organic beekeeping

5 Reasons to Befriend Your Local Beekeeper

Celebrate National Honey Month by getting to know more about organic beekeeping and how it boosts your health.

By Emily Main


RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—September is National Honey Month, which means that there's more of an excuse than ever to find something to spread it on. But to fully appreciate honey, it helps to know about all that honey and honeybees contribute to your daily diet.

Honeybees are responsible for $15 billion in added crop value to large farms, and Albert Einstein once quipped that one out of every three bites an American takes is pollinated by honeybees—which is why colony collapse disorder is so distressing. Scientists still don't know what's causing the ailment, which first struck in 2006 and killed up to 90 percent of some beekeepers' hives. But small-scale organic beekeeping operations didn't see the same drastic declines in bee populations, and haven't reported as many collapses as large-scale commercial beekeepers have. So when the dust settles, the disorder may leave us with nothing but locally produced honey.

Here are five more reasons you should support local organic beekeepers:

#1: They take a hands-on approach.
Commercial beekeepers use antibiotics on their hives to combat a bacterial disease called American foul brood, says Ross Conrad, author of Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture (Chelsea Green, 2007). "It's a very deadly, very contagious disease," he says, that can spread quickly to other hives as bees in those hives eat honey from the affected hive. But, while antibiotics are good a wiping it out, they also kill the "good" bacteria that bees need. "Bees are like humans," Conrad says. "They need beneficial bacteria to help their digestive processes, and they also need it to process pollen, which provides nutrients and protein." Some tests have found traces of antibiotics in honey imported from abroad, so buy honey from local beekeepers who use mechanical methods, such as thoroughly cleaning out hives and removing infected honeycombs, rather than antibiotics, to kill diseases.

Published on: September 10, 2009
Updated on: March 11, 2010

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