Even though we don’t currently have any beehives, we are still beekeepers at heart. As soon as we can figure out a place to put a stack of the boxed honeycombs, we’re gonna set up shop. The window of opportunity is small: You have to pre-order bees and establish the hives in early spring. The past few springs have just been a little too hectic for us to get our acts together, but next year, we’ll be ready. We also think our little girl is gonna LOVE being a beekeeper.
Meanwhile, we file away stories for inspiration. Like this one from Nowness about HK Honey in Hong Kong. This urban rooftop apiary is high above one the congested city streets, and it’s run by Michael Leung. He’s working hard to introduce the concept of locally grown food to Hong Kong. Click here to read more about him, and see more photos from Virgile Simon Bertrand, at Nowness.
We’ve also heard that here in New York, swarms of homeless bees are causing trouble. They say it’s due to the warm spring. I wish we had bees to have been enjoying the mild weather!
We heard some troubling news last week. A study from Food Safety News found that most of the stuff sold as honey on our grocery store shelves has been filtered so much that it no longer contains pollen. What?! Honey without pollen? Isn’t that why we buy honey in the first place, for all those antioxidants, nutrients and unique flavors. Also, as we read on ivillage.com, “without pollen, it is impossible to trace where honey comes from and guarantee its purity.”
Ever since our foray into beekeeping (that’s one of ours, above), we’ve have made a point of always buying honey at local markets. It’s also a great souvenir to bring back from travels. We’ve stocked up in the golden stuff from Martha’s Vinyard, Maine and California. During our recent visit down South, we stopped into a Savannah Bee Company store. After taste tasting their current offerings, we settled on a bottle of Sourwood, which has a rich, nutty flavor.
The good news from Food Safety News, is that honey from Trader Joe’s contained proper amounts of pollen. Just be sure to read those labels carefully when shopping elsewhere! — Angela M.
It’s been a while since we’ve given you an update on the bees. When last we checked in, we sadly discovered that one hive had starved to death. Now, as things have finally started thawing out in our little hamlet near the Hudson River, our worst fears of been realized. None of our hives survived the winter! The remaining two hives had plenty of honey, but they obviously couldn’t get to it. They most likely were huddled together for warmth, unable to dig into their reserve stock in the layer above. It’s so sad, especially now as the first bulbs we planted are starting to sprout. One theory on our failure is that we had tried to start our hives with Italian bees (the American honeybee no longer exists — all honeybees here are now bred from foreign lines). We have heard they are not very hearty for cold climates. Perhaps next year we’ll try Russian bees? — Angela M.
It’s been a while since we’ve written about the bees. When we last updated you, we had taken just a tiny bit of honey from one of the hives. At that time we were a little worried that one of the three seemed to have no honey at all. It was as if those bees had gotten really lazy and just stopped working. We had to remove its the upper layer because it was empty, and hoped they would just hunker down and survive the winter. Well, sadly, they didn’t even make it through Thanksgiving. We found a bunch of dead bees near the door to the hive, and sure enough, a peek inside confirmed our fears. The bees were all dead, starved. In this picture, you can see their sad fate. Their dove in deep, trying to get the last bit of honey they had made, and all their little butts are sticking out. We have a theory on why this hive didn’t survive and the others seem to be okay. It has to do with the way the hive was constructed — this one was more “free form” while the others are ready-made to go. You’d think the bees would be prefer the au natural hive route, but apparently not.
We probably won’t have another update until spring, as the other two hives will be left one alone to do their thing. Fingers crossed, they’ll survive a few cold months! Wish us luck! — Angela M.