Please tell me why you want these bees and what behavior characteristics you are willing to live with.
Please tell me why you want these bees and what behavior characteristics you are willing to live with.
I know this is supposed to be about small cell foundation, but small cell and natural cell are not that much different of an animal. Why in the world do we need a study about this to tell us if it's beneficial. For natural cell the bottom line is it costs me much less money to do, so even if the bees survive exactly the same as they would on large foundation I am $$ ahead. Personally I think most of the studies that have been done were flawed. Either because they didn't properly regress the bees or the study wasn't long enough or who knows what else. Let's try a study comparing the 5 year survival rates of regular foundation bees and foundationless bees.
Mike, I want to make sure that I express to you _exactly_ how I feel about you:
:) Sorry, couldn't resist
...you are in a rather unique situation in NZ, as you don't allow any honey imports, a lot of unnavigable but productive land (helecoptering in bees for a honey crop and such), not that many beekeepers in most places, and a reasonable domestic demand...couple this with the MHMS (Manuka Honey Marketing Scheme) run along with the local university for the export market, and you have a great market for honey.
I thought that all beekeepers in NZ were single (unmarried)...as I (and a whole room of beekeepers at the organic conference in Arizona) was sure that Roy Arbon said he knew of no married beekeepers....it later became clear that he said "no Maori beekeepers" :)
There is no commodity market for "treatment free honey"...so the market price is really market determined. I don't know what other people pay, but our suppliers secure a reasonable premium for being treatment free in their management. I wonder if you would accept 20% losses if you were making double per pound for honey? I'm not offering anything here....I don't know what you get per pound....I don't know your market.
Here in New England, we have soccer moms and hipsters supporting what Dee is doing 2000 miles away...what Kirk is doing in Vermont, what Bob is doing in NY...because they want the purist product they can get, and they appreciate what we are doing....because they want to feel like they are doing everything they can to provide their family with food produced in sustainable ways without pesticides....in ways in which the actual producer is not being exploited.
If (as you say), all things being equal, you'd like to be treatment free.....consider that there may be a market out there that would actually like to buy honey from untreated and unfed bees....a market that (unlike you or me), has little time to do something like keep their own treatment free bees, but plenty of money to throw at the problem of obtaining honey from those that do. I see no reason why one couldn't (with a little work) double the price from that of NZ organic honey....I presume the organic standards allow feeding with organic cane sugar, and treating with essential oils and/or acids? Aren't there customers of NZ organic honey that would love to pay more for something that hasn't been fed or medicated...a true sustainable treatment free apiary?
Don't interpret this as disrespect for the customer...they are the ones that make the whole thing go round....I very much appreciate that _they_ appreciate what we all do.
However for the treatment free hives, to be consistent with methods currently being used by others, I am allowing losses, even though it goes against the grain. Current TF losses are greater than 5% but I'm writing this off as part of the learning process and possibly something that has to be gone through. Long term though it will have to work withing commercially acceptable parameters for someone who sells bees.
A good post Dean. NZ already produces un mite treated honey because a good slab of the South Island has been varroa free, until this season. It has not been marketed as chemical free though because the beekeepers don't know where their bees have been, it is not differentiated from any other honey.
We also don't use some of the more nasty mite treatments like, say coumaphos, treatment is not an issue in the publics minds most of them have total faith in the product. Honey here is tested before sale to very demanding standards because the bulk of our honey is exported, we have to comply with the highest standards from around the world. NZ honey, in bulk anyway, does command a premium price around the globe because it is not adulterated or tampered with or even filtered for pollen, little sugar is fed here, and no corn syrup, we have a good rep.
The comments about accepting 20% losses for double the price for honey, do make sense from a commercial perspective. For me, it's a hobby and I don't have an approved honey processing plant so cannot legally sell honey, that why I'm selling bees and queens. Most bees are sold early in the season, or at least that's when they are worth the most. So if I had to spend the first part of the season making up my own losses it would damage my income and losses of 5% would be the most I would be prepared to wear. For a honey producer it would be of less financial importance, he could do early splits and the bees would recover before the main honey flow anyway. There is also a lot of crop pollination done and for that you want good hives early, a winter deadout would kill a major part of many beekeepers earnings on that hive.
Oh, glad you met Roy Arbon! Quite a character yes! :) He's wrong on the Maori beekeepers though I know several.
Is there a difference between a shirt made by an American union worker, and the same shirt, the same materials, the same quality, made by a slave in some far eastern country?
Is there a difference between an ipod maufactured in China (as they are now) and the same ipod manufactured in the U.S. (as they are now advertising they are going to do next year....one product)?
For a while there was a ruling in Pennsylvania that because in lab tests milk produced without synthetic hormones could not be differentiated from milk that had been, the the producers could not advertise this as a difference between the products. The producers could not advertise that they produced milk without synthetic hormones...this was later reversed.
I'm not sure why customers that want to buy honey from operations that aren't treating shouldn't be able to.
If you want to market premium honey based on a testing regimen, then I say go for it. Most organic standards are first and foremost based on practices, not testing standards.
