Honey bees are so interesting and complex, there’s always more to learn about them. While there are other kinds of bees, which operate by different rules, here, we’ll go over a few more great bits of trivia about honey bees.
Since pretty much all the honey bees we ever run across are female, it’s not widely known that only female honey bees have stingers. The stinger itself is a modified egg-laying organ. Because non-queen honey bees are sterile, they have no need to lay eggs, and so it became a barbed, venom-injecting defense mechanism. And yes, honey bees do die after stinging a human, because the barbed stinger gets stuck so solidly in human skin that it quickly disembowels the bee, but scientists don’t think bees sting knowing that it will kill them.
Meanwhile, the male drone honey bees stay in the hive and mate with the queen. But don’t think this means they have an easy life! In fact, they only get to mate once. According to the UC Berkley Urban Bee Lab, male honey bees die after mating because “the genitalia…pops out explosively at mating…paralyzing and killing them.”
Among other reasons it’s good to be the queen, scientists have found that queen bees can select the sex of their offspring. Not only can the queen choose to lay a fertilized (female) or unfertilized (male) egg, she will only lay a male egg in a cell that is large enough for the larger male larva. Scientists have also seen that queens try to keep their colony at a specific gender balance.
Here at Hummer and Son, we love our bees and we’re proud to share their premium Louisiana honey and other bee products. To learn more, contact us!
Honey is such a unique substance. It doesn’t spoil, it has antimicrobial properties, it can be used as food or medicine for humans. In fact, honey is the only product of insects that humans can eat. Let’s break down some facts about how honey is made.
Bees have been making honey the same way for approximately 150 million years – that is, since sometime in the late Jurassic Period. Bees were working away in their hives while the dinosaurs were roaming the earth. They know “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
It takes roughly two million flowers to make one pound of honey. To get to all those flowers, bees will travel 55,000 miles or more in total. There’s a reason we say “busy as a bee”!
Bees work so hard because they don’t live very long. During honey production season, a worker bee lives about six weeks. During other times of the year, they can live much shorter or longer lives, depending on food supply and temperature.
And for all that work over that short lifetime, what does a single bee have to show for it? The average bee produces only about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her six week lifespan. When you think about how much honey the average hive can produce, you can see how the hive depends on numbers to keep up its supply.
At Hummer and Son, we love to tell people about our bees, and we love to share their premium Louisiana honey and other bee products. To learn more, please contact us!
Honey has been used for millennia as something of a cure-all. It has been used to treat wounds, infections, coughs and sore throats, and even digestive issues. While some people continue to believe in honey’s effectiveness based on long-term usage, others opt to wait for science to back up the claims. And science is doing just that!
Honey has long been used to treat wounds and burns, for the same reason it was used on the face as a beauty aid: it hydrates the skin and locks in moisture. Recently, some research reviewed by the Cochrane Library indicates that honey may be just as effective or even more effective at healing burns or infected post-surgical wounds than traditional treatment. They caution, however, that the studies were limited and the results are not definitive. That said, if you burn yourself in the kitchen, putting honey on it certainly won’t hurt.
More recently, a study has found that Manuka honey, which is a particular kind of honey from New Zealand, can help protect against the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which can overgrow during antibiotic treatment and cause issues ranging from diarrhea to colitis, which can be very serious. Other studies have also shown that Manuka honey can be effective against MRSA, a dangerous, antibiotic-resistant form of staph infection.
Some studies have also suggested that honey can ease the discomfort of acid reflux or GERD, and reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea while promoting potassium and water intake. While the research needs a lot more time and data to be conclusive, honey can be a good, safe first attempt at home treatment. Just remember that you should never give honey to children under 1 year old.
At Hummer and Son, we’re proud to offer you the finest Louisiana honey and other bee products. To learn more about us or about our bees, contact us today!
It’s no secret that the world’s bees need our help. Between pesticides, environmental changes, parasites, and lack of food sources, honeybees are under significant stress. While the average person may not be able to do much about climate change or parasites, we can all help to provide food sources for bees by planting bee-friendly flowers. And recently, a product has arrived that pulls double duty.
