February Bee Blues

Got the mid-winter missin’ messin’ with them bees blues? Me too. So, here’s a link to a great video, Beekeepers of Kenya, that should help you survive this dismal season. The film shows beekeepers using western-style hives, keeping bees in Africa. Watch the whole video, and you will see the harvest being filtered into pails. Beautiful stuff. I suspect – and sincerely hope – that Africa will one day be a prosperous continent. Reform, followed by prosperity, has followed quickly behind the growth of beekeeping in other places, too.

Like most North Americans and European kid-beekeepers, I grew up believing that most honey is produced in July, after a long cold winter had ended. It did not occur to me that the upside-down people had their seasons reversed and were warming up their humming extractors in February. It’s true that much honey is gathered in Canada, Russia, central Europe, the northern USA.

However, honey making has spread far beyond areas mimicking the honey bees’ original climate zones. In a remarkable testimonial to the bees’ fantastic adaptability, the honey bug prospers in Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Vietnam, India, and Belize. These are not the native homelands of our honey bee, Apis mellifera subspecies – yet today, more honey is produced in the jungles of these hot climates than on the prairies of the north. As an example, Canada makes around 25 thousand tonnes a year (50 million pounds), but Iran 36, Ethiopia 44, and Mexico 56 thousand tonnes of honey. The hottees have it.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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