Questions and Answers

Frequently Asked Questions About Bees and Bee Products

HONEY

If honey crystallizes or becomes solid, is it safe to eat?

Almost all honey will crystallize as it ages, but is still safe to eat.

How do I make my honey liquid again after it crystallizes or becomes solid honey?

Put your honey container in a pot of warm water on the stove and put it on the very lowest setting. Warm it as you would a baby’s bottle, very slowly. It will become liquid again. DO NOT microwave or boil your honey, this will destroy the nutrients in the honey.

Does honey ever go bad?

No, honey will crystallize and become solid but it is still edible. See above about making crystallized, solid honey liquid again.

Doesn’t all honey taste the same?

No! Honey bees will visit flowers as they bloom throughout the year. The nectar of each flower creates a different tasting honey. The color of the honey is also determined by the flowers the bee visited.

What is the difference between store bought honey and raw honey?

Some honey in a store has been pasteurized (heated) and filtered. This process destroys the phytonutrients that are naturally in raw honey. Raw honey contains all the nutrients available in honey.

What makes honey raw?

Raw honey is honey that has not been processed in any way. Which means it has not been heated, or micro filtered (removing pollen). And nothing has been added to raw honey. Raw does not need to be thick or crystallized.

How do you harvest/pull honey?

We harvest/pull honey from the bee hive once the variety of flowers the bees are pollinating have stopped blooming. This is why we know what kind of honey the bees have made. We move the bees to a lower box from the honey super before we take the super (box where the bees store honey) of honey. We scrape the bees wax sealing the cells of honey. Then we spin the frames—where the bees put the honey—until all of the honey is out. We strain the honey to get the wax and other large particles out of the honey. We pour the honey into a container and sell it to you.

Are the bees hurt when honey is pulled, taken from the hive?

No, when we harvest/pull honey from a bee hive we always have them move into a lower box so that we are only taking honey and not bees.

How do bees make honey?

The forager bee will fly to a floral source, flowers. She uses her tongue to suck the nectar out of the flower. She repeats this until she fills her honey stomach. Once her honey stomach is full she flies back to the hive. She will give the nectar to another bee who puts it into the cell. The bees then allow the nectar to dry out, the moisture it too high when it is nectar and would ferment. Once the nectar has the right moisture content (about 18%) the bees cap the honey with bees wax; only at this point is it considered honey.

Is honey safe for diabetics?

All honey is a type of sugar and must be used accordingly.

What is local honey?

Local honey is honey that is produced in the same ecosystem, (same plants, in which you live). In the central Florida area, local honey is produced in a fairly large area. My bees are in Orange, Lake, and Osceola counties in Florida. Honey does not need to be produced 2 feet outside your home to be considered local.

Does local honey help with allergies?

When you eat local honey that is raw and unfiltered you are also eating pollen. If you have allergies to these types of pollen, then gradually adding honey to your diet should help your body get accustomed to the pollens and your body should react less to the allergens.

Does a specific type of honey (orange blossom) always taste the same?

No. Each year the temperature and rain affect the speed that flowers bloom. Rain washes the nectar out of the flowers so bees can’t collect as much. The rain also keeps the bees in the beehive. They don’t like getting wet. If the temperature drops too low for too long the plants will stop providing nectar. So, orange blossom honey has a similar taste, but the taste will vary from year to year. It’s like a good wine, never exactly the same.

Are there other products of the bee hive that are beneficial?

Yes, everything in a bee hive is beneficial to us. The honey is a great treat and has many benefits to those who eat it. Bees also produce a bee glue, called propolis which is a mix of resins, terpenes, volatile oils, and miscellaneous materials. The bees mix the propolis with bees wax and spread it on all the wooden surfaces in the bee hive; which sterilizes the entire hive. Bees also produce bees wax which is created by six wax glands on the underside of the worker bee’s abdomen.

Bees gather pollen from the flowers they visit. The pollen is used to feed to the brood, baby bees, for the protein needed for the brood to develop.

What is creamed/whipped honey?

Creamed honey is honey that we crystallize into an oval shape. When honey crystallizes naturally it is in a cube shape, which makes it rough, grainy to eat. The creamed honey feels smooth on your tongue as you eat it.

What is bee bread?

Honey bees mix honey and pollen to feed to the brood (baby bees). It has a higher proportion of pollen than raw honey.

Is honey good for anything but eating?

Yes, you can use honey when you have an abrasion on your skin. The honey is a substance that is anti-microbial, which means that nothing can grow in it. Honey will remove the moisture in, for example, bacteria, thus killing it. Very few microbes can live in honey. We have used honey on burns in our home. After rinsing the burn with cold water, putting honey on a burn has reduced blistering.

Is honey safe to feed to an infant?

