Environment

Bounty of the Earth

Photo: Paul Gillis

| Paul Gillis |

July and August are wonderful months in the fields and the bee yard. A wide variety of flowers are providing nectar and pollen for the bees and other pollinators.

The population of honey bee hives peaks at 50,000 to 60,000 during these months before reducing to 15,000 over the winter. Much of this reduction is through natural attrition, as a worker bee only lives 4 to 6 weeks in the summer.

The hive is packing the flower nectar into cells, drying it with their vibrating wings, and making (hopefully) a surplus of honey for the beekeeper.
The beekeeper is making sure the hive has enough room (supers) for all this activity. They are also doing the very important work in monitoring and reducing the varroa destructor mites that harm the bees. These invasive mites entered the U.S. in the late 1980’s and are found nearly everywhere. High mite populations will cause the loss of a hive. The beekeeper serves the honey bees as an extra line of defense.

The beekeeper may also sell their local honey at their home or a farm stand. In addition to its sweetness, local honey helps with seasonal allergies, soothes a sore throat, and boosts immunity. It should not be given to children younger than 12 months.

Local honey on ice cream or toast is a great way to enjoy the bounty of the earth.

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