Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. A honeybee to be exact!
During our fall internship, the interns found out all the buzz about honeybees with HIP Agriculture’s very own honeybee hives.
Did you know that honeybees are responsible for pollinating up to 80% of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.? They definitely are busy! With that in mind, the interns suited up and headed out to spend the next few hours at the hives learning all the ins and outs of beekeeping.
First up was learning how to properly fill and light the honeybee smoker. Smoking the bees is done for two reasons: first, the smoke blocks the pheromones that bees use to communicate with each other, and second, the smoke makes the bees believe that their hive is on fire. When that happens, they start eating up honey just in case they need to relocate and build a new hive somewhere else. With a full belly, they are much slower, and stinging becomes much more difficult.
Next, the interns got up close and personal with the hives checking for eggs, larvae, any pests, like the small hive beetle, and a substance known as propolis aka “bee glue.” Bees make propolis by mixing saliva and beeswax and use it to seal any open spaces or cracks in the hive. It has also been said to possess lots of health benefits, including the ability to support the immune system and as a powerful natural antibiotic.
Lastly, the interns gathered the honey-filled hives so that the honey could be extracted, strained, and best of all, eaten. There truly is nothing better than honey fresh from the hive!
Hopefully the interns were provided with the knowledge and the skills to spread their wings and start their very own honeybee hives. Honeybees are disappearing at alarming rates – with U.S. beekeepers losing up to 44% of their honeybee colonies between 2015-16, alone – and it is up to us to ensure that they are here for generations to come.