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  (Miami, Florida)
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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! 

 
 

Peppermint Honey Feet Treat

Peppermint Honey Feet Treat

Peppermint Honey Feet Treat

Rinse mint leaves and place on a paper towel to dry. Grind mint using coffee grinder (or by hand using mortar and pestle). Set aside. Melt beeswax using a small double boiler. In a microwave safe glass bowl combine aloe vera and honey, mix well. Stir in beeswax. Let cool. Add mint and oils stirring until completely mixed. Apply after bath or shower to entire feet and toes. Store remaining ... [read full recipe below]

YIELD: 2 TREATMENTS

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. - aloe vera gel
  • 4 tsp. - grated beeswax
  • 2 tsp. - honey
  • 2 tsp. - fresh mint, optional
  • 6 drops - peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops - arnica oil
  • 2 drops - camphor oil
  • 2 drops - eucalyptus oil

Directions

Rinse mint leaves and place on a paper towel to dry. Grind mint using coffee grinder (or by hand using mortar and pestle). Set aside. Melt beeswax using a small double boiler. In a microwave safe glass bowl combine aloe vera and honey, mix well. Stir in beeswax. Let cool. Add mint and oils stirring until completely mixed. Apply after bath or shower to entire feet and toes. Store remaining feet treat in covered in cool place away from sun or heat.

TIP

Benefits: Aids in circulation of overworked feet. Moisturizes and softens while it soothes and restores tired aching feet.

Note: We'd like to thank the National Honey Board for this recipe. 

 
 

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

They always say necessity is the mother of invention. (Who's the father?) 

This rang true this weekend when we were at a harvest fair in Miami and ran out of our Key Lime Sublime honey. We're really big into all natural honeys....unfiltered, raw, just out of the hive and into the bottle.

However, when a shop asked us several months ago to develop a flavored honey for them with a Key Lime twist, we complied, and the results were so splendid that we allowed it into our product line. Still raw pure honey, of course, with just a smidgeon of an all natural flavor combo to give it a perky zip. Our usual base honey for this is Orange Blossom. Which we had sold out of.

Anyway, so here we are in the midst of madness, the crowd buying like crazy, and sold out we are, by lunchtime.

What to do?

Well, Rolf was bottling up extras for us at home, Tropical Wildflower and the like, and we also had some Butterbee Pancake Honey he was going to bottle up. When he arrived with a grin on his face, he had something new to share....

...He had taken the Butterbee Pancake Honey and Key Lime-d that!! Ohmygosh, it was delicious, and I've been sipping it ever since. The pancake honey is my name for a runny honey fresh from Key Largo. The hives are right off of Card Sound Road, not far from Alabama Jack's. Anyway, the Dogwood and Black Mangrove nectars make a very thin, runny honey with a specific unique flavor. Paired with the Key Lime...well, now we have Key Lime Pancake Honey, and so.....I can't wait for breakfast....

 
 

It's Snowing Pollen!

As I was standing beneath my Brazilian Pepper, admiring the flowers that had burst into bloom, I noticed what looked like snow flurries. Highly unlikely, here in Miami! I continued to observe, and what I found was this....

My honeybees were so busy sipping nectar from the blossoms, that each time they moved to another flower, some pollen would be dislodged and float gently down, like so many snowflakes.

A beautiful sight! 

 
 

Honey E-Cards! Sweet

I go to the National Honey Board's website whenever I can. There's always something tasty going on there! Meanwhile, I just saw a new feature: Honey e-Cards. How cool is that!? Sent a honey bear birthday greeting to my best friend in New York. It was easy and quick....way faster, in fact, than the usual e-greetings. Not only that.....it came with a link to a honey birthday cake recipe. That's good to be the greatest thing ever! So check it out at: http://www.honey.com/nhb/features/ecard/

 
 

Pineapple Orange Honey Smoothie

If your family is anything life ours, the next few months will be a whirlwind.  Now that school is back in session, it’s important to have some tasty and quick snack ideas that can be your go-to recipes when you and your family are on the run. That’s why the National Honey Board created the Pineapple Orange Honey Smoothie. It’s a great recipe that can be used for breakfast, an afternoon snack or just a treat throughout the day. It not only tastes great, but is easy to prepare and great for on-the-go. We hope you’re enjoying these first few weeks of September and all that the next few months will bring.

 

Pineapple Orange Honey Smoothie

Pineapple Orange Honey Smoothie

Makes 5 (8-ounce) servings

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 cups pineapple, diced
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup pure honey
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 5 to 10 ice cubes, optional

In a blender, combine all ingredients except ice cubes and blend until smooth. If desired, add ice cubes, one at a time, and blend until smooth.