Bee saving paper, developed by Saatchi and Saatchi IS and City Bees, is designed to offer bees both immediate and long-term benefits. The biodegradable paper is made with glucose, which will act as a pick-me-up for bees that have to travel farther to find food sources. But that’s not all. The paper also contains purple tansy (lacy phacelia) seeds, which will grow into a bee-favorite plant as the paper degrades. And to ensure that bees find the delicious treat, the paper is coated in UV paint that resembles the red circles they see in fields of flowers, to guide them to the nourishing glucose.
So far, the paper is being used by a Polish beekeeper for labels on honey jars. More potential uses include coffee cup sleeves, picnic plates, bags, and more. Because this paper is designed to be left out in nature, any number of disposable products would be appropriate. It’s a small step that could make a big difference to the world’s bee population.
At Hummer and Son, we proudly offer the highest quality Louisiana raw honey and other bee products. Contact us today to learn more about us or about our bees.
The varroa destructor mite is a parasite that can take down entire bee colonies by spreading diseases and sucking the bees’ hemolymph (blood-like fluid). Because they play such a large part in colony collapse disorder, scientists all over the world are searching for ways to combat these parasites. There are pesticides that work against them, but they aren’t very good for the bees, either. No new chemical treatments have been registered in over 20 years.
Now, an accidental discovery in Germany may point the way to a new weapon in beekeepers’ fight against the varroa mite.
While attempting to replicate results from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s work with RNA interference, German scientists stumbled on a new possibility. In their experiments, they found that mites feeding on bees who were fed a lethal strain of RNA died quickly, just as the Israeli experiment showed. But in the German lab, they found that the mites in their control group, which were fed a harmless form of RNA, died just as quickly. Through rigorous testing, they determined that it was lithium chloride, which was used in producing the RNA and therefore was in the sugar solution, that was killing the mites.
Naturally, the German scientists launched into a new series of tests, this time using lithium chloride. They found that feeding bees incredibly tiny amounts of the lithium salt over a one-to-three-day period killed 90%-100% of varroa mites, without causing appreciable harm to the bee population. Of course, more tests are necessary, particularly in looking for lithium residue in the honey of a treated hive, but lithium chloride has promise as a cost-effective, easily available, easily applied, safe, and effective means of protecting bees from a dangerous parasite.
At Hummer and Son, we do all we can to take good care of our bees so we can bring you the very best Louisiana raw honey and other bee products. To learn more, contact us.
In Puerto Rico, scientists have found our best lead so far on rebuilding the bee population. The restrictions on the use of pesticides and planting of more bee-friendly ground are helping, but there is still the varroa mite to contend with. Could mixing so-called killer bees with gentle honeybees make them stronger?
About 400 years ago, European settlers brought their bees to the Americas. In North America, there wasn’t much difference, but in the South American tropical climate, the European bees became weak and fell prey to diseases and parasites. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that is the exact issue honeybees are facing now. And then, as now, scientists looked to new genetics to help bees survive.
In the 1950s, an African bee species was bred with tropical bees in Brazil. The result was very strong, healthy bees that were incredibly aggressive. The beekeepers intended to selectively breed down the aggression over several generations, but before that was accomplished, several swarms escaped their quarantine and bred with wild honeybees. This produced what most people heard about on the news as “Africanized honeybees” or simply “killer bees”.
But in Puerto Rico, there was a different result. A small colony made its way to the island and mixed with the European bees there, taking over with a new queen. However, they didn’t stay aggressive. Over a span of 30 years, without any intervention from humans, the “killer bees” became gentle toward humans, but still strong and healthy. Not only that, but the Puerto Rican bees are strong enough to fight off the nasty varroa mite. Researchers are hopeful that understanding the genome of these gentle “killer bees” could help them breed for stronger bees worldwide.
Hummer and Son proudly offers premium Louisiana honey and bee products. For more information about our bees, contact us today!
Looking for some pampering amidst all the holiday stress? Look no further than your kitchen! Take a little break from the rush of the season to indulge in a mini spa day with these treatments that are good enough to eat.
Let’s start with a nice, exfoliating body scrub. Mix about half a cup of brown sugar with a similar amount of honey to make a pasty consistency. Use in the shower or a bath with a cup of milk added to the water. After you’ve scrubbed away the dry skin, you can soak in the milk and honey infusion for an extra softening treat. Bonus: honey and sugar dissolve, so there’s no residue left in the tub!
Next, treat your hair to some deep conditioning. Mix half a cup of honey with ¼ cup olive oil (use half that amount if your hair is oily) and work through your hair thoroughly from roots to ends. Cover with a shower cap for about 30 minutes, and then shampoo and condition as usual.