No, until a child is 1-year- old honey should be given to a child.

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POLLEN

What is pollen?

Pollen is the dust-like substance flowers produce for reproduction. Bees collect pollen to eat. Bees are negatively charged, think of static electricity, so when they land on a flower the pollen sticks to them. They have combs on their legs that they comb the pollen off of their body onto their back legs, which have long hairs they pack the pollen on.

How do you harvest bee pollen?

At the entrance of a bee hive, a pollen trap, which knocks the pollen off of the bee’s back legs, is placed. The pollen is removed from a drawer, dried and packaged.

What is the benefit of bee pollen?

Bee pollen is a great nutritional supplement for your body. Its benefits can help many systems of your body. I take bee pollen each morning and night to help control my allergy symptoms. If you look on the internet there are numerous benefits of bee pollen. Please refer to “The Use of Bee Pollen as a Superfood” for more detailed information.

How do you ingest/take pollen?

Bee pollen can be ingested, eaten, in any way. DO NOT HEAT bee pollen because the heat will destroy any nutritional benefit. Pollen can be eaten in a smoothie, sprinkled on cold cereal, cold salad. I put it in my mouth and swish some water around and swallow it.

Why are pollen granules different colors?

Pollens from different plants will be different colors. A honey bee will only go to the same flowers and plants until her honey stomach and pollen sacs are full. This is why honey bees make such good pollinators. When you buy pollen you will notice the variety of colors. When I look at a frame that has pollen in it, it looks like a patch work quilt.

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PROPOLIS

What is propolis?

Propolis consists of sticky substances from plants (which is a mix of resins, terpenes, and volatile oils, and miscellaneous materials), for example, sap from a pine tree, as well as sticky substances from other plants.

How do honey bees gather propolis?

The worker bee will pack propolis on her back legs and fly it back to the hive.

Why do honey bees gather propolis?

Honey bees gather propolis to sterilize all of the wooden surfaces inside the hive.

How do you use propolis?

Propolis can be used topically, on your skin, to reduce infection of an abrasion. The propolis will seal the abrasion reducing the ability of microbes entering the wound. Propolis is also taken internally. Please see “Propolis Has Enormous Benefits for Your Health” for more detailed information.

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BEES

What is an apiary?

An apiary is also called a bee yard and is the location where a beekeeper puts their bees to make honey.

How many bees live in a hive?

When a bee hive has built up for the year, before and after the flowers start blooming you can have 30,000-60,000 bees in one bee hive.

Why do honey bees sting?

Honey bees will sting to protect their hive/home.

How do I keep from getting stung by a honey bee?

If you encounter a honey bee that is flying toward you, you should walk away slowly. DO NOT swat with your arms or run. Honey bees have special eyes that detect motion and are drawn to the motion if they are agitated. DO NOT wear cologne or perfume because many of the substances contain musk. The honey bees will smell the musk and attack to keep a threat of an animal away from their hive. Also, when bees become agitated they will try and sting, dark places on the body such as eyes, ears, nose, mouth; therefore, wearing dark clothing may cause the bees to sting an individual more.

How do honey bees communicate?

Honey bees communicate in various ways. The most prominent type of communication is with pheromones, smells. If a bee hive becomes agitated, you will smell bananas, which is an alarm pheromone. Honey bees also communicate by dancing; the forager bees dance to show the other bees where the food source is located. Queen bees communicate with sounds which are high pitched; she also communicates with pheromones.

Are honey bees aggressive?

Most European honey bees are not aggressive. If the honey bees see something as a threat to their hive they will typically first “ping” run into you, to tell you that you are too close. If you don’t move away, you might get stung. See above for
ways to avoid being stung.

Are all honey bees female?

No, a bee hive contains workers, drones, and queen bees. Worker and Queen bees are females. The drones are male bees. The difference is the queen bee was fed royal jelly the entire time she developed which allows her to mature fully so that she can reproduce. A worker bee is also a female but she is infertile; being fed honey and pollen after the first few days as a larva. The drone bees are the only male bees in the hive. Drones cannot collect nectar, pollen, or propolis for the hive. The drone cannot protect the hive; he has no stinger. The only purpose for a drone bee is to mate with a queen; once the drone mates he dies. A Queen bee will mate multiple times early in her life (within the first two weeks after she emerges from a queen cell, which allows her to provide new bees to the hive. The queen will mate with drone bees in the air. She returns to the hive and will mate about 18 times before she starts laying eggs in the bee hive.

How long does a honey bee live?

A worker honey bee lives about 42 days when she is working. If a worker bee is in the hive during the winter she will live longer. A queen bee can live up to 5 years, but the average age is about 2 years. A drone bee lives until it mates with a queen.

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