Attention Tennessee beekeepers in Washington, Sullivan, Hawkins, Unicoi, Johnson, and Carter counties: a case of American Foulbrood is being investigated in Kingsport, TN. State apiarist Mike Studer is inspecting hives to determine whether or not this is an isolated case, but all beekeepers are encouraged to check/inspect their hives. New beekeepers are encouraged to contact their mentors, an experienced beekeeper, or one of our local inspectors to ensure the health of their hives. It is generally recommended that beekeepers burn the whole hive to help prevent the spread of this disease. It would be prudent to harvest any honey available and unless you have been cleared by an inspector as free of foulbrood, it is suggested that you not feed your honey back to your bees. You can read more about the disease here: American Foulbrood Disease
It’s been said that ‘bees are the canary in the coal mine for our food system’. But what can NON-beekeepers do?
1. Encourage your congressman or woman to look at the science behind a class of nerve-poisoning pesticides known as neonicotinoids; there has been a ban on their use in European countries for years (imagine that). While you’re on the phone with their office…
2. Also let him or her know that the task force that President Obama created just two weeks ago is a good first step to address the issue of rapidly diminishing honey bees and other pollinators, and that you expect their support. Remind Democrats and Republicans alike that if they eat, they’re involved in this crisis.
3. Support local efforts to block the rewording of our city code that would lump honeybees in with ‘farm animals’ and forbid them as livestock. Stay tuned to this blog for more on that.
4. Consider becoming a beekeeper. We are extremely lucky to live in an area with a very active bee club and a bee supply store! The club will provide you with a mentor and educate you on everything you need to know to be successful.
5. Teach your friends and family that honeybees are responsible for every third bite of food we take and that they are not ‘out to get them’ but are merely ‘out to collect pollen and nectar’. Last week in the community garden, I was helping a group of women that are going through drug and alcohol rehab with their plot, when we saw a honeybee land on a squash flower. One of the young women told her daughter to ‘get away! get away!’ So, I used that quick opportunity to tell her what I’ve just told you. She immediately calmed down and told the girl ‘it was okay now’. Repeat after me: “It’s okay. They won’t hurt you”.
6. Plant bee-friendly plants wherever you can tuck them in-sunflowers, bee balms, herbs, and about a million others come to mind. From blueberries to hollyhocks, you’ll find it easy to provide them with plants that give them the pollen and nectar they need to make honey and to stay healthy.
7. Avoid lawn chemicals and garden pesticides.
8 When you do eat honey, make sure it’s raw, local honey-it’s a well known fact that eating LOCAL honey daily can help you with seasonal allergies, acting like allergy shots do: a minute bit each day eventually will make you immune to those things that you’re allergic to.
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