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June Newsletter: Meet Cleo, Bees in Ancient times, Our Honeybee Concerns Validated by FL Inspector

Sarasota Honey Company Welcomes Cleo to our Hive! We are proud to welcome Cleo to the Sarasota Honey Company Hive. When Cleo was three years old, Cleo was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Cleo is currently a student at the State College of Florida. Cleo is tickled by life’s ironies…she has gone from being a person very uncomfortable around bees to admiring the science, work ethic and honey bee culture within the hive. She also skilled in digital art, writing, and enjoys drawing cartoons and classical literature characters. I’m very excited to share Cleo’s perspective and writing talent in future newsletters! The article below was written by Cleo, combining her love of ancient cultures, mythology and her new BFF the honey bee! Hey Cleo…not sure if I am getting it right but, “Do you like honey?!” – Jess 😉

Honeybees of Ancient Times: By Cleo Warn

Honeybees have provided an important role to ancient cultures. Whether it was with the practical role bees and their honey played in everyday lives or through the role they played in the culture’s folklore, honeybees were just as important then as they are now.

Ancient Egypt was one of the first cultures to start beekeeping which were made from pipes made out of clay or mud from the Nile River. Beehives were frequently moved between different places throughout the year, so that way the bees were able to make honey all year round. All the social classes of Egypt used honey for sweetening food to treating infections to paying taxes. There’s even a wedding contract that’s been found to say "I take thee to wife... and promise to deliver to thee yearly twelve jars of honey."

Greeks and Romans also placed great importance on bees as well and their mythology reflects the importance of bees in their culture. The Titan Kronos attempted to devour all his children to prevent them from overthrowing his rule over the cosmos. However, his wife Gaia took an infant Zeus to a cave and gave Kronos a rock wrapped in baby clothes instead. While in hiding, Zeus was raised on the honey from sacred bees that were living in the cave and after he overthrew Kronos, Zeus rewarded the bees by making them bright gold in color and strong enough to withstand strong winds and the cold. Another Greek deity, Dionysius, was also raised on the honey from bees and they’ve been associated with everything from the Muses to souls from the Underworld.

It Wasn’t Just Us…Apiary Inspector Confirms Climate Effecting Honey Bees and Honey Production. By Jess Swenson

A by-product of the Covid crisis is isolation. For some, extra hours due to a limited team force creates an even more isolated environment. This is the case of our Queen Bee, Alma. We are in awe on the number of daily hours and months she has put in without a day off. During this pandemic, she has been hyper focus on keeping the Sarasota Honey Company wheels moving and our bees healthy. So much so, that she had little time to look up beyond the business and the bees to realize it wasn’t just us that experiencing a below average spring honey harvest and a lack of growth within the hives.

At our annual Honey Bee Inspection by the Department of Agriculture this month, Alma was shocked by what she found. Our baby bee hives that by day of inspection were a month old had barely grown 25%! The amount of feed that we were giving them, we thought surely would be more than the boost they needed to grow fast for them to get to their forever homes. Moreover, the frames were beyond filled with pollen, leaving little options of open cells for the new queens to lay eggs thereby furthering the delay in hive growth. The areas where the queen has plenty of room to lay looked beautiful and as it should giving us a sigh of relief.

The inspector reassured Alma, it wasn’t just her but most of the hives she has inspected…from hobby beekeepers to large operations with several thousands of hives throughout the state. The culprit of this phenomena…climate change. According to the local news we have broken many records throughout the state for beyond normal heat, wind and currently going through an abnormally dry “dry season”. The last rain we had was when our queens were going out to mate in early to mid- April.

The inspector stated “no rain, no nectar, no growth” Moreover, it harder for bee to fly in windy conditions and it not uncommon for the queens to lay less during a time of low nectar. Why make babies that you cannot feed properly.

During normal conditions, between the nectar and the feed we give them they can and do grow quickly as she was expecting. We were told not to be too disappointed at least the feed is keeping them alive and sustaining them and once it rains the bees will grow quickly.

The next question Alma was asked was, “How was your spring harvest?” Alma explained it was

below average but that she thought it was because for two reasons: First, she had to weaken many of the colonies to try to strengthen and save the hives that were vandalized in February. Second, weather caused at least a two week delay in the orange trees blossoming and it was a quick open and close of the blossoms where our bees are located. We were told EVERYONE less a very few had below average and delayed spring honey harvests due to weather and its effects on the blooms. In finding out this news we felt a little better but a little bit more annoyed with mother nature. To all our readers if you love your honey… PLEASE pray for rain!


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