By Jessica Volz and Cameron Rodgers
In the backyard of a Nocatee home, one family keeps a private beehive as a meaningful hobby. Every so often they have to move the bees to start harvesting their fresh honey. They have three full hives that are playing throughout the day, so the process isn’t easy.
It all started with a smoker… a small, golden contraption filled with leaves, sticks and paper burning to a crisp. For years, smoke has been used as a calming agent for bees by disrupting their sense of smell, a crucial form of communication among the insects. The smoke makes the bees think that their home is on fire, so they move from their resting place in an attempt to save themselves.
In order to interact with the honey bees, one has to wear protective clothing: a thick jacket, pants, gloves, shoes, and the infamous caged hat. According to Kandy Deitrich, one of the keepers, the clothes are doubled up and before taking them off it’s important to double check to make sure there are no bees on you.
Slowly, Deitrich removed the lid to the hives one by one to reveal hundreds of honeybees accompanied by a loud buzzing noise. Each and every honey bee knows which hive it belongs to, thanks to a special pheromone unique to it. When she lifts out one of the hive slats it’s crawling with bees and glistening with sweet honey.
“Their sole job right now is to collect and make as much honey as they can to make it through winter. That’s why I won’t take it from them,” she said.
But what about when the time comes to remove the honey, and enjoy the fruits of labor?
“Honey has been used medicinally for over 5,000 years,” said physician Juliann Abecassis of Balanced Healing of Jacksonville, “Its rich in antioxidants, and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It supports overall health and well-being.”
According to Abecassis, honey can be used to ease a number of ailments: sore throats, stomach pain, and even hyperactivity caused by the nervous system. That’s right, aside from sweetening your hot tea or adding a sugary drizzle to your warm biscuit, honey is a powerhouse food with many versatile uses and abilities.
You may have heard through the media the famous call-to-action “Save the Bees,” backed by the explanation that if bees die out we won’t be far behind them.
“It’s very important to understand the relationship between our ecosystem, bees, and the honey that they produce,” says Abecassis.
Colony Collapse Disorder is a result of the overuse of pesticides on food and plants that bees rely on for pollination.
“This disorder has devastated the bee population. If we want to ensure honey for our future it is crucial that we eliminate pesticide use for our home, and when we go to the grocery store we shop organically.”
As for Deitrich and her family, they are firm believers in the power of honey and honey bees as well. She said, “I’m going to save the planet by myself, single-handedly if nobody else will.”