Honeybees – About Honey

Honeybees fly around, collect pollen and nectar and are somehow able to change all their foraging into a golden sap that is commonly known as the “food of the gods”.

The conversion of nectar into honey involves both physical chemical changes. Beginning with a physical change, the nectar’s water content is reduced. Then, the two chemical changes are brought about by the addition of enzymes from the honeybee.

These steps help to reduce the storage space required and to make the honey into a compound with a long shelf life. The process of water reduction turns honey into one of the “driest” substances that is still a liquid. In fact, honey has a moisture content lower than lumber. All of this water reduction does more than just save storage space, it also increases the osmotic pressure of the honey. Osmosis refers to the movement or flow of materials through a membrane such as a cell wall in our bodies. Bacteria can’t live in this dry environment – once they’re introduced to honey, the fluid in the bacteria is wicked out by the honey and the bacteria becomes dehydrated and dies.  The high osmotic pressure in honey is one of the reasons it is protected from microbial attack and has such a long life. It is also one of the reasons that honey has been used for thousands of years as a wound dressing. The honey keeps the wound moist, kills most infectious organisms present, and protects against attack by microbes.

Texas Bee Removal

The Texas Apiary Inspection Service would like to get out of the “removal world” and I can’t blame them. In our area, we’re lucky to have a list of wonderful professionals to work with, however, we’ve heard horror stories from larger cities of scams and a serious level of unprofessionalism.

Here’s the Disclaimer straight from TAIS:

Bee Removal Disclaimer

The beekeepers listed below have registered with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service as required by Texas Agriculture Code, Section 131.045, and have obtained a permit that allows the beekeeper to transport bees between counties as required by Texas Agriculture Code, Section 131.043.  Beekeepers registered with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service are excluded from complying with the Texas Structural Pest Control Act pursuant to Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 1951, Structural Pest Control, Section 1951.056.  (See: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/OC/htm/OC.1951.htm)

The following list is provided as a public service and is not an endorsement of any of the beekeepers listed therein. The Texas Apiary Inspection Service DOES NOT license or issue permits to remove honey bees.  Furthermore, the Texas Apiary Inspection Service does not have any information regarding a beekeeper’s qualifications or training to remove honey bees.  The Texas Apiary Inspection Service only maintains a list of registered beekeepers and issues permits authorizing the transport of honey bees between counties when an application is submitted in accordance with Sec. 131.043(b), Tex. Ag. Code.  The issuance of a permit authorizing the transport of honey bees does not indicate that a beekeeper is qualified to remove honey bees for pest control purposes.

There are 254 counties in Texas – we network with bee removal professionals throughout the state so we can help if you have trouble locating the right professional for you.

We have a blog dedicated to helping you ask the right questions – basically, make sure the guy or gal knows what they’re doing.

We personally service Brazos County, Burleson County, Bastrop County, Blanco County, Falls County, Robertson County, Leon County, Milam County, Grimes County, Harris County, Hays County, Madison County, McLennon County, Montgomery County, Washington County, Travis County for bee removal – so give us a call at 979-492-4114.

Texas Summer Clinic – 2016

We got back from the Texas Beekeeper’s Association Summer Clinic in Conroe, Texas today and it was a wealth of information from experts and hobbyist from all over the state.

There was a large emphasis on natural beekeeping this year and we listened to varying opinions on natural pest treatments, feeding tips, and how to keep your bees alive. We were lucky enough to hear the author of “Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture”, Ross Conrad, and learn a little bit about his hive management style. Although things are quite different here in Texas – he lives in the North East with harsh winters – some of the methodology and practices he uses are certainly beneficial for battling mites, small hive beetles, and other honeybee pests. I would highly recommend reading his book – it has a lot of good information for apiary management and backyard beekeepers.

We split up and tried to soak up as much information as we could, writing down reference book names, honey collectors, master beekeeper’s contact information, and everything in between.

Here’s a copy of the schedule along with the classes we attended.

We learned about all kinds of natural techniques for keeping bees and will continue to write articles to help share the knowledge that was learned at this event. Another event will be coming to the Bryan/College Station area this Fall – we’ll be there and hope to see you too!

2016-TBA-Summer-Clinic-Schedule-1.jpg

Overall, we met a bunch of new beekeepers, experienced beekeepers, and a took a lot of notes – we’ll be trying out some of the things we learned about natural beekeeping on our hives soon!

Rotating Comb

After listening to Lance Wilson, Master Beekeeper, at the Texas Summer Clinic, we’ll be using this practice in our bee yard. Removing old comb forces the bees to create new wax comb and although this may slow honey production by diverting bees to a new job – it also allows fresh, sterile comb to be built.

Signs it may be time to rotate your wax include –

  1. Darker or black wax – wax acts like a sponge and absorbs what the bees can’t. This includes unwanted materials including pesticides according to the Penn State study done in 2010 on pesticide’s effect on bee colonies.
  2. Shotgun pattern in the brood cells – although this can be a symptom of other hive diseases, it warrants a good look at the comb as well. The queen may decide not to lay in the cells for reasons we’re not able to detect. Perhaps she senses the pesticides? Or maybe she’s just sick of laying in that cell and it’s time to replace it. Either way, mother knows best.
  3. Annual maintenance – good hygienic practices may include getting the comb out every 5 years or so (preferably a little at a time each year so the hive isn’t stressed) So, if it’s been awhile it can’t hurt. We plan to watch the comb and brood cycles and change out comb every 5-10 years as needed.

With a goal of causing as little stress to the hive as possible, it’s a good idea to slowly rotate out the old frames slowly and to stay on the edges of the hive for minimal negative impact. Doing this switcharoo during winter may be the best option – wait until the food stores have been eaten and the resources are empty.

The Superorganism

There’s been a lot of valuable research explaining how the honeybee colony functions as a superorganism – the idea is both obvious and mind-blowing! The bees can’t survive without one another and they work towards a common goal, but it’s even more insane than that.

Bees are inspiring creatures. They create their own food through foraging without damaging the plant they feed from. They do not waste anything – putting the wax, propolis, pollen, water, honey to work in an impressively efficient way.

One of the big ideas behind the “superorganism” is that natural selection prefers the formation of larger units of life. By working together with a hive mind mentality, these bees can accomplish more, protect each other, and work towards a common goal in incremental steps that add up to one, super functioning hive.

One lesson you learn quickly in beekeeping is that bees die. These thoughts of the superorganism comfort me; knowing that what really matters is the health of the entire hive rather than each individual bee.

Maybe humanity has a little something to learn from these bees – from making decisions for the “greater good” to working together to accomplish a larger goal, these little creatures seem to be a step ahead of most of the animal kingdom.