This is a page for Mr.Weatherbee's comments on weather and beekeeping. Your comments are always welcome. You can bet a bees knees that it's important to stay alert and be informed.


Pesticides may prove harmful to wild bee health:-

Contrary to the notion that natural pesticides are safe for pollinators, a new research published in the recent issue of Pest Management Science has revealed that pesticide levels might prove harmful to wild bee health.

The study shows that adult bumblebees exposed to the pesticide spinosad (a natural pesticide derived from the bacteria Actinomycetes) during larval development have impaired foraging ability.

Although many pesticides are known to be toxic to bees, toxicity testing is largely restricted to direct lethal effects on adult honeybees, if tested on bees at all.

According to Lora Morandin and colleagues at Canada's Simon Fraser University, sub-lethal effects on honeybees could be going unnoticed, and that different bee species could be also be affected. They tested the effects of different levels of spinosad on bumblebee colony health and foraging ability.

It was found that high levels of spinosad residues (about 10 times what bees should experience in the environment) caused rapid colony death. Colonies exposed to more realistic levels of spinosad in pollen did not show any lethal effects and only minimal immediate colony health effects.

However, bees that were fed realistic levels of spinosad during larval development were slower foragers. They took longer to access complex flowers, resulting in longer handling times and lower foraging rates. The bees also displayed trembling, which impaired their ability to land on the flowers and enter the flower tubes.

Adult bees that have been exposed to a pesticide during larval development may display symptoms of poisoning that are not detected with current tests required by regulatory agencies. In order to ensure sustainable food production, agricultural pesticides need to be safe for wild pollinators.

The researchers conclude that testing of new pesticides should include examination of lethal and sub-lethal effects on wild bees.

esting new pesticides on some species of wild bees will aid in developing pesticides and use recommendations that minimize impact on wild bees, leading to healthier populations of bees and potentially better crop yields.


A warm fall, a long cold winter and to top it off a cold spring and a nasty, parasitic mite have brought Quebec's and Ontario's bee industry to its knees.

Half of Quebec's 35,000 beehives have been lost, along with countless others in Ontario affecting not only honey producers but also fruit cultivators who rent bees for pollination.

The major cause of this is the varroa mite which are becoming resistant to known treatment. The Mite has spread all through Europe leaving beekeepers with none or very few bees. Losses of 95% have been reported in the Niagara region with the average loss in Ontario sitting at 50%. The long cold winter has not helped. Honey bees cannot move at temperatures below 45%F and with extendedthe periods of cold Ontario experienced this winter, bees were not able to move over to fresh supplies of honey and therefore starved with frames of honey only inches away.

The blood-sucking varroa mite arrived from the United States in 1991.

The conventional method of treating hives to prevent varroa is with a fluvalinate strip which is placed between the frames of brood where the mite likes to nestle. The strip gives off an odour that kills the mite and leaves no residue in the honey.

To make matters worse a new pest to honey bees, named the Hive Beetle has raised it's ugly head. The small hive beetle, was first discovered in Florida in June of 1998 and has now been found in 3 other states, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The small hive beetle can be a destructive pest of honey bee colonies, causing damage to comb, stored honey and pollen. If a beetle infestation is sufficiently heavy, they may cause bees to abandon their hive. The beetles can also be a pest of stored combs, and honey (in the comb) awaiting extraction. Beetle larvae may tunnel through combs of honey, feeding and defecating, causing discoloration and fermentation of the honey. All this coupled with a ban on importation of chinese honey into Canada last year, a drought in Western Canada, and in general a world shortage of honey, has translated into higher honey prices and seemingly prices will continue to climb for the foreseeble future.

Canadian honey is of excellent quality and is therefore in great demand. The larger packers of honey blend Canadian honey with the imports which tend to be of lesser quality. The USA. finds Canadian honey an excellent purchase owing to the rate of exchange.

We would like to assure all our customers that Austerfield honey will continue to be of excellent quality and that it is not blended with any imports.

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - A truck carrying 80 million live bees overturned on a Florida interstate Monday, killing the driver and spilling its cargo on the median.

Conrad Cramer, 82, died at the scene of the midday wreck on Interstate 95, but a swarm of bees that circled frantically around the overturned truck made recovery of the body impossible for several hours, officials said.

