June 3, 2022
Tonkadale Hosts Honeybees
(and Harry Styles has a new album)
This is our second-year hosting honeybees at Tonkadale. And as this blog comes to life, the music of Harry Styles resonates all too well. In his new song, “Daylight”, Harry lyricizes his sweetest treat, “You’d be the spoon. Dip you in honey so I could be sticking to you.” Yes, please Harry! We have the honey.
Now back to the bees. Kinnickinnic Bees are the keepers of our hives. Located on the Kinnickinnii River, just outside of River Falls, Wisconsin, they offer bee keeping services to homeowners and businesses. As a small, family-owned bee keeping business, they are on a mission to provide the best products in honey, beeswax, pollination, hive leases, and habitat with priority on all things sustainable.
We love our bees, and they love us back. Our honeybees are on now the scene doing what they do, pollination – moving pollen and collecting nectar. At the end of the season, they gift us 15 lbs. of raw, local (as in honey that is very specific to the microclimate of Tonkadale) honey per hive. We have two. Raw honey come straight from the honeycombs without pasteurization or processing. The benefits of eating local, raw honey are pretty cool. The list is long, so we summarize. Raw, local honey is an antioxidant, anti-pathogenic, brain booster, that promotes heart health, wound healing, treats insomnia and more.
The hives are the cutest and are built in-house by the Kinnickinnic Keepers. They simply drop off the hives fill it with bees. One queen per hive and an army of drones and worker bees. Throughout the year, they stop in and care for the hives giving reports on behavior and health.
The best-known honeybee is the Western honeybee, Apis mellifera which has been domesticated for honey production and crop pollination. Drones exist primarily for the task of reproduction and are produced primarily summer through fall. There may be up to 500 per hive. They are expelled from the hive in the winter as the primary focus of the hive is warmth and food conservation. They do not defend the hive or have a stinger. Worker bees, up to 60,000 per colony, are tasked with duties that evolve over their life span. They start our as the clean-up crew, then are responsible for feeding the brood, next receiving nectar and finally guard duty and foraging. Queen bees are created when worker bees feed a single female larva an exclusive diet of “royal jelly”. Once mated, queens lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. The pheromones produced by the queen help regulate the behavior of the workers. Fascinating.
Bees make honey as a food source for winter survival as there are not flowers to forage on. Honey is made from nectar which is a sugary substance flowers use to entice bees to spread their pollen. Forager bees collect nectar through their special mouth part, the proboscis (a straw-like tongue) and store it in the first chamber of their stomach. Inside this stomach enzymes begin to break down the complex sugar into simple sugar. Upon return to the hive, forager bees pass the nectar to worker bees who then pass it mouth to mouth to reduce water levels. Once the water content drops to 18%, mold and bacteria cannot grow, and the nectar becomes honey which is passed into wax chambers. Next, they fan the honey with their wings so it can dry. Fun fact, it takes 12 bees their entire life to make 1 tsp. of honey. Yowza.
Planting nectar rich flowers is the best way to support our honeybee friends so they can support us. We are certain Mr. Styles is planting those seeds at “Harry’s House”.