If you are a member and have anything that you feel is important to chemical free beekeeping, please email it to me. I will post it in this section in a future issue. Thank you. Dennis

Winter is  behind us now. Hopefully you have spent your winter days preparing for the new bee season which is finally upon us. Every beekeeper drives his or her spouse crazy during the winter months because they can’t get out and work their bees. I know that here at Lone Star Farms my wife is thrilled that spring has finally arrived. I am able to work outside with the bees and at the same time it gets me out of her hair. 

By now everyone should have performed their initial hive inspection and are ready for the spring flow. The bees need to still have some food stored and a good laying queen to get their season started. If the bees are light in food, mix up some sugar water using 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. If the queen is not performing as she should, order another one from a hygienic queen breeder that does not place pesticides into their hives. 

Here at Lone Star Farms our yaupon flow has just begun. It is one of our major flows around here. It will usually last about 3 weeks. I usually wait out the first week of the flow before adding any supers on the hive. This gives my bees time to replinish stores for themselves and also for them to perform any repair work inside the hive. This early in the season the population is not as huge as it will be in a couple of months for the Tallow flow so allowing the bees a week before adding any supers has worked out for me over the years. Too much room for the bees will only promote hive beetle problems.

Just about every month for the past year I have been mentioning the lack of rain in our area. This month is no different. We have been in a drought for a couple of years. It has hurt our bottom line honey yield for the past 2 years and this year does not look that promising either. I hoped that you live in an area that has been able to enjoy a good rain now and then.


Honey a source of antioxidants

NEW YORK, Jul 10 (Reuters) -- Honey contains low-to-moderate levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, according to a new report. The study authors also found that dark-colored honeys seem to contain more antioxidants than do lighter varieties.

Honey may "play an important (and as yet unrealized) role in providing antioxidants in a highly palatable form," say researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois.

Antioxidants are compounds found in cells that 'mop up' free radicals, the damaging byproducts of normal metabolism. Experts believe diets high in certain antioxidants (like vitamins C and E) may help prevent illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

Since fruits and vegetables are an especially potent source of antioxidants, the Illinois team speculated that honey, which originates in plant nectar, might also contain high levels of the nutrients. They used laboratory tests to measure the antioxidant levels of 20 different American honeys collected by beekeepers across the country.

While all of the honeys contained low-to-moderate levels of antioxidants, study co-author Dr. May Berenbaum says "(n)ot all honeys are the same." In fact, the researchers found that honey from bees fed on Illinois buckwheat flowers had 20 times the antioxidant content of honey from bees fed on California sage. The authors found that darker-colored honeys had higher antioxidant concentrations than did lighter-colored varieties.

Berenbaum notes that the antioxidant concentrations of the highly-rated Illinois buckwheat honey "...compares favorably, pretty much bite for bite, with the ascorbic acid-related antioxidant content of tomatoes."

Of course, most consumers would be more likely to eat a whole tomato at one sitting than the equivalent weight-worth of honey. Still, Atlanta nutritionist Dr. Chris Rosenbloom, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says she is happy to include honey as "...one more food in the arsenal of foods that contain antioxidants and other chemicals that are good for us."

She cautions, however, that "...it is not safe to feed honey to infants," since honey often contains spores of bacterium clostridium botulinum, the organism that causes botulism. "An older child or an adult has the acids in their stomach that can kill it off," Rosenbloom explained, "but not infants."


Are the fruits and vegetables you buy clean enough to eat?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) studied 100,000 produce pesticide reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to create a list of 49 of the dirtiest and cleanest produce.

So before you hit the grocery store, see how some of your favorite fruits and veggies measured up.

Did one of your favorites make the list? Don't worry, the EWG recommends purchasing organic or locally grown varieties, which can lower pesticide intake by 80% versus conventionally grown produce.

This stalky vegetable tops the dirty list. Research showed that a single celery stalk had 13 pesticides, while, on the whole, celery contained as many as 67 pesticides.

Chemicals fester on this vegetable as it has no protective skin and its stems cup inward, making it difficult to wash the entire surface of the stalk. It’s not easy to find locally grown celery, so if you like this crunchy veggie, go organic.

Peaches are laced with 67 different chemicals, placing it second on the list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables. They have soft fuzzy skin, a delicate structure, and high susceptibility to most pests, causing them to sprayed more frequently.

Health.com: 10 heart-healthy dessert recipes

This red, juicy fruit has a soft, seedy skin, allowing easier absorption of pesticides. Research showed that strawberries contained 53 pesticides. Try to buy strawberries at a local farmer’s market for a sweet dessert.

Apples are high-maintenance fruit, needing many pesticides to stave off mold, pests, and diseases. The EWG found 47 different kinds of pesticides on apples, and while produce washes can help remove some of the residue, they’re not 100% effective.

Blueberries (domestic)
These antioxidant-rich berries have a thin layer of skin that allows chemicals to more easily contaminate the fruit. Domestic blueberries were loaded with 13 pesticides on a single sample, according to the EWG. Imported blueberries also made the list at No. 14 for the dirtiest produce.

Health.com: 10 refreshing blueberry recipes

Sweet bell pepper
This crunchy, yet thin-skinned, vegetable is highly susceptible to pesticides. According to the EWG, sweet bell peppers showed traces of 63 types of pesticides. While some pesticides can be washed away, many still remain.

Spinach, kale, collard greens
These leafy green vegetables are on the list, with spinach loaded with 45 different kinds of pesticides and kale 57.

In 2006, Dole recalled bagged baby spinach after multiple E. coli illnesses associated with the vegetable made their way across the country.

Health.com: 10 foods that can make you sick

Grapes (imported)
These tiny fruit have extremely thin skins, allowing for easy absorption of pesticides. And think twice before buying imported wine. The grapes that go into the wine could be coming from vineyards that use too many pesticides.

Have you ever indulged in a potato skin at your favorite restaurant? You might want to think twice before eating the skin. This spud was highly laced with pesticides—36, according to the EWG—that are needed to prevent pests and diseases.

Health.com: 5 new ways to savor your spuds

Cherries, like blueberries, strawberries, and peaches, have a thin coating of skin—often not enough to protect the fruit from harmful pesticides.

Research showed cherries grown in the U.S.had three times the amount of pesticides as imported cherries. Because cherries contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that neutralizes carcinogens, it’s worthwhile to buy organic or seek imported ones.