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    Smiley Honey News

    Update on Colony Collapse Disorder

    (Picture Credit: T.J. Gehling/Flickr)

    As we head into winter, it might be a good time for an update on colony collapse disorder (CCD). CCD first made headlines during the winter of 2006/2007, when beekeepers began reporting huge colony losses. In some cases, the losses were as high at 90%. When a hive is hit by CCD, the bees simply vanish. The queen may be present with a few attendants, and there are honey stores, but most of the worker bees are simply gone. One theory is that the worker bees know when they are dying prematurely, and they leave the hive to die elsewhere. Another theory is that forager bees become disoriented due to various factors, and are unable to find their hive. Whatever the cause, without the workers, a colony soon collapses. Since 2006, CCD-related beehive losses in the US have averaged 30% per year. For most beekeepers, acceptable annual hive losses are somewhere between 5 and 10%.

    A lot of time, money and effort has been directed at solving the problem of CCD, but the solution remains elusive. Current research is focused on a combination of stressors. Alone, these stressors would not be a problem. But when mixed together, they are lethal. These stressors are: (1) several different viruses and diseases, such as nosema and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus; (2) parasites, especially the varroa mite; (3) poor management practices, such as overcrowding of apiaries, failing to use enough supplemental food (or the right type of supplemental food) when pollen and nectar sources are scarce, and migratory beekeeping whereby hives are moved around the country too much and too far; and (4) certain types of agricultural pesticides that do not kill the bees immediately, but build up slowly in the insects' system until the bees are overcome.

    While the scientists and beekeeping community continue to work on this serious problem, there are things that you can do to help improve honeybee health. Do not use pesticides indiscriminately, and never during mid-day hours when bees are most likely out foraging. Also, consider planting more bee-friendly plants in your yard, which have plenty of nectar and pollen for visiting honeybees. Talk to you local nursery about which bee-friendly plants grow best in your area. And for the real adventurous, get a couple backyard hives and enter the the wonderful world of beekeeping and local honey harvesting.

    Laundering Bad Honey

    Customers periodically ask whether there are any additives in our honey. The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. We sell 100% pure, raw, natural honey -- exactly as the bees made it. We do not blend our honey, nor do we add anything to the honey. It is as close as you can come to reaching into a beehive and scooping out the honey yourself. In addition, we know all of our beekeeping partners personally, and we require beekeeper certification regarding the purity of all honey delivered to us. We take pride in offering the best natural, raw honey available anywhere. Our good reputation at Smiley Honey is paramount, and we work very hard to earn it every day.

    Unfortunately, not all businesses have such high standards. In a recent article published by BusinessWeek, it tells a sordid tale about adulterated honey from China: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-honey-launderers--uncovering-the-largest-food-fraud-in-u-s--history-171454285.html This news report should remind us all that we should know more about the foods we purchase, to ensure that we are consuming high quality goods brought to us by reputable and honest producers.




    Billions of Bees

    Scientific American recently published an interesting and troubling story about migratory beekeeping and almond tree pollination in California. In a nutshell, each February over 1 million beehives are set up in California almond orchards. Collectively, these hives contain more than 31 billion honeybees. The bees then fan out over California's central valley where they visit many of the 2.5 trillion blossoms produced by 90 million almond trees. These honeybee visits result in approximately 700 billion pollinated flowers, which then produce almonds. This annual mobilization of billions of bees has some negative consequences, which may be contributing to colony collapse disorder. Some of the tupelo honey we sell is produced by honeybees that were shipped to our area of Florida at the end of the almond pollination season, so we are following these issues closely. For the complete article, see: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=migratory-beekeeping-mind-boggling-math

    Bees Get Early Start on Christmas

    What appears to be red honey is showing up in some Utah beehives and state officials say it may be coming from bugs feasting on candy cane byproduct. Utah Department of Agriculture and Food officials say they've received several complaints about the odd-colored goo in hives in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties. They say the bees were apparently fed the byproduct that came from a candy factory. Officials say they don't have any reason to call the red substance unsafe, but advise beekeepers not to mix it with normal-colored honey and to report it to the state.

    National Honey Month

    September is National Honey Month! Here is a great way to celebrate: add 2 cups of frozen strawberries to a high speed blender (a Vitamix is great for this), add coconut milk until the berries are just covered (buy chilled coconut milk from the dairy section of your grocery store), add 1 or 2 tablespoons of raw honey (from Smiley Honey) and blend until smooth. I have one of these almost every morning for breakfast. For variety, add a banana, some pineapple pieces, or some peach slices. An absolutely wonderful way to get your motor running each day.

    Honey and Cinnamon - Cure All or Hoax?

    There are several websites on the internet that tout the amazing health effects of eating a mixture of honey and cinnamon. The reported health benefits of this mixture include cures for heart disease, arthritis, colds, flu, and cancer. It is also claimed that the mixture improves bad breath and promotes weight loss. But according to Snopes.com, these claims have been circulating the internet for a number of years and contain a mixture of fact and fiction. (See http://www.snopes.com/medical/homecure/honey.asp).

    The website NaturalNews.com takes are more balanced approach to the subject of honey and cinnamon:

    "Folk wisdom still retains knowledge of the healing properties of both honey and  cinnamon. Honey and cinnamon are still used as medicine in many situations, especially among people who, because of distance or income, have reduced access to mainstream health care. Honey possesses natural anti-bacterial  properties. Honey poured on wounds or burns prevents infection and promotes healing. Regular consumption of honey and cinnamon together, when combined with an overall healthy diet and moderate activity level, can prevent heart disease by clearing clogged arteries. Drinking honey and cinnamon in lukewarm water results in them moving through the bladder and cleansing it, as well as clearing infections there. Drinking this beverage on a regular basis can also relieve, and in some cases entirely cure, arthritis pain. This drink also strengthens the immune system, helping ward off colds as well as some viruses. Applying a paste of honey and cinnamon to infected gums can ease pain and bleeding as well as slow the  progression of the infection. When consumed together, honey and cinnamon can ease digestion, helping to prevent gas. Honey and cinnamon also provide energy, making people more mentally alert and ready for physical activity. The two biggest claims for honey and cinnamon are that they enhance the ability to lose weight, and they are effective against some forms of  cancer. While these latter two claims are unproven, nature does provide an amazing range of natural healing substances, most of which are  untested by medical science. Relying exclusively on honey and cinnamon for either weight loss or eliminating cancer is not advisable."

    (See  http://www.naturalnews.com/034280_honey_cures_cinnamon.html#ixzz2bhl8mqYj).

    From personal experience, I can say that a daily dose of raw honey helps to keep me happy and healthy. Every day I have a cup of herbal tea (Rooibos is my favorite) with a generous teaspoon of raw honey and two level teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar. On average, I get a minor cold once every two years, and my springtime pollen allergies have been largely eliminated. I also had a nasty, second-degree burn in the summer of 2013 when I got into a disagreement with a pot of melted beeswax. When dressing the wound each day, I alternated between fresh aloe and raw honey. I was amazed at how quickly the burn healed, and with almost no scarring. I later learned that the enzyme glucose oxidase, which is found in raw honey, is converted into hydrogen peroxide when exposed to the water and salt produced by your skin. How cool is that? Raw honey actually produces medicine inside the skin wound, where it promotes healing.

    So it might be just a bit self serving, but Smiley Honey wholeheartedly endorses the generous consumption of raw honey on a daily basis, for both your health and your happiness! And if you want to add some cinnamon to your honey while you are at it, there is at least some evidence that this mixture promotes good health.

    -Brian D. Bertonneau, Owner