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  (Miami, Florida)
A Honey of a Blog
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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.

 
 

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! 

 
 

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/

 
 

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..... 

 
 

Celebrity Bees

We got a call last week from a producer at Univision, asking if they could come out for a visit with our honeybees. And so, on Thursday the crew arrived. We spent 3 hours shooting and demonstrating what we like to do best. First, I would like to thank Ian of Gardens of Ian for handling the hot, heavy work of lighting that smoker and getting into the bees. We went through a couple of hives, and the cameraman got great footage of the girls in action on the honeycombs. Then Ian took out one super of honey, and we brought that back to the patio. Plugged in our electric knife, uncapped the combs, and extracted 40 lbs. of Tropical Wildflower (which, by the way, was delicious!)

After that, we went on to affiliated activities.....We rolled up some honeycomb candles and then I made them some honey cinnamon oatmeal soap. And a good time was had by all.

This is going to be edited into a two minute feature on a cooking show, which is supposed to air in two weeks. I'll keep you posted when I get more detailed information about when and where the segment will air...

 
 

Rain, Rain Go Away!

What's going on around here? Usually October signals the end of our rainy season, with a happy conclusion to Hurricane Season at the end of November. But the last couple of weeks have been marked by unseasonable rains.

Here's why we care: When it rains, it washes the nectar and pollen out of the flowers. Bees don't fly when it's raining, so they're all cooped up and cranky in the hive. When it finally stops, out they go, zooming towards the nearest blossoms. Only thing is....there's no nectar left, nor pollen.

And the timing was right at the height of a major honey flow. Devastating! My beekeeping partner, Steve, was expecting to harvest 100 drums of honey in a couple of weeks, but now is lucky if he gets 30. That's a big difference, at $1000 a drum!!!!!

We have far fewer bees--just thirteen hives, but it impacts us as well!. We DO have honey in stock, no worries, but it would be more bountiful with better weather. So keep your fingers crossed that the rain goes away and sunny days and warm nights resume. We want the honey, honey!!! 

 
 

Life's Work

Did you know that in her entire lifetime, working day and night and never sleeping, an individual honeybee makes about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey?
 
 

Buckle Your Seatbelt

It takes 55,000 miles of flying to produce ONE POUND of honey! Wish I could cash in on those frequent flyer miles!!
 
 

Farmers Markets Are Changing My Life!

Halfway between an organic circus and Woodstock, farmers markets are changing my life. The people, their energy, and all of this whole food are nourishing me in ways beyond my original expectation that this would be a decent venue for selling honey.

At FIU there's a free yoga class on the grass in front of my booth. Smoothies, veggie sushi and the whole university setting is relaxing and stimulating. And when I say I see people jumping through hoops, I'm not kidding.....They're using these for exercise, I guess, hoola hoop style, but then they roll them across the lawn and members of our farmers market take a running leap and dive through the rolling hoops. Not a bad backdrop for sharing samples of raw, local honey.

The Coconut Grove farmers market, where I am now all day on Saturdays, is a multicultural potpourri of tastes and smells. I've got wheatgrass on my right, old world soups on my left, and the wonderful Muslim woman from Indonesia who keeps feeding me. The children of the vendors do gymnastics in the dust of our wooded corner lot, and write the name of our products with sticks in the dirt in front of our booths. There's the "Salad Girl" who's about to give birth to, I think, her eighth baby.....while her other children keep me company, singing and playing with my iPhone and doing handsprings while I watch.  

Yesterday, two new guys from NY came to demonstrate their Thai deep tissue massage. With their feet!  When finished with my booth I happily laid down on the mat and let them walk all over me.... I feel great.

And so, I leave each days work with a little cash, and a heart full of love for my newfound gypsy tribe. I am well nourished, and the visitors to our market are nourished and nourishing as well.

 If you want to "share the love" check out the Coconut Grove Farmers Market on Grand Ave. (Miami, FL). It's open Saturdays from 10-7. Full details can be found at: http://www.glaserorganicfarms.com/market.html 

See you there! 

 
 
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