About

Why is honey healthy and useful?

Honey has a wide range of health benefits that may promote allergy relief and improvement of overall nutrition. Honey contains antioxidants and micronutrients including trace amounts of vitamins such as vitamin B, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium and selenium. Furthermore, the antioxidant pinocembrin is specific to honey because the bees produce this antioxidant in propolis. Antioxidants bolster overall health and can help lower blood pressure.

It is very important that honey is not heated to a high temperature in order to preserve its natural properties and potential health benefits.  Many consumers believe that local, minimally processed honey will help with allergies because of the trace amounts of pollen and allergens found in local honey. Brewers often use raw honey in “high-octane” recipes to nourish their hardworking yeasts, and mead makers draw out the subtle character of different honeys in their products too.

As a medicinal remedy, honey has been used for thousands of years to heal wounds and treat burns. Ancient Egyptians routinely used honey and wax in medicine, and modern medicine is gaining interest too. Honey is naturally antibacterial and its antioxidant properties nourish the flesh which promotes cell regrowth. Antibiotic behavior in honey can vary depending on its floral source. Honey’s natural antibacterial properties can also be used to treat sore throats, and the Mayo Clinic confirms that honey is just as effective as over-the-counter cough suppressants.

Try some local, minimally processed honey today by visiting Our Store. Enjoy!

What do you do with beeswax?

Beeswax has multiple personal and industrial applications. The options for beeswax utility are endless!

From candle-making to waterproofing, beeswax is a wonderful natural product that can fulfill the needs of a wide range of customers. Many people also use beeswax in cosmetics, such as lip balm and lotion. It is also an excellent ingredient for soap-making.

We sell many varieties of beeswax to meet the needs of our customers. We can fulfill orders of any size, and can customize orders to meet your needs. For the latest beeswax prices, please visit Our Store.

Explore the possibilities of beeswax!

Why are queen bees so special?

The rundown on royalty

Queen bees are raised on “royal jelly” from their first day as a larva, and that rich diet causes a female larva to develop into a queen rather than a worker. There is no genetic difference between a female worker and a queen bee–it’s all a matter of timing and nutrition.

Beekeepers decide to buy queens for several reasons. The most common are requeening hives to replace old queens, splitting populations to create more hives, and requeening hives that went queenless.  Queen honeybees need a population of at least a few thousand workers to survive and thrive; they cannot start a colony on their own like a bumblebee queen.  Queen honeybees cannot even feed themselves well enough to stay alive on their own for long.

Several scenarios can lead to a queenless situation. Perhaps the hive swarmed? Maybe the queen became injured or lost her laying capability? Maybe she just died? Maybe they already raised a virgin queen and she never came home from her mating flights? Maybe you accidentally dropped or squished her during inspection? Sometimes it’s a mystery why your hive is queenless, but it’s not good.

Prolific queens can lay up to 2000 eggs per day, so an extended queenless period causes the whole hive to deteriorate. A foraging worker bee only lives 4-6 weeks, so it is important not to have a long break in broodrearing. The hive usually tries to raise a new queen on their own if there are young worker larvae present, but a naturally-raised emergency queen causes a brood gap of approximately one month.  If the emergency queen fails to mate or survive, the bees cannot raise another queen unless given very young larvae or eggs from another hive.

The installation of a caged and mated queen, on the other hand, is successful approximately 95% of the time if the queenless situation is addressed quickly, and once accepted, she normally resumes laying eggs within a few days! We recommend checking to see that she is not still in the cage two days after installation, and then check for eggs and small larvae 7-10 days following installation. Beware, however, if a virgin queen was hiding in the hive at the time that the caged queen is installed, the mated queen is almost always the one that dies.

Please let us know if you have any questions about your queen needs!

What are package bees?

“Package bees” are starter hives that are essentially artificial swarms.

Packages come from beekeepers with excess bees that shake two or three pounds of bees into a screened box, give it a queen in a cage, drop in a can of syrup to feed them through their journey, and then the packages are distributed to beekeepers at the destination.

Packages are the most efficient way to gather and distribute bees for sale, but there are some pluses and minuses from the buyer’s perspective. On the bright side, the packages are very light to handle, normal queen acceptance is around 95%, varroa populations are potentially lower since there is no brood to conceal them, and there is less risk of inheriting brood diseases that might be carried on infected brood combs.

In terms of challenges, the queens have not been formally accepted by the swarm, the food supply is very limited, and there is no brood in development at the time of purchase.

Over the last several years, we’ve noticed that new beekeepers and hobbyists overwhelmingly select three-pound packages. Beekeepers experienced with installing and tending package bees often take the most economical route and select two-pound packages.

No matter what choice you make, please remember that package bees will need a lot of feed (unless they are installed combs that already have plenty of groceries stored in them). Raising baby bees and building comb requires many pounds of carbohydrates and protein. Division board feeders are a good way to provide a large quantity of syrup that can be accessed even in cooler temperatures.

What are nucs?

“Nuc” is beekeeper shorthand for “nucleus hive.”

Our nucs include 3.5-4 frames of active bees, developing brood, and an accepted queen that is already well-established laying eggs in that specific nuc.

Most beekeepers buy nucs in the spring to let them grow into full-strength hives by early summer. Nucs are also useful at any time in the beekeeping year for requeening laying workers or boosting weak hives. If started sometime in April-June, a 4-frame nuc will usually become viable for overwintering as a standalone hive in the Midwest.

People accustomed to package bees are often shocked at how quickly the population grows from our nucs—this is because there are so many new bees already maturing at the time of purchase. A package of bees, on the other hand, experiences a population decline for the first three or four weeks after purchase due to the mortality of some workers.

The nucs sold at Ebert Honey are for PICK-UP ONLY, though we can coordinate pick-up at either Lynnville or Mount Vernon (Iowa). We raise the nucs in ventilated travel boxes that are made specifically for nuc transport. The travel boxes are bee tight when properly closed for the journey. Then transfer the nuc into your hive at home as soon as possible if the weather permits.

It is important not to leave the nuc in the travel box for more than a day or two after purchase because it would likely prepare to swarm within a week due to overpopulation as the brood emerges. If, on the other hand, you would like our assistance when transferring your first nuc into hive equipment that you bring along with you, we can help by request. Please let us know ahead of time if you will want help with the transfer to make sure that we can focus on your lesson.

Our main batch of nucs is generally ready sometime in the first two weeks of May. Buyers will be notified via email when they are almost ready to go, and we will follow up with phone calls as needed.