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Eugene, Oregon First City to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

Leave it to Eugene to be the first!!! An alternative, progressive city, they just became the first in the country to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, one of the types linked to declining honey bee populations.

According to Beyond Pesticides, “several bee-kill incidents occurred in Oregon last summer, including one that killed more than 50,000 bumblebees after a licensed pesticide applicator sprayed blooming linden trees, a violation of the pesticide label. After a preliminary investigation, the Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed that the massive bee die-off was caused by the use of the neonicotinoid insecticide, dinotefuran.”

Eugene is just one of many communities looking to prevent incidents like this. In Calif., N.Y., and N.J. similar language is being drafted for proposal that would limit pesticides, particularly the neonicotinoid type.

In addition to the new restrictions on these pesticides, Eugene will also expand its current pesticide-free parks program, and, according to Beyond Pesticides, “now requires all departments to adopt integrated pest management (IPM) standards.”

Pesticides are, in general, harmful to honey bees…as well as humans, pets, the environment…and the list goes on. Cheers to Eugene for realizing this and making some progress in the elimination of these harmful chemicals! We can’t wait to see other states following this precedent soon.

-shared from One Green Planet 


Super Duper Supers!

Our ten hives are growing up! Literally! They began not long ago as "nucs"…new hives, just one box high. A few weeks later, our new queens had raised enough baby brood to necessitate the addition of a second box ("super") above……and THIS week, we added a third Super to our colonies….. The bees are not crazy about the monsoons of our sub-tropical summer, but they're thriving nevertheless….. They're working like crazy…..AND we have a new harvest of Tropical Wildflower……Can't get enough!!!! I nibble on it all day long….

Honey or a Honey-Sugar Blend? FDA's New Rules Will Help You Know!

This content is made possible by the generous sponsorship support of UCare.

Pure honey or a sugar-blend? FDA's new rules will help answer that question

Pure honey or a sugar-blend?
On Tuesday, the FDA issued new draft guidelines that would require food companies to use the word “blend” on product labels when honey is mixed with sugar, corn syrup or other type of sweetener.


That inexpensive brand of honey you’ve been purchasing for years at your local grocery store may not be pure honey after all. More than likely, it’s a blend of honey and sugar or honey and corn syrup.

The same may be true for the “honey” in the honey-flavored bread or cereal or other processed foods you and your family eat.

That may soon change, however. On Tuesday, the FDA issued
 new draft guidelines that would require food companies to use the word “blend” on product labels when honey is mixed with sugar, corn syrup or other type of sweetener.That’s because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been very lenient with food manufacturers when it comes to honey-related labeling.

“That’s excellent news,” said Dan Whitney, a honey producer in Ottertail, Minn., and president of the nonprofit Minnesota Honey Producers Association, in a phone interview with MinnPost.

Much of the “honey” consumed in the United States is actually an imported syrup that contains some honey, but also other sweeteners, he said.

“The main culprit is China,” he added. “They will cut their honey with rice syrup or tapioca syrup.”

If they cut the honey with enough syrup, Whitney explained, the importing companies can avoid import duties. This enables U.S. food manufacturers to purchase the product at very low prices, which they then sell directly to consumers as “honey” or use in their processed “honey-flavored” foods.

“A lot of it probably winds up as bakery-grade or industrial-grade honey,” said Whitney.

But each year, Americans consume more than 400 million pounds of honey. So most of the honey making its way into our grocery stores is imported.

And much of that honey, if not most, is blended with another sweetener.

“If you do a little searching and look up ‘honey production’ from Thailand or Vietnam you find that all of a sudden they have thousands of metric tons to ship to us,” says Whitney. “Where is it coming from? I think they’re opening up the syrup tap.”

Bees have been dying and disappearing around the world, he points out. So, for a country to suddenly start producing huge amounts of honey from natural sources (bees) is unlikely.

Needed: a standard definition

The national American Honey Producers Association, along with the American Beekeeping Federation and several consumer groups, has long requested that the FDA issue a standard definition of honey. The government agency has declined to do that, but if these new guidelines are finalized — and companies abide by them — consumers will be better able to use labels to determine if they are buying pure honey or not.