"A lot of the hives were broken, so firefighters had to put on their protective equipment to get the driver out," said Brevard County Fire-Rescue spokesman Orlando Dominguez.

There were no reports of stings from emergency workers or people on the roads.

Cramer, owner of Cramer's Honey, most likely was heading to Orlando with a cargo of bees he'd recently collected, said his daughter-in-law, Ranee Turner.

Beekeepers from Cramer's company arrived by nightfall to collect the bees, using smoke to put the escaped bees temporarily to sleep.

Florida beekeepers often truck hives northward in spring and early summer to catch the blooms of commercial fruit orchards and vegetable fields, then bring them back to winter in Florida.


MICROBIOLOGISTS at Cardiff University have found that a spoonful of honey packs more punch against bacteria than many antibiotics.

In fact, it can even kill off the notorius MRSA superbug which is resistant to antibiotics and plagues many hospitals. Honey can also attack bacteria inside the body such as heliobacter pylori- the resistant bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.

So whats the secret ingredient? Well, the high sugar content slows bacteria growth. Also, honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase which unleashes hydrogen peroxide- a strong bleach that is even used in some toilet cleaners- that makes a beeline for bacteria.

Heals Wounds The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt used honey for healing wounds, and recent clinical trials have shown that honey can successfully treat open wounds, burns, ulcers, abscesses and acne.

But how does it work? Honey actually helps to sterilise the wounds, making them heal faster. It can even help clear up wounds that have failed to respond to conventional treatments. In one case, dressing impregnated with honey saved a patient at Salisbury District Hospital whose wounds had failed to heal for nine months.

Protects TeethYou would think that because honey is sweet it's bad for your teeth, but research shows it actually help fights tooth decay.

Studies at the University if Chicago Dental School show that compounds in honey, particularly the darker honeys, attack the bacteria which can rot teeth.

Keeps You Slim Honey has surprising powers which can help keep you slim. Compared to other sugary substances, it keeps level of blood sugar fairly constant which meansyou will less likely to suddenly feel hungary and crave sweets and cakes. Stable sugar levels help avoid weight gain.

Protects Your Health Dr. Nicki Eng eseth, a food scientist at the University of Illinois, has found that honey contains as many antioxidants as spinach, helping to reduce cholesterol and prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease. She says the darker the honey, the better the effect. That's because darker honeys contain higher levels of health-giving antiioxidants. Of honeys tested, buckwheat had the highest levels, clover was in the middle and acacia came last.

Honey's antioxidants can also make cooked meat safer. When meat is cooked its fats release potentially dangerous free radicals which can attack the body's cells.

But Dr. Engeseth found that adding one teaspoonful[5g] of honey to 100g of meat before cooking helps block these free radicals, as well as improving the smell and taste of the meat.

She advises: Use honey to replace sugar whenever you can- in tea, on breakfast cereals or even when cooking meat and vegetables.


The goldenrods and asters are the most common and conspicuous of autumn flowers in Ontario.

Canadian Goldenrod begins to bloom in early August and into November the flower clusters are still visible, while some other types may prolong the season until December.

Goldenrod is a very important fall and winter source of pollen for the bees and from the standpoint of pollen, it is more important than its honey. Not only can it produce an excellent quality of surplus honey, but is a great winter feed for the bees. Bees will work the goldenrod flowers even after the first frost extracting any particles of pollen that may be left in the plant. In fact, it was the unusually warm days of December 2001 that I observed bees gathering pollen from the goldenrod flowers, when normally they would be in semi hibernation.

In a good season 40 or more pounds of honey per colony may be obtained from this floral source, although it is usually mixed with aster honey. Once tasted, you may prefer this fine flavor to other honeys.

On warm autumn evenings when the bees have been working the goldenrod flowers, the whole apiary is filled with a strong sweet smell, which on a calm evening can easily be detected at a distance of 100 feet or more.

Goldenrod honey is usually a little stronger in flavour than the clovers.

Please remember, that because of its higher natural sugar content, goldenrod honey tends to crystalize a little quicker than other honeys.


The subject of raw honey could be debated forever, however, we at Austerfield Apiary would like to make the following statement for you, our customers, about our views on this issue.

