All About Honey Bees! And New Recipes for the Summer

All About Honey Bees! And New Recipes for the Summer

Summer in Boonville is here! Temperatures have soared - our popcorn seemingly shot up over night, the Espelette will soon be trellised, we’re 3 weeks away from Poblanos, and somehow Nacho grew watermelons! If you haven't tried our new Espelette fruit salad recipe, there is still ample time to use the whole jicama it requires (plus, it’s delicious).

One of the things that I appreciate most about farming and agriculture is that it’s inherently optimistic (even though Krissy at times isn’t - love ya babe!). We start seeds in the spring, nurture them, plop em in the ground, try our best to look out for them by creating a healthy environment, and hope they yield fruitful results. We save seeds, pause to clean up, and repeat again. Farming, is an investment in the future.

And so, I’ve discovered, is keeping bees. I don’t know when I got fascinated by them, but Krissy tipped me over the edge when she bought me the book Honeybee Democracy. The book details the consensus building techniques bees use to decide when it’s time to split a hive (due to overcrowding), where they go, and how they settle. I was hooked - these little creatures are AMAZING!

honey bees building out combMy one little hive on the farm is a long way off from honey - they’ve got to fill the frames with comb, the queen needs to get to work (a healthy hive should have upwards of 30,000 bees, so I’ve read. We started with 3,000), and they’ll have to build up enough stores of honey to make it through the winter. I’ll rob them of their work if all the beans, peppers, and wildflowers Nacho and Martin put in the ground make things easy. If not, we’ll look to next year to sample their work. It’s an exercise in patience, but also optimism and admiration. These creatures are pretty darn impressive.

Bee Facts:

  • At her peak, the hive's queen can lay 2000 eggs a day!
  • The queen is boss; her pheromone secretions dictate the hive's needs and demeanor. 
  • The hive relies on female bees. They do practically everything; guard the hive, nurse new bees, and bring in pollen, nectar, and water. It’s the ladies doing the heavy lifting here.
  • The older female bees have the most dangerous tasks - guarding the hive and finding nectar. 
  • Male bees are called drones - they only exist to reproduce with a virgin queen, spreading the hive's genetics. They also can’t sting. 

Y’all, I get so excited researching these creatures! Bees are AMAZING, and a third of the foods we eat need pollination (Strawberries can see a 10 to 40% increase in yield, a stat we can verify this year…). So, they’re important little ladies too!

Honey Bees are invasive (or at least non native).

Y’all, I get so excited researching these creatures! Bees are AMAZING, and a third of the foods we eat need pollination (Strawberries can see a 10 to 40% increase in yield, a stat we can verify this year…). So, they’re important little ladies too!

box of honey bees in back of carAs I drove back from my package pickup (aka driving an hour to pick up a screened box filled with 3000 bees on twisting roads) I was thinking about how honeybees aren’t native to the US. They’re one of the few needed invasive species. There are over 4,000 native bee species in the US, and 1600 native to California. But these bees live a solitary life, and reproduce at a significantly less rate than Honeybees. A healthy environment I reckon should have both, but large scale commercial ag isn’t helping the native ones.

man in beesuiteI’ve still got a lot to learn; shoot us a message on Instagram (@pimentdville) if you’ve got questions, advice, or ideas on how to tape my phone to my bee suit when I inspect the hive next Tuesday so you can get a look inside - I’m almost brave enough to not wear gloves!

We hope you're enjoying summer, cooking some delicious food, and staying healthy!

-Gideon, and the Boonville Barn Team

 

 

 

What We're Cooking:

  • Piment Fruit Salad - I was skeptical at first, but this nod to to Tajín and mango on a hot day is absolutely delicious. It was also the first time I bought a jicama. Pro tip, it's a big onion shaped brown thing!
  • Piment-O Cheese. Whenever I tell people we grow Piment, many folks assume I'm talking about the peppers that go in Pimento Cheese. Well, now they do! Perfect for small, outdoor gatherings, make sure to use the small side of the cheese grater.
  • Our Crispy Roasted Chickpea recipe has been getting a lot of traffic on the website of late, so I figured I'd take this reminder that these make an absolutely delicious addition to a summer salad, or if you just need an easy snack!