In the meantime, Whitney recommends that consumers purchase locally harvested honey.

“The only way to really know that you’re getting 100 percent U.S. honey is to buy honey that is bottled by a local beekeeper,” he says.


Pathogens, Parasites & Pesticides put Honeybees in Peril. Free Lecture!

Just wanted you to know that on WEDNESDAY, MAY 7th, 2014, there's a FREE LECTURE entitled Pathogens, Parasites & Pesticides put Honeybees in Peril. 

Lecture is hosted by the University of Miami, Main Campus. It's in Room 166, Cox Science Center.

Lecture begins at 7:00 PM, and is open to the public. 


Honey for Spring Holidays!

I love Spring! The bees are buzzing, pollinating all of the fruits I love best, and it's also smack in the middle of one of the most bountiful honeyflows of the year. Right now we have a new medium amber Tropical Wildflower, and we just got our first harvest of Orange Blossom! We wait all year for that. So we're bottling like crazy. if you need some honey for Easter or Passover, we've got raw honey all ready for you. I like the Wildflower for baking, and sneaking into sauces like barbecue sauce or just about any sauce, frankly. And the Orange Blossom is a bit thicker. I put it over my yogurt, in delicately flavored herb teas, and in my salad dressings. I'll drizzle it over just about anything, quite frankly….

Oh, and when I make ham for Easter, I'll do the whole clove studded thing, and often mix honey, orange juice and mustard to rub over the whole ham. Makes a yummy glaze. (Can hardly wait!) 


Trained Bees Detect Cancer!


Do You Hear What I Hear?

Well, we're gearing up for our beekeeping battle with Miami-Dade County. We have a hearing next week. Why? Because Dade County says that we can only have 5 beehives on our property, but the State of Florida says we can have 15. A new State law was passed in July, 2012 which supersedes local county/municipal laws. The attorneys for the State of Florida have told the attorneys for our county over and over again that they have no jurisdiction in this matter. No authority whatsoever in the placement of beehives. The bees are battling for their lives at the moment and the world watches and hopes they will prevail and preserve our food supply, which is so honeybee dependent. The government recognizes that beekeeping is essential to keep our crops pollinated and keep us all fed….and have enacted laws to protect them.

But……the county being, well, the county……they just don't seem ready to acknowledge that laws passed by the Governor are somehow meant to be heeded.

And so, on January 29th, we will stand before them, to either be granted the state given right to have 15 hives, or to pay a $500 fine for having done so.

Will keep you posted! Meanwhile, I'm bottling Tropical Wildflower honey like crazy…. 


Recipe for RAW Yummy Honey Peanut Butter Energy Balls

According to a Harris Interactive poll, 40 percent of us will resolve to change our lives in some way in the new year. Unsurprisingly, the most popular resolutions are to lose weight, eat more nutritiously, exercise more or a combination of the three.  
This year, the National Honey Board wants to help and we have put together some recipes that will hopefully support you with your goals.

Best wishes for a happy, fit holiday season! Here’s hoping that 2014 will be a joyful one and a year where all of us get one step closer to the people that we want to become.
Honey-Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls
(makes 2 dozen)  
  • 1¼ cup - old fashioned oats
  • 3 tablespoons - shredded coconut
  • ½ cup - sliced almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon - hemp seeds, shelled (optional)
  • 1 scoop - whey protein powder
  • ½ cup - honey
  • ½ cup - dried apricots, chopped
  • ½ cup - peanut butter

In a medium bowl add the oats, coconut, almonds, hemp seeds and protein powder. Stir until well distributed. Add the honey, apricots and peanut butter and stir well. Put mixing bowl into the refrigerator for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then roll into rounded balls. When chilled, they can last about 5 days. 
Printer Friendly Version - Honey-Peanut Butter Protein Energy Balls


Baking? Sweeten Up Your Holidays with Tropical Wildflower Honey...

