Friday, August 5, 2011

Splits and Natural Bees

I had a chance to hear a great speaker, Mike Palmer, from Vermont discuss how to make a summer split. A split is when you take one hive and split it into two, three or four smaller hives. He showed some really ingenious methods of doing this that will allow these smaller hives to overwinter by sharing a wall. He essentially made his hives from single family dwellings to duplexes. Very cool.

The end of the afternoon was a bit slow for me and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do so I checked out natural beekeeping with Buddy Marterre. It is very difficult to be an organic beekeeper in the US. You have to have your hives in an area where they are not going to be picking up non-organic pollen and nectar. Then you have certain restrictions on wax and pesticide use. Anyway, just listening to him list what it took was exhausting. There is no way my little suburban apiary was going to qualify especially when I have a neighbor down the street who got a visit from Terminix today.

But not to despair, he offered a solution called Certified Natural - sort of a half way to organic. It is really focused on how the beekeeper runs their apiary. I am going to look into it as it looked I qualified already.

One of the biggest issues I heard about over and over again was that the most common pesticides found in beeswax were ones that beekeepers used. This really does make sense, but it also got me to thinking hard about what I use and don't use here.

We do use what are called "soft" pesticides. I use MiteAway II pads that are made of formic acid. This is a natural pesticide for mites and just annoys the bees but doesn't seem to hurt them. In the past I also used Fumagillin for some gut parasites, but I am seriously rethinking that. It doesn't seem to harm bees but it can hurt people. So that is on the table.

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