The Bee Guy

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tator Tot experiences a sudden and unexpected descent

<> Tator tot, my 11 year old apprentice, called. She found a couple suspicious “facts” in her textbook concerning bees. Rather than trust the book, she called the Bee Guy. “Is it true bees feed royal jelly to larvae for the first three days after hatching from the egg?”

“Yes. That’s why you can raise queens from larvae up to 3 days old. Worker and queen larvae eat the same food for the first 3 days. However, the diet may not be quite the same because 24 hour larvae are believed to make better queens. Perhaps the royal jelly fed to queens is richer or they are fed greater quantities.”

“What about bee bread—the book says queens eat royal jelly all their lives. I thought they ate bee bread.”

“Bee bread is pollen. That’s what bees feed to the growing worker larvae. It helps build strong bodies twelve ways. I don’t know if workers eat it themselves but if they do it’s not much at all. Queens eat just royal jelly as far as I know.” Although the bee guy is an unauthorized Master Beekeeper, he only scored an 81% on the exam.

We discussed Tator Tot’s hive, an August swarm that managed to gather less than 10 lbs of honey and will probably die over the winter. Then we discussed paint ball and boys who shoot at dogs with bb guns and how to build ant farms. Somewhere in the discussion, Tator Tot's voice became muffled and I heard a curious scuffling noise.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Guy, but I need to put you on hold. I’ll be right back.” “Hold” at the Tot house must mean covering the mouthpiece because I heard more muffled sounds and voices.

“I’m back.”

“What happened?”

“I was sitting in the rocking chair with a glass of grape juice and rocked too far and fell over backwards.”

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah, except for grape juice all over everything.”

“Doesn’t your mother make your use a sippy cup?”

“I’m almost twelve years old.”

“When do kids stop using sippy cups?”

She asked her mother. “When they’re about three. Mom says maybe we should buy some.”

The subject turned to honey and honey prices. Tator Tot has found several potential honey buyers but she is concerned about stealing some of my customers.

“It’s a competitive world out there. You can try to put me out of business and I’ll try to put you out of business. It’ll be fun.”

“Okay,” she agreed.

After about half an hour, Tator Tot’s mother made her say good bye. Mothers are so mean.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Light or Dark Honey

This question comes from the 2004 Eastern Apicultural Master Beekeeper Exam:

“You are selling honey in a farmer’s market and an individual is having difficulty in deciding whether to purchase extra light amber honey or dark amber honey. How would assist her in deciding which one to buy?” It’s worth 2 points.

The correct answer concerns comparing the flavor of dark versus light honeys and the vitimins and antioxidants in the darker honeys….

This situation arose at our honey booth at the Steuben County Farm/City day this fall. The real answer in additon to all the above information ought to be: “You should buy a jar of each. You might like one better in your tea or coffee and the other on your bread.”

Tator Tot
My little beekeeping friend "Tator tot" appears under an alias in the November issue of Bee Culture magazine in the "Bottom Board" column-"For Emily". How do you explain to an 11 year old when the no-longer virgin queens are coming in from their rondezvous with the drones, especially when she is not your child? You probably won't find the magazine on Walmart's Magazine rack and will have to subscribe, or send me a dollar and I'll e-mail you the story.