Honey bees are incredible! People have been harvesting honey from bees for thousands of years.
We have 20 hives dotted around the farm and they (along with their wild cousins the bumble bee) are important pollinators for many types of crop. Each hive will have one queen and approximately 35,000 worker bees.
The queen will lay up to 2,000 eggs a day. Most of these will hatch into worker bees, which take 21 days. In the first 2 days of their lives they act as cleaners, days 3-11 are spent as nannies for the larvae, days 12-17 are spent producing wax and building the honeycomb, on days 18-21 they work as bouncers! and guard the hive entrance. The rest of their six week lives are spent flying away from the hive collecting pollen and nectar.
The honey that they produce has some amazing qualities. It has antibiotic qualities, can help heal cuts and scrapes and there even been recent studies using it against cancer cells.
To make sure that you honey is providing all its great benefits make sure that you buy un-pasteurised and un-filtered types. Labelling in the shops can be a bit hit and miss so we would recommend trying to find a local honey supplier so that you can talk to about their honey (or check out our shop!). A good honey that has been stored well has no known expiration date. Comb honey was found in the tombs of the Pharos in perfect condition. It may however start to crystallise after a few months- don’t worry! This is perfectly normal and can be, remedied by heating the honey very gently in a shallow bath of warm water- remember to keep the lid firmly closed as you should be careful not to let moisture into the honey.
To learn more about bees and the honey that they produce, follow our resident bee-keeper Chris on twitter.
And remember – it will take the entire lifetime of 12 bees to produce just a teaspoon of honey- so don’t let any of that hard work go to waste and always lick the spoon!
Nature week continues until Sunday 4th June. For our cheapest tickets remember to buy online.