Thursday, June 25, 2015

Healing Properties of Honey

While at my bee supplier's we got to talking as usual about bees.  He showed me a picture of a horse's injured foreleg.
The owners were struggling to save the horse's badly injured and infected leg.  If it couldn't be saved the horse would have to be put down.  They tried antibiotics but they weren't working.  Thank goodness they heard about the power of honey to cure wounds.  They used honey on the wounds and the horse's leg healed and was saved.  The picture was of the horse's healed leg.
I'm sure you've heard about the antibacterial and antifungal power of honey.
The ancient Egyptians knew all about honey and now modern medicine is learning to turn back time and use ancient methods when modern ones fail.
I've seen documentaries in hospitals where leeches were used to keep blood flowing through reattached fingers.  If not for the leeches work to keep the blood flowing through the reattached limb, the person would lose their finger.
Now, back to honey.  I was watching one of my favourite shows on Animal Planet called Supervet.  There was a dog's paw that was badly crushed.  The vet had to take pieces of bone from the dog's hip to create new foot bones.  It was a really complicated surgery.  As often happens after an invasive surgery tht takes a long time to heal the dog's paw eventually became infected.  They were using antibiotics and they weren't working very well.
The Supervet (who really knows his stuff) used Manuka honey.  I watched as he poured the honey into and onto the wounds.  And I'm sure you know the outcome.  The dogs paw healed up beautifully.  The vet is using medical grade Manuka honey for his clients but all honeys have healing powers because of their antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Manuka plant (also called tea tree) is well known to be a powerful healing agent because of the properties of the manuka plant itself which is in the honey.
Manuka honey is often used by hospitals to put on foot ulcer's of diabetic patients.  These ulcers are hard to heal and often don't respond to antibiotics.  That's when honey steps in to save the day, and the patient's foot.
Manuka/Tea Tree honey is harvested in New Zealand and southeastern Australia.  Manuka honey is highly valued and sells at a premium to medical organizations.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


At the Pines yard last week I have 6 hives.  They're all slow right now as they're requeening.
During that time the number of foraging bees drops off as the whole population decreases while we wait for the new queen to hatch, mate and get back to the hive and start laying eggs.
Then we have to wait for the eggs to hatch.
It's about 30 days in all until the population starts to pick up again as new bees are hatching.
I find it a little concerning as the days go by and the population is low.  I worry whether they have been able to requeen successfully or not.
Now it's true you can open the hive and inspect, but how many times have you found that when pulling frames the queen cells get crushed or disturbed.
The bees put them close to the bottom of the frame, or hanging down in the spaces in the frames.  Too many times I've pulled frames (and I do it very carefully and I also heft and look underneath first) and I still damage cells.
Nothing is more frustrating than damaging a beautiful fully capped queen cell.  So instead I stay out of the hive for the 30 day count just to be sure I don't muck things up for the bees.
After the 30 days I check for brood and if there's none then I will go to another strong hive and steal a frame that has eggs so that the queenless hive can make another queen.  I'll steal one frame per week (to a max of 3 and often from different hives) until I see a queen cell started.
At the started stage a queen cell is like a button or a nub and not so easily damaged on inspection.
A couple years ago while doing a split I had three full size capped queen cells break open and the fully developed queens ran up into the hive.  One of the cells broke open and I put my hand under it and the queen dropped out right into my hand.  The good news was that I had another hive that was queenless so I just popped her into their front door.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

OBA Board members appointed to Ontario's Pesticide Advisory Committee

Below is an excerpt from our OBA newsletter.  If you're not a member of the Ontario Bee Association, you're missing out on info on what's going on in the beekeeping community.
The OBA is pleased to report that OBA President Tibor Szabo and board member Jim Wilson have both been appointed to the Ontario government's Pesticide Advisory Committee by the Lieutenant Governor. Tibor and Jim join the 17-member committee whose function is to review the content and operation of the Pesticides Act and its regulations, and recommend changes or amendments to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change; review all Ontario government publications on pesticides and pest control; review and make recommendations on the classification of all new federally registered pest control products prior to their sale and use in Ontario; and advise the minister on matters relating to pesticides and pest management.

This is the first time that the beekeeping industry has been represented on this committee. "Beekeepers are significant stakeholders in these issues and we have relevant knowledge, experience and perspective to contribute," said Tibor Szabo. "Both Jim and I are pleased to be appointed and look forward to meeting and working with the other members to support responsible use of pesticides in Ontario."

