Harvesting Honey

Martha Stewart
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Honey Bee

orangeaurochs/Flickr

Honeybee on a Dandelion.

  It is such a rewarding and educational experience raising honeybees. I have had hives on my farm for several years now and I can really see the benefits. I raise bees not only for the delicious honey they produce, but because these busy little creatures assure me of a bountiful harvest by pollinating my fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The worker honeybees drink the nectar from the flowers and take it back to their hive. The nectar is passed along to the house bees, who mix it with special enzymes and place it into honeycomb cells. The open cells are fanned by the bees’ wings to evaporate any water, and miraculously, honey is formed. The cells are then capped with beeswax. A worker bee visits hundreds of flowers each day in its quest for nectar. Along the way, pollen sticks to the hairs on its body. Bees have special basket-like groups of hairs on each of their hind legs and they move the pollen grains there. Pollen is the bees’ source of protein and is essential to feed the queen and the larvae in the hive. Of course, some of the pollen drops from the bees as they fly from flower to flower, and plant pollination occurs, making them absolutely essential to our food supply.

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