 

 You can find MORE RECIPES from the National Honey Board at:  http://www.honey.com/nhb/recipes/

 
 

Beauty Is As Beauty Does/ Cucumber Honey Eye Nourisher

We all know that honey is great to eat! It's also terrific for the skin. We thought we'd share some recipes to help you get started using honey in your beauty regimen! 

Cucumber Honey Eye Nourisher

Makes 4 treatments

  • 1 Tbsp. aloe vera gel
  • 2 tsp. cucumber, peeled with seeds removed
  • 1/2 tsp. chamomile tea
  • 1/2 tsp. honey

Steep chamomile tea in boiling water. Set aside to cool. In food processor or blender combine cucumber, aloe vera and honey. Blend on low setting. Add chamomile tea. Blend until smooth. Apply gently under eyes using ring finger. Store in glass dish covered with plastic wrap in refrigerator for up to one week. Best applied chilled.

 

Tip: Potential Benefits: May help reduce puffiness and refresh contours under eyes.

 


 
 

When We Mead Again

Once again I have an order for a bunch of honey from an aspiring mead-maker. The thought of mead always brings with it the image of medieval England, knights in shining armor, and large joints of meat. I'm not sure why! Mead is kind of a honey wine, although if you include hops in the recipe it will taste more like beer.

I've only had it once, and it left something to be desired....but I continue ever hopeful. Whenever I sell honey to someone for mead making, I do request a sample, but this seldom comes to pass...

The earliest records of mead production date back to about 7000 BC. Pottery vessels containing the beverage were found in Northern China.

The Hindus make mention of it in their hymns in about 1700 BC.

Both Aristotle and Pliny the Elder mention it as being the preferred drink of ancient Greece. 

And for a "don't try this at home" recipe, consider the following from Spanish-Roman naturalist Columella, AD 60:

"Take rainwater kept for several years and mix a sextarius of this water with a pound of honey. For a weaker mead, mix a sextarius of water in nine ounces of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for 40 days, and then left on a shelf near the fire."

Sounds simply yummy, doesn't it? Bottoms up!

 

 
 

Save the Bees Downloadable Honeybee Toolkit

 This morning I received an email with an important article and link to a downloadable Save the Honeybees Toolkit. Thought you might be interested. We need your help!!!! If you like to eat, then saving the bees matters to you!!! Here's the article, and here's the link:

http://www.honeybeehavens.com/content/honey-bee-toolkit?utm_source=action&utm_medium=alert&utm_content=HBH&utm_campaign=toolkit 

 

Create a bee haven. Talk to neighbors. Spread the word.

Bees are in trouble. In the U.S., they’ve been dying off at alarming rates since 2006 and beekeepers continue to report staggering annual losses.

Toolkit: Bee the Change

Bee the Change: Tips & Tools for Protecting BeesDownload this toolkit for simple tips and actions to help protect bees from harmful pesticides and keep the pressure on policymakers. Download here»

While policymakers remain resolutely stuck — and have yet to take swift action to address theknown causes of bee die-offs — home gardeners, backyard beekeepers and concerned individuals across the country have been stepping up to protect our favorite pollinators.

This groundswell of support for bees is inspiring and important, but we need to keep building momentum — and we need to press for policy change.

Download the toolkit for simple tips and actions to help protect bees from harmful pesticides and keep the pressure on policymakers.

Whether you create a safe haven in your yard, write a letter to the editor, or chat with your neighbors about the importance of protecting pollinators, your actions will make a difference.

 
 

National Honeybee Awareness Day

Did you know that this Saturday, August 18th is National Honeybee Awareness Day? Plant some flowers and hug a bee....

OR....check out this link:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-simple-ways-to-help-honeybees.html 

 
 

God Save the Queen!

We went into the bees this afternoon and harvested another couple of supers filled with Tropical Wildflower honey. Nothing like a honey flow to make one feel bountiful!

However, two of the hives, when opened, were buzzing much louder than the rest. This is the sign of a queenless hive. And that is not a good thing! A hive without a queen is destined to perish if not requeened ASAP.

One way of requeening is to order a queen from a beekeeping supply house. She comes in a little cage with a sugar candy entrance. Over the course of a couple of days, the bees begin to nibble away at the candy. During this time they become accustomed to the scent of the new queen. The hope is that by the time they finish the candy, they've become used to the queen's aroma enough to accept her. This is crucial!

