. It is the same with men. It you want to win a man to your cause first convince him that you are his sincere friend. This drop of honey will catch his heart, which, say what he will, is the highroad to his reason. ` Abraham Lincoln
Life is the flower for which love is the honey. Victor Hugo
Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind. Friedrich Nietzsche
Bees, like us, live a brief life, full of danger and beauty. When a bee or a person is healthy they are driven by a sense of purpose. For bees their sense of purpose is omnipresent as it is programmed deep in their genes to do this: do whatever it takes to help the hive (meaning the Queen) survive. People, however, often never find their sense of purpose and then wander aimlessly through life constantly looking for something to give their lonely lives meaning. They fail because they are unable to latch onto some transcendent cause to associate with. This quote from Random Passage by Canadian writer Bernice Morgan says it well:
“I have become convinced that most people live all their lives waiting for some great cause, or for some leader who can command their confidence, to give their lives purpose.”
May you be a like a bee and find purpose in your life.
And finally, my only response to the wonder of honey is gratitude as I say “Thank you”.