Scientists continue to study the decline of bees and the phenomenon known as colony collapse. Recently, a few more pieces of the puzzle have begun to fit together. NPR reports on two field studies that shed light on just how pesticides called neonicotinoids are affecting bee populations.
The first study, conducted at 33 sites in the EU, tracked bee populations placed near fields of canola. Some of the fields had been treated with neonicotinoids as seeds, and others were treated with a combination of neonicotinoids and fungicides, or fungicides alone. In general, the scientists found that exposure to neonicotinoids caused problems for both wild bees and honeybee colonies, from decreased reproduction to colonies failing to survive the winter. However, bees studied in Germany thrived, with or without neonicotinoids. These bees could find a wider variety of flowers to feed on, so that the neonicotinoid-treated plants were a smaller percentage of their intake, and they were also comparatively free of parasites, leading the team to conclude that variety of food sources, local environment, and general health of the bee population all play into the effect of neonicotinoids.
The second study, from Canada, compared bee colonies closer to neonicotinoid sources to those farther away. This team found some troubling evidence regarding the use of these pesticides. First, they found that the pesticide was measurable in the harvested pollen for months, even though neonicotinoids are used only on seeds. Next, they found that most of the contaminated pollen came from untreated wild plants, not industrial crops. The scientists concluded that some neonicotinoids get into the groundwater, and then taken up by untreated plants. When the pesticide exposure was replicated in the lab, the team found that exposed bees don’t keep their hives as clean and tend to lose their queens more often, which usually results in the death of the colony.
Both these studies, taken together, are helping scientists form a better picture of how we can protect the bees that are so crucial to our food supply. As more research is done, the puzzle pieces begin to fit together.
Hummer and Son Honey is proud to offer the finest Louisiana honey and other bee products. To learn about us or our bees, contact us.
Bees Help Us
Everyone knows that humans depend on bees for honey and for pollinating our crops, but bees help us in more ways that you might not know about.
After honey and pollination, the first thing many people think of when they think of bees is their sting. Unpleasant for both the person and the bee (who dies after losing her stinger), certainly, but bee stings have some benefits, as well. Some studies have found that bee venom can help with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis by increasing the body’s natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Other research suggests that a specific toxin, mellitin, can kill HIV while leaving other cells unaffected, opening new paths for treatment and prevention.
Bees’ hives may also offer new medicinal possibilities. Bees build their hives using a resin called propolis as a sort of glue. Scientists have found that propolis helps to relieve a number of human ailments including cold sores, eczema, sore throat, and even cavities.
Understanding bee behavior helps humans fight crime, believe it or not. Bees forage for pollen near the hive, but not so close that predators might find their home. Serial killers work in much the same way, committing crimes close to home, but not so close that the neighbors suspect anything. Algorithms derived from bees help to improve computer models used to find killers.
We at Hummer and Son love our bees and all the great things they do for us. We proudly offer premium Louisiana honey and other bee products. To learn more about us or our bees, contact us.
People don’t typically think of bees as being very intelligent. Look at the way we use terms like “hive mind” or “drone” – hardly complimentary to bees. But there’s much more to our apian friends. Read on for a few facts that might change your mind about bee brains.
You probably know that bees are designated as workers, drones, scouts, soldiers, or queens. But many bees will do a number of jobs in its lifetime, and every time they take on a new job, their brain chemistry changes. Imagine if your brain changed every time you got a new job!
Not only that, but when an older bee takes on a job that is normally done by younger members of the hive, their brain stops aging. Actually, it begins to age in reverse. Scientists are hopeful that this could help us understand and treat dementia in humans.
Science has shown that bees are anything but mindless drones. Studies have found distinct personality traits among bees, from thrill-seeking to timidity to agitation. One study even suggested that some bees were pessimistic. Does that mean bees have feelings? They just might.
Bees might even be better at math than you are. Researchers point to the “travelling salesman problem”, which requires determining the shortest route to travel while making a number of stops. Even some computers are flummoxed by this problem, but bees routinely fly the shortest distance between flowers. No other animals are known to have solved this problem.
At Hummer and Son Honey, we love our brainy bees and we’re proud to share their premium Louisiana honey and other products with you. To learn more about us or our bees, contact us.
Many animals are thought to navigate via natural magnetic fields, including fish, birds, reptiles, and insects. Now, according to researchers at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, honey bees can be added to that list.
