Union Depot is abuzz with its smallest tenants: honeybees.
Union Depot is home to five rooftop beehives. These hives help support the endangered honeybee community while producing a healthy and delicious treat. Honey produced by the Bee Line bees is collected to make sweet treats available for purchase. Don’t worry—we’ll leave plenty for the bees to live on during the winter.
Bee Line Honey: Unique in Every Way
The color and flavor of the honey collected from the Bee Line bees varies from year to year and depends on the source of the nectar. Our Bee Line bees find their food along the Mississippi River Valley and in parks and gardens around the city. Typically, the light color and sweet spicy flavor found in Bee Line honey is a result of nectar collected from Basswood trees which are plentiful in urban environments. Other plants that influence the color and flavor include dandelion, loosetrife, wild rose and thistle. Because Bee Line Honey contains pollen gathered locally, it has the added benefit of alleviating seasonal allergies. Take a walk along the river, and see if you can spot a Bee Line bee gathering nectar and pollinating the plants! Union Depot is proud to be the home for such amazing tenants. Their contributions are immeasurable, their offering so sweet.
Honeybee Fun Facts
- Honeybees will travel up to three miles from the hive for nectar. In its lifetime, one bee will produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey! Honeybees are herbivores and search diligently for nectar from plants and trees. “Busy as a bee” is a term which accurately describes their behavior.
- Urban bees have advantages not usually available in rural settings. They find a wider variety of food sources, fewer insecticides and little intrusion from animals. That helps keep the bees healthy and strong. During the winter, bees live in the hive and feed on the honey they’ve stored in the summer months.
- There is one queen bee per hive. She lives several years while the workers (female) only live 4-6 weeks. Drones (male) are expelled in the fall and only serve to inseminate the queen. Worker bees raise the young bees, protect the hive, scout for suitable harvest sites and gather the nectar. The queen’s job is to lay eggs. During the peak of the summer she will lay more than 1000 eggs a day.
- Although female honeybees have stingers, people are not often stung by them. Yellow jackets (wasps) are carnivores and are often the culprit for random stings, especially in late summer.
- Honeybees are the greatest pollinators on the planet. Without them, one-fourth of all the foods we eat would completely disappear. We can all help keep bees busy by avoiding the use of pesticides and planting bee friendly plants.
Union Depot has partnered with Mademoiselle Miel, a St. Paul beekeeper and chocolatier, to oversee our beehives and creation of honey treats. Mademoiselle Miel has been awarded Dessert Professional Magazine’s 2014 Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America award.