The National Honey Bee Day program is held one day each year. But that does not mean the public cannot help the bees the rest of the year. Awareness of the environment around you is a yearlong effort. Just as beekeepers reach out to the public beyond the festivities and events associated with National Honey Bee Day, the public can also get involved daily with helping the bees.
Here are a few ways non-beekeepers can support,
help, and save the honey bee.
1. Consider beekeeping as a worthwhile hobby and seek information to get started. The more beekeepers there are translates into more voices being heard.
2. Support local beekeepers by buying locally produced honey and other beehive products. Honey is the best "green" sweetener you can buy.
3. Attend and support beekeeper association events held in places throughout the year in most communities such as environmental centers, schools, and state parks.
4. Educate yourself on the dangers and risks of homeowner pesticides and chemicals. Whenever possible, choose non-damaging and non-chemical treatments in and around the home. Most garden and backyard pests can be dealt with without harsh chemicals, which many times are not healthy for the pets, the kids, or the environment.
5. Get to know the honey bee. Unlike other stinging insects, honey bees are manageable and are non-aggressive. Don't blame every stinging event on the honey bees. Many times, stinging events are from hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps.
6. Plant a bee friendly garden with native and nectar producing flowers. Use plants that can grow without extra water and chemicals. Native plants are the best to grow in any region. Backyard gardens benefit from the neighborhood beehive. Here is a link where you can read more about bee friendly backyard gardens http://www.pennapic.org/beesanctuary.html
7. Understand that backyard plants such as dandelions and clover are pollen and nectar sources for a wide variety of beneficial insects, including the honey bee. Dandelions and clover are an unwarranted nuisance for many homeowners. The desire to rid yards of these unwanted plants and have the "perfect" yard, are sources of chemical runoff and environmental damage from lawn treatments. A perfect lawn is not worth poisoning the earth.
8. Consider allowing a beekeeper to maintain beehives on your property. In some areas, beekeepers need additional apiary locations due to restrictive zoning or other issues. Having a beekeeper maintain hives on your property adds to the overall quality and appeal of any country farm or estate.
9. Know that beekeepers are at the forefront in helping communities deal with wild bee colonies in unwanted situations. Every township and community should welcome beekeepers. It is not the managed colonies that beekeepers maintain that cause the problems, it is unmanaged colonies. Every community should be able to rely on beekeepers and bee associations for dealing with honey bee related issues. Communities should not pass restrictive measures or ban beekeeping. Banning beekeepers will only hurt the honey bees because nobody may be around to help when help is needed.
10. Get involved with your community with such events as offered at the local environmental center, volunteer programs at the county garden center, and other agriculture and nature based programs. No doubt you will meet a beekeeper. Beekeepers are not just people who keep bees. They are part of your community and many love nature on all levels. Beekeepers give generously to affiliated organizations, as they are all connected within the communities in which we all live.
I’m sure you all have heard of the “healthy honeybee” essential oil blend available through many of the bee retailers. This concentrated bottle costs a pretty penny, yet many beekeepers use and swear by it. Instead of buying it, why not make it yourself? With a few simple ingredients, you’ll be able to make your own money saving, healthy honeybee concentrate!
Why should you use the Healthy Honeybees concentrate? The concentrated mix can be added to sugar syrup mixtures to prevent mold and fungus growth, boosts immune systems, builds colonies, and can be used as a smokeless way to calm bees.
The commercially available product is about $30 for 16 oz. A full batch of DIY Healthy Honeybee concentrate yields about 45 oz and cost $4 to make. The half batch yields about 22 oz and cost about $2 to make! So, here is the recipe:
Healthy Honeybee Concentrate
5 cups water
2 ½ pounds sugar
1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (use as emulsifier)
15 drops spearmint oil
15 drops lemongrass oil
Mix the lecithin granules in a little water until dissolved before adding to mixture.
For syrup feed- use 1 tsp per quart
For smoke substitute- use 4 tsp per quart
Healthy Honeybee Concentrate- Half Batch
2 ½ cups water
2 ½ cups sugar
A good pinch of lecithin granules (use as emulsifier)
8 drops spearmint oil
8 drops lemongrass oil
Mix the lecithin granules in a little water until dissolved before adding to mixture.
