What's the Buzz?

  (Miami, Florida)
A Honey of a Blog

When Life Hands You Lemons, make Lemonade. When Life Hands You Brazilian Pepper.....

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What is Brazilian Pepper? It's everywhere! It's invasive! It's intrusive! It's impossible to get rid of. And bees LOVE it!  It's not actually a pepper! But it's close...Also called Christmasberry or Florida Holly, it's not actually a holly either... nor is it from Florida!  It is mistakenly referred to as gallberry, but that's another plant entirely...

So what IS this mysterious spreading menace.... It's a relative of poison ivy and poison oak that was brought to Florida back in the 1800's as an ornamental plant. It did so well that it now covers close to a million acres of our state! 

It makes a honey that varies in flavor, sometimes delicious, sometimes strong, with a typical "bite" at the end. Last year's harvest was delicious. This year's honey flow has just begun....we've got 60 lbs. so far, and it's pretty yummy too.

But let me tell you something awesome that I discovered about Florida Holly this past year. It may be invasive, but it is not without merit. The berries, when dried, are actually the pink peppercorns that you can buy at the store, especially in those pretty pepper mixes that come in those lovely grinders.

It all started because we needed to go to the bank, but the only parking place was right in front of the liquor store next door. Since we didn't want to get towed, I told my husband to go into the bank, and I would go into the liquor store and look around while he did. Well, there was a manufacturer's rep that was making this very pretty drink that was essentially a gin and tonic with the addition of fresh basil leaves, salt around the rim, and some beautiful pink peppercorns floating in the mix. 

We started talking, and that's when it was discovered that those peppercorns were from the Florida Holly. I have them all over the yard no matter what I do, so I figured, hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And so.....this year we are reveling in the blossoming Florida Holly, because I just got a new dehydrator, and you can bet that as soon as those little berries are all plump and red and happy, they are going to be picked and dried and used for cooking! And of course, we're happy with the honey that's coming throughout the Fall as well.... 

 
 

Silver Needles is a Pollinators Paradise and Superfood! Who Knew?

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Recognize this plant? It's a tropical weed that grows all over the place, looks like a daisy, and gets it's stickers stuck in your socks! Now look again, but this time with admiration and respect... Spanish needles, or Bidens alba, is the number two nectar source for Florida's honeybees! Butterflies go crazy for it too. It's a host for the sulphur butterfly, and our state butterfly, the zebra longwing, feeds on it ravenously. 

It's also a superfood! You can eat the flowers raw, and the leaves, shoots and tips are good too. My chickens love it, so I pick a bunch everyday for their breakfast "salad." It's super nutritious. It contains betacarotene, calcium and iron. It works well as a tea, especially with ginger, and makes a good cooked green.

It also possesses medicinal value. It's used for high blood pressure, diabetes, jaundice and on cuts. It's succeeds where resistance has built up to traditional antibiotics. And research suggests that it may have some use in fighting colon cancer. They say it's good for wounds, colds and flu. It's anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimalarial and a diuretic to boot.

Egyptian researchers found that it shows antimicrobial activity against pneumonia, tuberculosis, staph, salmonella and gonorrhea. Powdered seeds aid clotting, and some believe are good for the prostate. The list goes on and on...

Here at home, I feel guilty every time I pick one. Thankfully, they spring up endlessly, and my bees are so happy! And when my collards run out, well, there are Spanish needles growing in every corner of the yard, so we'll never go hungry!

 
 

Love That Tropical Wildflower Honey/ Great for Allergies Too!

Yay! While I love all of the exotic types of honey we can get here in South Florida, Tropical Wildflower steals my heart every time! It's different, of course, each time we harvest it, but it has this particular background flavor profile that's always present. We had run out over the summer, which almost never happens, and now we've got 5 gallons (about 63 pounds) of it.

Since half of our customers are "allergy" customers, they will be thrilled. In case you were unaware, if you have pollen borne allergies, getting wildflower honey from your nearby beekeeper is a tremendous help. It must be RAW and UNFILTERED to work, because then contains microscopic particles of pollen. When you ingest this in small doses daily, say 1 tablespoon or more, over time you develop a tolerance which will then minimize allergic reactions to the pollen. I just happen to love that South Florida backyard Tropical Wildflower taste. I think I'll go have some right this minute.....  It's an addiction, but I don't mind...
https://www.beemyhoney.buzz/online-store.html

 
 

100 Million Year Old Bee?


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It seems that bees are much older than we think! The discovery of a 100-million-year-old bee fossil preserved in amber "pushes the bee fossil record back about 35 million years," according to Bryan Danforth, Cornell associate professor of entomology. Before this fossil was found, the oldest bee fossil recorded was a mere 65 million years old. It had been suspected that bees were much older, perhaps even 120 million years old, but there was no physical evidence to support this. 