I'm so looking forward to my annual holiday baking this coming week. And yes, I'll be using plenty of honey. Right now we've got a fresh batch of Tropical Wildflower, which is going to find its way into lots of our goodies.

So if YOU are about to embark on your holiday baking, feel free to stop by and pick up some honey. Of course, you have to call first so we can arrange a pickup time. But we'll be busy in the kitchen, and around a lot of the time.

Remember, if you bake with honey, you want to lower the temperature of your oven by 25 degrees, because baked goods made with honey brown faster than those made with sugar. They also stay moist longer. 

Honey is about 25% sweeter than sugar, due to its fructose content. So if you are replacing sugar in a recipe with honey, use a little bit less honey than the amount of sugar specified.

Have fun, and happy baking…. 


Hey EPA, Bees Can't Wait 5 More Years! Protect Them NOW!

[Reprinted from Pesticide Action Network's Online Blog, courtesy of Paul Towers]

Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees. Yesterday, Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect.

Today, in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, PAN and over 60 food, farm, faith and investor groups are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action. Quickly.

While Thanksgiving has passed, there are still many things to be thankful for. Among them, let’s count the bees. They pollinate much of our food, including the cranberries and pumpkin on so many Thanksgiving tables last week. In fact, we rely on bees for about a third of our food.

But these noble pollinators continue to be in trouble. Beekeepers in the U.S. have been losing, on average, over 30% of their bees each year since 2006 — twice what is considered sustainable. And commercial beekeepers, whose bees pollinate California almonds, lost over 50% of their colonies last year. Some even reported historic losses of 70% or more.

This is unsustainable, not only for beekeepers but for our food system and the agricultural economy.

EPA, get in gear

EPA has stated that it’s at least five years away from doing anything to protect bees from pesticides known to be harmful. First, the agency needs to complete its review of neonicotinoids — a relatively new and widely used class of systemic pesticides. This review isn't due to conclude until 2018.

Scientists point to neonicotinoids as a catalyst driving bee declines. While acutely toxic to bees (meaning, it kills them), studies have shown neonics also compromise bee immune systems and make them more susceptible to a wide range of other impacts like poor nutrition, mites and diseases.

Still, until EPA completes its (very slow) review of neonic products, the agency will not take action to adequately protect bees from this known threat.

Beekeepers say they — and bees — can’t wait for the agency's glacial pace. Federal officials have tried to appease beekeeper concerns with aimless conferences and reports, along with changes to pesticide product labels that yield no additional protections for bees. But decisive action, not token action, is urgently needed.

As beekeeper Jim Doan of New York said:

“Beekeepers are losing colonies at an unprecedented rate — the losses are too extreme to keep up with, and our entire industry is at risk of collapse unless federal action is taken.  Convening conferences and changing pesticide labels is not nearly enough.”

The ad urging EPA action is in today's New York Times, and also in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post,PoliticoMinneapolis Star Tribune, the Des Moines Register and the Los Angeles Times.

States in action

Since EPA has failed to step up in a timely way, states across the country are taking up the issue of protecting bees. In New York and New Jersey, legislative leaders have already introduced bills that would ban or track neonicotinoid pesticides.

And last week we were offered another glimmer of hope as Oregon regulators announced they are planning to restrict the use of neonicotinoids used on trees — and linked to a recent massive bee kill in that state.

While state action is helpful, bees need more comprehensive and uniform protections across the country. EPA should see states in action as a signal that the agency needs to step up. And quickly.


The State of Affairs

We're poised for battle here! Two weeks ago Miami-Dade county knocked on my door with a warning that told us we had a five hive maximum for our zoning and needed to get rid of the balance of our bees. I was stunned! We're state registered beekeepers, and I knew that we were in compliance with the legal regulations. 

So here's the deal: State law supercedes county law. State law asserts that we can absolutely keep all of our bees. But the county doesn't seem to notice! (Or care!) And so, the past few days have been spent bouncing back and forth with the bureaucracy.