For syrup feed- use 1 tsp per quart
For smoke substitute- use 4 tsp per quart
White sugar -$5
1 lb Non-GMO Lecithin- $14
15ml 100% Pure Lemongrass Essential Oil- $14 ($10 wholesale*)
15ml 100% Pure Spearmint Essential Oil- $39 ($29 wholesale*)
Honey bee colonies store nectar and pollen to use in times of dearth. To a honey bee, a dearth is a shortage of nectar-producing flowers. The most obvious nectar dearth occurs during the winter, but many places also experience a summer nectar dearth, a hot and dry period between spring flowers and autumn flowers.
This time of shortage may escape a new beekeeper’s notice because, after all, it is summer and the world is green. Sometimes flowers are clearly visible and it’s easy to assume that if flowers are present, the bees are happy. But not all flowers produce nectar accessible to honey bees. And among those that do, the amount of nectar can be reduced by low rainfall, excessive heat, or other less-than-ideal growing conditions.
A summer dearth can be worse than winter
The summer nectar dearth can be devastating to a honey bee colony. At times, it can destroy a colony faster than a cold winter. Whereas a bee colony has time to prepare for winter by increasing storage and decreasing population, a summer dearth hits when populations are very high. Large numbers of bees—especially active bees—require a lot of food. A large colony can wipe out its warehouse very quickly, and if the beekeeper has already harvested, the problem is worse.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and a severe summer nectar dearth can cause many types of unwanted behavior. Simply put, idle bees get into trouble.
A dearth causes nectar robbing
One of the most common problems is nectar robbing. Strong colonies will attempt to rob weaker colonies of their nectar stores. Once robbing begins, a colony can be stripped of its food supply, fighting and dying become rampant, and the queen may be killed. Worse, the smell of open honey soon draws other predators to the scene of the crime. Yellowjackets, bald-faced hornets, and other undesirables will soon finish off the job the robbers began.
Even a strong colony can be destroyed if the workers of another strong colony get a foot in the door. Then, too, bees from multiple hives may arrive and take down the strongest among them. Don’t assume. Look carefully.
Part of the aftermath of a robbing frenzy is the transfer of Varroa mites from the vanquished colony back to the marauding colony. In some cases, colonies with no previous mite problems are suddenly overwhelmed with mites brought back with the stolen honey. This phenomenon is one reason very strong hives can collapse quickly in late fall. As I mentioned in a recent post, the strength of a Varroa mite infestation is strongly influenced by the number of mites brought in from the outside, and robbing is a major source.
So what’s a beekeeper to do?
The first thing a beekeeper needs to do is recognize a dearth when it happens. My previous post, “How to recognize a nectar death” contains a list of things to look for in addition to observing your local flora.
Once you recognize a dearth, you may want to take actions to minimize the damage a dearth can cause. Listed below are some considerations for colony management.
Feeding syrup during a summer dearth is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, if your colony is low on stores, feeding may keep them from starving. On the other hand, the presence of feed can quickly alert robbers to a feast. If you decide to feed, resist using an entrance feeder because the odor will bring robbers right to the front door. Instead, use an internal or enclosed hive-top feeder and avoid drips and spills.If you have a strong nectar flow in autumn, feeding bees during the summer dearth has advantages. Normally, the hive population drops during a dearth because when nectar stops coming in, the queen restricts her egg laying. A good supply of syrup keeps the colony population higher, and a bigger colony going into autumn will be better able to harvest the late nectar flows.If you decide to feed colonies during a dearth, do not use essential oils or Honey-B-Healthy. At this time of year, these products can entice bees from miles around. Don’t worry, your bees will have no trouble finding the syrup in their hive.Reduce entrances. Robbing is always a possibility even if you are not feeding. Reduce your entrances and, for small or weak colonies, consider using a robbing screen.Close upper entrances. It is harder for your bees to defend two or more entrances. If you are using upper entrances, close them off during the dearth. If you need upper ventilation use a screened inner cover or an eke (two- or three-inch super) with screened ventilation ports.Do not put community feeders or wet frames near your apiary. Either one can start a frenzy that invites robbers to your area. If you want your wet frames cleaned by your bees, put the frames in a super inside the hive.If possible, schedule hive manipulations for late in the day. Bees go home at night, so opening hives late in the day allows time for the odors to dissipate before morning. It also gives nighttime scavengers an opportunity to clean up any drips and spills.
One of the challenges that beekeepers face is protecting hives from pests. We find that in August/September the number of pests tends to really ramp up.
Wax Moth (Galleria melonella)
How to recognize Wax moths: wax moth larvae can do considerable damage in a very short time. They tunnel through comb eating everything in their path. They leave silken threads wherever they go covering the entire frame in days. Once they pupate, their cocoons can easily be seen and they will tunnel into the wood slightly to build them. Typically, wax moths will attack empty supers that are unprotected or weak colonies.