And guess what! This amber-bee has wasp-like traits, which now suggests that bees and wasps may have some evolutionary link. (And they don't even like each other!)

Also, originally researchers believed that primitive bees were members of the Colletidae family, but Danforth's work indicates that they originated from the family Melittidae.

D-uh! EVERYone knows that, right?

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Find out more about these old bees at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061209083342.htm 

 
 

Love Those Lychees and Avocados! Honey, That is....

Miami is a splendid place! We have such a fabulous mix of exotic tropical and sub-tropical fruits growing here, it's mind-boggling! And all of these fruit trees create nectar and pollen that make our bees so happy!

One of the things we enjoy most is when the Lychees and the Avocados blossom. In the rest of the world these fruits blossom at different times, but here in South Florida most years they blossom together. Even better, the Lychee groves and the Avocado Groves are usually right next to one another. 

What does that mean? It means that we are some of the world's luckiest people, because we have annual access to Avocado-Lychee honey, an exotic combo of two of nature's most delicious nectars.

It's bliss! And it was just harvested, so we're revelling in the joy...

It gets even better... As I said, we celebrate the creative combination of the two together...but this year the Lychees ALSO kept on blossoming after the Avocados were done. Which means that we in addition to our favorite combo, we also got to harvest straight Lychee honey, which practically never happens for us.

So it's a double whammy of the dark and delicious! Yes, we're sticky and sweet and hoping to stay that way....

 
 

Our New Hives Have Arrived!

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New Hive Delivery.jpg It's always fun in the Spring when we our partner Steve brings us fresh new Queens and some new beehives. We've got about a dozen new colonies that arrived last week, and when you step into our yard, you can smell fresh honey in progress. Here's Steve helping our new girls to settle in. They're quite happy here! I see them alighting upon so many different blossoms. They're especially fond of the Sweet Almond Bush, which has an intoxicating aroma. They don't bother much with the Gardenias, which are also in bloom. So between the ripening honey, the Sweet Almond Blossoms, and the Gardenias, strolling out back is an aromatic experience. And the next honey harvest? Just a few weeks away! Thankfully we've got plenty of Orange Blossom and Wildflower to tide us over until then...
 
 

What's Honey Made of, Anyway?


nutrition_profile_2.jpg We're so often asked about what honey is composed of, especially by those of you who are trying to lessen your intake of sugar. The good news is, honey has very little sucrose in it, and is instead made up of other sugars that are not processed and much less destructive to consume. Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you need less of it! The other good news is that it metabolizes differently than sucrose, so consuming honey does not create that blood sugar spike and crash we're all familiar with from white table sugar. 

 Honey is basically 38.5% Fructose, 31% Glucose, 17.1% Water, 7.2% Maltose, 4.2 % Carbohydrates, only 1.5% Sucrose, and .5% Minerals, vitamins and enzymes. Type 2 Diabetics can enjoy a daily spoonful of honey without negative effects on their blood sugar levels. (From Two Million Blossoms by Kirsten S. Trainor.) Of course, it is a carbohydrate, so don't go crazy....but honey's positive benefits outweigh the negative, so enjoy your honey, honey~ 

 
 

FREE Recipe! Sweet N' Sour Broccoli & Asparagus

Hot    In case you love good recipe's here's one from the National Honey Board! You can find it at: https://www.honey.com/recipe/hot-n-sweet-broccoli-and-asparagus

I love honey with my veggies. Don't you? 

If you double click on the image above, it will show up nice and big.

 If not, here you go:

INGREDIENTS

1/4 Cup of Honey

2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

1/2-1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper

1 lb. Broccoli, trimmed

1/2 lb. Asparagus, trimmed

2 T. Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS

Combine honey, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper. Cut up broccoli and slice stem.

Slice the asparagus on the diagonal.

Heat oil in a large skillet, add the broccoli and asparagus. Stir fry over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup Water to the pan. Cover and steam vegetables for 2-3 minutes, until crisp but tender. Drain water from the pan.

Add the honey mixture and cook uncovered until the glaze thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Serve! 

 
 

This is Driving Me Buggy!

