Dedicated To Sustainability
We are passionate about honey bees. We make every business decision by what’s best for the health of our honey bees. The bees depend on the environment they live in. We look for locations that have a diversity of meadows, native flowering plants, and a natural source of water. Diversity matters because it provides flowers throughout the growing season. Some flowers will provide nectar, while others may only provide pollen. Bees need a reliable source of each in order to maintain a healthy colony, which has the ability to produce and store honey.
We do not rent our bees out for pollination service. This sets us apart from other bee companies. Bees in pollination service are exposed to fungicides and insecticides from spraying at bloom time. While the bees aren’t sprayed directly, the come into contact with residue on leaves, petals, or flowers growing in the understory of crops. These areas have lots of shade; thus it takes longer for sprays to dry. Eventually, the bees carry the spray back to the hive, resulting in spray in the colony and honey.
Because we emphasize the well-being of our bees instead of profit, some consider our goals old fashioned. Care in a timely fashion is critical for bees because of environmental factors. Our desire is not to be the largest bee company, but the one that takes the best care of its bees. We simply believe that the bees, people, and the environment that we live in, is of far greater importance than the pursuit of profits.
Our History of Beekeeping
Our main apiary is located on a Sesquicentennial farm located in the southwest Ohio Valley. We have more than one hundred and fifty years of continuous family ownership. Overall, it has lots of family heritage and history. For many of these years, the farm prospered as a dairy farm. Additionally, we raised free-range chickens for additional income. They also took eggs to town and delivered door to door on a set day of the week. When in season, they took fresh vegetables along on the egg route. It was a special day for the city residents. Overall, the visits included a short visit with a friend, received fresh eggs, and produce from the country.
Overall, the family that worked the farm had a very conservative faith. As plain people, they valued their faith, family, and the neighbors that lived around them. The principles that led them included hard work, thriftiness, a soft-spokeness, and using the land for a good purpose. As with anyone involved in agriculture, some years would be better than others. During difficult years, they reflected back on how life was easier now than when they were growing up. Religion gave them the strength to continue the journey.
Honey bees have been a part of the family farm since the early 1960s. We placed them south of a small woods located on the farm. In this time period, life was easier for bees and all of our natural insects, including butterflies. To maintain a good healthy colonies of bees, we didn’t need much management.
Today is much different. Bees are challenged with so many issues. In fact, very few bees can survive in the wild. They are host to several different mites that carry diseases that shorten their life. Insecticides used as seed coatings in most farming operations are systematic and will eventually be found in the plants’ pollen. These insecticides weaken the bees’ immune system making them more susceptible to other problems.
With more ground being planted in row crops, (mostly corn and soybean) this produces a monoculture environment. Hayfields and fence rows that once produced and provided abundant flowers through the summer are disappearing. This limits the amount and the diversity of nectar and pollen available to all our natural insects. Not all pollen is created equal. Some pollen is very beneficial while others offer little nutrient content.
With the increases of CO2 levels, the nutrient value (protein) of most pollen’s have decreased in food value to honey bees. Protein from plant pollen is the food source that the bees feed and raise their young brood (larva) on. It is their lifeline and the decreased value contributes to a number of other factors. A couple of these factors can affect the queen, by reducing her viable period of life in which she produces eggs that will be reared into young bees. As you read through the many factors, one begins to realize that many of these issues are interrelated and there are no quick or easy answers. Doing nothing is not a solution. All of us doing “a little” will make a difference.
During the 1960’s time period, the small woods on the farm was a resting stop for the Monarch Butterfly. In the fall months of September and October, they would cluster overnight in the one-hundred-year-old American Beech trees that were in fall color. The Fall colors would range from lime green to bright yellow with shades of rust to a rusty red. Blending nicely with the orange and black colors in their wings. Today we maintain a patch of common Milkweed for the bees and the Monarch Butterfly.
Monarchs use this as a nectar source as well as a host plant for laying eggs for the next generation of butterflies. In addition, we continue to plant wildflowers, trees, and many cover crops that the bees can use as a source for honey. We continue to focus on plants that will provide nectar and beneficial pollen source for our bees and native insects.
Taking Care of Your Honey
Almost all healthy honey will crystallize or granulate at some point in time. It is a natural process that will occur with real honey. Usually, temperatures at or below 57 degrees F will start the process of crystallizing. This process can be avoided by keeping your honey in a warm place with a constant temperature. Should your honey start to crystallize, simply place it in a pan with warm water about 100 degrees F. Or place it on a warming tray with a towel underneath of the honey container.
When honey crystallizes it does not mean that your honey has “Gone Bad”. In fact, in most northern states such as Minnesota and areas in Canada most of the honey sold and consumed is crystallized. This is normal because of the cold temperatures.
There are certain specific varieties of honey that will crystallize almost immediately without being temperature-induced. Canola is an example of honey that may crystallize in the hive at temperatures that can be 95 degrees or warmer. Thinner or lighter honey usually has a tendency to take much longer to crystallize. Robinia Honey (Black Locust) is a good example of honey that will take a long time to crystallize.
Why Honey Won’t Crystallize
Generally, there are two reasons why honey will not crystallize. First, if it is heated to a high temperature to make the bottling process faster and easier. This process will immediately destroy the existing enzymes and nutritional health benefits of honey.
Second, is the process of blending. Most packing plants or bottling plants are really no more than blending plants. They buy the low end and surplus honey and blend it together. They may import and bottle cheap foreign honey where no one really knows what chemicals the bees or honey may have been exposed to. The large packers that sell to box stores, outlet stores, and a lot of grocery chains operate on very thin margins. A couple of cents per bottle can make a difference in securing a fifty million dollar bottling contract.
For the most part, it is price based. With color, texture, and palpable flavor left to whatever is in the blend. Please read labels closely, it is not uncommon to have other additives included or mixed with just a small portion of honey. Best said, find a trusted source to purchase your honey from.