The theory explaining magnetic navigation in animals involves magnetite, a magnetic iron oxide compound that is found in the bodies of some organisms. This study measured the magnetization of each section of bees’ bodies – head, thorax, and abdomen – by applying magnetic fields, and found evidence of magnetism in the abdomens. When exposed to a magnetic field thousands of times stronger than the Earth’s natural magnetic fields, bees became even more magnetized than non-exposed bees.
To determine the effect of this magnetization on the bees’ ability to navigate, researchers trained bees to find a sugary food source in the midst of a magnetic fields created by electrical coils. Once trained, half the bees were magnetized by exposure to a strong magnetic field for a few seconds. Compared to the control group, the magnetized bees had more difficulty finding the food source, which indicated that the exposure to magnetic fields had interfered with their magnetoreceptors.
What does all this mean? Aside from being one more interesting fact about bees, it might point the way to more research, such as studies to find out if electromagnetic noise from industrial processes have an effect on bees’ health. And, as we all know by now, what’s good for bees is good for humans.
At Hummer and Son, we’re proud of our bees and all the amazing things they can do, and we’re proud to share their premium Louisiana honey and other products with you. For more information, contact us.
Bees are marvelous creatures. They pollinate our crops, helping to maintain our food supply; they provide us with honey, possibly the world’s perfect food. And now, thanks to researchers in the UK, we’re learning that bees are even smarter – and cuter – than we thought.
Yes, bees are cute – or, at least, they make a cute sound when they’re startled. This quick vibrational pulse was previously thought to be a “stop” signal, or a request for food. But when researchers at Nottingham Trent University recorded vibrations inside hives for a full year, they found that this signal happened far too frequently for either of those explanations to be true. The team concluded that this “whooping” signal occurred when bees were startled, whether by bumping into each other, or by the headbutts that accompany requests for food or interruption of waggle dances. To hear the “whoop” signal for yourself, head over to New Scientist for their synopsis of the research and recordings of startled, but adorable, bees.
There’s also been a revelation about bees’ intelligence, courtesy of scientists at Queen Mary University of London. While bees’ capacity for complex communication and organization has been established for some time, now scientists have found that bees can even use tools and teach other bees to use them as well. In this experiment, bees were taught to move a ball into position to access a sugary treat. Not only did they learn, they taught other bees, and even adapted their new skills when put in new situations. You can watch the tool-using bees and learn more about their intelligence here at PBS.
At Hummer and Son, we take great pride in our bees. We always knew they were adorable and intelligent, and we’re glad science is backing that up. Our bees allow us to offer you premium Louisiana honey and other bee products. Contact us for more information!
By now, you’ve heard that raw honey is nature’s miracle elixir: a cure-all potion for skin, a tonic for the body, and a healthy sweetener to boot. But there’s more! Honey can also do great things for your hair and scalp, giving you one more reason to keep a jar in your bathroom as well as in your kitchen.
For an intensive treatment mask, mix ½ cup raw honey and ¼ cup coconut or olive oil. Work the mixture in gently but thoroughly, roots to tips, and leave on for twenty minutes. Rinse well, and enjoy the amplified volume and shine. Repeat once a week to keep your shine glowing.
You can also take a faster route to reviving dull locks by adding one teaspoon of raw honey to your shampoo before you lather up. Make sure you rinse thoroughly for soft, shiny strands!
Does your scalp need some extra TLC? Maybe you’re plagued with dry scalp, or dandruff, or just winter itchiness. Honey will moisturize, nourish, soothe, and work against any fungal or microbial elements. Dilute honey with warm water – 1 tablespoon honey to 1 teaspoon water is a good ratio – and massage it into the scalp. After two hours, rinse with warm water. Use this treatment every other day until flakes and itch are gone and your scalp is healthy.
At Hummer and Son, we offer a range of natural Bee Hippie body products as well as several varieties of premium Louisiana honey products for whatever your needs! Not sure what to choose? Contact us
Honey May Offer Help in the Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance
Honey has been known for its healing properties for thousands of years, but recent studies point to real possibilities for using honey to help fight antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Research published in 2010 from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam showed that one very potent antibiotic element in honey is a protein called defensin-1. Defensin-1 is a part of the bees’ immune system, and is added to the honey in the bees’ stomachs. Isolating this protein not only offers a new direction for antibiotic research, but also helps to explain the immune system of bees, which may allow breeders to create healthier hives.
