The great pollinators of our world, these insects have co-evolved with human societies for thousands of years. Ancient texts reveal the ingenuity of Egyptian culture floating large barges filled with beehives up and down the Nile River with the nectar flows! As tireless workers, they wear their bodies to the breaking point in a mere 30 days only to produce a single drop of honey. An average a beehive may contain more than 50,000 honey bees; most of these are female worker bees and they perform all of the daily tasks. The female worker bees are the backbone of the entire hive; they care for the queen, feed and raise new brood, clean up everything, keep predators at bay, create new comb, turn nectar into honey, gather pollen and nectar, communicate to fellow foraging bees where the best nectar flows are happening and ultimately decide when to replace an aging or sick queen. Without the female worker bee, the hive would not function; this female-dominated society is one of the most efficient in the insect world.
The most famous and paramount of all the bees is the Queen. As a newly-laid egg, she is no different than her neighbor until caretaker bees assigned to her decide to make her a queen. This is done by feeding her a diet consisting of Royal Jelly, a substance secreted by the caretaker bees, so she grows stronger and larger than her female underlings. Upon full growth, she will emerge from her enlarged honeycomb cell and quickly kill all other unborn potential queens in their capped cells before they have a chance to awaken. Her victory dance goes something like this: she takes to the air with all the neighboring male drone bees, but since she flies high and fast, she will mate with only a few of the superior drones that are able to keep up with her. Upon completion of mating the male drones fall to the ground dead-- their only purpose fulfilled. She returns to the hive, having stored all the spermatozoa from the drones in a separate chamber in her abdomen for future use when laying eggs. At this point, she will either kill the current weaker queen and establish her place in the hive by sending out a hormone to suppress all her female compatriots from rising up against her or allow the aging queen to swarm with part of the hive to find a new home or even still, take part of the female worker bees and lead them in a swarm to seek out a new home. The action she chooses will be decided by how many bees are currently in the hive, the available space within the hive to expand and current weather conditions.
The drones-- male bees-- are the loafs of the hive consuming honey and buzzing around waiting to propagate with a new queen. Female bees vastly outnumber their drone counterparts and in the late fall all of the drones are thrown from the hive and stoop to die in the grass below because they are not needed nor wanted during the lean winter months when everyone must share the honey stores. Many drones will die before ever performing their given task, but the honey bee society runs on a strict code, and makes no exceptions.
As hardy as this incredible insect is, they are facing an unparalleled enemy: us. Once their guardians, industrial agriculture has turned a blind eye and crossed the line into excessive exploitation. By enlarging their physical size, they have become susceptible to a host of diseases and parasites, which are counter-productively fought with pesticides and fungicides. These compounds are then passed into the honeycomb and honey, eventually making its way into our food and bodies. As if the stress of the chemical mismanagement is not enough for the bees, hundreds of hives are loaded onto trucks and transported all across the United States following the nectar flows. This constant movement disrupts the natural honey bee life cycle, and exposes the entire hive to each orchard's pesticide of choice. The damaging effects of these management practices are reflected in the countless stories of hives seemingly abandoned overnight, mass graveyards of thousands of bees and sick queens. In our best attempt to make sense of this phenomenon, we have named it Colony Collapse Disorder. We need to turn the mirror in on ourselves and look at our misgivings towards a creature which makes life possible. They are the canary in the coal mine of the larger agricultural issues our country is facing.
It is for these reasons that we fiercely advocate honey bee research and preservation which is precisely why we pledge to donate a portion of our profits to foundations such as The Xerces Society and Spikenard Farm: Honeybee Sanctuary .
Our beans are from an ancient noble variety of Cacao Trees, scientifically named Theobroma Cacao. The beans make up less than 10% of all the beans harvested worldwide and are selected for their delicate fruity flavor and exceptional cocoa butter content (around 50-53% of the cacao nib). There are three parts to every cacao bean:
The external brown husk - this light in color thin shell protects the bean from pests and shelters the internal cacao nib from damage during growth and fermentation.
The interior cacao nib - as large as the entire bean, the nib is what will ultimately form part of the final chocolate. This is where many of the unique flavor profiles are housed and hides within its walls the cocoa butter.
Lastly, the cocoa butter - this velvety smooth oil-like substance is liquefied at high temperatures and seeps from the nib to create the perfect smooth melting feel every good chocolate possesses.