The committee meets 12 times a year. Congratulations and thank you to both Tibor and Jim.

The Ontario Government Released Regulations on Neonics

Finally in June 2014 the Ontario government has released new regulations on the issue of neonics.

You can read the full article at this link: or the pasted article below:


Regulating Neonicotinoids

A growing body of scientific evidence shows that neonicotinoid insecticides are highly toxic to honey bees and other beneficial insects.

In addition, neonicotinoid insecticides are persistent, meaning they do not break down quickly in soil. They are water soluble and have the potential to easily run off into local watercourses where they can potentially harm aquatic insects. Neonicotinoid insecticides also make plants potentially harmful to the beneficial insects feeding on them.

In Ontario, there is widespread use of neonicotinoid-coated seeds, in some cases, without evidence of pest problems. Close to 100 per cent of corn seed and 60 per cent of soybean seed sold in the province are treated with neonicotinoid insecticides.

On July 1, 2015, new regulatory requirements for the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds in Ontario will come into effect and be phased in over a period of time. The requirements will support the province's target to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 per cent by 2017 and are focused on ensuring that neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds are used only when there is a demonstrated pest problem. Reducing neonicotinoid use in these two crops presents the greatest opportunity to decrease pollinator exposure to the neurotoxic insecticide.

Consultation Process

Ontario conducted a comprehensive, two-stage consultation process with the public and stakeholders to develop these new regulatory requirements. In the first stage, a pollinator health discussion paper was posted online in November 2014 for a 60 day public comment period.

Farmers, members of the public and other stakeholders were invited to attend in-person consultation meetings held across the province or submit comments online or by mail.

In stage two, Ontario released a draft regulation for public comment on March 23, 2015, inviting interested parties to submit feedback on the regulatory proposal. In addition, a series of technical briefings were held with key stakeholders.

A new class of pesticides created under the regulation

The province is responsible for classifying pesticides and regulating their sale, use, transportation, storage and disposal. Treated seeds are seeds that have been coated with a pesticide. The new regulatory requirements will create a new class of pesticides -- Class 12 -- for corn and soybean seeds treated with the following neonicotinoid insecticides:
  • imidacloprid
  • thiamethoxam
  • clothianidin

A new system for regulating neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds

Ontario is establishing a system for regulating neonicotinoid-treated seeds that:
  1. requires training on integrated pest management methods for farmers that will help to protect pollinators
  2. establishes methods that farmers can use to assess whether pest problems require the use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds
  3. sets out requirements for the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds
  4. tracks the sale of neonicotinoid-treated seeds
The new regulatory amendments will take effect on July 1, 2015, and be phased in over time.

New requirements for purchasing neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds: Integrated pest management training

Integrated pest management is an approach to managing pests that is environmentally and economically sustainable. Integrated pest management promotes the use of different methods to prevent and reduce the risk of pests and encourages beneficial insects, including pollinators. Under integrated pest management, pesticides are used as a last resort to control pest problems.
The new integrated pest management course will be available for farmers in fall 2015, and will run regularly thereafter. Following successful completion of the course, farmers will receive a certificate number, valid for five years. To encourage participation in the integrated pest management course, training will be offered free of charge for the first year, until September 2016.

As of August 31, 2016, any person (e.g., a farmer or a person that supervises the planting of neonicotinoid-treated seeds) who purchases neonicotinoid-treated seeds will be required to have been certified by completing the integrated pest management training course. The course includes training on the importance of pollinators for the ecosystem and how to protect them from pesticide exposure.
Individuals will also be trained in identifying pests and pest scouting methods, and using alternative methods to pesticides. Licensed treated-seed vendors will not be required to complete the integrated pest management certification.

New requirements for using neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds From August 31, 2015 to August 30, 2016

In preparation for the 2016 planting season, farmers will have the option to take one of two courses of action to purchase and use neonicotinoid-treated corn or soybean seed, depending on the amount they intend on planting.

As an incentive to achieve early reductions in the use of neonicotinoid-treated seed, farmers will not have to conduct a pest assessment if they plant neonicotinoid-treated seeds on 50 per cent or less of the total area of where their plant corn or soybeans. They will need to provide written confirmation to the sales representative or seed vendor from which they purchased the seeds.