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http://www.panna.org/blog/decline-insects-and-what-it-means

 I was just this morning having a conversation with my husband over coffee, about bugs. When we first started keeping bees, of course I loved our bees! But I realized that I didn't love other insects so much. I wondered, "Do I just love the bees because they feed me?" That seemed so self-centered! The hypocrisy was self-evident. And so over the years I made a point to really notice my little six-legged brothers and sisters, and learned to respect and even love them! Yes, it's easier to love dragon flies and ladybugs and other cute, pretty ones.  But over time I've learned to view most of them with affection. I still have a bit of an issue with palmetto bugs. It's hard to love 4" giant roaches who fly at you when you turn on the light in the middle of the night. But I'm working on it! At least when I swat them with a broom I aim to stun, not maim, and apologize profusely as I sweep them out into the night, to have another chance at life. 

I've even learned to share. When I pick a papaya, or some pigeon peas that we've raised, and I spot some other creatures munching down, I no longer discard it with an "eeeyyoooooo". I remove the crawly part and either compost it or share it with my chickens. And the rest is ours. There's plenty for everyone!

So with my new-found appreciation of those other species I share my environment with, I was authentically appalled when I saw this article this morning, "The decline of insects and what it means".

 You can find it here: http://www.panna.org/blog/decline-insects-and-what-it-means

 Here's what they have to say!

The news over the past few weeks has been riddled with headlines like “Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’,” “Monarch butterflies are going extinct,” and “The insect apocalypse is here.” If it sounds bad, that’s because it is.

You probably know that bees and other pollinators are in trouble for several reasons — including increased overall pathogen loads, poor nutrition, habitat loss and pesticide exposure.

But these alarm bells over the broader state of emergency that insects are facing underscore the fact that yes, bees and other pollinators are in trouble. But they aren’t the only insects crucial to keeping an ecological balance, nor are they the only insects at risk.

The decline of the monarch

While honey bees are the most commonly discussed pollinator endangered by pesticide exposure, there is a very wide range of pollinators beyond honey bees — including about 4,000 types of bees, butterflies, bats and birds — that can be impacted by agricultural chemicals.

This year, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reported that California’s monarch butterfly numbers are at an all-time low, declining more than 85 percent from 2017. And this massive drop comes after years of decline; 97 percent of monarch butterflies have already disappeared since the 1980s.

Scientists say the monarchs are threatened by pesticides, herbicides, and the destruction of butterflies’ milkweed habitat along their migratory route. Climate change is also a factor, with carbon dioxide from car and factory exhaust reducing a natural toxin in milkweed that feeding caterpillars use to fight parasites.

Where are the bugs?

Beyond the monarch news, another recent study has warned that insect populations are declining worldwide due to pesticide use and other factors, with a potentially catastrophic effect on the planet. The study warns that more than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades.

While insects are routinely depicted as mildly annoying at best and a downright plague at worst, they make up around 70% of all animal species and serve as the structural and functional base of many of the world’s ecosystems. Until now, the broad conversation around endangered species has largely focused on vertebrate species, but entomologist Don Sands shares that insects are “the small creatures that run the world.”

The decline of even one species of insect could have dire consequences for food and farming: "If we don't have insects as moderators of other pest populations, we have insect populations that flare up and ruin crops and make them difficult to grow.”

Immediate action needed

Experts recommend taking radical and immediate action to prevent large scale insect extinction. These include overhauling existing agricultural methods. In particular, we need a serious reduction in pesticide use replaced with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices.

Integrated pest management is one such approach to sustainably managing insects, as it focuses on prevention rather than treatment, and uses environmentally friendly options to safeguard crops. The goal is not to eliminate insect pests entirely, but to keep their numbers at a point to which they no longer cause a problem.

Unless we change how we produce food, and move away from chemical pest management more broadly, we’ll be in big trouble. This shift in conversation around the importance of insects is an important first step.

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 The Pesticide Action Network is so active and I appreciate their efforts. You should check them out and follow them!  

 
 

Have You Had Your "Royal Nectar" Today?

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We've been talking about it for a long time! Chef Rolf has been blending just the right mix of yummy beehive bounties to create a delicious, nutritious, super immune-booster. Enter "Royal Nectar!"  So here's what he did! Our beloved German Master Chef took some of our raw Tropical Wildflower honey, and combined it with pollen, propolis and royal jelly! Now there's a nutritional powerhouse!!! Each of those additions is popularly taken as a supplement in it's own right. But, in case you have explored any of them, their flavor profile leaves something to be desired. That's saying it nicely....

Still, health enthusiasts everywhere grin and bear it (as opposed to "bare it" which would be another story entirely!) They endure their propolis and royal jelly because of their superior immune boosting properties.

