The bees cleaning up the frames after harvesting honey is like when you got to lick the bowl after baking a cake. Yum!
The bees cleaning up the frames after harvesting honey is like when you got to lick the bowl after baking a cake. Yum!
If you're a backyard orchardist and garden enthusiast here are three recipes to keep your fruit trees pest free, kill weeds, and repel cabbage worms. Best of all - the ingredients are right in your kitchen or available at a garden center.
'Bug jugs' protect fruit trees by trapping apple maggots and moth larvae. The weed control recipe is a safe herbicide that controls vegetation around young trees and kills garden weeds. And the third recipe for garden dust effectively controls cabbage worms and larvae. These recipes are safe to use around kids, pets, and pollinators.
Fruit trees need special care; pruning, dormant oil, weed suppression and pest control. Here's a solution that's a safe and effective control to protect fruit from pest damage.
Tape the cap to the bottom of the jug (for easy disposal because the jug will be full of gross, dead pests). Place the banana peel inside the jug, add the remaining ingredients.
After the blossoms are set hang one jug per inch of tree diameter. Use wide twine or a soft cloth tied through the jug's handle to hang them. Don't use thin string or fishing line because it cuts into the tree's protective bark.
Eradicate and control weeds use the following recipe, It's is very effective and with a few precautions it's safe to apply.
Mix all the ingredients together. 20% vinegar is available at farm and garden supply stores or through online retailers.
Wear gloves and eye protection, 20% vinegar can burn on contact.
When applying in small areas, or to kill weeds in close proximity to desirable plants, use a dish sponge wand filled with this solution. Wipe the leaves of undesirable plants.
For larger areas use with a garden sprayer.
Apply in dry, warm weather. A second application may be necessary for tougher weeds.
The final recipe is for controlling garden pests, especially cabbage worms.
Sift the ingredients together and apply with a garden duster or use a screen sifter (your kids sandbox sifter works great for this) dust plants in the morning while they're wet with dew.
Diatomaceous earth is available at garden centers, farm supply stores and online. It will repel a larger variety of pests than household flour, but we've been successful using both.
Apply this mixture a couple of times per week or after it rains.
Every third spoonful of food is dependent on pollinators. That's why it's important to honor them.
Here are some Bee Facts:
Here in Iowa the winter took it's toll on honey bees. Some beekeepers lost 90% of their bees.
We're using Apimaye Hives. These bee friendly, Langstroth style hives are insulated and have a great winter feeding system. The top feeders are easily opened without disturbing the bees or causing heat loss to the hive. Because the Apimaye hive is so well insulated the bees are building brood faster than in past years.
Make every day World Bee Day by protecting pollinators, use bee friendly products and supporting local honey producers.
A few years ago Eva, our shepherd was in an accident. She had a wound on her paw that wouldn't heal. For over a year we tried several remedies. She wore boots like the dog's in the Iditarod, took antibiotics, went through miles of bandaging, nothing worked until she started healing with honey.
One veterinarian suggested re-breaking her leg to readjust the rod and plate. The theory that if Eva could walk straighter it would take pressure off the wounded paw. That seemed like a traumatic solution.
Then a family friend, who's also a veterinarian, suggested sugaring or honeying the wound. I decided to use crystallized honey. Every day we cleaned Eva's paw, spread honey on the wound and bandaged it. She started healing within a few days. By months end the healing was nearly complete.
Applying honey is a simple solution.
Bacteria can't grow in a high sugar environment and honey is naturally antimicrobial.
Healing properties of honey are well documented. Organic honey is perfect for healing cuts, burns, skin ulcers and surgical wounds.
Case studies, laboratory research, and clinical trials confirm honey heals many ailments and has revealed surprising insights:
This list is from the book, Two Million Blossoms; Discovering the Medicinal Benefits of Honey, by Kristen S. Traynor, M.S.
In addition to the healing property of honey, another reason to keep pesticide free, pure and clean is that studies show pesticides threaten not only bees learning and memory but humans, as well.