I've done my homework!! David Westervelt, Chief Apiary Inspector from the Florida Dept. of Agriculture, stepped up to the plate to inform the county and their attorneys that the county had no jurisdiction over this matter since the law was changed in 2012. But the county disagrees.

I've got the appropriate Florida Statutes nailed to my front door, awaiting the next knock.... I've emailed and called whoever I can. And now.....we wait......  

Our modest little apiary sits serenely in the farthest reaches of our acre, happily making honey for the masses....unaware of the bureaucratic threat to it's survival...

Keep your fingers crossed! 


A Bill to Protect Bees

(from "Ground Truth")

 Late Tuesday afternoon, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a long-awaited bill to place a moratorium on bee-harming pesticides. The "Save America's Pollinators Act" would require EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides off the market until fully reviewed by independent scientists and proven safe for pollinators.

EPA's current review of these pesticides is due to conclude in 2018, with an action plan to be implemented sometime thereafter. Meanwhile, bees continue to die off in droves — and scientific evidence highlighting neonics as a key factor continues to mount. Bees need help now, and the Conyers-Blumenauer bill provides them an immediate reprieve from neonic exposures.

Introduced in the 1990s, neonicotinoids are a class of systemic, neurotoxic pesticides known to beparticularly toxic to honey bees — and they have rapidly taken over the global insecticide market.

Neonics are widely used on more than 140 crops (including significant use on corn), as well as on termites, in flea treatments and in lawns and gardens. They are taken up through the plant’s vascular system to be expressed in pollen, nectar and guttation droplets (like dew) — from which bees then forage and drink.

Time for action

As we've reported, bees continue dying off at alarming rates — with beekeepers reporting losses this past season of 40-70%. And two weeks ago, 50,000 bumblebees dropped dead in a parking lot in Oregon from exposure to a neonicotinoid.

EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have largely failed to address concerns about neonicotinoid pesticides, and have collectively indicated that agencies are at least five years away from any steps to protect bees.

Last year, four members of Congress, including Representative Markey (MA), and Senators Gillibrand (NY), Leahy (VT) and Whitehouse (RI) penned letters to EPA urging the agency to expedite its review of bee-harming pesticides.

The Save America's Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692) seeks to do precisely that. This bill would suspend the use of neonics until a full review of scientific evidence — plus field studies — demonstrate no harmful impacts topollinators. Until then, these chemicals would be off the shelf. 

Protecting bees across the pond

Policymakers in Europe pulled three commonly used neonics off the market earlier this year, citing the growing body science showing their harms to pollinators. Just this week, the EU added another bee-harming pesticide, fipronil, to their restricted list.

While the ban is only in place for two years, it will allow time for scientists to more fully investigate the role neonics are playing in bee declines.

Here in the U.S., it's high time for similarly decisive action. The Save America's Pollinators Act is a strong step in the right direction.

As Paul Towers, PAN's media director, said in a statement this week:

"Congress is now moving to take action to protect bees, where EPA has failed. Following the worst year for bee losses in U.S. history, agency officials have focused attention on a series of endless meetings rather than coordinated action. The Save American Pollinators Act would address these regulatory failures and take bee-harming pesticides off the market."

Join the call for decisive action to help bees! Urge your Representative to support the Save America's Pollinators Act, and help get this critical bill passed.


Buzz Off, Monsanto

This was posted last week by PAN, the Pesticide Action Network:

Buzz off, Monsanto

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Paul Towers
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Last week, the term “bee-washing” emerged in public conversation. It doesn’t refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to theinsidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees — especially neonicotinoids — by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.

This week, pesticide makers are showcasing these tactics during National Pollinator Week with offers of free seed packets to people who take their poorly named “pollinator pledge.” The “bee-washing” term has gained traction as scientists and groups like PAN continue to cut through the misinformation and point to the emerging body of science that points to pesticides as a critical factor in bee declines.

Monsanto hosted their first so-called Honey Bee Health Summit last week, a gathering at the company’s headquarters in Missouri. Without question, some truly smart, dedicated scientists attended Monsanto's bee summit and are participating in these efforts.

