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From Bees To Bottle, The Making Of Our Honey Beers

For every season there is a beer, and for summer that includes the beers we brew with Rogue Farms honey.

All this month, we’ll show you how the 7,140,289 Rogue Farms honeybees make the honey we use in our Honey Kolsch and Marionberry Braggot. It starts with nectar, a slightly sweet liquid that honeybees and other pollinators crave.

How Honeybees Gather Nectar

A flower is con job. It’s Mother Nature’s way of saying, “Free nectar. Come and get it!” But the plant growing the flower isn’t giving away nectar just to be nice. The plan is that when a honeybee drops in for a drink, some of its pollen will rub off the bee, which will then carry it to the next flower. The bee gets a meal, the plant is pollinated, everybody wins.

A Rogue Farms honeybee collecting nectar from one of our Prickless Marionberries.

A Rogue Farms honeybee collecting nectar from one of our Prickless Marionberries. Honeybees that gather nectar are called foraging bees.

Nectar is 80% water plus glucose, fructose and other complex sugars. When a honeybee arrives at a flower, it sucks up the nectar through its proboscis, a long flexible tube that functions like a straw.

But honeybees don’t eat nectar. It goes into a honeybee’s second stomach, known as a honey sac or crop. When the sac is full, it’s time for the honeybee to return to the hive where it hands over the nectar to other bees that make honey from it.

Honeybee DrawingHoneybee Trivia

  • A honeybee can carry its own weight in nectar.
  • A foraging bee will visit 50-1500 flowers to fill its honey sac.
  • Honeybees visit 2 million flowers to gather enough nectar to make a pound of honey.

From early spring to late summer, the Rogue Farms honeybees gather nectar from a wide variety of flowers around the farm. Some we planted, others grow naturally. The diversity helps our bees stay healthy and happy.

Bee in Daffodil 3.7.13 (20)

A honeybee in one of the daffodils in our garden.

In addition to our marionberries, the Rogue Farms honeybees also pollinate our Dream Pumpkins, Jalapeño peppers and the botanicals in the Revolution Garden.

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A Rogue Farms honeybee covered in pollen while foraging our Dream Pumpkins.

Bee Clover 6.20.13 (44)

Several varieties of clover grow here throughout the year.

Bees and wildflowers June 2014 2

To make sure the honeybees have plenty of nectar, every spring we plant wildflowers along the road into Rogue Farms.

It’s Not Just Nectar…

As bees fly from flower to flower, they keep some pollen for themselves. Pollen is an important part of their diet. Honey gives them carbs and energy. Pollen provides protein, lipids, vitamins, and minerals. It’s especially important for the brood of a colony.

Foraging honeybees stuff pollen into a spot on their hind legs called a corbicula, or pollen basket.

With their corbula stuffed with pollen, these honeybees arrive at the hive.

With their corbiculas filled to the brim, these honeybees arrive at the hive to unload their goods and resume foraging.

So how does nectar become honey? That’s for next week. All we’ll say about it for now are these two words, Bee barf.

Join us at Rogue Farms! The hops are climbing, the marionberries are turning ripe, our pumpkins, cucumbers and corn are sprouting, and our bees are buzzing. See how we grow our kolsch and braggot from Bee to Bottle.

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