Danielle Dale, the 2012 American Honey Princess, visited several Waupaca area schools Nov. 1-5.
Her visit was in conjunction with the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association's annual convention, held Nov. 1-4 at the Best Western Grand Seasons in Waupaca.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, Dale visited with second graders at the Iola-Scandinavia Elementary School in Iola.
She spoke about the importance of beekeeping and honeybee pollination in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.
Honey bees are the only bees that make honey, she explained.
She said there are three types of honeybees: Workers, drones and the queen.
The queen's only job is to lay eggs. It is up to the other bees to feed and clean her.
The drones only exist to mate with the queen. They also require the other bees to feed them. Prior to winter, the drones are kicked out of the hive so there is enough food for the worker bees.
The worker bees are the only ones that gather nectar and spread pollen from flower to flower. They feed and clean the queen, care for sick bees, and guard the hive. They also clean, cool and heat the hive.
"These bees only live six weeks because they work themselves to death," Dale said.
The workers are the only honeybees that have stingers, but they can only sting once. After they sting, they die.
Honeybees make nectar into honey, but their most important task is pollination. Because of their fuzzy body, pollen sticks to them as they collect nectar from flowering plants. One honeybee can fly to over 100 flowers per trip, spreading the pollen required to fertilize plants.
Without honeybees, there would be no alfalfa, no cranberries, no pumpkins, no apples, Dale explained.
One honeybee makes one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
There are over 300 different varieties of honey in the United States, and over 3,000 varieties worldwide, according to Dale. The variety of the honey depends on where the nectar is collected.
"The darker the color, the stronger the flavor," she said.
Wisconsin's darkest honey variety is buckwheat, which is almost black and tastes like sweet molasses.
"Anyone can be a beekeeper," Dale said.
A beekeeper can care for one hive or a thousand hives, she explained.
When gathering honey from a hive, a beekeeper wears light-colored clothing. This keeps the beekeeper cool and is less frightening to the bees.
The beekeeper wears a veil to protect his/her face from being stung by the honeybees. Typically a smoker is used before approaching a hive.
The smoke sends a danger signal to the worker bees so they begin to protect their honey by injesting it. As they fill their bodies with honey, the bees become slow and lazy, making the beekeeper's job less dangerous.
Questions and answers
The second graders had lots of questions about bees.
Q: Are there honeybees everywhere in the United States?
A: Yes, they can be found in every U.S. state, but not in the ocean.
Q: Is syrup a type of honey?
A: No, syrup comes from maple trees.
Q: Why do the worker bees kick the drones out of the hive prior to winter?
A: There is not enough food (honey) to feed the drones during the winter, and drones are only needed during the warm months.
Q: Are flies like bees?
A: No, they do not make honey and they do not sting.
Q: Are there other types of bees?
A: Yes, there are bumble bees, yellow jackets, wasps, etc. You can tell they are not honeybees because they do not have fuzzy bodies.
Q: Have you ever been stung?
A: Yes, but most of the time it's my own fault.
Honey is the only food that never spoils.
The United States has between 139,600-212,000 beekeepers.-
Honey contains trace amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants - the darker the honey, the greater the concentration of these properties.
Insect pollination is responsible for one-third of all the foods we eat, and honeybees accomplish 80 percent of that pollination.
Due to its antibacterial properties, honey is effective for use on cuts and scrapes to aid in healing.
For more information, visit www.abfnet.org or www.wihoney.org.
Danielle Dale is the 20-year-old daughter of Rich and Lorie Dale of Sparta.
She is a sophomore at Western Technical College in LaCrosse, where she is pursuing an associate's degree. She plans to seek a bachelor's degree in communications or marketing.
A third generation beekeeper, Dale began beekeeping as a hobby at 12-years-old.
As the 2012 American Honey Princess, she serves as a national spokesperson on behalf of the American Beekeeping Federation, a trade organization representing beekeepers and honey producers throughout the United States. The Honey Queen and Princess speak and promote in venues nationwide, and will travel throughout the United States during their year-long reign.
Prior to being selected as the American Honey Princess, Dale served as the 2011 Wisconsin Honey Queen. In this role, she promoted the honey industry at fairs, festivals and farmers' markets, via television and radio interviews, and in schools.