You are selling a commodity product at a commodity price. Your price is subject to market forces beyond your control that include the supply/demand of honey in your own category, but of the worst stuff being sold at discount prices to be used in food processing. I'm not trying to be dramatic, and I'm not putting you down...I'm sure your product is well above average (although I doubt anyone could compete with Dee's honey on Penn State pesticide tests....out of 4 samples, one sample tested 1ppb coumaphos. All other samples and all other pesticides were below the limits of the tests). You should be getting a above average price....but you are selling as a commodity. Wouldn't it be great if we could do something about that :)
Jim I agree. It appears to me that no matter how you slice this bread the consumer still must rely on the honesty and integrity of the seller of the product they are purchasing from. Honey is a unique product in that it comes from different open source locations and is not produced directly by the seller. It is instead produced by the bees themselves and we only package what they provide us. It’s not like your caging your chickens and monitoring everything they eat or every place they go. Honey sellers don’t follow their bees around to make sure they are only bringing back what the seller says they do. I have always felt that my honey sells itself and that I don’t have to bother to preach the virtues of mine over the guys down the road in order to get people to purchase it. I don’t care what anyone else is selling, but I do pay attention to what goes into my jars. It boils down to the simple fact that even a good honey producer can profess quite the song and dance to their customer base regarding the virtues of their particular honey. Some sellers have to make certain that their buyer knows how knowledgeable they think they are about bees and honey. The buyer is generally satisfied that the seller is providing them with enough factual information so that they can feel comfortable consuming what they purchase. I have visited our local farmers market enough and stood listening to someone selling their honey to know well enough that too many people are quite adept at slinging the bull, to make their product seem more attractive. Regardless of the validity of some statements the buyer will generally buy into the marketing as gospel.
is it true that honey cannot be sold as 'certified organic' because one cannot control what the foragers might come in contact with, (to jim's point about robbing, but also taking into consideration what chemicals may be used on gardens, orchards, crops, ect within foraging distance of the bees).
and am i understanding correctly that those soccer moms and hipsters are happy to pay $11.00 for a half a pound of honey, because it comes from bees that aren't being exploited?
how would they feel if they learned that the process of not treating means that some colonies are exploited, in that they end up dying an unimaginably horrible death due to mites?
i wonder why these customers aren't aware that not all methods of treating bees result in contamination of the honey.
i wonder what these customers would think if they found out that it's possible to have more formic acid naturally occuring in honey than is sometimes found in honey from a hive that was treated with formic acid.
if these customers are making an informed decision as to what may or may not be different about the quality of the honey, and if these customers are informed as to what the practices of keeping bees without treatment really means for the bees,
then yes customers that want to buy honey from those operations should absolutely free to do so.
my guess is that the average customer in this situation is giving somewhat less than an 'informed consent'.
I will simply make an open statement.
There are few people as outspoken as myself on topics that might be termed as "controversial organicish style beekeeping practices". I stand by every statement I've ever made, and always have....and I've apologized when I've made mistakes or been wrong....consistently, for years.
I don't see any reason why anyone would think that I'm less than honest in my dealings with our customers, wholesale accounts, or suppliers.
If you want to imply otherwise, please give some specifics....or stick it.
...the consumer and retailer that relies on the honesty and integrity of Dee Lusby, Kirk Webster, and Bob Brachman as well as the integrity of Ramona and me, is in very good hands.
Another standard that is easier to achieve is Certified Naturally Grown. Essentially CNG pays minimal attention to where the bees may forage instead focusing on how the bees are managed.
There are a few beekeepers who have had their apiaries certified as organic over the years. Based on what we were told at EAS I think some (what percentage I'm not sure) found the paper work and hassle of jumping through hoops didn't result in the hoped for premium price for their honey, resulting in the beekeepers opting out of the organic program.
I looked at CNG for my operation and found some of the requirements (like minimum hive stand heights) over the top.
"...the consumer and retailer that relies on the honesty and integrity of Dee Lusby, Kirk Webster, and Bob Brachman as well as the integrity of Ramona and me, is in very good hands."
And thousands of others.
"but our suppliers secure a reasonable premium for being treatment free in their management"
and why is that dean? is it because the public has come to believe that this honey is superior to honey that was obtained from suppliers that are not treatment free in their management?
how would the public come to believe such a thing?
welcome to the no spin zone.
When we sampled honey from the shelf of local health food store (as I've posted here before), most was adulterated with up to 30% beet or corn sugar (from an "organic farm" no less). Small beekeepers that bought in honey from a large beekeeper had adulterated...the same large beekeeper's honey under their own label is pure. ...all the while the small beekeepers are claiming to have produced the honey with their own bees (in one case, the beekeeper had recently come to this country, and didn't yet have bees).
I can't keep track of thousands of beekeepers...but I can work with a few who have practices that make sense to me and are in line with my own. It's worth noting that they all have very different practices...Dee is the only one that is small cell, she and Kirk both make their own foundation, Dee keeps repopulating the same number of production hives with walk away splits from survivors to maintain numbers, Kirk overwinters nucs to hives 3:1, Bob is part of the Russian breeding program. Dee harvests year round, kirk in the summer, and Bob (even though he is not too far from Kirk) sometimes gets a summer harvest and a reliable fall flow or two.
When we have discussed this stuff before we have talked about rice syrup adulteration, about HFCS feeders on with honey supers, of shop towel treatments, transhipped honey, etc.
There is great honey out there...but it is rather impossible for the consumer to be sure they are getting it....and no segment of "the industry" is interested in solving this problem. Hobbyists want to be able to buy a few buckets and do a flea market or two and sell it as their own. Packers want to buy cheap and market high.
So you are free to figure out how to separate the wheat from the chaff for everyone go ahead...I don't have a clue. I can only do what I can do.
Are you accusing me of marketing an honest product that has the beekeeper's name and practices on the label? Of not making any misrepresentations but being honest in all my interactions with my customers? If not, please be specific.
In any case, I'm not really sure what your problem is...I've done my best to be as helpful as I can to you and answer your questions the best I can....I'm a pretty easy going guy, but I'm probably not going to waste any more time with your jeckyl/hyde act. ...it isn't terribly rewarding.