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Fruits and vegetables play role in honey taste
Nectar is influenced by the plants around hive
Honeybees crawl around a frame of honeycomb in Bob Bradbury’s yard in Flowery Branch. The owner of B and B Enterprises said wildflower honey is the most common type of nectar.

Grilled watermelon with mint, lime, honey and yogurt

  • 4 to 6 thick slices seedless watermelon
  • Olive oil
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • Honey
  • Leaves from 1 bunch fresh mint, thinly sliced
  • Plain yogurt, preferably
  • Greek-style

Heat a grill over medium high heat until hot.

Brush each of the watermelon slices on both sides with olive oil.

Grill the slices until barely softened with defined grill marks, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.

Place 1 slice on each serving plate. Drizzle over a little lime juice and honey, then top with a dollop of yogurt.  Sprinkle over a little lime zest and mint leaves.

Serve immediately.

Associated Press

Being the queen bee is a pretty sweet job.

The queen runs the hive and lays eggs in each bee colony, allowing worker bees in the colony to produce pounds of the raw sweet treat each year.

Although the process is the same for each hive, the location determines the unique taste of the sweet, syrupy product people spread on biscuits, pour into their tea or use as a cooking ingredient. In fact, several factors can produce the variety of honey flavors.

“There are over 350 types of honey in the United States alone,” said Bob Bradbury of B and B Enterprise, a local raw honey supplier.

In the Northeast Georgia region, wildflower is the most common honey. It blends different nectars from almost any kind of plant. Other honey flavors include clover, blackberry and orange blossom.

“We have 200 different types of flowers, 40 kinds of vegetables, 12  fruits, 14  herbs and other trees and shrubs,” Bradbury said, noting each adds to the taste of the honey.

With all of those elements on his Flowery Branch property less than an acre in size, the family and its hives produce more than 1,500 pounds of honey each year.

To produce a singular type of honey, such as clover or blackberry, a beekeeper needs to have acres of the single plant, like clover. Bradbury noted orange blossom honey comes from acres of orange groves, while clover honey needs a huge amount of clover. Others are a mixture of different nectars.

“We have hives up in Habersham, and they are near different trees,” Bradbury said. “We get sourwood honey from those colonies.”

Tupelo honey comes from an area in the swamp full of tupelo trees, but his wildflower blend has tupelo in it from the trees on his property.

Bradbury said the weather affects the flavors of honey available as well, which happened to his Habersham hives last year.

“The rain washes the pollen and nectar out, and so the bees don’t have any to go get,” he said. “We didn’t have any sourwood then.”

Bradbury explained honeybees prefer hot, sunny weather. And the one time he and his crew tried to rob the hives in cloudy weather, his plan backfired.

“I had a hole in my hat somewhere, and they weren’t out working,” Bradbury said. “So we disturbed them in the hive and I got stung 15 to 20 times. I had to come inside and spend time picking the stingers out because they will continue to pump venom for 21 minutes.”

The cloudy day was the only time Bradbury had a mishap with his colonies. He and his assistants, along with his wife, rob the hives of honey twice each year — once in early June and again in late July.

His grandson, Nathan O’Connor, helps out with the process as his summer job.

“My older brother was helping out, and I just got into it,” O’Connor said.

The 17-year-old will be a senior at Flowery Branch High School in the fall, but his only lessons for the summer are on honey and beekeeping.

Bradbury teaches O’Connor and others the process of harvesting honey and other bee basics.

“The queen lays the eggs, and 21 days later they hatch and begin working,” Bradbury said. “The younger bees spend time working in the hive, and others go out to find nectar.”

All worker bees are female. Each one will produce one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime, which is approximately 40 days. Before they produce honey, however, bees have to find nectar.

“They will go out when the nectar is showing itself and come back and do a little dance,” Bradbury said. “That dance has been studied. It tells the hive the direction, location and quality of the nectar found.”

When they retrieve the nectar, bees pollinate the various plants, which is essential to the life cycle of many fruits and vegetables.

“Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Today, the commercial production of more than 90 crops relies on bee pollination, according to the FDA. About one-third of the food eaten by Americans comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds, to name just a few, the agency said.

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