I got to experience something truly amazing today. Damian Magista from Bee Local and Chef Vitaly Paley from Paley's Place, Imperial and Portland Penny Diner, took the time to show our class one of Bee Local's bee hives. This hive was situated on the roof of Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland. So, not only was the bee information fascinating, but the view was epic.
Damian and Chef Paley are collaborating in order to bring truly local (and incredibly delicious) honey to the dishes at Chef Paley's restaurants.
I learned an insane amount about bees and why they are so crucial to our environment. Here is an unorganized, random list of some of the coolest things I learned:
- Depending upon where the hive is located, the honey will taste completely different
- Honey has similar (if not more) complexities of wine
- Honey never spoils
- The Queen Bees kill each other; they don't have a barbed stinger so they don't die after stinging
- Each bee in the hive has a specific role
- When one bee finds a great source of nectar, he/she will share it with their buddy and give them directions to the source
- A bee's sole purpose is to make honey, not sting you
- Honey should never be cooked. It causes a major loss in nutrients
- When bee keepers 'smoke' the bees, the bees percieve it as a potential forest fire. They begin to focus solely on eating the honey to stock up on calories in case they have to abandon hive. This calms them down and refocuses their attention so they're not concerned with the bee keeper
- When bees sting, they release pheromones into the victim. This warns the other bees of danger
BEES ARE SO COOL!
We even got to see the Queen Bee of the hive!
One of the coolest, most mind blowing concepts I learned is how literal the word 'local' is when referring to Bee Local honey. Buying local produce and other products is totally on trend right now, but local has turned into such a ambiguous term. People may try to sell you 'local' products, but their definition of local may be 100 (or more) miles away. What is so cool about Bee Local, and honey production in general, is that local absolutely means 1-2 miles from the hive.
Because bees only fly within 2 or so miles of their hive, the hive's honey takes on a very distinctive taste of the surrounding environment. This makes the flavor of honey taste totally different depending on the neighborhood the hive lives.
The hives on top of Sentinel aren't far from the Portland Rose Test Garden. When we stuck our finger through the wax layer and into the comb of the honey, the floral nodes were super present. It was so cool!
After our time at the hives, Damian and Chef Paley took us to Imperial to do some honey tasting and to really experience just how much of an impact hive location makes on the taste of the honey.
My bee hive honey experience was eye opening and so informative. I now pledge to never buy another plastic honey bear bottle for as long as I live! That stuff ain't got nothin' on Bee Local.