Nature's Harvest Begins
As August opened, so did the first of the brilliant goldenrod blossoms. Before long, the field and meadows will be all yellow similar to the early spring when the dandelions bloom. Similar to dandelions, Goldenrods are much, much more than just yellow weeds. Along with Bonset and other late summer wildflowers, goldenrods provide plenty of nectar and pollen for the honey bees. The plant provides much of the honey the bees use to survive the winter months. The excess honey, Goldenrod Honey, is flavorful and popular with many.
The goldenrod also provides a necessary habitat and food source for an amazing array of other insects It can be used to make a refreshing tea (Blue Mountain Tea). When some goldenrod honey is added to the tea, it makes for a delicious, healthy, all natural beverage.
Goldenrods also have a unique and fascinating history in industry.
Another Harvest Begins With Some Good Weather News
August is also the start of berry season. The blackberries and the blueberries are ripening in northwestern Pennsylvania. The of course many home vegetable gardens will also be ready for the harvest during the month.
It is still not too late to get some crops planted like peas, beans, red beets, more lettuce and other early producing veggies. It could also be a longer than usual harvest season this year because of El Nino. The weather phenomena is growing more powerful and according to NOAA, it could impact our weather until next spring.
El Nino for northwestern Pennsylvania means a moderate above average winter. It could also mean a later than usual arrival of Jack Frost. Here is the latest updates on El Nino.
The Buzz about Honey
of honeybee work hard to make nutritious honey found in jars at
supermarkets and roadside stands. Just one worker bee, an undeveloped
female, will only produce about 1/12 of teaspoon of honey during the
course of it's average 35 day lifespan. It is an amazing feat that
there is even enough honey for human consumption, let alone feeding
the colony for the winter months.
honey process begins when the worker bee, with it's wings beating at
11,400 times per minute, leaves the hive to collect nectar from
flowers. Nectar is the clear liquid often seen when a flower is
picked; it is about 80 percent water but contains many complex
sugars. The worker bee uses it's tube-like tongue to suck the liquid
out of the flower which is then stored in a second stomach, called by
some, the “honey stomach”.
the honey or second stomach is filled, the worker bee, at flight
speeds which reach 15 miles per hour, heads back to the hive. The
honey stomach can weigh as much as 70 mg when filled, about the same
weight as the bee itself. A full honey stomach means the bee has
visited between 100 to 1,5000 flowers, depending on the nectar
available; a good reason for home gardeners to plant native flowers
rich in nectar and to avoid dangerous pesticides.
is a valve in the “honey stomach” which can open if the worker
bee becomes hungry and need to “refuel” and get some liquid
nectar energy. Other workers bees greet the returning field bee and
soon begin a mouth to mouth transfer of the liquid nectar.
worker recipient bee then produces certain enzymes which break down
the complicated sugars in the nectar into more simple sugars. The
soon to be honey, in about a half an hour, is then deposited in
a honeycomb cell. At this stage the substance does not even resemble
honey since it is still largely water.
where the buzz comes from the hive; the liquid honey substance is
then dried by other bees, who constantly fan it with their wings to
evaporate the water, working throughout the night. Combined with the
warm temperatures in the hive, about 95 degrees F, the
substance will begin to look like honey and has only a 17 to 18
percent moisture content. Once the bees, like good chefs, know the
honey is the right consistency, it is sealed in wax.
this process, other arriving worker bees during the daylight hours
are carrying pollen back to the hive. These pollen laden bees are
easily recognizable since the pollen, usually yellow or orange in
color, is carried back to the hive on their hind legs. The pollen is
then mixed with honey and used as a food sourced for future broods
necessary to keep the hive alive and well.
bee hive generally consists of between 50,000 to 55,000 bees and they
require about 150 to 200 pounds of honey as a future food supply.
Needless to say, the worker bees do not live for long and die of work
exhaustion after about 35 days. “Busy as a bee” is actually a
very real true-ism.
container of honey from a beekeeper or supermarket shelf is the end
result of an amazingly complex process from small insects without
which we would likely be eyeball to eyeball with starvation,
scrambling for algae. Honeybees, along with other native bees, are
essential to much of the fruits, vegetables and nuts we eat and along
the way, honey is made.
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And Just for the Heck of It
August 20 The Civil War is formally declared to be over by President Andrew Johnson. (1866)