How to eliminate wax moths: once a super/frame is covered in moth larvae you can try to scrape them back down to foundation. The only approved chemical treatment is paradichlorobenzene (PBD) crystals (urinal cakes). Place them only in empty supers and remove them to air out for several weeks before putting back on a hive. PBD crystals DO NOT kill the eggs to you will need to keep the treatment up for a couple weeks to eliminate them all. NEVER use mothballs - the chemical in moth balls remains in your wax and will transfer to your honey.
How to prevent wax moths: Keep empty supers in a dry cold location (winter) and when the temperatures are warm, keep empty supers/frames in a freezer. Another method is to lay supers with frames on their side and put a fan at one end to blow air through them constantly until temperature drop. For in colony, maintain a strong colony; combine weak colonies to prevent outbreaks. A strong colony will eliminate wax moths on their own; a weak hive is defenseless.
Small Hive Beetle (Athina tumida)
Small Hive Beetle larvae consume everything in the comb. They also defecate everywhere they go and this causes the stored honey to ferment and ooze out of the comb causing quite a mess. Eventually, the colony may abscond from the hive entirely.
How to eliminate SHB: Fortunately, SHB is currently restricted to the southeastern United States. However, it is probably just a matter of time until it finds its way across the country. The only chemical currently approved for the treatment of SHB is coumaphos (Checkmite+ strips). However, some beekeepers feel that treatments with mineral oil foggers and/or ascetic acid may also control this pest.
How to prevent SHB: The larvae of the SHB need to come outside of the hive and burrow into the ground to pupate. Keep your hive on top of a hard packed earth or possibly a concrete pad to prevent re-introduction into the hive. A strong colony will be able to keep the SHB under control; watch weak colonies. Kill any and all SHB that you encounter during routine inspections.
Varroa Mite (Varroa jacobsoni)
How to recognize Varroa mites: Varroa mites are small reddish/brown colored insects that feed off of the body fluids of adult bees as well as larvae. They are visible to the naked eye and are most easily seen on brood (especially drone brood). Another symptom of Varroa is the presence of "crawlers", bees whose wings are deformed and cannot fly (hence they crawl around). Varroa does not cause this disfigurement directly, instead they are a carrier for a virus that affects the bee while it is a larvae.
How to treat against Varroa: there are several methods to treat for varroa mites; a short list follows but you should research what other beekeepers are doing in your area to treat. You must learn to apply these correctly to prevent contamination of honey, and resistance development by the mites.
Vaporized mineral oil
How to prevent Varroa: just as there are several ways to treat for mites, there are several ways to prevent them. In some cases, the treatment and prevention methods are the same.
Screened bottom boards
Powdered sugar treatments
Drone brood removal
Small cell foundation
Queen bees with genetic behaviors to
reduce mite numbers.
Forget about honey, pollen and royal jelly. Just think of a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots, not to mention the hundreds of other vegetables, oilseeds and fruits that are dependent upon bees for pollination. And the livestock that are dependent upon bee-pollinated forage plants, such as clover. No human activity or ingenuity could ever replace the work of bees and yet it is largely taken for granted. It is often not realized just how easy it is to help or hinder their effectiveness as crop pollinators nor how much is lost by their loss.
Fall Season- Sept-Oct-Nov
2:1 this formula is a very heavy syrup, it is made using two parts of sugar to one part of water. For example, 2 pound of sugar to 1 pound of water. This is used in fall or early winter as a honey substitute to feed your bees. The bees should add weight and will use these stores throughout winter.
Winter Season- Dec-Jan-Feb
Simple syrup may not be the best ootion for winter feeding, as it can freeze.
It is recommended to make candy boards for winter feeding.
Candy Board Recipe:
15-16 lb. of sugar
3 cups water
1 tbsp. plain white vinegar
1 Pollen patty (optional)
Derivative of antibiotic apidaecin, naturally produced by bees, wasps and hornets, can block production of proteins in potentially harmful bacteria.
An antimicrobial compound made by honeybees could become the basis for new antibiotics, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
No new antibiotics have been discovered for more than 30 years, and some bacteria are becoming immune to the drugs used to treat or prevent infections, UIC said.
Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.
In a new study published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, UIC researchers, led by co-investigators Alexander Mankin and Nora Vázquez-Laslop of the College of Pharmacy’s Center for Biomolecular Sciences, explained how a derivative of the antibiotic apidaec in — Api137 — can block the production of proteins in potentially harmful bacteria.