And for your face, mix 2 teaspoons honey with 2 teaspoons greek yogurt. Apply to face and neck, let dry for about 20 minutes, and rinse well. Alternatively, combine 2 tablespoons honey with 2 teaspoons turmeric and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Apply and let sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse well and wash your face as usual. Be careful, this one can stain!
At Hummer and Son, we’re proud to offer you premium Louisiana honey
Imported Genetics May Help Bees Adapt
Bees all over the world are still fighting colony collapse. Between pesticides, varroa mites, and dwindling food supplies, they’re dealing with a rapidly changing environment. But American scientists have a new idea that may help our bees adapt to these changes.
America stopped importing honeybees in the 1920s, which means the gene pool has become limited in the last century. Yes, honeybees are inbred. This wasn’t a huge problem until the varroa mite arrived stateside in the late 1980s, but then the mite ravaged the bee population. Since all the bees have the same weaknesses, entire hives can fall to a single disease or pest. Anti-mite pesticides are just about all most beekeepers have to protect their hives, and although they are useful for killing mites, they aren’t too healthy for the bees themselves. Surely there’s a better way.
In the interest of genetic diversity, scientists and beekeepers alike have begun crossbreeding domestic bees with their European and Asian counterparts. Researchers are inseminating American queen bees with genetic material collected from foreign drones, while individual beekeepers are adding foreign queens to their hives. The hope is that a wider gene pool will increase the rate of new traits, and possibly a natural resistance to varroa mites and other diseases. If nothing else, broader genetic variation should help to make sure at least some members of any afflicted colony survive.
Hummer and Son Honey proudly offers the highest quality Louisiana raw honey and other bee products. To learn more about us or our bees, contact us!
Bee Talk with Maddie Moate
Bees are amazing, complex, endlessly interesting creatures. There’s always something new to learn about them, from why they swarm to how they get their jobs within the hive. If you can’t tour a bee farm yourself, or if all that buzzing just makes you a bit nervous, never fear!
Say hello to Maddie Moate. She’s a British TV presenter with a YouTube channel devoted to explaining science and nature in kid-friendly – but never patronizing – terms. She has videos on all sorts of topics, and best of all, Maddie has a whole series all about bees!
Would you like to see how honey is harvested? Follow Maddie and her mother as they take frames from their hives to jars.
Have you ever wondered what the inside of a beehive looks like? The Moate ladies open up a hive and walk us through all the pieces.
Maybe you’d like to know just how bees make honey? Maddie is happy to explain, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
And what do bees do in the winter? Maddie’s mum explains how the bees prepare for and spend the winter months. Plus, there’s a bit of bonus information on hedgehogs at the end
From why bees are so good at math to how to lure and trap them, Maddie’s series on beekeeping answers just about every question you’ve ever wanted to ask about bees, all in easy language and engaging, fun videos.
At Hummer and Son Honey, we love our bees, and we’d love to tell you about them! Along with our premium Louisiana honey, we also offer other bee-based products. For more information, or if you happen to have a question Maddie doesn’t answer, contact us!
The bees are still working hard as summer winds down, and as we try to squeeze in a few last cookouts and outdoor parties, let’s celebrate National Honey Month!
If you’re partying or cooking out, why not incorporate some honey into your recipes? Start with a Honey-Ginger Soda, try Spice-Crusted Salmon with Orange-Honey Glaze and Honey Citrus Glazed Carrots, and finish with No-Bake Chocolate Brownies. The National Honey Board has lots of ideas for honey-drizzled dishes, from breakfasts to desserts.
Another idea to support your local bees is to provide some attractive plants for them. When the wildflowers begin to get scarce, potted or garden plants are a good source of food for bees. You can find a list of bee-friendly plants here and here. Of course, be sure to keep them free of chemical pesticides that could sicken the bees or affect the colony.
If you have a farmer’s market nearby, you can probably find many different varieties of local honey. The foraging area, local plants, and individual bee colony will all have effects on the flavor, just like wines are affected by region and growing conditions. Get several small jars from different bee keepers, grab some friends, and have a honey tasting party! Try each flavor alone, in tea, or on toast or biscuits.
Hummer and Son proudly offers the highest-quality Louisana raw honey and other bee products. We love to talk about our bees and what they do, so to learn more, contact us today.