In a world thick with sticky political correctness, there is one politically incorrect term I still love—HONEY. Honey, a popular term of endearment to let your honey know they are sweet. Sweet like the fine clover honey made by bees. A thick, golden liquid produced by industrious bees, honey is made using the nectar of flowering plants and is saved inside the beehive for eating during times of scarcity—bees are smart that-aways.
But there is much more to honey. Honey is an organic, natural sugar alternative with no additives that is easy on the stomach and is perfect for cooking—it even has an indefinite shelf-life, longer than even Velveeta Cheese or a Hostess Ding Dong—yikes.
Honey is a sweet sticky fluid made by honeybees using the nectar of flowering plants.
This 573 Magazine story is sponsored by Cape Girardeau.
There are about 320 different varieties of honey, which vary in color, and flavor. Honey contains mostly healthy sugars, as well as a mix of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. It has been collected by both politically correct and politically incorrect humans for countless thousands of years. And as of August 2022, I can tell you that both Democrats and Republicans still like to swipe honey from bees to eat—I guess that's one thing we can all agree on.
Recently 573 Magazine attended the Honey Festival in old Ste. Genevieve and we met a sweet lady, a beekeeper to be exact. She agreed to take us to one of her bees hives to get a close look at some honeybees—you know, what’s all the buzz about?
Meet Andrea Fritsch AKA Honey!
I am a teacher at Ste. Genevieve R-2 School District and since I have a little more free time in the summers, beekeeping is a great hobby.
My husband Jerry and I have been married for 19 years and we have 4 kids; Andrew, Collin, Sophia, and Simon. Jerry and his brother raise beef cattle and farm some crops. The kids all pitch in during certain times of the year (planting the garden, making hay, harvesting honey, and tending to some of the animals). I am a teacher at Ste. Genevieve R-2 School District and since I have a little more free time in the summers, beekeeping is a great hobby.
I have been interested in honeybees since I was young and watched an episode of Mister Roger's Neighborhood that featured a beekeeper. One day about six years ago, a local beekeeper was selling a hive of bees and I purchased it without knowing a lot about beekeeping. I quickly took a beginning beekeeping course and read a few books to learn as much as I could. I also attended local beekeeping meetings in Ste. Genevieve, where I could hear what other beekeepers were doing at different times of the year and I could ask questions and get advice for any of my concerns.
While there are things to tend to at other times of the year, most work with the bees happens during the spring and summer. In the early spring, we ensure the bees have plenty of remaining honey to feed the new bees being born.
Beekeepers can often lose their hives in the early spring. This is when the hive population is growing to build a large workforce for the upcoming nectar flow, so they need plenty to eat. Usually, there are not enough flowers blooming to support the large population early in the spring, so we make sure they have enough honey, and if not, we will supplement them with sugar water until flowers and trees begin producing nectar.
In the early spring, we ensure the bees have plenty of remaining honey to feed the new bees being born.
Once the nectar flow is on, we ensure the bees have plenty of room to store the nectar and pollen they are bringing in. If the bees feel too crowded, they have a desire to swarm.
This is when the queen will leave with a large group of bees to start a new hive in a different location. The remaining bees will make a queen and continue the hive, however, if this happens, that hive will most likely not be able to produce a surplus of honey for us to harvest.
I love seeing the different colors of honey that the bees make. The honey's color depends upon the type of flowers that create the nectar.
We typically harvest the honey twice in the summer. I love seeing the different colors of honey that the bees make. Our early honey that we harvest in June is usually lighter than the honey we harvest in the late summer. The honey's color depends upon the type of flowers that create the nectar. Our spring honey this year was the lightest we have had in the six years we have been beekeeping. I think most of this early honey is from clover and alfalfa, but it is impossible to be sure because the bees will fly up to 2 or more miles if they find a good source for nectar.
One bee typically visits 50-100 flowers on one foraging flight and then they carry the nectar in the honey crop back to the hive...then it is deposited into the honeycomb.
When the bees collect nectar, it is stored in a specialized body part- the honey crop. One bee typically visits 50-100 flowers on one foraging flight and then they carry the nectar in the honey crop back to the hive. While in the crop, the nectar is combined with enzymes and then it is deposited into the honeycomb. The bees will use their wings to evaporate any extra moisture from the nectar until it is honey.
At the end of the summer, when there is little to no nectar for the bees to collect, we remove any honey supers (the boxes that the bees fill with honey for us to harvest). We leave 60-70 pounds of honey on each hive in the brood boxes (typically the bottom two boxes where the queen lays her eggs) for them to eat throughout the winter.
When we harvest the honey, we use a knife to cut the honeycomb so that we open each cell and put the honey frames in an extractor that spins the honey out of the comb. We can then put the empty honeycomb back onto the hives for the bees to fill again if there is still a nectar flow. The wax cappings that we cut off of the frames is what we use to create different products like lip balm, lotion bars and body butter.
The past two years, we have taken our observation hive to the Honey Festival in downtown Ste. Genevieve. It seems to be a popular attraction...
This year was the 2nd annual Honey Festival in downtown Ste. Genevieve, and it was a hot one! This festival hosted by Harold's Famous Bee Company highlights beekeepers and honey. Harold's does a great job of marketing and advertising for the festival. The past two years, we have taken our observation hive to the festival, which gives us a chance to show people the bees working inside their hive. It seems to be a popular attraction as we had lots of people come to watch the bees and try to find the queen.
The festival gives us a chance to see our honey and the products we make with beeswax.
Okay, there you have it. You can call me honey. So GET OUT THERE and get ya some!
pics and words t. smugala
honey festival pic c. king
Did you miss out on last week's stories? No worries!
And be sure to visit our awesome sponsors who make these stories possible!