And a similarly committed group of beekeepers who care about bees, beekeeping and our food system have also participated. What’s increasingly clear, though, is that the credibility of these individuals is being used to shield the agenda of a handful of pesticide corporations and their bee-harming insecticide products. The corporate PR gymnastics on display are truly impressive.

Unfortunately, Monsanto is not alone in its efforts.  Just this spring, Bayer sponsored a tour of its “specially-wrapped beehicle” and hosted a talk at Ohio State University in March, over loud objections from local beekeepers. 

Not here. Look over there!

Industry has largely set its sights on one issue to blame for bee declines. While lack of sufficient forage and diseases are a challenge to bee health and beekeeping, challenges exacerbated by the weakening effect of pesticides on bees, the pesticide industry has focused a large proportion of its attention on the varroa mite. And it’s an easy distraction that places the burden of unprecedented bee losses on beekeepers — while subverting any blame for the widespread pesticide products.

Unfortunately for Monsanto & Co, and as most beekeepers and academics will say, the varroa mite has been around a long time, predating dramatic bee declines in U.S. that started in 2006. While mites no doubt affect bee colonies, they are unlikely the primary driver of population declines.

There is a correlation, however, between the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) on the market and bee die-offs. Independent studies show — and beekeepers corroborate from hands-on experience — that these pesticides weaken bees' immune systems, likely damaging their resistance to common challenges like the varroa mite.

Neonics are one of the largest growth sectors for the pesticide industry. And industry has a vested interest in keeping the neonic market growing. But we know that spin efforts to refocus attention on varroa mites were already attempted in Europe, and the approach has been largely unsuccessful. The EU just put continent-wide restrictions on the use of neonics in place.

Bees are still dying

Pesticide corporations don’t show any sign of letting up. If this spring and summer are any indication, then the “bee-washing” campaign will continue. Beekeepers will remain the victims of this targeted PR campaign.

And the costs of are very real. Earlier this month, Jim Doan — a third generation commercial beekeeper from upstate New York — literally sold his farm due to bee losses. For years, he produced over half a million pounds of honey annually and eventually grew his business to 5,300 hives. But when neonicotinoid pesticides started being commonly used in the U.S., around 2006, Jim's bees started dying.

He’s experienced serious losses to bees he brought to citrus groves in Florida and the cornfields of New York. And now, he only has 300 hives left. In an email he circulated last week, he wrote:

“I am done. I cannot continue. Sold my farm 2 weeks ago, I am giving up, there is no hope here."

Bees are continuing to die off at unprecedented rates and beekeepers are going out of business. There is clearly something amiss — and the pesticide industry would have us believe that their products play no part in this alarming trend. PAN, beekeepers and our partners will continue to shine a light on corporate "bee-washing" and spin efforts to subdue or obfuscate the growing body of science pointing to this clear message: pesticides are playing a key role in bee deaths.


The Flowers Make The Difference!

One of the things that I so love about beekeeping is the awareness that it gives you about various flowers and how they influence....everything!  For instance, right now I have two kinds of Tropical Wildflower honey on hand and they're both totally different. One was created when the lychees and avocados were blooming, and is entirely influenced in flavor by those floral nectars. And we just harvested wildflower that is much lighter than that with a wholly different flavor profile. Both, of course, are great for those with allergies to local pollens. I love tasting them side by side and then deciding which one is best for my tea or a dressing or baking......it's fun to have a little of a lot of different types so you can really mix and match!!

How Honey is Made Part 1

From Bee


Honey gets its start as flower nectar, which is collected by bees, naturally broken down into simple sugars and stored in honeycombs. The unique design of the honeycomb, coupled with constant fanning by the bees’ wings, causes evaporation to take place, creating the thick, sweet liquid we know as honey.

The color and flavor of honey varies from hive to hive based on the type of flower nectar collected by the bees. For example, honey made from Orange Blossom nectar might be light in color, whereas honey from Avocado or Wildflowers might have a dark amber color.

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