Monday, April 10, 2006


Today, I added two new colonies of bees for my just planted orchard. I'm sorry there are no pictures of the action, but I couldn't get the bees installed and take pictures at the same time. I wanted them in the hive as soon as possible. My bee man at McCary Apiary in Buckatunna, has the calmest three banded Italians but he must have miscalculated the shipping time or just forgot what day it was and they arrived this morning which means that they sat around over the weekend in a truck somewhere. There were many dead. This is normal, but I know they are weaker than a colony with single day shipping or no shipping. But, they are already building comb. How exciting!

I will attempt to raise these bees organically. Organic bees are few and far between in this part of the country. Mites almost make it impossible. See the unpainted thing between the bottom board and the box. This is a screen. Supposively, the mites will fall through the screen and then not be able to catch a ride back into the hive. In the back of the hive, I can remove a tray so that I can see if there is a problem. Inside the hive is a plastic frame with drone comb spacing. Even though the males are expendable in the colony and most beekeepers try to minimize drone comb, mites like the drone larva. Once this comb is built up, the queen has laid, and the workers have nurtured the larva and mites have congregated, I will take the frame and put it in the freezer. After killing the drones, I will return the frame to the hive and the process will continue. This is high maintenance, but this is Mississippi.

For those who don't love bees let me extol their virtues and the virtues of honey. I will start with honey. Honey is an excellent sweetener. Your body can process it easier than sugar. And if you are allegeric to Spring or Fall you can use locally grown seasonally appropriate honey to alleviate allergy symptoms. Of course, this is not an immediate cure but over time you can eliminate allergy medications for seasonal allergies. Bees do nothing for animal allergies.

Bee stings can help with arthritis symptoms. I know this personally. I severed the tendons and nerves in my thumb (cooking accident) and waited around a week before going to the doctor. Surgery followed and because of the week without connected tendons I had a lot arthritic type symptoms. Before I started beekeeping and getting the occasional sting. I could barely use my thumb. Now, though I cannot hyper-extend, I can use it without pain and I cannot predict rain.

I love the insect and they hold a wonderful place in nature as a healer, feeder, and pollinator. To bad they cannot cut the grass.

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