So since Rolf possesses a superior palette, i.e. trained as a classical European Chef gone wild, we let him loose on this super honey blend project. It wasn't quick. It was an adventure.

And now, TA DAAAAA, it's done, ready and waiting, and truthfully I can't stop eating it. I started small, just a half teaspoon, to see if I could tolerate the pollen. I could. Increased to 1 tsp. Then 2. Now, I steal a spoonful every time I pass the kitchen and we consumed a jar and a half over the weekend!

Anyway, we're proud parents and ready to release this yummy healthfulness to the world. You can find it here: https://www.beemyhoney.buzz/online-store.html#!/Royal-Nectar-Immune-Booster/p/131766861/category=0    Happy snacking! 

 
 

Candle stubs and Father Daniel!

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Yesterday I received a call from Father Daniel McKenzie of St. Vladimir Russian Orthodox Church. Seems they had an office full of beeswax stubs from candles burned over the years. Would we like them? YES, we would!!

So we went and picked up an entire truckload of little tiny candle stubs, which we will happily recycle into NEW candles. More than that, he was the coolest guy ever, and the church was a lovely little house and they gave us some apple pie to boot! And, the middle spire over the entrance gate? Had a colony of wild bees buzzing happily...A divine experience all the way around! Thank you, Father Daniel!

 
 

Got Honey?

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You can never have enough pure honey is my motto! With a shelf life of over 4,000 years, antibiotic and antiviral properties and a host of other health benefits, it's nature's perfect sweetener! (I confess, I drink it straight from the bottle!) We've got Tropical Wildflower, Orange Blossom, Lychee, Saw Palmetto and Key Lime. And....every bottle comes with a FREE RECIPE BOOKLET. I love honey! Don't you?

I really love the exotic varieties we have here in the subtropics. They have such incredible diversity.... 

Get some today! From $7.00
https://www.firelady.com/products.asp?cat=18

 
 

Butternut Squash Soup

I love when Autumn arrives and we begin to get ready for Halloween and all of the harvest celebrations. Here's a recipe from the National Honey Board for Butternut Squash Soup that I thought you might like!

https://www.honey.com/recipe/butternut-squash-soup

 
 

Do YOU Know How Honey is Made?

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Do YOU know how honey is made?
Honey starts as flower nectar collected by bees, which gets broken down into simple sugars stored inside the honeycomb. Constant fanning of the bees' wings causes evaporation, creating sweet liquid honey. Honey's color and flavor varies based on the type of nectar collected. Oange blossom nectar is light in color so the honey created is also light. Honey from avocado or wildflowers might have a dark amber color. The darker honeys are a bit more robust in flavor. I think they're the most interesting, personally. But they all have their place, and when you're cooking it's fun to have choices...

 
 

Did You Know Honey Could Do All This?

We thought it would be fun to share this from the National Honey Board:

https://honey.com/about-honey/honey-benefits 

In addition to being an amazing natural sweetener, honey has benefits that have gone largely unknown. It's a wholesome sore-throat soother, a natural energy booster and more. 

Nutrition

It's not just versatile, varied and delicious. Research has shown that honey contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants3. Flavonoids and phenolic acids, which act as antioxidants, are found in honey3. The amount and type of these compounds depends largely on the floral source3

Sweetener

Honey is sweet—that’s a given. And it adds a special touch to almost every recipe. It can be your secret ingredient that's always revealing new possibilities. Many people think of honey as a drizzle in desserts or a topping for toast. But more and more, honey is being recognized as a pantry staple. It gives your recipes unbeatable flavor and unexpected functional benefits. From balancing flavors to providing moisture to baked goods, honey excels in a slew of tasks—all from one little bottle and only one ingredient.

Natural Energy

Honey is a natural source of carbohydrates, providing 17 grams per tablespoon, which makes it ideal for your working muscles. Since carbohydrates are the primary fuel the body uses, honey can help maintain muscle glycogen, also known as stored carbohydrates, which gives athletes the boost they need when they need it most.

Cough Suppressant

Honey has been used for centuries to help alleviate symptoms of the common cold, and now research confirms this approach for children ages one and older. Honey offers an effective and natural alternative to over-the-counter cough medicine4. Though time is the most important healer of a sore throat, a spoonful of honey can help relieve the irritation4.

Important Reminder

Honey is a versatile and wholesome food for older children and adults. Honey may be introduced into a child’s diet after the age of one, but not before4, 5.

 
 
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