If farmers want to buy and plant neonicotinoid-treated seeds on more than 50 per cent of the total area of their corn or soybean crop, they will need to complete a pest assessment report and provide it to the sales representative or seed vendor from which they purchased the seeds.

Starting August 31, 2016

In preparation for the 2017 planting season, if farmers want to buy and use any amount of neonicotinoid-treated seeds, they will be required to provide:
  1. Proof of certification of integrated pest management training
  2. A written declaration that integrated pest management principles were considered
  3. A pest assessment report
Farmers will need to submit these pieces of information to the sales representative or seed vendor, including direct-to-farm seed vendors.

Pest assessments assist in identifying pest problems above thresholds. Pest or stand loss thresholds must be met in order to determine that neonicotinoid-treated seed is allowed to be used.
The two pest assessment methods that can be used to determine pest problems are:
  • Soil pest scouting: a method that confirms the presence of an average of two or more grubs or one wireworm in soil at a farm property. A report must verify that these thresholds have been met or exceeded.
  • Crop damage assessment: a method that confirms:
    • at least a 15 per cent stand loss in corn caused by pests
    • at least a 30 per cent stand loss in soybean caused by pests
The pests and other details, including population thresholds and averaging for soil pest scouting, are set out in the Pest Assessment Guideline.

New requirements for selling neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds

In order to sell neonicotinoid-treated seed, seed companies -- vendors of neonicotinoid-treated seed -- will need to obtain a treated seed vendor's licence.

Other requirements for vendors include notifying purchasers that the seed is a neonicotinoid-treated seed, ensuring untreated seeds are available for purchase and reporting the sale of neonicotinoid-treated and untreated seeds to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

The regulation also includes requirements for treated-seed sales representatives (i.e. those that facilitate the purchase of neonicotinoid-treated seed), custom seed treaters and direct-to-farm vendors. Sales representatives and direct-to-farm vendors must ensure purchasers provide the required documentation to purchase neonicotinoid-treated seed. Sales representatives and direct-to-farm vendors then provide this documentation to seed vendors.

Those who plant neonicotinoid-treated seed will need to read and follow instructions that are required to be set out on the seed tag, such as avoiding equipment maintenance in areas that may affect bee colonies or where bees are foraging.

The regulation does not include requirements for the transport and storage of neonicotinoid-treated seeds.

Tracking the sale of neonicotinoid-treated seeds

Sales and seed treatment data will be submitted annually to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and pest assessments are to be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This will ensure an open and transparent system to track progress.

Changes from the draft regulation

Throughout the regulatory consultation process, Ontario received a number of comments on the regulatory discussion paper and the proposed draft regulation. As a result of these comments, a number of additional changes have been made to the regulation, including:
  • Allowing additional time for farmers to take integrated pest management training
  • Encouraging early participation in integrated pest management training by offering training free of charge for the first year of implementation, until September 2016
  • Committing to publicly reporting amalgamated sales and seed treatment data for neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed to the track the effectiveness of the regulation
  • Establishing more flexible licensing requirements for direct-to-farm vendors
  • Allowing vendors to continuously provide updates to the list of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed to provide additional flexibility as new seeds could come to market
  • Extending the expiration date of a pest assessment report by two months
  • Allowing professional pest advisors to supervise other people in conducting pest assessments
  • Phasing in requirements for professional pest advisors on a geographic basis to best target regions with greatest pollinator mortality rates

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Primary School Presentation about Bees

One of the most fun and best ways to spread the word about bees is by educating primary school children about bees.
They have many questions and are eager to here about this fuzzy insect that makes honey.
If you're interested in presentations, I've already prepared a Powerpoint slideshow that you are more than welcome to use. 
You can even run it from my web site on the school's Smartboard so you don't even have to download it.  It's at: .
I use the same presentation for both adults and children.  I just change the amount of science that I explain and I also use simpler wording for the young children.
We also have a display that we can use in good weather to enclose a frame of bees.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Take Part in an Ontario Honey Bee Health Survey

This study is being conducted by Novometrix Research Inc. an independent contract research organization.  The study is led by President Dr. Jeff Wilson, a veterinarian and PhD Epidemiologist.

The study has been endorsed by the Ontario Bee Association and we'd like all beekeepers in Ontario to participate.

The purpose of the study is to determine how to keep Ontario bees healthy and they are asking questions about your 2014 season:

  • Hive Health and Production
  • Bee Yard Management
  • Nearby forage

  • Here's the link to the survey: