Have you ever heard a queen bee piping? Her Imperial Highness is proclaiming, “I am your new queen, and I’m the baddest bitch in this hive.” Actually, it’s true. She is and it’s best if everyone within earshot, or in this case, the hive accepts this fact. One weekend last summer, a group of tourists to our apiary were fortunate enough to hear and see a piping virgin queen. It was a rare treat for everyone, including me.
Our astonished guests were participating in a Killer Bees Honey apiary tour. Tours of KBH are held every Friday and Saturday starting May 3 and last through the end of September. Tours are limited to 12 people, allowing for a more personal experience. We begin each tour with a discussion about honey bees as social insects and the matriarchal life of the hive. Patrons learn about the highly structured duties of the worker bee. That a nurse bee tending larvae, or guard bees posted at the entrance of the hive, or foraging bees flying miles to a floral source are not random movements, but carefully choreographed and precisely defined duties.
The discussion is immediately followed by an explanation of hive components and an actual hive inspection in our bee yard. Guests suit up in full body suits, gloves and veils. We split the tour into two groups of six. I and a fellow beekeeper, Jennifer, open a hive and with our participants, delve into a world filled with purpose. Visitors learn the importance of “bee space (3/8 of an inch)” and delight in watching forager bees communicate new floral sources with their sisters via waggle dances. They watch as older bees share a meal with their younger sisters through a process called trophallaxis. Hive inspections are always a crowd pleaser and provide many a photo op.
After the hive inspections, guests come back to the house and indulge in a honey tasting and food pairing. Each honey is expertly coupled with different foods, such as fruit, nuts, crackers, cheese, bread, and yogurt. Like wine tasting, we provide a variety of nectars directly from our apiary and as a special treat, one international honey. We discuss the contrasting and complimentary structure of every honey and why they enliven the individual food pairing. Of course, the included champagne provides the perfect compliment to the meal!
The tour ends with a visit to our honey house where we demonstrate how honey is processed and where guests pour their very own bottle of honey.
A tour of the Killer Bees Honey apiary is a unique experience. We are passionate about our bees and gladly share the secrets of the hive and the honey bee with anyone who wants to know about one of nature's most industrious pollinators. We hope to see you this summer!
Want to take the tour? Sign up here.