Visiting Bee Hollow Farm and Apiary in Schodack Landing
Bee Hollow Farm is a family-owned sustainable apiary operating on about 200 acres. Thank you to Paul, the head beekeeper, for giving the staff at Todd Hill such a great tour of the farm! They use organic practices to ensure the health and safety of their bees. On it, there are about 7 acres of elderberry. Elderberries are used to make Bee Hollow's Elderberry syrup, which is great as a natural cold and cough remedy.
They also grow wildflowers for bees as well as other plants. Did you know it takes about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey?
The apiary has about 400 bee hives that produce about 600 pounds of honey per hive each year. A bee will take hundreds of trips a day to hundreds of flowers. Older bees become guards of the hive to protect the colony from intruders. From all that hard work, worker bees have a short lifespan. They die after 4-6 weeks.
In each box, (the hive is the stack of boxes) there are about 60,000 bees. The bees cluster together to keep the hive warm. The center of the hive gets to about 92 degrees.
Are honeybees dying?
Some honeybee farmers have had to deal with mass honeybee death. The health of the hive can be at risk for a variety of reasons, including Varona mite infestations or viruses.
Hives can also easily get contaminated with pesticides like neonicotinoids, an insecticide used on some farms to kill pests.
Bee Hollow uses all organic practices on the farm to care for the bees and prevent pesticides from getting into contact with the bees.
How do honeybees impact native bee populations?
A recent study found there to be about 27 native bees on the Bee Hollow Farm. With abundant food sources (plenty of flowers) and sustainable farming practices, honeybees and native bees can live in harmony!
How is honey made?
Honey acquires different flavors depending on the floral source the bees use for their nectar. There are around 25 different types of honey. Bee Hollow produces wildflower honey, which is mild and sweet. Bees collect nectar from flowers, bring it back to the hive, and deposit it in the honeycomb. In the honeycomb, the nectar gets broken down into simple sugars, forming the sweet liquid known as honey. Bees produce about four times the amount of honey that they consume. Once the honey from the hive gets harvested by hand, it is run through a sieve to remove wax particles, but it is not heated or filtered. This raw honey still contains local pollen and enzymes. When adding raw honey to your coffee or tea, let the hot liquid cool down to below 98 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures that the nutritional value and antibacterial properties of the honey do not degrade.
What do beehives produce?
Propolis is created when bees collect resins from trees and add their own enzymes to it. It is used in the hive as an antimicrobial. It can be eaten for its health benefits or added to skincare products.
Bees produce wax in the hive as a protective coating on the honeycomb. The second panel has the wax still intact.
So what about allergies?
Many people hear that regularly consuming local honey can help reduce allergy symptoms. But what does local honey really mean? Well, if you want the allergy-reducing benefits of honey, you don't need to worry as much about the distance between you and the location the honey was made. You want to consume honey that contains the pollen causing your allergic reaction. So if the flowers in your area are the same as the flowers in the apiary you are buying honey from, eating that honey will help you build up a tolerance over time to the pollen in those flowers. Make sure your honey is unheated!