bees and honey

I was watching some bees recently. Silently going about their business, buzzing around from one flower to another. Watching how their pollen sacks got more and more full. One poor bee could hardly keep himself up he was so laden down with pollen goodies. It was so peaceful just standing still and watching them.

From where I was standing I could see about 50 bees all gathering their pollen to take back to their hives and create liquid gold. Honey.

We had passed some hives earlier on, and it was quite possible that these little fellas would be making the 4km trek back to these same hives. Bees may travel for up to 10km in search of nectar, pollen and water if they have to. So would it be these same bees? Or were there enough flowers in their immediate hive area. In an ideal setting a bee would travel just 200 metres in search of food.

Within Australia many bee keepers will move their hives along with the changing flowering blossoms. By doing this the apiarist helps the bees find the best nectar around. The hives are usually moved at night when the bees are sleepy, and tucked up in bed.

Five little things about bees and honey

1/ Bees talk in vibrations

2/ Honey doesn’t go off.

3/ Honey can be linked back to Egyptian times.

4/ Honey can be used to soothe a sore throat, ease a coughing fit and aid sleep.

5/ Honey is a natural exfoliant when used as a face mask. No need for expensive chemical laden products.

The European honey bee was introduced to Australia in the early 1800’s. This is the type of bee that most commercial apiarists will use. There are native Australian bees, (approximately 1500) however the majority of these only produce enough honey for their own use. Only 10 out of the 1500 types of native bees produce and store honey. Sonya from The Novice Bee Keeper is a great place to start if you are interested in keeping bees or just want to know more of the processes involved. Spice and More has also just started up some backyard bees, for another interesting peek at beekeeping.

Honey is such a magnificent product. I can’t help but be a little in awe of it when I am spooning it out and drizzling it on some toast. The flavours that can be so different. The subtle changes in the different types. If you want a more flavoursome honey, try a darker variety. Generally these will be the stronger in flavour ones. Here in Australia the majority of our honey comes from the hundreds of types of eucalypts, with a few other native plants added in for more subtle flavours.

Leatherwood (from Tasmania) stringy bark, yellow box, and blue gum are just some of the types of honey produced here in Australia. So much tastier than a blended bland super market honey.

With that production of honey also comes fertilization. Fertilization of so many crops that we depend on both here in Australia and the rest of the world. (A list here on the extensive amounts of crops requiring pollination from bees.) What will happen if that pollination doesn’t happen?…Why wouldn’t it happen? Pesticides, parasites, disease, loss of habitat, farming methods all are possible contributors to the world’s downfall of bees.  Colony Collapse Disorder is a name that has been thrown around a lot in the last 5 years. Are we going to be hearing of it even more in the next 5?

Did you know that the honey bee speaks Parisian street slang? Many city centre roof tops are producing honey from their own bee hive or two. Helping out with pollination within the city limits and producing gorgeous honey for its city dwellers living downstairs. I’ll be right back dear, just popping up to the roof for some honey… I can certainly see the appeal in that.

So what can you do?

* support local honey production, buy some of the liquid gold.

* plant bee (and other pollinating critters) friendly plants. You don’t need a whole garden. Even a single pot is something. Some plants bees are attracted to, lavender, bottle brush, eucalyptus, rosemary and basil. These are just a tiny few of the possibilities for plant attracting. Have a look in your area and see what is available and suitable to the climate.

* If you have the right space consider some back yard (or rooftop) bees.

There is so much information on bees, home bee keeping, colony collapse disorder, honey that I have only just skimmed the surface with this post. So many things to think about while watching the next little buzzing bee quietly buzzing about doing its thing.

27 thoughts on “bees and honey

  1. Lovely post, Brydie! I am worried about bees too, so I’m always so happy to see them in our backyard. I’ve actually bought some organic honey and tucked it away – if (when) the varoa mite gets to our shores, it will be much harder for apiarists to produce organic honey. Have you tried the honey from Kangaroo Island? My friend Moo put me onto it – it has the last surviving colonies of Ligurian honey bees in the world. Some magnificent honey coming out of it.

    It’s troubling that modern day agriculture has become so dependent on bees, but also a little sad how overworked the bees have become servicing our needs. There’s an interesting article here about it:


  2. Great Post- you are so informative!
    I love bees- plant nectar producing flowers, season permitting.
    And I buy copious amounts of local honey.
    I’d like to have a hive- but I’d have to get a new husband, first.


  3. Thanks for the wonderful bee information. Great picture of the bee. I tried to photograph one at Lake Como – it was huge, but I only managed the legs. It was also collecting nectar from wisteria.


  4. Well said.

    Bees are so so important. and so undervalued. I had bees in my backyard until my neighbour became hysterical about me ‘killing everyone in the neighbourhood’. What does he think pollinates his vegetables?

    My hive went back down to my Dads place. We’re visiting the hive (and him :-)) over Christmas to harvest some honey. I can’t wait!

    Gorgeous bee pic 🙂


  5. Yep, its a huge worry about the varoa mite too. thanks for posting this great info Brydie & I’d love to hear more talked and written about on this subject. I had no idea the bees were busy on the rooftops of Paris – now that’s seriously cool 🙂
    Loved the article Celia posted too.
    Great post… more please??


  6. It is quite interesting once you start looking into bees and honey, isn’t it?! Thanks for the tips for using honey. I was in the L’Occitane shop today and they were promoting some honey product saying “limited supplies”. I was rather chuffed to be able to mentally say “no thanks, about to get my own honey”~! 🙂


  7. Bees are great – looking forward to our next harvest of honey. It’s gone from a dark brown to a really light straw colour because of the different flowers they have been harvesting from. Just need the rain to stop for a few days… Sonya


  8. We love our bees, all our visitors, wild, solitary, honey, white bottomed, yellow bottomed – we plant for them – lavender, cardoons, alliums – they drop in all through the year, sometimes quite early when the sun warms the air a little. I too have read about the exploitation of bees, it’s been a big subject here for a few years now. Did you ever see a Spanish film called Spirit of the Beehive? It’s very old now, it’s not really about bees, but it’s very good. Thank you for bringing the bees to my thoughts today!


  9. The bees you see out and about are female worker bees – the male drones are back in the brood box looking after the Queen. And you’re right, nothing taste like raw honey straight from the hive.


  10. I was so sad when I looked up a few months ago how much land you need to be living on to own hives. I wish I could stick a couple of hives on my roof, but it just ain’t that kind of house. Luckily, I think you’re allowed to keep native bees just about anywhere, as they don’t sting…they are lovely little pollinators for one’s garden, but are highly emotional I hear, so it’s difficult to transport a hive without stressing them.


  11. Great post. I get so passionate about bees – all bees and some of the appalling commercial practices that go on with honey bees. They are such amazing creatures and we are so dependent on them. This time last year we had a top bar hive made. We tried to attract a new queen, but had no luck. We now have some bees on order for the spring – so all quite exciting. CT used to keep bees in a previous life, but this will be the first time I’ll be involved.


  12. I used to not like bees, always trying to shoo them away, afraid they would sting me. Now that I have a garden and understand more about their value, I LOVE the wee critters and have filled my garden with flowers to bring them in! I would love to have my own hive/s but our space just doesn’t allow it at the moment. One day though, I dream of it!
    Thanks heaps for this very interesting post 🙂


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