The popularity of bees has been a cultural phenomenon recently. The “Queen Bee,” Beyoncé has her Beyhive, and I was seconds away from titling this post “Beez in the Trap,” but Nikki didn’t get back to me in time, so here we are. My first memories of bees go way back to when I would see the orange groves with white column boxes spread out among the rows. I desperately wanted to see what was inside. Thanks to Airbnb Experiences, I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams, seeing the honey bees up close by being beekeeper for the day.
My friend and I wanted to see what all the buzz… was about. We lucked out with the weather; as the first sign of the fall season moved through the area, perfect for the bees’ temperament, and we didn’t sweat to death in our beekeeping jackets. The experience started at the residence of the Airbnb host. There was a smiling metal bee placard with the word welcome at the entrance of the doorway.
Our host David answered the door, welcoming us in. We started the experience with a slide show on the life cycle of bees. In their short 21 days on earth, they work tirelessly to support the colony. David referred to the bees as ladies throughout the presentation, which is correct. The workers are female bees, and I found how he referred to them endearing and loving. Almost as if he desperately wanted to name each individual bee. It was adorable.
Maybe I missed the earth science chapter on how beehives function and grow; there was so much to discover. I was fascinated to learn when the queen bee dies, the hive searches through the eggs laid in the last few days to find a larva that will become the next queen. The worker bees then build a special comb called the “queen cup” for the new queen to grow. The gowning future Queen feeds on only the highest protein diet of royal jelly. This process blew my mind; I had no idea these little insects were so organized. From the outside, a beehive looks chaotic. But each bee is working to support the hive’s health by raising the next generation, searching for pollen, and protecting the hive from predators.
After the presentation, we suited up in our protective beekeeper suits. I was given the hood with a round brimmed hat. I looked very reminiscent of Beyoncé in the ”Formation” music video (minus any musical talent, dancing ability, or overall coolness). Once suited up, we walked over to three wooden boxes. From a distance, it was difficult to see the bees. As we approached the hives, the buzzing became increasingly louder and louder. With the smoke can ready, David removed the lit to the first hive. I couldn’t Bee-leave how many bees were in such a small box. We each took turns puffing smoke over the hive, while David removed the frames for us to get an up-close look at what the ladies hard at work. Each frame was like its own country. Some were significantly developed with larva and honey. At the same time, others were in the beginning stages of building their combs. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the queen, but we did see what David said was a “Practice Queen Cell.” The workers will sometimes make these cells to fine-tune their skills, if and when they need to make an actual queen cell. A few baby bees were beginning to crack out of their cells. Much like baby chickens, these new bees must fight their way out of the capped cell to join the rest of the hive.
We placed the frames back in the hive, smoked the ladies one more time, and carefully placed the lid back on top. Surprisingly no one was stung during the experience. All the bees seemed relaxed and unbothered by us disrupting their day. Carefully, we examed each other for any hitchhiking bees before removing our jackets. Once disrobed, we headed inside for cocktails prepared by our host with honey harvested from the hive.
The cocktail of the day was an Old Fashioned with honey instead of sugar. The subtle, natural sweetness of the honey paired perfectly with the smoky bourbon, giving it a light, well-balanced honey flavor without being too sweet. During the cocktail hour is where David shined with his bee knowledge and experience as a keeper. He kept us entertained with past experiences of beekeeping. Like the struggle of driving across the state to spend $25.00 on a new queen, only to have her rejected by the hive. How frustrating that must have been!
As we sipped our cocktails listening to David’s stories, we tasted honey samples from different seasons. The flavors varied depending on the flowers in bloom during the time of harvest; each sample was distantly different from the next. Some had a smooth floral taste, while others tasted like the fruit trees the pollen was collected. As apart of the experience, we were able to choose a bottle of honey to take home. I decided on the Black Mangrove. It was a unique flavor that will pair well with cocktails and afternoon tea.
An Airbnb Experience is an excellent option for a girl’s night, date night, or family activity. Airbnb Experiences in your area can be found HERE. My Bee Keeping Airbnb Experience in Clearwater, Florida, can be found HERE.
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