Most everyone is aware that bees are dying at an alarming rate and the reason is not clear. We started a hive in 2005 and they did fine for most of the summer than either left it or died. Today, to pollinate our berry patch, we depend on Johnson's Bee Farm from Paris who set out twenty-five or so hives within a quarter mile of us each spring.
Bees are a critical element in our food chain. In addition to providing delicious honey, they are the greatest contributor to pollination. This includes food, drop and flower plants. In the United States, bees pollinate 80% of our vegetables and fruit.
If you eat raw honey grown locally, you can improve your health and it helps control allergies. Honey contains bits of pollen in the honey. Taking some every day is like taking an allergy immunlogy injection. Small doses of allergens are in each spoon of honey.
In the 1940's, the United States had over five million beehives. today the number is less than half that. In the mean time, you are well aware of the increase in population and increased demand for vegetables, fruit and crops. The honey bee needs everyone's support.
If you are interested in learning more, or doing something yourself, the Pollinator Partnership
is a great place to start. The North american Pollinator Protection Campaign
is the other major group that is trying to reverse the decline in bees. Check these sites out and see what is happening in this critical area of agriculture and gardening.
I am sure that the use of modern pesticides and chemicals and genetically modified seeds are having a significant impact on bees, but I have no proof. I do know that a decade ago I was raising Bahia seed and the fields were attacked by grasshoppers. I was losing the crop. I mixed two different chemicals, one an instant contact kill and one with a two week kill life, and sprayed the fields. The next morning I went outside and there was not a bug, butterfly, moth or grasshopper to be found. Even the birds had left the farm. I was shocked. That was the last time I used artificial chemicals to broad spray fields and crops. It was scary what happened. Today we practice sustainable agriculture and use the least amount of artificial input to raise animals and crops. You can learn more about this at the National Sustainable Agriculture Center.
Locally, we get a very high quality honey ffom two sources. the Johnson Beef Farm in Paris, TX that have hives all over northeast Texas, and more important to our community a local bee keeper producing honey under the Boggy Creek brand. They are a family farm and their hives are on the banks of Boggy Creek which is a narrow wet land strip that stretches over 35 miles before entering the Lake O' the Pines. The bees have an abundant supply of native plants and clover pastures which give the honey a wonder taste. If you are interested in obtaining this honey contact us
and we will pass on your interest the the folks at Boggy Creek. I can guarantee you that if you taste compare their honey to what you buy in the grocery store you will never buy in the store again. Most of the honey in stores is a blend and if you are a label reader you will see it is from China, Argentina, Brazil and other countries. No wonder it has an odd after taste.
The next time you see bees in your garden consider how you can add plants that will support them.