Another study from Sweden isolated thirteen kinds of lactic acid bacteria in fresh honey which produce high numbers of antimicrobial chemicals. These bacteria strains were exposed to several kinds of antibiotic resistant pathogens and counteracted all of them. The researchers believe that the benefit of using live bacteria lies in the fact that they can adapt, producing the right kind and amount of antimicrobial agents.
Unlike conventional antibiotics, honey doesn’t attack the growth processes of pathogens, so it doesn’t lead to resistance. Instead, honey has multiple properties that kill bacterial cells, such as hydrogen peroxide, an osmotic effect, acidity, and high sugar content. In addition, honey interferes with the formation of communities of bacteria called biofilms, and in some cases it can deter the release of toxins.
Hummer and Son offers high quality Louisiana honey and other bee products. To find out more about our products or our bees, contact us.
Everyone loves tasty treats for the holidays, but commercially made products contain additives, corn syrup, and loads of sugar. Homemade treats can be made not only with love, but with better, healthier ingredients, as well as great taste. And it’s not as difficult as you might think. For example, take this three ingredient recipe for homemade honey chocolates from Benefits of Honey.
6 Tablespoons cocoa butter
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons honey
- Gently melt the cocoa butter in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, use a glass bowl set over a small pan of boiling water.
- When the cocoa butter is completely melted, add the honey and whisk to mix.
- Add the cocoa powder, and stir until smooth.
- Pour into your favorite chocolate mold, and refrigerate until hardened.
It’s that easy! You can tweak this recipe as you like. Substitute coconut oil for the cocoa butter to make them even more guilt-free; add chopped dried fruit or nuts for more interesting textures and flavors. Different varieties of honey will create different flavors, too. This recipe is easy to scale up – just keep the proportions of 2:2:1 and make sure not to overfill your double boiler. Freezing the chocolates will help to keep them from melting when set out at room temperature.
Hummer and Son proudly offers flavorful, local Louisiana honey and other bee products. Check out our selection here, and feel free to contact us to learn more about our products or our bees.
It’s winter, and between cold temperatures, wind, and dry indoor heat, it’s no wonder that many people spend the season with dry, uncomfortable, itchy skin. With all the holiday bustle and busy schedules, wouldn’t it be nice to have a quick, easy cure? Honey to the rescue!
Look no further than the ancient recipe of a milk and honey bath. Milk’s lactic acid acts as a gentle exfoliant, and honey locks in moisture. You can use either liquid or powdered milk, as long as it’s full-fat. Add 1-2 cups of liquid milk (or 1 cup of powdered milk) and about half a cup to a full cup of honey to hot running water, and swirl with your hand to mix it in thoroughly. Soak as long as you like, or until the water has cooled.
If you have eczema or other skin irritations, fill a knee-high stocking or a thin sock with regular oatmeal (don’t use the instant or quick cooking kind). Tie the top securely, toss it in the tub with you, and squeeze it every so often as you soak to infuse your bathwater with oatmeal’s skin soothing properties. Before you get out, give yourself a light scrub all over with the sock. Then just turn it inside out over a trash can, scrape off the remains and rinse with warm water, and you can wash your sock as usual.
Hummer and Son Honey brings you high quality Louisiana honey and other bee products. To learn more about our products or our bees, contact us!
With fall allergy season upon us and winter on the way, it’s time to think about natural remedies for coughs and colds. Most people know the comforting power of a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon, but you can take it a step further with this recipe from the Organic Consumers Association. This cough syrup is drug-free, effective, and safe for children 2 years and older. *Don’t use honey for children under 2 years old.*
Honey Lemon Cough Syrup
1 pint honey
Put the honey in a pan on the stove over low heat. *Make sure not to let it boil, because it will change the honey’s medicinal properties.*
Boil the whole lemon in a second pan of water for about 3 minutes to loosen the skin and kill any germs on the outside. When it’s cool enough to handle, cut it into slices and add it to the honey. Let the mixture cook on low heat for about 1 hour.
Strain out the lemon and seeds, let the honey cool, and pour into a jar with a lid and refrigerate.
In the refrigerator, this will keep for about 2 months. For longer storage life, you can add 2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin.
This syrup may be used up to four times a day. For children 25-50 pounds, use ½ teaspoon. For children 50 pounds or more, use 1 teaspoon. Adults should take 1 tablespoon.
At Hummer and Son, we’re proud to offer premium local honey products. Check out our shop or contact us today.