July 4 Chat with Our Beekeeper
We had the pleasure of spending July 4 with @atlhoneyboy John Wright and his family up at the farm. It was marvelous to see all the activity in the bee hives and to have the opportunity to speak with John’s Dad, our beekeeper.
Speaking with a knowledgeable beekeeper is such a gift. John’s Dad certainly gave us a lot of food for thought, especially when he painted the real picture on colony collapse disorder. Here’s a brief summary of what we talked about.
Sourwood Honey Report
As you know our sourwood honey is one of the finest gourmet honeys available. So, I thought you’d like to hear a progress report. The sourwoods are in bloom. But, at the moment everyone is watching the weather. As always, too much rain can effect North Georgia sourwoods. So, we’ll keep you posted.
Colony Collapse Disorder
It turns out that colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a very complex issue, and this problem really doesn’t start with pesticides. Global transportation is the father of CCD. Parasytic mites migrated to the United States on board ships and planes, carrying food products. These mites, predominately the varroa, bore a hole into workers and drones to feed. This weakens the bees and leaves an opening for bee viruses to travel through. In the past, beekeepers used miticides (chemicals) to treat the effected bees.
Then, came the use of pesticides in corporate-style agriculture. Pesticides combine with miticides, and this potent poisonous cocktail kills bees. Apparently, it doesn’t even matter whether the bees naturally feed on plants in nature or on organic farms. The fact is if pesticides are used anywhere locally, they can travel through the environment and kill the bees.
This is why John’s Dad has started using essential oils, for example, lemongrass, for mite prevention. He said that he puts the essential oils in the sugar water supplemental bee feed and that the essential oils lessen the mite problem. Because he isn’t using miticides, he has less bee die off from pesticides. So, decreasing the chances for colony collapse disorder is a matter of finding more natural means to manage the bee colony.
Ultimately, John’s Dad seemed to indicate that the more farmers return to natural agriculture, the less issues the bees experience.