Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No more drama queens

Where there's smoke there is a ...... beehive inspection!
A happy bee update today! Exactly 2 weeks after my last hive inspection, where I discovered a queenless hive, I looked back in with only 50/50 hope of seeing eggs. But I did! Third frame I pulled, some still standing up, meaning the queen is in there and has laid them as little as a day ago. Trying not to disturb the bees more than necessary, I popped the queen excluder and honey super back on and closed up. 
The artistic husband (TAH) was on self-proclaimed photography duty but he refused to come close enough to take a picture of the eggs. You can see those here, but in this post, you get gratuitous backyard flower pictures instead.


Because I have learned to never assume anything, I opened the other hive for a quick check, too. Right on top, I found my first little tiny bit of honey in a honey super. You see the frames are much smaller - because honey is HEAVY! Like, break your back trying to carry a deep box full of honey frames heavy. Of course I'm not expecting such gargantuan results this year, but I am sure very excited if I get as little as one jar.

Underneath the honey super, I found a healthy and thriving brood pattern with calm, content bees.

So happy I know I am now running on 2 homemade queens, which hopefully will last a little longer than the previous ones who hailed all the way from Georgia ... Interestingly, if I understand things correctly, a break in brood patterns can help with mite control. So together with my screened bottom boards, I will now wait until after the honey harvest/taking off the supers later this fall, to treat with formic acid or the like. Yes I'll treat. Until we know how to keep bees alive better, I want them to have every chance they get. Also, my bee teacher has pointed out that we only have a strong argument against the pesticide lobby if we can show that we're controlling mite populations.

This brings me to two interesting pieces of news that have hit the airwaves recently. One is good, if you consider knowledge better than ignorance, but really only then: They found out that a combination of different pesticides and in particular fungicides, may be responsible for making bees more susceptible to parasites. You catch that? It's sort of a chain reaction, which is harder to deal with than just banning X pesticide and calling it a day.

Photo: Breaking News! EPA has just raised limits of pesticides allowed.  

This is a direct result of super weeds becoming resistant to Monsanto's Round-up pesticide in their GMO crops. 

The amount of allowable glyphosate (ROUNDUP) in oilseed crops such as flax, soybeans and canola will be increased from 20 parts per million (ppm) to 40 ppm, (that is 100,000 times the amount needed to induce breast cancer cells warns GM Watch) 

Additionally, the EPA is increasing limits on allowable glyphosate in food crops from 200 ppm to 6,000 ppm

Just last month, The Cornucopia Institute concluded a study by finding glyphosate "exerted proliferative effects in human hormone-dependent breast cancer." A similar study released in April concluded that "glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins."

"Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body," independent scientist Anthony Samsel and MIT's Stephanie Seneff concluded in the April study. "Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer's disease." 

A press release issued by the group Beyond Pesticides criticized the decision as well. "Given that alternative methods of growing food and managing weeds are available, like those that exist in organic agriculture, it is unreasonable for EPA to increase human exposures to Roundup," they wrote.

Secondly, the Obama EPA has, during the lull of summer, sneakily and silently increased pesticide limits, to accomodate the use of RoundUp (glyphosate) against ever more resistant weeds. In other words, GMO crops make our planet dirtier, without the increased yield their manufacturers promised. And, oh, they practically indenture farmers, whether they want to farm GMO crops or not. (Farmers have been sued for their crop being wind-pollinated by GMO crops nearby). That's almost a tangent now, but don't be fooled for a minute: There is a connection. Buy organic, support non-GMO seed companies, and please, please, please, don't use RoundUp at home.
That's what YOU can do. 

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre


  1. "the EPA is increasing limits on allowable glyphosate in food crops from 200 ppm to 6,000 ppm".
    I am so pessimistic in the "political process" that I didn't think it possible for another piece of news like that to make me shake my head. I was wrong.
    One more item for the list: get our local garden centers to stop selling Monsanto products.
    (Happy about the bees, though! Yeay, homemade queens!)

    1. Good point, Kaat, and I have seen pictures of signs in hardware stores saying 'until proven safe, we are not selling products X,Y and Z'.

  2. Yes, I also saw this new EPA limit along with the study on bees - Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is spreading the news on facebook. Sometimes I wonder what those people in Washington DC are thinking. Somethings I don't think they are thinking at all! But on the brighter side, I'm glad your bees are doing well. I have been following you along on your journey because my hubby and I are planning to get some hives next spring. Thanks for keeping us up to date!

    1. I am hoping that the one positive outcome will be more people looking for heirloom, or non-GMO seeds and organic/non-GMO foods. Beekeeping is way more amazing than I anticipated, but also more drama! I say go for it!

  3. So excited! We just had a similar experience and checked our hives yesterday. We were about to order 2 new queens and now both hives have brood (and we saw a queen!!) Feeling thankful and in awe of the whole bee system.

  4. I'm intrigued by beekeeping and the hubby has mentioned it, but it still makes me a little nervous. Yes, I am one of those sissy whiny types who is scared for all things stinging! I know that is irrational if you do things properly, but alas it is me. I have never thought about the actual size of the frame or box before. I am so glad you pointed out that honey is heavy. It makes sense, but it just never ocurred to me. Thanks for sharing!

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