Posted 24th Oct 2016 by Peter Byrne
This year, The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) is celebrating the annual National Honey Week from the 24th – 28th October. This coincides with the publication of the BBKA Honey Survey, which measures the annual honey crop, and the National Honey Show which takes place from the 27th-29th October.
How honey and bees wax is made
Once the bees have collected nectar from flowers, they make honey by mixing the nectar with enzymes, and then store the honey in hexagonal wax honeycomb.
Honey itself is actually comprised of 80 per cent sugar, mainly sucrose and fructose, 17 per cent water and a small element of minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein. The protein comes from the pollen the bees eat. Honey is very runny at first, and to dry it out, the honey bees vibrate their wings, making the water content evaporate until the honey is about 17 per cent water. Then the bees cap or seal the individual cells of honey with a thin layer of wax.
The importance of the honey bee
The pollination process actually creates a third of what we eat and allows 90% of our wild plants to thrive, and honey bees are our most important pollinators.
The honey bee population, as well as other vital pollinators, is under threat and many believe this is due to pesticides and lack of forage, as well as disease. The varroa mite was introduced to the UK in the 1990’s and it has had a devastating effect on honey bees because it weakens the bees and makes them much more prone to disease. BBKA beekeeper training courses place an emphasis on ensuring beekeepers learn how to manage the parasite effectively.
Help save the honey bee
The Adopt a Beehive scheme helps save the honey bee as all profits are invested into funding vital research into honey bee health. The subscription lasts a year, and adopters can adopt a beehive from one of ten different UK regions. As well as receiving seasonal updates from the adopted hive’s progress, the adopter also receives a welcome pack full of bee goodies- it is the perfect gift!