Local Monofloral Honey in Guangdong, China

22 01 2015

About 4.5 years ago, when I was teaching high school in the countryside in Hunan province, I decided to give myself a Chinese name. Most of my students could barely speak English, so this gave them something to latch onto and everyone remembered it easily. The name I chose was not standard or traditional in any way – it translated to Ms. Honeybee White – but it made sense to me and to the students. (original post here).

One of those students went on to study English in the same city where I live now, and we get together regularly for food and adventures. We have a good connection. And she knows my love for bees well.

Schefflera octophylla - ya jiao muSo well, in fact, that she gave me something quite special last week. She has a friend whose family works with bees around Zhao Qing (肇庆) a city of about 4 million in Guangdong province. My friend put a request in for winter honey. It doesn’t get that cold here, so there are flowers year-round. This particular honey is monofloral – it is derived from a single type of plant. In this case, it is a tree: Schefflera octophylla, also known as Australian Ivy Palm, umbrella tree, octopus tree, and in Chinese, ‘ya jiao mu’ (鸭脚木, yā jiǎo mù) or ‘duck foot tree’. The bark of this tree is considered to be medicinal in China.

Duck Foot Tree Honey from GuangdongThe honey appears to be unfiltered, and I am assuming since it came from a personal stash, it was not adulterated. In terms of colour grading, it could probably be classified as a ‘white’ honey. It is light in colour, light golden. (See my article on honey quality, including a section on colour grades here).

The taste is very interesting. The initial flavour is a mildly bitter tang, which is immediately chased by a lovely sweetness. My first try was on its own, of course, but I added some to my morning oatmeal, and it was positively delicious.

Honey is precious. Every time you eat it, remember that a bee, during the span of her life, only produces 1/12 teaspoon. This container above represents the contributions of thousands and thousands of these beautiful beings.

Creamed Linden Honey – From China

17 09 2014

As I’ve mentioned in various posts and static pages (Chinese Honey) on this site, I buy Chinese honey. I live in China, and honey is readily available. Whether it is safe to eat or not, or whether it is of good quality is nearly impossible to find out without a local person versed in food safety and legal issues at hand. Chinese honey is notorious for adulteration in one way or another.

Creamed Linden Honey from ChinaI try to buy more expensive brands with the idea that cost is associated with quality. But there are still no assurances.

And as such, I just bought a new container of creamed honey (结晶蜂蜜 – jié​ jīng fēng​mì). It’s my first linden honey (椴树 – duàn shù). The texture is quite good – very smooth – and the taste is mild.

I was able to do a little research on the company after I bought it. Based in Guangxi province, the brand Guanglin appears to be associated with a company that claims to promote organic beekeeping practices. Do I believe this? It is a large company, and it is China – I’m skeptical…

Other honey I’ve bought in China:

Bumbles Pollinating a Massive Cucumber Crop

10 09 2014

I find it really difficult to identify bees, and I’m sure I’ve complained before about poor internet resources/guides to identifying bees. I did spend some time looking around, but nothing conclusive has come from my search.

Anyhow, I’ve got a collection of recent photos taken in southern Quebec of some bumblebees going nuts over a massive cucumber crop. You’ll notice from the differences in pattern, that there are two different species present. I believe the one in the bottom left photo is the odd one out. With the rest, note the distinctive black circle in the center of the bee’s thorax, the stripe of black at the top of the abdomen, and the fact that the edging of the final yellow stripe on the abdomen isn’t straight, but dimples up in the centre. Black and yellow only, this bee is black-bummed.

Finally! Some Southern Chinese Honey Bees!!!

22 08 2014

It has been ages since I posted here on Bees Alive! and I sincerely apologize for that. Part of the problem is that I relocated to Southern China once again, and as with all of my experiences in this part of the country, I have a hard time finding bees. I’m not sure why. There are tons of other flying lovelies – wasps galore, dragon flies, butterflies, moths, argh – mosquitoes. But bees? Two summers in Hainan and a year in Guangzhou yielded not a single sighting. It is a sad state of affairs, alas.

But then! A few months ago. I was, for some reason, looking out the sliding glass door leading on to my balcony, and my eyes detected action. There is a very tall tree growing beside my balcony, a few of the branches of which overhang. The tree was flowering (I’m not sure what kind of tree it is yet, but after some investigation and once I figure it out, I’ll update the post), and it had managed to attract some friends of the winged variety. I grabbed my camera, and popped outside for a closer look.

Honey bees!!! As well as some wasps and other critters. Unfortunately, the flowers are small, and when that happens, bees move frequently and quickly instead of staying for a photo opportunity. But I managed to get a few average shots which I’ve included below. My delay in posting has been the result of losing my camera cord as well as access to an SD card reader, but I’m equipped once more.

honey bee in guangzhou, china


Notice the half-full pollen sacs in this next photo. Yes, I have a soft spot for pollen sacs…

pollen sac on southern Chinese honey bee


Milkweed Seed Needed

12 08 2013

If you are based in North America, you might be interested in the following campaign. Monarch Watch, a non-profit organization based at the University of Kansas, is looking for milkweed seed donations to further their goals to preserve local monarch butterfly populations. They encourage the start-up and maintenance of monarch waystations and provide kits to interested parties. Remember that milkweed is also a plant loved by bees :)

Click the following poster to find out how to collect and donate. (Of course, you can always plant your own milkweed on your own!)

milkweed for monarchs needed

Iceland’s White-Tailed Bumblebee

3 08 2013

Move over gift-store tchotchkes, there’s a better travel souvenir in town. Well, at least when it comes to me.

Photos of bees from places I’ve never visited nor will visit in the near future.

And that’s just what friend and fellow blogger from Uncategorized Days did. Just back from an adventure-filled hiking excursion in Iceland, she sent me a batch of gorgeous bumble photos :)

Taken in two different locations, photos showcase Bombus lucorum – the white-tailed bumblebee. The photos taken of bees in the moss campion (Silene acaulis) were shot at the Krýsuvík geothermal area in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The photos including bees in the dandelions were taken at the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve in the Central Highlands.

Iceland is home to three different species of bumblebee, including B. lucorum.

Many thanks!

Summertime Bombus hortorum in the UK

15 07 2013

Thank you to a regular contributor for the following lovely photos of an industrious Bombus hortorum.

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013

Bombus hortorum - UK July 3rd 2013


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