The importance of honeybees

We are back at Terra Nova Farm for a 3-day series on Farm to Table. As Chef Ian promised on our first visit to the farm, it will change you each time. One of the highlights from today is getting a lesson on honeybees and visiting Chef Ian’s bees. I am aware that bees are important (from the save-the-bees petitions, news article about bees dying), but I didn’t realize exactly how important they are.

  • Number 1: Bees pollinate 1/3 of the food we eat everyday. Keeping honeybees close by farms and community gardens help increase the yields.
  • Products produced by honey bees – bee pollen (medicinal supplement helpful for allergy sufferers), honey (because it is yummy, I use it for soothing sore throats), bee wax, propolis (medicinal supplement), royal jelly (medicinal)
  • The social culture and dynamics of bees are amazing. The things I have learned from watching “Maya the Bee” with my kids are only a small fraction of the things that goes on in a hive. There are a lot of drama, action and sex that goes on in there that makes Housewives of (Name-a-Location) seem tame.
  • Bees are not wasps. A quick way to distinguish them is that bees are smaller with rounded bums – and are good; wasps have pointed ends and are evil. Wasps are carnivorous, will sting you and bug you at your summer bbq (we had to deal with a wasp problem in our attic over the summer). Honeybees only sting if their nest is threatened, and before that they will warn you – first by buzzing around you, second by bumping their heads on you, and lastly, they will sting (and die after) if you still pose a thread to them.

The visit at the hives for me was a really calm experience even with the hundreds buzzing around us – knowing that you have the proper protective gears and how bees “bee”-haves really helped. All of the motions with the hives (performed by Chef Ian) are slow and smooth. Perhaps one day, I might be able to deal with my arachnophobia, but no rush on that.

For more information on bees, visit http://www.bcbeekeepers.com, http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/bee-guidelines.pdf, http://www.bbka.org.uk.

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