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    Smiley Honey News

    Why We Love Beekeeping

    Beekeeping is complicated. In comparison, herding cats is easy. Think about it - 40,000 flying insects with painful stingers buzzing all around the place and you are trying to coax them into making so much honey that you can "borrow" up to 100 of pounds from the hive without overstressing the colony. If the weather cooperates, and the flowers bloom, and crazy neighbors/stupid teenagers leave the hives alone, and farmers don't spray their crops or orchards while the hives are present, and the queen stays healthy,and the hives are not invaded by parasites or disease, and bears stay the heck away from your bee yards, then you might get a decent honey crop. Is it worth it? Yes, it is. And this picture provides a pretty good explanation why. Hard work; sweet rewards. Enough said.

    Beekeeper Humor

    We love hearing from our customers. This week we received a very nice note from Charlotte in Texas. She is enjoying her first ever bottle of tupelo. She also included this comic strip, which is too funny not to share.

    Recipe Contest

    Two of my favorite things are honey and chocolate, and I am looking for recipes that bring them together in perfect harmony.  Submit your recipes to smileyhoney@gmail.com before October 25th, and I will test the best ones and pick my top three favorites. First prize is a free 3 pound bottle of tupelo honey, second prize is a free 2 pound bottle of tupelo, and third prize gets you a free 1 pound bottle. I will post the winning recipes on a future blog post.

    In the meantime, here is a simple treat I made today: Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup honey. Whisk briskly until smooth. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate until firm. Take a small spoon and scoop out a truffle sized ball for a major honey-chocolate jolt.

    Good Luck!

    -Brian D. Bertonneau, Owner

    Honey Trivia

    You may have heard these little nuggets of trivia before, but we always enjoy repeating them. Some of the facts are so amazing, we never lose our sense of wonder when we contemplate them anew. The answers to the questions are found below. See how many you can get right without peeking.

    1.  How many flowers must honeybees visit to make one pound of honey?

    2.  How many miles does a beehive fly (collectively) to make a pound of honey?

    3.  How much honey does an average worker bee make in its lifetime?

    4.  How much honey would it take to fuel a bee's flight around the world?

    5.  How long does a worker bee live in mid-summer?

    6.  How many bees are there in an average hive around mid-summer?

    7.  How many different tasks do worker bees perform?

    8.  How many eggs does the queen lay each day?

    9.  How many beekeepers are there in the United States?

    10. Which state is nicknamed the beehive state?

    Bonus Question: What is the average annual consumption of honey in the United States?

    _______________________

    (1) approximately two million; (2) 55,000 miles; (3) about 1/10 of a teaspoon; (4) about one ounce; (5) around 6 weeks; (6) between 40,000 and 70,000; (7) fourteen -- nursing the larvae, caring for the queen, cleaning the hive, cleaning other bees, removing dead bees, building honeycomb, capping honeycomb, packing pollen in cells, fanning nectar to remove moisture, repairing the hive, collecting nectar and pollen, collecting propolis, collecting water and guarding the hive; (8) around 1,500 per day; (9) approximately 212,000; (10) Utah.

    Bonus: Not enough! (about 1.3 pounds per year).

     

     

    Update on Colony Collapse Disorder

    (Picture Credit: T.J. Gehling/Flickr)

    As we head into winter, it might be a good time for an update on colony collapse disorder (CCD). CCD first made headlines during the winter of 2006/2007, when beekeepers began reporting huge colony losses. In some cases, the losses were as high at 90%. When a hive is hit by CCD, the bees simply vanish. The queen may be present with a few attendants, and there are honey stores, but most of the worker bees are simply gone. One theory is that the worker bees know when they are dying prematurely, and they leave the hive to die elsewhere. Another theory is that forager bees become disoriented due to various factors, and are unable to find their hive. Whatever the cause, without the workers, a colony soon collapses. Since 2006, CCD-related beehive losses in the US have averaged 30% per year. For most beekeepers, acceptable annual hive losses are somewhere between 5 and 10%.

    A lot of time, money and effort has been directed at solving the problem of CCD, but the solution remains elusive. Current research is focused on a combination of stressors. Alone, these stressors would not be a problem. But when mixed together, they are lethal. These stressors are: (1) several different viruses and diseases, such as nosema and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus; (2) parasites, especially the varroa mite; (3) poor management practices, such as overcrowding of apiaries, failing to use enough supplemental food (or the right type of supplemental food) when pollen and nectar sources are scarce, and migratory beekeeping whereby hives are moved around the country too much and too far; and (4) certain types of agricultural pesticides that do not kill the bees immediately, but build up slowly in the insects' system until the bees are overcome.

    While the scientists and beekeeping community continue to work on this serious problem, there are things that you can do to help improve honeybee health. Do not use pesticides indiscriminately, and never during mid-day hours when bees are most likely out foraging. Also, consider planting more bee-friendly plants in your yard, which have plenty of nectar and pollen for visiting honeybees. Talk to you local nursery about which bee-friendly plants grow best in your area. And for the real adventurous, get a couple backyard hives and enter the the wonderful world of beekeeping and local honey harvesting.

    Laundering Bad Honey

    Customers periodically ask whether there are any additives in our honey. The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. We sell 100% pure, raw, natural honey -- exactly as the bees made it. We do not blend our honey, nor do we add anything to the honey. It is as close as you can come to reaching into a beehive and scooping out the honey yourself. In addition, we know all of our beekeeping partners personally, and we require beekeeper certification regarding the purity of all honey delivered to us. We take pride in offering the best natural, raw honey available anywhere. Our good reputation at Smiley Honey is paramount, and we work very hard to earn it every day.

    Unfortunately, not all businesses have such high standards. In a recent article published by BusinessWeek, it tells a sordid tale about adulterated honey from China: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-honey-launderers--uncovering-the-largest-food-fraud-in-u-s--history-171454285.html This news report should remind us all that we should know more about the foods we purchase, to ensure that we are consuming high quality goods brought to us by reputable and honest producers.