Sometimes when the hive goes queenless, worker bees will begin to lay eggs. The worker bees have never mated, but they can lay eggs in a pinch in an emergency such as this. (In the same way that a hen will lay eggs whether or not she has ever seen a rooster....).

BUT....an unmated worker bee will lay eggs that develop into MALE bees, or drones. The problem here is that the workers....work....and the drones...eat. So if the workers start to lay eggs in the absence of a reigning queen, they will produce baby boys, and in a short time there will be lots of hungry mouths, but no food. Thus ends the life of the colony..... 

 
 

Hitting the Bottle!

It's that time again! Steve came back from the Florida Keys with my favorite honey of the year. We call it "Butterbee Pancake Honey" because it flows so easily. I think many honeys are too thick for pancakes, but this one really is perfect.

I don't know what makes it taste so unique. It's primary floral sources are Dogwood and Black Mangrove. But there are so many other yummy tropical flowers in the Keys it's hard to know for sure who all of the players are that contribute their essence to this combo.

It was a rainy Spring, which helps make the honey more liquid. As a matter of fact, I'm going to keep it in the house, in air conditioning, to thicken it up a bit to prevent fermentation.....something "wet" honeys can do more quickly than thicker ones like Orange Blossom.

As for me? I'm hitting the bottle again! It's only 10 AM and I sit cheerily by my computer, honey jar by my side. I've probably drunk 5 oz. of it already. Goes down so smooth. I may sprout wings by the end of the day!

 

Tags:
 
 

Sharing Honey with the World, One Event at a Time

Don't ask me about bees! Unless you have some time....i get really excited about them and will drone on for twenty minutes, at least. Sigh. I try to slow down and take a breath, but no, the listener is going to find out an awful lot before they get an opportunity to escape....

At least I've focused this tendency for the good of the community. Now I do outreach programs and lectures at events, schools, etc. It's a ton of fun... On Tuesday night I trudged up to Fort Lauderdale beach in the pouring rain to do an informal presentation for the South Florida ISES meeting (International Special Events Society).  

I set up a tasting table, so everyone could get the opportunity to experience the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between honey varieties. We had several, including Tropical Wildflower 1 & 2 out for comparison.

That was really satisfying....In my last harvest a couple of weeks ago, I took two supers filled with frames of honeycomb from a single hive. Because the bees start from the bottom box and work upward, the top super was the most recently harvested nectar, and the super below it was from a few weeks before.

So I had two kinds of honey from the same hive, harvested on the same day. One was light and fruity, the other was dark and bold. I figure that's because this hive is right next to my avocado tree, which would have still been flowering when this honey was made.

I also shared my honey soaps, gave everyone an "I Love You Honey" sticker, and then we made honeycomb candles, which are really quick and easy and require no heat. You just roll them up with a wick. A preschooler can do it. (Well, with a little help!)

If you have a group, camp, or organization in need of a speaker, just give me a buzz.... 

 
 

Key Lime, It's Sublime!

As I sit here at the computer, just outside my window is a hungry blue jay, wondering why my bird feeder is empty and soggy. We just finished a record breaking five days of rain, which rarely happens in our locale except maybe in August as a tropical storm. Spring is usually dry as a bone, and we had actually been suffering a bit of a draught.

The honeybees get very unhappy when it rains! They can't fly, so they all sit crowded in the hive and buzz. Feed the babies. Fan their wings at the nectar. Even when there is a small break in the rain, the showers have washed the nectar out of the flowers so they get cranky.

I had a small container of honey mixed with honeycomb. Cappings from my last day of extracting. I took it out to the bees for them to recycle. I'm sure that cheered them up.

Meanwhile, I am pretty cheered up. Not only did it stop raining, but we have a nice spring harvest of Orange Blossom honey. It's so sweet and thick. Nice and smooth. And a very good base for having some fun.

My fiancé is a chef, so he has access to ingredients that we mere mortals never see. He had an awesome, all natural Key Lime flavoring that I think was originally developed to flavor gelato. Anyway, I had been waiting anxiously for months because last year, Rolf took a little of this Key Lime deliciousness and mixed a small amount with some Orange Blossom honey. A marriage made in heaven, that's all I can say!!!

Philosophically, I don't like to do anything to honey. We never heat it, never filter it, never add anything to it.....it's nakedly pure and unprocessed. I do make an exception, however, to allow for an all natural bit of collaboration between the sweet sisters and ourselves, every so often. Like now.

We are the happy lovers of a bucket of Key Lime Sublime. And...we're willing to share. Want a taste? Let me know. You can come visit the bees while you're at it. Or just come say hi at the Coconut Grove Market on Saturdays. We'll give you a spoonful!

 
 
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