Light amber colored spring wildflower honey flows from the extractor. The honey is the result of an entire spring’s efforts by many a honey bee. It takes the full life’s efforts of 32 bees to make just one tablespoon of honey to pour over a hot buttered biscuit. To produce a one pound jar of honey, bees will have to visit two million flowers and fly a combined distance of 55 thousand miles. That’s more than twice the distance around the earth at the equator.
This spring honey that Rita and I extract today is the small surplus that the always ambitious bees stored after they fed large volumes of honey to their developing young throughout the spring. To build up their population to large numbers, the bees started gathering nectar from dandelion flowers and red maple trees on any warm winter days. Throughout the winter and early spring the bees searched river bottoms for tupelo and black willow. The bees foraged each of the fruit trees in order: plum, pear, apple, and crabapple. The honey bees sought out the Delta’s wild flowers. Ample rains brought large stands of clover into bloom. Lawns not sprayed with herbicides became white carpets of clover blossoms. As the spring honey flows from the extractor, it is strained to remove flecks of beeswax and debris. The raw honey is ready to be bottled and eaten. It will not be heated or treated further. Over time, crystals of sugar will form in all honey. Crystallization of honey does not harm the food in any way; the crystallized honey retains all of its healthful qualities and flavor. Some of the sugars in honey are stable in the crystal form, not liquid. Also, honey is a highly concentrated sugar product, being about 82 percent sugars and 18 percent water. I’ll admit that I interrupted the writing of this piece for a bowl of ice cream topped with some spring honey from the Delta.