Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summertime Activity

It’s a hot summer, and the honey bees are working tirelessly. The bees collect nectar anytime that it is available. The bees brought large amounts of nectar to the hives, and now they are curing the honey. The honey-producing process began with the nectar being mixed with enzymes produced by the honey bees. The enzymes start the process called inversion, the chemical change of the nectar sugars which become honey. In the hive, worker bees continue the chemical change by continuing to mix in enzymes and evaporating the honey. The workers blow bubbles in the honey and stretch it with their mouth parts. They fan their wings across the honey to evaporate water. Once the sugars in the honey have been inverted and the moisture reduced to 18 percent, the honey is said to be cured. The bees cover the cells storing honey with a capping of freshly secreted beeswax. Elsewhere, the transfer of honey bees from the walls of the building to Langstroth bee hives continues with the hive populations growing. A swarm moved into one of the bait hives that I placed in a honey production bee yard. Bee yards seem to have a considerable amount of pheromones present, and they tend to draw swarming colonies of bees. Since swarming honey bees are physically ready to build honeycomb, they can draw out the frames rapidly. The swarm quickly filled two medium-depth hive bodies with comb and then filled it with brood.

Farmers markets are social gathering places for the public and farmers. In the photo, three warm friends share a hot summer day at the Memphis Farmers Market. From left to right they are Karen Tims of Tims’ Family Farm of Ripley, Tennessee, Rita Underhill of Peace Bee Farm, and Carolyn Dodson King of Dodson Farms in Forrest City, Arkansas. Collectively, they brought to market Tennessee peas, beans, cantaloupes, and famous Ripley tomatoes, Arkansas Delta honey, and Arkansas sweet potatoes, squash, okra, and hand-made jams, jellies, and aprons.

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