Monday, July 06, 2009

Bees & Mosquitoes

It's not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy.
The bee is praised. The mosquito is swatted.
Mary O'Connor

I just came in from outside, and the mosquitoes had a feast on my arms and legs. I have welts everywhere. Not knowing I was going to be helping pull weeds, I did not put on any repellent, and I am now suffering from about 100 bites, no kidding. There has to be a reason that God created mosquitoes, but I can't think of one beneficial thing mosquitoes offer. Can you? Okay, maybe exercise - we move our arms around spastically as we swat these nasty insects.

I did see bees in the garden tonight. I watched as they flew from blossom to blossom, collecting the pollen quickly and carefully from each flower. I left them to their task, trying not to get in their way.

Now, if one would have come after me, I would have stood very still, or ran in the opposite direction, not intending to hurt the bee, but just get the heck out of his way.

Their sting hurts, whereas the mosquitoes bite itches like crazy. I respect the bee and what the bee does. I dislike the mosquito and what he does. So, if I see one land on my arm, be assured that I will swat at it and hopefully smack it. But the bee will live on, buzzing from one flower to another, as I watch in awe.

Are you busy for a reason, like the honey bee collecting pollen to make honey, or is your busy without meaning, like the mosquito buzzing around biting (in my opinion)?


Bees are one of the most beneficial insects in the garden, because they pollinate some vegetable blossoms. Pollination is needed to produce vegetable that produce fruit or seed, such as squash or cucumbers(fruit), and tomatoes or corn(seed). In those that produce seed, each blossom contains male and female parts. The wind helps pollinate the blossom, by moving one part to the other, thus self-pollinating the plant. In those that produce fruit, pollen must be moved from the male blossom to the female blossom. This is usually done by bees.

If your fruit vegetables (squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchinis, melons) aren't producing fruit, you can help them along by taking a small brush or Q-tip, brushing it inside the male flower, and then brushing the pollen inside the female flower. The female flower is the one that has a tiny vegetable at the base. The male flower will have pollen-laden stamens.

In your seed vegetables, you just need to brush inside the blossom and make sure that the pollen gets into the middle part of the flower.

If the plant doesn't start bearing fruit in a couple of days, there may be another problem - not enough water, lack of sun, or lack of nutrients in the soil.

Recipe for Honey

While researching for this blog, I found a very interesting article on how honey is made. It came from Michigan State University's website:

How do Bees Make Honey?
(Lansing State Journal, July 30, 1997)

Honeybees use nectar to make honey. Nectar is almost 80% water with some complex sugars. In fact, if you have ever pulled a honeysuckle blossom out of its stem, nectar is the clear liquid that drops from the end of the blossom. In North America, bees get nectar from flowers like clovers, dandelions, berry bushes and fruit tree blossoms. They use their long, tubelike tongues like straws to suck the nectar out of the flowers and they store it in their "honey stomachs". Bees actually have two stomachs, their honey stomach which they use like a nectar backpack and their regular stomach. The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar and when full, it weighs almost as much as the bee does. Honeybees must visit between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to fill their honeystomachs.

The honeybees return to the hive and pass the nectar onto other worker bees. These bees suck the nectar from the honeybee's stomach through their mouths. These "house bees" "chew" the nectar for about half an hour. During this time, enzymes are breaking the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars so that it is both more
digestible for the bees and less likely to be attacked by bacteria while it is stored within the hive. The bees then spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs where water evaporates from it, making it a thicker syrup. The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings. Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax. The honey is stored until it is eaten. In one year, a colony of bees eats between 120 and 200 pounds of honey.

They are really busy bees!

Easy Recipe

Honey Butter

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey

Mix the butter and honey with blender or hand mixer. Store in refrigerator.
Variation: Add 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp vanilla.

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