Many antibiotics kill bacteria by targeting the ribosome, which makes all the proteins in the cell. Protein production can be halted by interfering with different stages of translation — the process by which DNA is “translated” into protein molecules, Mankin said. Api137 is the first known inhibitor of translation termination, he said.
Api137 is a natural product produced by bees, wasps or hornets. In nature, many organisms defend themselves from infection by making antibacterial peptides, which can be used as antibiotics if “we understand how they work,” said Tanja Florin, a UIC doctoral student who served as one of the lead authors on the paper.
“This project was a result of an excellent collaboration of our team,” said Vázquez-Laslop, who worked with two research groups in Germany. “We can now harness the knowledge of how Api137 works in order to make new drugs that would kill bad bacteria using a similar mechanism of action.”
Co-authors include Dorota Klepacki of UIC; Marina Rodnina, Cristina Maracci and Prajwal Karki with the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen, Germany, and Daniel Wilson, Michael Graf, Otto Berninghausen and Roland Beckmann with the University of Munich in Germany.
Raw honey is honey that hasn’t been heated or pasteurized, and it contains natural vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants, and other important nutrients. Raw honey has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, and promotes digestive health.
Raw, local honey also contains a blend of local pollen, which can strengthen a person’s immune system, and reduce pollen allergy symptoms.
When honey is removed from the hive, it needs to be strained to remove parts of bee bodies and pieces of wax. If a coarse strainer is used without heating, then the honey will contain the pollen that was present in the original honey from the local area. If this local honey is ingested regularly, it can reduce pollen allergy symptoms in humans.
By supporting local honey producers, you can verify that the honey you’re purchasing is truly raw and has the beneficial properties that humans have used for centuries to treat many ailments.
Most commercial honey; however, does not use the processing method described above. Instead, very fine filters are used along with heat to create pasteurized honey that no longer contains pollen but that has a long shelf life. This pasteurized, ultra-filtered honey does not have the nutritional benefits of raw honey.
In the U.S., the FDA says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. But, no ones checking U.S. honey to see if it contains pollen.
Ultra filtering is a procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down, and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen (which is the only foolproof method of identifying the source of the honey). It’s a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey (some containing illegal antibiotics and other substances such as heavy metals) on the U.S. market for years.
1. Treats Diaper Dermatitis, Psoriasis and Eczema
Beeswax is a great choice for many skin conditions. A honey, beeswax and olive oil mixture is useful in the treatment of diaper dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. A study conducted by the Dubai Specialized Medical Center and Medical Research Labs Islamic Establishment for Education was designed to investigate the effects of these three substances and the mixture on growth of Staphylococcus aureus and candida albicans isolated from human specimens.
The study conducted two experiments: one where a honey mixture was poured on holes made on plates seeded with Staphylococcus aureus or candida and two where the microorganisms were cultured onto media made of the honey mixture alone, nutrient agar-honey mixture and Sabouraud glucose agar-honey mixture. Ultimately, the study concluded that honey and the honey mixtures could inhibit growth of bacteria that may affect the skin and cause skin conditions.
2. Moisturizes Skin
Beeswax is an amazing way to moisturize the skin and is commonly found in skin care products and cosmetics. It can help protect and repair rough, dry or chapped skin because it has the ability to lock in moisture.
In the book “How to Use Beeswax and Honey to Cure Skin Problems,” author Gene Ashburner explains that this wax has rich vitamin A content and emollient properties, which soften and rehydrate the skin as well as aiding in the healthy development of cellular reconstruction. Another benefit to its use is that because it is comedogenic, it won’t clog pores.
In addition to being a natural moisturizer that treats dry skin, you can use it daily to help prevent dry skin in the first place. Just combine beeswax with almond oil or jojoba oil, a few drops of vitamin E oil and aloe to prepare a homemade remedy for dry skin.
3. Protects the Liver
In 2013, the Korean Journal of Internal Medicine published a study that investigated the alcohols found in honeycomb and if their antioxidant effects helped protect the liver. Researchers conducted the study using a mixture of beeswax alcohol to evaluate the safety and effectiveness in people with fatty liver disease. The study was conducted for a period of 24 weeks, finding that it helped normalize liver function and improve symptoms of fatty liver.
4. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Research reports that very long-chain fatty alcohols obtained from plant waxes have been reported to lower cholesterol in humans. The nutritional or regulatory effects produced by wax esters or aliphatic acids and alcohols found in unrefined cereal grains, beeswax and many plant-derived foods lower low-density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol by 21 percent to 29 percent and raise high-density lipoprotein (“good”) cholesterol by 8 percent to 15 percent.