Pesticides Influence Bee Learning, Memory
Royal Holloway University of London compiled a decade of studies on agrochemical research and the affect on bees. Their research determined that even at very low field-realistic dosages pesticides significantly reduced the bees ability to memorize rewarding scents which are a vital component in their search for food. Exposed bees had trouble remembering what type of flower to visit, where to find flowers, and which flowers they'd already drained of nectar. And at very low doses of pesticide exposure bees had difficulty finding their way back to the hive.
What does this mean for you – is Alzheimer’s in your future
Since the repeal of Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) it's not easy to identify where fruits, vegetables and meat is coming from. 75% of grass-fed beef is imported. Other countries allow classes of pesticides banned in the United States. Consuming these products increases your exposure.
Studies link pesticides Alzheimer’s
DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was used extensively as an insecticide in the 1940s, but has been banned in the United States since 1972 after scientists linked the compound to wildlife health and environmental concerns. DDT is still used in other countries to combat the spread of malaria.
"We have additional studies underway that will seek to directly link DDT exposure to Alzheimer's disease," said co-author Dr. Dwight German, Professor of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern. "If a direct link is made, our hope is to then identify the presence of DDE in blood samples from people at an early age and administer treatments to remove it."
The study found elevated levels of DDE in blood samples of 86 patients with Alzheimer's disease as compared to 79 control patients from the UT Southwestern Alzheimer's Disease Center and the Emory University Alzheimer's Disease Center.
Source: UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty includes many distinguished members, including five who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985.
Your Children and Pesticides
Beyond Pesticides has a Pesticide-induced Disease Database which sites studies and research about children's exposure to agrochemicals. Visit their site to educate and protect your family.
Limiting your families exposure is as simple as switching to an organic diet. You can do that by growing your own fruits and vegetables, buying organic meat and dairy, and by using clean products around your home.
Remember, You have control over your families health.
We haven't seen a Red Tailed hawk on this farm in three years. Where have they gone? The barn swallow numbers are declining, too. As a matter of fact there are fewer birds in the area. Their numbers have declined in the last few years. The peripheral area surrounding the timber, where the brambles and wild flowers are abundant, is prime nesting ground. The wild turkeys and pheasants are thriving but the local and migratory bird numbers are dwindling. Bird and Flying Insect Populations are on the Decline
Is Your Windshield Clean?
David Kline, editor of farming magazine has noticed a scarcity of flying insects. He doesn't drive a car but asked drivers if they've noticed a difference. We've noticed. When we take a drive through the countryside the windshield stays clean, not bug splattered. We use to buy special washer fluid to get rid of the bug goo, not anymore.
Here in north east Iowa the helicopters and small planes (the aerial applicators) are unleashing insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides over the crop fields. Our farm is on the Sensitive Crop Registry to protect the bees we raise and our organic status. The sprayers don't fly over our farm which is a contentious issue for some in the area.
The next time you take a drive notice the windshield. If it's clean think about the possible causes and consequences. Why are the insects and birds disappearing? New studies show the negative effects agricultural chemicals have on developing brains, children's health, behavior and immunity. PLoS ONE links agricultural chemicals to the Decline of flying Insects
In the early spring, when the apple, peach and cherry trees are blossoming I keep the bees interested in pollinating the fruit trees by cutting the grass very short. This keeps the dandelions down until after the trees have finished blooming. It’s my trick to get bigger fruit crops.
Later in the spring there are still plenty of dandelions to keep the bees happy . And there's a variety of clovers and flowers planted for the bees, too. It’s a pollinator paradise.
On a trip to Seed Savers Exchange I bought Blue Boy Bachelor’s Button, Lambs Ear, and Heritage Farm Poppy seeds. The bees love these.
On our farm the pollinators are safe from pesticides and herbicides. We’re an organic farm, it’s all about health and quality of life.
This lemonade is a great energy booster. Not only does it taste great it helps the honey bees and your local beekeeper.
Plant bee friendly gardens and keep them pesticide free. These recipes protect your fruit trees and kill weeds without using glyphosate.
They're vanishing at an alarming rate.
Lets pretend that in your line of work the numbers started to change. There's a sudden decline in people needing your services. Lets pretend that you're a teacher.
One morning you walk into the school. Something's wrong, you can feel it. When the bell rings one-third of your students are missing.
