“Honey, are you calling me?”
LJ laughed, “Actually, yes. Come outside.”
Annie’s eyes grew large. “Is that a beehive!?”
“Yes, and there are no bees in it, yet. Spring is the right time to start a colony, but now is the time to get educated about raising bees and harvesting honey. I have been thinking about adding a hive because our plants will produce more fruit. Bees perform two important functions: as pollinators and honey producers. I read that honeybees account for one out of every three bites of food we eat. They are the largest group of fertilizing insects, making them the most important pollinator for crops dependent on pollination to produce seeds. That happens when pollen from the male parts of a flower are transferred by a bee, bird, or bat to the female parts, which results in fertilization.

“LJ should we be concerned about Colony Collapse Disorder, the phenomenon that occurs when bees die off or abandon a colony due to parasites, pesticides, and poor nutrition?”
“I don’t think so because we have a prolific, pesticide-free garden with overlapping bloom periods, which is exactly what busy bee colonies need to flourish. A thriving colony of bees extracts nectar from flowers and brings it back to the hive where it slowly becomes honey. The color and taste depend on the types of flowers the bees visited.”

“You are right about wanting to produce raw honey since it is purer and higher in nutrients than the processed type. One tablespoon (21 grams) contains 64 calories and 17 grams of sugar. It has antioxidants that are beneficial to heart health, including increased blood flow and a reduced risk of blood clots. Nonetheless, with a glycemic score of 58 to sugar’s 60, although it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as sugar, honey cannot be considered healthy for people with diabetes. It also is not safe for children under two.”

“I agree, Annie, ultimately honey is not as bad as sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, but still should be eaten in moderation. Its real value is in its antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and anticancer properties. Honey speeds up the healing process of skin scrapes and wounds. It provides protection to the cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory, and digestive systems too. The darker the honey, the higher its beneficial compounds. There are more than 300 different types, each with a unique color and flavor. Single varietal honey, the most desirable happens when bees extract nectar from the same type of flowers. That is why I propose that we place our hive close to our avocado tree, to produce Avocado honey. It doesn’t taste like the fruit, rather it has a well-rounded caramelized buttery flavor making it delicious as an ingredient in salad dressings.”

“That does sound tasty. How about putting the hive close to our orange trees? The taste of  Orange Blossom honey really delivers a sweet citrus taste. Or what about close to the Eucalyptus grove? Eucalyptus honey is known for its medicinal value and is used for protection against colds and headaches. It has a distinct herbal flavor and slight menthol aftertaste.”
“We have some time before we have to make a decision. What I would really like to produce is Manuka honey, which is collected from the flower of the manuka bush in Australia and New Zealand. It has antibacterial properties that effectively treat colds, sore throats, stomach ulcers, and indigestion. Then there’s medicinally rich Linden Honey that many rely on for its sedative effect to help with anxiety and insomnia. Strong and dark Buckwheat honey is another I’m interested in because it has a high antioxidant ranking amongst all honeys.”

Annie smiled, “It sounds like we have some sweet decisions to make. Let’s get started, honey.”


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