Nearly a week ago we were single digits and sitting under two feet of snow. The bees were huddled together staying warm in their hives by generating a temperature of about 90 degrees. Amazing little critters. They do not hibernate as many folks believe. Today the snow is nearly gone, the temps have been reaching into the 50’s and I am in the middle of making plans to expand my beeyard. The demand for natural honey far exceeds my ability to meet and after expanding my number of hives last year I will be looking to more than double the number of hives I have this year. That means a couple of things. One, I need more bees and recently placed an order for them. They will arrive in two months and the season will get underway. Purchasing bees is very expensive and I’m looking to improve upon my own ability to raise queens and expand/replace hives in my apiary. If your interested in keeping bees, or just learning more about them you will want to follow along. I am hoping I have come across an easy and simple way to raise queens and expand my number of hives. I am also looking into expanding to the other side of the mountains where the winters are milder and the season longer, which should ultimately result in more honey. You might want to come along for the adventure.
In the mean time I would like to remind you all to Bee Friendly. They are generally not aggressive away from the hive and the ones that are aggressive are not likely honeybees. Bees are our friends and pollinate many berry, fruit and vegetable crops. For me this translates into purchasing organic products in the grocery store. Huge losses of honeybees have occurred in areas impacted by the expanding fields of GMO crops, such as corn and soybeans. I’m not going to enter the GMO “is it good for you bad for you” debate. For me GMO’s translate into one thing – they are designed to be sprayed with tons of chemicals without killing the plants. Chemicals that are not good for the soil or our water supplies. Somewhere in the past I thought we learned this lesson as a nation. Chemicals in the environment don’t lead to good health. We eliminated asbestos, mercury, lead, DDT and hundreds of other deadly chemicals. We passed laws and established the Clean Water Act, the EPA and the Endangered Species Act, just to name a few. What happened to our collective consciousness?????? Maybe all those chemicals we were exposed to in the 60’s and 70’s erased those things from our memories and somehow the younger generation, who thinks it is so environmentally conscious, is helping to bring all this stuff back, just in different forms than we knew in the 60’s and 70’s.
As we take up the beginning of a new beekeeping season, and I address the challenges of raising bees (and honey) that are chemical free – yes Virginia virtually all of your commercial store bot honey comes from hives treated with miticides, an insecticide used to kill mites – I encourage all of you to take a stand against GMO’s. You can get into whether actual food that is produced is good for you or not, but I’m not going there because to me its not a relevant discussion. Any crop that is raised under the spreading cloud of chemical sprays and grey pall of poison dust stirred up at harvest time threatens both honeybees and our own health. I encourage you to support your organic food growers. Does it really cost more? I don’t believe so when you factor in the health costs to ourselves and our nation. We have simply grown use to cheap, unhealthy, subsidized substitutes for food. Real food that is good for you only seems to be more expensive if you compare it to the fake substitute.
Miners used to take canaries into the coal mines to warn them if oxygen levels were getting low. Environmentalists use key species to monitor forest, rangeland and watershed health. Doesn’t it then make sense to take heed when what we use to grow our so called food is killing the very bees upon which we depend for pollination of about 60 percent of our food?