A few minutes later the principal walks in and asks to speak with you. She shares that in each classroom thirty percent, and in some classrooms seventy percent, of the students are missing. The trend continues day after day. The declining enrollment is alarming. And it's not just your school. This is happening at all the schools in your state.
In the coming months you learn the trend is happening globally. 30 - 70% of school-aged children have vanished. What's causing this and where have the children gone?
Now it's getting personal. The decline is affecting your contract. Lower school enrollment equates to lower numbers of teachers. How will you meet your financial obligations and feed the family?
Seems far-fetched, right? Well, this is exactly what's happening to the bees. They're vanishing without a trace. Beekeepers have lost 30% of their colonies. In some areas the numbers are closer to 70%. Remember; one out of every three bites of food requires bees for pollination.
In the book, More Than Honey , (there's also a video available) Markus Imhoof and Clause-Peter Lieckfeld use a similar scenario;
If 70 percent of all cattle or 30 percent of all chickens were to die annually, states of emergency would be declared everywhere. The death of bees is at least that dramatic and with even more far-reaching consequences.
The more personal an issue is the more meaning it has for you. The declining bee population does directly affect you. One of the reasons for the decline is due to herbicide and pesticide use. Studies show that when hives are located close to genetically engineered crops both honey and pollen contain toxic levels of chemical residue. Bees suffer with memory loss and nervous system disorders after visiting plants genetically engineered with systemic pesticides (neonicotinoids). The toxins create confusion, the bees can't find their way back to the hive.
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has a free publication; Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects.
Planting a cover crop of Buckwheat is great for honey bees and other pollinators. It will improve your garden, too.
Please, Save the honey bees.
August 20, 2016 is National Honey Bee Day.
Learn Beekeeping. Want to be as busy as a bee?
It’s beekeeping time. Yep, even with snow on the ground - now is the time to get started.
Winter beekeeping is relaxed, it’s about learning, dreaming and planning. It’s the time for researching and experimenting.
It's the perfect time to build hive bodies, supers, and frames. Painting them is fun too. Spring doesn't seem so far away when you're busy.
I was reading about an experiment published in the Fifth Annual Report of the State Bee Inspector for the year 1916. It was reported that hives painted darker colors
outperformed hives painted white. Our hives have always been white. Boring. Not this year, though. The new hives are bright colors. Vibrant and happy colors. It will be interesting to see if these hives are more productive than the white ones.
Another experiment this spring will be splitting hives using strong brood frames and swarm cells containing new queens.
When the hives were closed up for the winter there was plenty of honey and pollen for feed. This is a critical time of year. Bees can easily starve late in the winter or early in the spring. In the next few weeks the queen will start egg laying again, she'll build up brood.
It was warm enough to open up the hives the other day, just for a quick minute to add pollen patties. The bees were clustered, they looked healthy.
This is a great time of year to learn beekeeping.
Sign up for beekeeping classes, they’re starting soon. There’s plenty of time to learn by taking classes and reading books.
Here are a couple of good books on beekeeping:
Natural Beekeeping by Ross Conrad
The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture Forty First Edition published by The A.I. Root Company
Bee Keeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston and Null
Here’s a list of classes in Iowa and Illinois:
Here's a list by state:
Death to the Drones!
My style of hive management is relaxed. I start fall feeding when I see the workers killing the drones.
Drones are male bees created from unfertilized eggs. There are between 500 and 1,000 drones in a typical hive of 50,000 – 60,000 bees. A drone's only job is to fly out and search for virgin queens. The luckiest, or unluckiest depending on your perspective, die immediately after mating. It's a good news, bad news, scenario.
Drones are useless to the hive. They don't clean cells, care for the young, gather pollen and nectar, sting, or fan the hive in hot weather. The don't do anything. Drones are larger than workers and steal large quantities of stored food.
So, in the fall, the workers kick them out. They tear the drones wings by pushing and pulling them out of the hive. It's a vicious attack and a violent end to self-serving freeloaders. The workers line up at the entrance to form a barricade against the drone's re-entry. Without the hive's protection the drones die.
For these reasons I don't feed the hive too early in the season. I let the workers do their job first. Otherwise the drones will eat the stored honey, pollen patties, and sugar-water. By waiting I have a reasonable assurance that there will be enough food for the hive to survive through the winter.