Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Uptown Westerville Farmers' Market: The Buzz @ Honey Health Farms

Honey Health Farms' Dale Benedict Shares the Story of his Farm and his Honey:


Of course it's all the millions of honeybees and in the spring of the year it's a remarkable sight after a long winter to see the bee hives come alive. It's one of the miracles of Mother Nature.

During the just completed winter months the honeybees survive by gathering into a cluster within the hive and eating the eighty pounds of honey that we leave for them that they produced last summer and fall. The cluster of bees maintain a winter time temperature of 92 degrees even though they winter in a wooden box surrounded by the ice and snow of Ohio's winter. By maintaining the 92 degree metobolic temperature through constant movement and body heat the cluster of bees protect the queen bee and insure to a degree the hive's survival.

A hive of bees consists of the:

▪ female worker bees

▪ drones, the male bees for breeding purposes

▪ the queen, of which, only one can be present or swarmming will occur when multiple queens exist

Swarmming is a natural process of always providing an active egg laying queen to insure that a hive remains viable and productive. If the honey bees in a hive sense that the present queen is becoming ineffective at laying eggs they feed "royal jelly" to one or more existing eggs in the hive and these fertilized eggs grow extra large and take on queen laying capabilities.

A good queen will lay upto 2,000 eggs per day during the spring, summer, and fall of her lifetime which can extend to three years or more. During the swarmming event about half the honeybees leave to find a new home with the new queen and the remaing honey bees stay behind.

Good beekeepers try to manage this event by removing old queens from the hive and introducing a new one prior to the honeybees deciding to do this on their own.

(Pictured above a swarming hive in a barrel.)

When spring arrives on the honey farm the beekeepers take to the field to inspect each hive, rotate the hive boxes so the bees are starting the season in the lower box and to remove queen cells prior to the hive wanting to swarm.

Here in Ohio, most beekeepers keep their bees in a "two deep box" system and then place a "supper box or more" on each hive to allow the honeybees to produce honey for humans when a major blossoming period begins. Here at Honey Health Farms we produce a highly desirable wildflower honey.

The honey producing cycle is very much like farming, as it depends upon favorable weather. During the warm and hot days when sunlight hours are extended, honeybees work from early daylight to the last rays of sunlight.

Honeybees life cycle varies with the season with newborn bees living for less than a month during spring and summer and extending out to four-five months over the winter to help the queen survive for the following year when the process begins all over.

One interesting note: drones, the male bee within the hive structure, live only from spring until fall when the worker bees kick them out to freeze. You see, drones don't produce honey and therefore the worker bee females don't think they should be allowed to eat honey all winter long. Seem like justice for a non-producer, doesn't it?


Local raw honey (honey that hasn't been pasturized) has been shown to be effective for reducing the affects of allergies. Honeybees gather the pollen that causes you to have allergies and they consume it as well as making other useful products from it to insure their survival. Raw honey has pollen in it and as you take small daily does of it your body builds up an immunity to rag weed, tree, grass and floral pollens.

The products that honeybees produce in their hives has vitamins and minerals in them and as well they are anti-microbal.

These many health benefits of honey is the reason that I changed the name of the company from Ben-Bee Apairies to Honey Health Farms. We produce all of our own labels to differentiate our brand from common honey labels.


Newspapers and nightly news broadcasts have been filled over the last five years or so with the question about the serious decline in the honeybee population. There seems to be no easy answer with various sides disputing each other.

The latest issue brewing is whether neo-nicotinoid pesticides threaten honeybees and other insects. Neo-nicotinoid is a method by which insecticide is bio-engineered into the plant seed and remains in the plant as it grows to maturity.

As a beekeeper and provider of honey I take the threat of any pesticide very seriously and therefore have always politely declined when orchard owners or large producers of pumkins, etc. have asked me to place my hives on their properties.

We only place our hives in pristine areas.


I suspect that most of us get into endeavors without realizing why. I know that was the case with me when I started beekeeping some twelve to fourteen years ago.

Sure, we had honeybees on the farm where I grew up. It helped to replace sugar which was rationed during World War 11 and I certainly have an interest in "Mother Nature".

But recently while my daughter Kim was doing a geneology study on the Benedict family, She discovered that my Great, Great, Great Grandfather Aaron Benedict was a renown beekeeper.

Aaron lived in Peru Township in Delaware County along Alum Creek. Right after the Cival War he began beekeeping and later had apairies located on Kelly's Island in Lake Erie. He conducted breeding programs on the island based upon the need to do so in a pristine area ( free of feral or wild honeybees). Aaron shipped honeybees all over the world from this location.

The land in Peru Township was awarded to the Benedict family for their earlier service in the Revolutionary War.

Now maybe that's the reason I started raising honeybees........ and that's the real Buzz.
- Dale Benedict

To learn more about Aaron Benedict, including his involvement in the Underground Railroad, click here.

Photographs provided by Dale Benedict.

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