Honeybee on jar of honey!

Honeybee on jar of honey!

This morning, just as I prepared to dash out the door at 6:40 a.m.  for work, I called out to Barry,  “What time will you be home?”

From behind the shower curtain he mumbled, “I have that bee interview at 2 o’clock.”

My outdoor adventure ears perked up. 

Bee interview?  Sounds like an outdoor adventure blog readers might want to hear.

“Can I come, too, Honey?” I called.

Dan Grandy holds bee smoker for "real" interviewer while I sneak a photo sideways

Dan Grandy holds bee smoker for "real" interviewer while I sneak a photo sideways

That is how I came to tag along on the Bee Interview.  My honey works for the local newspaper and does “real” stories.  While he was taking the “official” photographs with his Canon EOS I was sneaking sideways pictures on my little Sony Cybershot.  While he was interviewing and taking notes, I was staring absent-mindedly at the Huron Bay, the wandering bees and the actual honey and only half paying attention.

So later I had to interview my honey to get the actual interview.  Here are the FACTS for you avid bee-lovers:

Dan and Lee Grandy have been raising bees for about six years now.  He had a rough start.  Killed his first two hives in two months.  But he’s got about 70 hives now in several bee “yards”. 

You take the honey out every year in September.  This leaves the poor bees with no food, so you then have to feed them a sugar/water solution from which they create a lower-quality honey.  This honey feeds the bees throughout the long winter. 

Dan collects 40-50 pounds of honey from each good hive.  Some of it remains raw, while other parts are processed and sold in local stores.  Did you know that honey contains an enzyme dangerous to babies under one year of age?  But that very same enzyme helps heal cuts, working a bit like hydrogen peroxide to help heal wounds.  Dan swears by it.

During the long cold winter, the buzzing creatures slowly churn around in a mass.  It can be 20 degrees outside and 70-80 basking degrees within the hives.  Bees take turns rotating around the Queen, take turns at the colder outer rim. 

Now comes the bee bathroom facts.  Bees don’t like to go the bathroom inside the hive.  In fact they really don’t like it, as it can create a parasite which kills the hive.  During the frigid winters they “hold it” for a long time.  On 35-40 degree days they take bathroom flights.  (I swear, I am not making this up.  You can ask the editor.  Or ask Dan himself.) He has lost hives to this parasite in the past.

The hives

The hives

About 30,000 to 50,000 bees buzz around a good hive.  When you first purchase your bees you buy 10,000 bees in two to three pound packs.  Plus the Queen.  Dan is trying to raise his own queens in hopes to avoid the $15-20 purchase price per majesty.

Worker bees live 21-26 days and work themselves to death.  That’s how it is for them.  Here is the job-cycle for bees:

1)  newly hatched bees take care of eggs

2)  They get a new job promotion meeting the worker bees at the door and taking the pollen inside

3)  They get another job promotion and now become pollen-gatherers falling in love with flowers outside the hive.

4)  Then they die.

Honeycomb

Honeycomb

I asked Dan if he ever gets stung.  He raised his eyebrow, “Only 14-15 times a day.  But after six stings I quit having a reaction and don’t even get any swelling any more.”

Hmmm….

Local honey

Local honey

Dan’s note to self:  “Wear the bee suit.  If you don’t it hurts a LOT.”

Kathy’s note to self:  Buy some of Grandy’s raw honey next time I’m in town.   A peanut butter and honey sandwich sounds good right now.

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