Organic honey?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by GraceMarie, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. GraceMarie

    GraceMarie Well-Known Member

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    Hi all, I am new to this forum and have learned alot!!! So, I am kind of an organic nut, feed my animals and garden organically and buy the rest from organic markets. I am interested in keeping a few beehives for honey for our own personal use (not to be sold). We live on about 3 acres, completely surrounded for miles and miles by corn and bean fields and a little CRP land. I know that all the farmers use tons of chemicals on their crops. So, my question is, how "organic" would my honey be if the bees were foraging in these fields? And would this kind of crop support 2 or 3 hives?
    Thank you much!
     
  2. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    GraceMarie, as far as I know, corn, while it is a good pollen crop for the bees, is not an important source of nectar for them. Beans are also not prime sources of nectar. My guess is that your bees will be visiting the wildflowers which may be lining ditches or fencelines, and any fruit trees within a few miles when they bloom. locust trees are also a source of nectar. make sure, since you are in an area of high pesticide use, that you register your hives with the town/county/whatever. farmers are required to check for apiaries within bee flight range (about 5 miles) before spraying and, i think, notify the beekeeper and pay for any damages to the hives due to spraying while flowers are in bloom. However, if you notify the farmers within 5 miles of you that you have hives, and to please not spray when their crops are blooming (which is illegal) they will probably honor this request, as it gives them a little extra pollination as well. As for the honey being organic, the weeds on the sides of the fields might be benefiting from some runoff fertilizer and pesticides. I guess it all depends on how organic the honey really has to be. I see organic orange blossom honey in the grocery store, and I know that unless it is coming from the middle of an abandoned orange grove, no way does that nectar come from organically raised trees!

    justgojumpit
     

  3. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Hey justgojumpit,
    While on the subject of nectar source, what about birdsfoot trefoil? The one I see growing here has yellow blossoms and visited by bumblebees and wild bees. I don't have a beehive up yet, but was wondering if that trefoil blossom would be good nectar? Also what about the vetch that has purple blossoms? thanks,

    Rich
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Here in Kansas-which is not too far from Nebraska- the average hive produces about 60 pounds of harvestable honey: the rest the bees will need. In a great honey year you may get much more: in a drougth year you may have to feed them.

    Corn, maple, sunflowers, dandylions, and some types of vetch produce pollen: and I have heard some types of vetch produce nectar as well.

    Here in the Midwest, bees get nectar from clover, sweet clover, fruit trees, aster, wild flowers, alfalfa, and in many years from soybeans. (Soybeans are an ERRATIC source of nectar, some years they produce well and some years there is little for the bees).

    There are 2 main honey flows: one in the summer and one in the Fall. The Fall honey often tastes harsh because of the asters. No matter: the bees need honey to winter on. Here in Kansas, many beekeepers let the bees have all of the Fall honey. Though Fall honey DOES make good honey-whole wheat bread.

    As for birdsfoot trefoil, if the wild bees visit it is good stuff.

    If you need to keep your bees in because a farmer is spraying, a piece of screen can be stapled over the entrance to the hive.

    Lastly, there is an organic form of mite control that is being used. Food grade mineral oil is the basis of it, and it needs to be aplied often with a special fogger. It is called FGMO for short. You can do a google search if you wish. This is something that I have not tried yet.

    Mites MUST be dealt with, or the bees will die. We are STARTING to see mite-resistant bees, but even most of them need a little help.
     
  5. Timber

    Timber Well-Known Member

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    GraceMarie, good questions, for the nectar, and pollen the good posters covered it pretty well.
    On the pesticides and herbicides aspect for one since you seem to be in the middle of the fields I would think at least you should get a call on spraying times in your area.

    Pesticides will normally hurt your field bees depending on class of toxic levels of pesticides used. You maybe not notice a decrease in field bees, or then again large pile of dead bees in front of hive. As "organic honey" I only can say your indicator would be a rapid increase of carried out dead bees, more then the typical death rate of aged bees. Maybe another just speculating, indicator would be undeveloped or lava carried out from the brood.

    As for herbicides applications on the fields would decrease any wild floral weeds that will have beneficial nectar source. It looks like you are in a low nectar locale to start off with.

    I know a beekeeper here that gets a call from a neighboring apple and fruit grower. He moves his bees for safety sake.

    What justgojumpit said, you should call your county agriculture agent on spraying fields. In Ohio one needs to go to classes to get a license on chemical applications. I don't know but with all these emplaced guidelines, by registering your apiaries should generate a response of spraying in your vicinity. With the concern of spray drift At least you can get time to get out of Dodge.
    Timber
     
  6. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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  7. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't see how you can legally call honey organic...natural,yes. But how can you know where the bees traveled for the nectar? Since bees will fly up to three miles they could be foraging anywhere. DEE
     
  8. rainesridgefarm

    rainesridgefarm Well-Known Member

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    I also pratice organic farming and I am surrounded by corn and beans. You can practice organic beekeeping in the managment of the hives but you can not control where they fly.. I would not worry about where they are getting the nectar from it will be far better then anything you pick up in the store that is blended or diluted. It is a wonderfull business to be in. Just remember it is very addictive, I started with two hives 6 years ago and now have over 70. But I like to spend money also.
     
  9. GraceMarie

    GraceMarie Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all so much for your great replies...
    Grace
     
  10. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    I saw honey labeled "organic" in a local health food store. The farm was a registered organic farm, so they called their honey organic.

    As a (small) bee keeper that took off less than 200# of honey this year, I was not impressed with the honey in the store. It looked almost like creamed honey because it was severely crystalized. I was told by the store owner that it looked this way because it was because it was raw, organic honey.

    Funny, I have raw honey on my shelves from my own hives. I don't expose the hives to chemicals of any kind and my honey sure as heck didin't look like that!!
     
  11. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Some honey will crystalize, some won't pasturized or heated honey won't crystalize.
    The idea of organic honey should be looked at more from the bee management side than their foraging. You will have to choose a management plan for disease and mites if you plan on keeping your bees for more than one season. Using non chemical methods is what you would be looking for instead of chemical treatments which not only treat the disease but actually contaminate the wax and the honey.
    Controlling bees foraging will be impossible. Bees will actually pick up fertilizer and bring it back to the hive when there is no pollen early in the season.
     
  12. Mike in Pa

    Mike in Pa Well-Known Member

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    Anyone have any experience or advice on feeding essential oils? Wintergreen? Tea tree oil? Patties? Apple cider vinegar?

    Will a plastic chicken waterer suffice as a waterer?
     
  13. justgojumpit

    justgojumpit Well-Known Member

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    on the plastic chicken waterer... yes it will suffice, but be sure to fill the water reservoir with coarse sand to the top of the water level. this will ensure that no bees will drown. the bees will dig into the sand to get at the water. I can't help you with the essential oils.

    justgojumpit