Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Honey! You don't Want To Know

A few years ago, during a time when I was being accused of not hearing conversations of family and friends, and when my practiced façade of smiling and nodding occasionally was not convincing anyone that I had been following the conversation, and I had been tragically exposed when asked my opinion of a fish listed on the menu, and I answered that I had never participated on a panty raid in any sorority house, I was pressured into considering augmentation of my natural hearing with devices that conjured up Dumbo size ear attachments or pointy ears resembling Dr. Spock.

After a cursory investigation of devices and prices, I selected a super-duper device that had been advertised on TV, for a trial hearing run. For the investment of $19.99, I received a device that protruded out of the side of my head resembling a fender skirt of my dechromed, 1950, Bellaire Chevrolet, 2-door Hardtop, with dual carbs, dual point plate, split exhaust manifold and 2” lowering blocks in the rear springs. The device had been advertised to enable the wearer to hear conversations of persons as far away as 2 blocks.

The device worked almost as well as it had been advertised, except, when trying to listen to distant conversations, they were almost obliterated by all of the sounds in between.

And this was the beginning of a traumatizing experience from which I will probably never overcome.

While on a test outing to hear as many cryptic conversations as I could find, I decided to go out into the countryside for an experimental hearing test. I thought I might hear sounds of nature that I had been missing over the past few years, and I did. Birds I could not recognize; insects I had not heard before; frogs that echoed with a threatening bass voice; etc.

That’s when I heard a strange sound coming from the direction of several beehives. As I approached the hives with caution, the sound became increasingly definable. It sounded like a city full of people retching their guts out. I had never heard such a sound before, mostly because I had never been this close to a beehive with a super-duper hearing aid.

After I arrived home I began to research the “life of bees.” The part about flying from flower to flower to collect nectar, that everyone knows about did not shed any light on the sounds coming from inside the hive. Finally, I got to the honey part of the bee’s life. It described in vivid detail how the nectar, and some pollen, is ingested by the worker bees of the hive and partially digested. It is then regurgitated and stored into cells of the honeycomb as food for the hive inhabitants, workers, nursery attendants, growing larva, and all. Surpluses are accumulated to last them through the winter months when there are no flowers to harvest.

When I read that honey is nothing but bee puke, I almost did. I liked honey, but I really did not intend to find out how it was produced. I had used honey quite liberally on and in everything requiring a little sweetening. If it had not been for the historical documentation of man’s consuming and use of honey as a natural medicinal poultice, and mummification agent for thousands of years, I would have sworn off of honey for life. I still get a little quizzy when I think of eating honey. I try to use only homogenized honey products instead of the more popular and less expensive raw honey.

It is amazing that honey is the only human food product that does not need refrigeration or preservatives. There are caves in Spain with 8,000 year old cave paintings of people gathering honey. There are birds on at least 2 continents that have developed symbiotic relationships with man and honey badgers. The birds locate bee hives and alert the honey harvesters and badgers with their calls, then lead them to the hive. The birds are not as interested in the honey as they are in the bee larva contained in the nursery combs.

As an amateur naturalist, I still enjoy observing nature in action, foraging, hunting, taking care of the juveniles, etc. I even enjoy bees and the knowledge of their life and products, I just don’t wear my super-duper hearing device near the beehives anymore. I found out more than I wanted to know.

And, now, so have you.

P.S. -- You don't EVEN want to know how eggs are produced!!!!!


  1. You are so funny, Mr. Crowe and definitely informative. I believe that you may be correct...more than I ever wanted to know about something I just love to eat! UGH.