1. Q. Why does honey crystallize?
A. Natural honey in our climate will eventually crystallize. It is just as healthy as when it was liquid. The rate of crystallization is dependent on a number of factors, the main one being the amount of glucose in the original flower nectar, so each honey type will vary.
2. Q. How can you be sure that it is Dandelion or Sweet Clover honey?
A. A varietal honey is one that comes from the nectar of a specific flower variety. The easiest way to determine that (other than by taste) is by time or location. Dandelions are the first flower to bloom in spring, so we automatically know that honey produced then is dandelion. If a number of hives are completely surrounded by only one crop, such as Sweet Clover, the honey is most likely going to be that type since the bees prefer to fly only as far as they have to.
3. Q. When I’m cooking and want to replace sugar with honey how much should I use?
A. Since honey is sweeter than sugar, we find that using only half as much honey (i.e. ½ C. honey for 1 C. sugar) gives the same amount of sweetness. Also, reduce any liquids called for by ¼ C. (25 ml.) for each cup (250 ml.) of honey used. It’s wise to use an oven temperature 25°F (15°C) lower to prevent over browning.
4. Q. Is your honey organic?
A. No. In Canada honey can only be called organic if all Organic Standards are met. Chinook Honey meets a large number of those standards however in southern Alberta it is virtually impossible to prevent bees from foraging in crops that don’t meet organic qualifications.
5. Q. Is your honey raw? A. Yes. Raw honey is now defined by the CFIA (Canadian Food & Inspection Agency). “Honey can be considered as “raw” when it has not undergone any treatment or process such as heat treatment (other than minimal heating used for the purpose of extraction) or filtering.”
6. Q. Why do some honey labels say not to feed honey to an infant under the age of one?
A. Honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores that can cause infant botulism. These spores are present throughout the environment and most people are not normally affected. However infants lack the fully developed gastrointestinal tract of older humans and may be susceptible. Honey is safe to consume during pregnancy and lactation since adults, including pregnant females, are not susceptible.
7. Q. How much honey does one bee make?
A. In its lifetime one bee will make only 1/12 tsp. (0.6 g.) of honey. However, recall that each worker bee is in the honey making role for a short time (about 1 week) in her six week lifespan.
8. Q. How often do you get stung?
A. Honey bees are naturally non- aggressive and only sting in defense. Thus, if a beekeeper is careful not to accidentally harm a bee, and works around them slowly and quietly, getting stung is rare. Certain activities such as pulling honey or moving hives are more likely to upset the bees, thus times when stings are more frequent if not suited up properly.
9. Q. What is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)?
A. CCD is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive abruptly disappear. The term was initiated in 2006 there was a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honeybee colonies in North America.
10. Q. Why are the honey bees dying?
A. Since CCD was identified in 2006 there has been a lot of scientific research done around the world to find the cause. Many have been proposed: malnutrition, pathogens, immunodeficiencies, mites, fungus, pesticides, beekeeping practices (such as the use of antibiotics, or long-distance transportation of beehives) and even electromagnetic radiation. The research suggests a combination of factors is most likely. In addition, climate changes seen as a result of global warming have also had a negative impact on overall honey bee health. In Canada, prior to 2006, the normal losses for overwintered honeybees was 15%. Now it is close to 30% and even higher when weather becomes a factor. Well renowned honey bee researcher Marla Spivak gave a TED talk on the issue.