5. Relieves Pain and Is Anti-Inflammatory
As medicine, beeswax has been studied in the use of relieving pain and inflammation and has mild anti-swelling effects. A 2014 study published in the Korean Journal of Internal Medicine reports that it was used to helped relieve inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. All randomized patients completed the study, and 23 experienced a reduction in pain, joint stiffness and physical function. These reductions were significant beginning in the second week and became enhanced during the trial.
6. Clears Acne
Beeswax is one of the most well-known home remedies for acne. It has strong antiseptic, healing and anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective in the treatment of acne, in particular because it contains vitamin A.
It’s also an excellent skin softener and emollient that helps maintain a smooth skin texture after acne elimination. The combination of skin care applications, a healthy diet and daily exercise is the best way to control and prevent acne.
7. Heals Dry, Cracked Lips
The natural moisturizers in beeswax make it the perfect lip balm. If you suffer from cracked or chapped lips, topical applications of beeswax and a few other ingredients can provide some much-needed relief.
It’s easy to make your own lip balm by combining it with coconut oil, honey, vitamin E oil, and your favorite essential oils, such as orange, peppermint, lavender or lemon.
8. Reduces Stretch Marks
Stretch marks can be embarrassing and prevent you from wearing some of your favorite summer fashions, so if you’re wondering how to get rid of stretch marks, you may want to try beeswax. Due to its ability to protect the skin and retain water, it can have positive effects on those unsightly marks.
A study conducted by the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology Research Institute at Yonsei University College of Medicine in Korea reports that stretch marks are dermal atrophic scars with epidermal thinning due to decreased collagenand elastic fiber. The study suggests that collagen is a major extracellular matrix component that’s very important in wound healing. Since beeswax contains vitamin A, which is helpful in collagen production, it can greatly benefit the reduction of stretch marks.
By combining beeswax, royal jelly, shea or cocoa butter, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil, you have a natural remedy for preventing and treating stretch marks while helping improve collagen levels simultaneously.
9. Treats Jock Itch and Fungal Skin Infections
Jock itch and fungal skin infections are definitely annoying, but they can be treated using beeswax. Because it’s anti-inflammatory, it can help reduce the pain associated with jock itch and fungal skin infections while provide moisturizing benefits to help reduce the itching.
Early research suggests that applying a mixture of beeswax, honey and olive oil to the affected area three times daily for four weeks can help improve jock itch and fungal skin infections greatly.
10. Relieves Stress and Promotes Relaxation
It’s common to think of beeswax candles when you think of beeswax. This is a good thing since candles made from paraffin can endanger your health and that of your family due to the soot from paraffin wax that can be inhaled. Also, it can cause significant damage to the inside of your house, such as your computers, electrical appliances and ductwork.
Instead, opt for these natural candles, which work well as stress relievers.
If making your own candles, you want to check labels to make sure you get organic beeswax since it’s free of toxins. If you’re buying already-made beeswax candles, choosing 100 percent beeswax candles with cotton wicks is definitely the best choice.
Bee propolis is defined as a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by combining their own saliva and beeswax with exuded substances they collect from tree buds, sap flows and other botanical sources. Propolis color can vary depending on what the bee collects from nature to create it, but usually bee propolis is a shade of dark brown.
Propolis serves a huge purpose in the world of honey bees. They use it to seal undesirable small cracks and gaps in the hive (larger gaps get filled with beeswax). This is hugely important because if these openings don’t get sealed up properly, the hive could have some very threatening invaders like snakes and lizards.
When scientists have looked closer at the exact chemical composition of propolis, they have found that it actually contains over 300 natural compounds, including amino acids, coumarins, phenolic aldehydes, polyphenols, sequiterpene quinines and steroids. In general, raw propolis is made up of approximately 50 percent resins, 30 percent waxes, 10 percent essential oils, 5 percent pollen and 5 percent of various organic compounds. The interesting thing about propolis, which is also true for honey, is that its composition is always going to vary depending upon the exact collection time, collection location and plant sources.
In case you’re thinking that bee propolis is a new health craze, I want to tell you that this bee product’s usage is said to date all the way back to the time of Aristotle circa 350 B.C. Ancient Egyptians were also known for using propolis in their mummification process while the ancient Greeks and Assyrians loved it for its wound- and tumor-healing abilities.
Science and personal experience continue to show that bee propolis remains an incredibly medicinal substance today. Now, let’s look at some specific propolis benefits.