Tuesday, March 10, 2009

making the queen bees in Florida

Here we are in Florida once again, breeding queen bees from the best genetic material we can find with stock we pick from the best survivors with robust egg laying capabilities, gentle nature, and varroa mite resistance. We think varroa mites, sometimes called vampire mites are at the root of the CCD (colony collapse disorder). The mites transfer virus and weaken the honeybees health overall.

Sharon, Niki, and JJ have been executing the day to day queen raising work, preparing the cell builders and grafting the larvae into small "cups" to place into well fed hives to which feed the larvae huge amounts of royal jelly and transform normal worker bee larvae into queens.

We do stock and mate about 600 mating nucs for producing our own queens, but we do not have any surplus to sell. We use all the queens we produce. Last year I was able to observe multiple mating flights within several feet of me. The mating flights look like small comets with a virgin queens followed by a plume of drones.

Many beekeepers from the surrounding area of our Florida panhandle winter farm come to us to purchase queen cells to place into new hives. The cells are shaped like small peanuts and are timed to hatch out within one day of placement.

We ordered some VHS breeder queens from Glenn Apiaries last fall and have found that the colonies headed up by these queens had less mites in the general population. I have reported this to the local beekeepers and we plan to order more of this stock for next year.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

honey used to heal open sores from staph

I have a first-hand story to share with you about the healing power of honey.

When our children were young, back about 22 years ago, we had an extremely stressful bout with infections on myself and our oldest daughter and middle son.

We were all drinking raw goats milk which came from a goat that had the beginning of an udder infection that eventually killed the goat. I got a sore on my knee, my daughter got one on her chest, and my middle son got one on his cheek. We all have scars to this day.

My son's sore was the worst. His open sore was on his cheek and antibiotics (two different ones) had no effect. It was horrible. Ironically we were beginning beekeepers and it didn't dawn on us immediately how effective honey was on bacteria. One day I read something on honey's effectiveness and mentioned it to my wife, Sharon, who was already interested in alternative medicine. We immediately spread honey on his cheek and it was a miracle. Within 48 hours we could see an obvious turn in the sore in the reduction of puss.

As it turns out, honey is quite acidic, with a pH of 3.4 or so and has natural hydrogen peroxide. The most interesting thing was that honey is hygroscopic, meaning it sucks water out of bacteria, making a very inhospitable enviroment for them to thrive.

I have heard that some honeys have extra healing properties. I think it is Manuka.