How many times are you harassed by bees during hiking or in your yard? First thoughts are getting away from the potentially painful pest. Allergic concerns are more serious. Yet bees are essential to various functions of nature while providing a healthy form of sweetening.
A bee or wasp sting injects venom into the victim’s skin. Resulting swelling, itching and pain usually recede in a few hours. Only three percent of bee sting victims have allergic reactions. A worker bee away from the hive is normally foraging for nectar and seldom stings unless provoked or handled cruelly.
There are four honeybees’ species in the world, and seven breeds of bees. The Italian or Western honeybee (Apis Mellifera Ligustica) is used by most beekeepers.
There are three types of bees that keep a hive functioning successfully. The queen bee lays up to 1500 eggs a day secreting pheromones to keep the worker bees happy. The sole duty of a drone is to find a virgin bee from another hive, mate then he dies.
Worker bees live a life dedicated to servitude. They are nursery bees, construction bees, storage bees, guard bees and foraging bees. The queen bee can live for 3-7 years while a worker bee lives only 20-30 days after birth from the cocoon.
A bee aids plant pollination while being attracted to the elixir of plant nectar from blossoms. Honeybees convert the nectar into honey by regurgitating it into the beehive wax honeycomb. By removing the honeycomb a beekeeper encourages bees to overproduce honey without harm to the bee colony.
Honey color is nearly colorless to dark brown depending on nectar source. Flavor and color of the honey is based on the plants where nectar is collected. That’s why beekeepers select specific areas to place hives.
A common honey flavor is clover, sometimes alfalfa, with others available. Local honey varieties in New York State are buckwheat, and blueberry. Avocado, Eucalyptus, Sage and Fireweed are flavors common to the west coast and California. Florida, Southern California and parts of Texas produce Orange Blossom flavor. Tupelo honey is a premium honey produced in northwest Florida.
There are several types of honey. Honeycomb is beeswax comb with honey direct from the hive. Liquid honey is produced by removing honey from the beeswax. An extractor uses centrifugal force to remove honey from the comb cells. Raw honey is untreated product removed from the beeswax. Combining fine granulated honey to 90% liquid honey produces creamed honey.
What should be done if you are unlucky and get stung? The first step is removal of any remaining stinger. Then application of ice reduces inflammation and pain. Lastly clean the site of the bite using soap and water, applying hydrocortisone cream to reduce severity of the reaction. An oral antihistamine and non-prescription pain medication may also be used to relieve symptoms.
Just remember, pain can be beneficial, it tells us we aren’t dreaming or in a coma.