Five Reasons We’re Abuzz Over Bees
At the Melo Lion Meadery, we’re all about the bees. We were founded by a beekeeper, and there’s no way we can make mead without honey. While we can’t count all the ways we love the bees, here are five of our favorite facts:
1. Honey Feeds the Hive Due to its natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, honey will never go bad, although it may crystalize over time. It’s more than just sweet. In its raw form, honey also contains traces of enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. This energy is what keeps the hive going over the long winter months. But while honey is great for bees, and tasty for people, it should not be given to children under one year of age.
2. Bees Make More than Honey Hives contain honey, but they also are a source of beeswax and propolis – two “construction materials” the worker bees use to maintain the structure. Propolis is a resin that bees collect from plants then use to seal sections of the hive. It’s also believed to have properties that keep the hive healthy by preventing disease.
Beeswax is formed by worker bees into a honeycomb structure that provides “nests” to hold the young bees, and to store pollen. Like honey, it is edible, and has been used by humans for centuries in foods, cosmetics and for candles.
3. Honey Flavor Varies Across the US Honey can vary in color and flavor, depending on the location of the hive and the surrounding local pollen sources. The National Honey Board estimates there are more than 300 types of honey in the US. Our flagship mead, Sunshine Daydream is made from 100% clover honey, which we like for its crisp, straightforward flavor. Zeb’s Bee’s is local Virginia wildflower honey, sourced from a variety of local flowering plants.
Orange blossom honey is popular, from bees living in the citrus groves of Florida, California and Texas. Blueberry honey comes from blueberry farms in New England. And we’ve heard the avocado honey from California has a buttery flavor from the avocado trees.
Honey gives our mead its flavor, so expect to see new varieties and recipes inspired by different locales in the future!
4. A Hive is a Highly-Organized Community Three types of bees call the hive their home: the queen, the drones and the worker bees. There is one queen per hive, and it’s her job to lay up to 2000 eggs per day! The male drones are only responsible for mating with the queen (after which, they promptly die.) It is the thousands of female worker bees that maintain the hive, protect the queen, collect pollen, and produce the honey, beeswax and propolis.
In Virginia, hives are active year round, but are most productive during from March through September. In the cooler months, bees cluster in the hive and live on the stores of food they’ve gathered during Spring and Summer.
5. We Are all Dependent on the Bees. According to the American Beekeeping Society, if we lost the honeybee, many of our crops would cease to exist. Bees pollenate 1/6 of the world’s flowering plant species and approximately 400 agricultural plants. A lack of adequate pollination effects plant health, and diminishes the yield of edible produce for humans and livestock.
For more information on honeybees, visit our sister company Zeb’s Bee’s or check out some of our favorite local beekeeping organizations: Colonial Beekeepers Association and the Tidewater Beekeepers Association.