The only true raw honey comes directly from the hive in the form of honey comb. Any honey you see in a jar has been processed in some way by low heat and filtration in accordance with Canadian Honey regulations. Honey does not have to have bits of wax and various particles floating in it to retain its natural properties and be healthy for you.

All of our honey is produced in Ontario. Our honey is WARMED TO A LOW TEMPERATURE, strained and packed into containers. That's it! We add nothing to our honey, nor do we take anything away from it. All the nutrients are still in every jar of Austerfield honey that Mother Nature put there. Again we feel the only raw honey is comb honey and we will not confuse our customers by putting statements on our labels that can not be substantiated.

If you are looking for quality honey bee products, produced and packaged by a company with high standards of handling and packaging, you have picked the right company - Austerfield Apiaries. Thank you for trying our honey and if you ever have any questions, we will always be there for you. Just give us a call.


It is the season for coughs and colds, and because we have not had sub zero temperatures that kill those germs this winter, many people are suffering. Dorothy Hartley, in her book Food in England describes how country children who had ticklish coughs and sore throats were soothed by being given little balls of granulated honey creamed with butter. They would let the sweet rich mixture slowly dissolve in their mouths.

Even today honey and lemon are prescribed for colds. All manner of commercial cough soothers are still based around honey and are generally combined with lemon juice to provide a dose of vitamin C. The traditional hot lemon and whisky cold cure is as popular as ever, with good reason, but try the herbal cold and throat remedy or the lemon and honey throat soother if you prefer a different non-alcoholic version. If all the ingredients are not at hand when you develop a sudden cough or sore throat, try taking a spoonful of liquid honey and swallow it slowly, letting it go to work on the painful throat.

Another beehive product for the cure of sore throats is Propolis. Please see the detaild article on our website

There have long been claims that honey can be beneficial to sufferers of chest complaints such as asthma and bronchitis. Tests carried out at the Medical Research Department at Lansing in Michigan, USA after the second World War found that Hay fever sufferers appeared to benefit from a diet which included honey, especially if small amounts of pollen were still in the un-refined honey. The researchers also noticed that chewing the honey-filled comb had an even more beneficial effect. Some alternative health practitioner suggest a course of pollen-rich local honey before hay fever season begins, as a way of boosting resistance to the affecting pollen.

Beeswax, too has long been used as a primitive kind of chewing gum. There are medieval recipes for it combining wax, honey, ginger and cinnamon with oil of terebinth, which came from fir trees and gave the gum a resinous pine flavour.

Finally, one of our favourute recipes for colds and sore throats can be found by clicking here


The sun is shining, the grass is green and the temperature is near 50 degrees. I can see the the small bee yard through my office window and see the bees flying. No, its not spring, its December. I would normally see the same beehives buried under snow by now. On December the 6th. the bees were flying and actually bringing in pollen, something I have never heard of at this time of year.

There are of course dis-advantages to this warm weather as far as the bees are concerned. If it stays warm to long and the bees continue to find pollen they begin to think that spring is just around the corner and the Queen begins laying large amounts of worker eggs, gearing up for the summer season. With the increased population of bees the colony consumes precious winter stores and can begin to starve to death before spring actually arrives. However, we did make sure the bees went into winter with lots of honey stores, so the food supply should last until the first dandelion blooms.

At the final extracting of our honey this year we were able to take off some lovely Golden Rod and Aster honey which we hope you will sample at next years market. The late fall flowers produce a very mild light tasting honey The only problem with it, it does tend to granulate rather fast. As many of you know to bring honey back into a liquid state, place the jar with cap off in a saucepan of hot water and simmer it on the stove until it becomes liquid. Do not boil the water as this will remove all enzymes and vitamins from the honey.

There appears to be a shortage of honey in Canada, owing to a world market shortage and in particular western Canada's very poor crop last year owing to drought conditions.

Since the closing of the markets we have had numerous enquiries where our products may be purchased. One central location to most is the Apple Factory located at highway 7 and Mississauga Rd. Telephone no 905-846-3715. If you require Pollen or Propolis we will do a mail order.

HONEY IN MYTH AND LEGEND.. Myths and legends about honey bees are widespread throughout the world, and to some extent they still colour the way we view the golden liquid and the insects which produce it.

I remember my Grandfather telling me that it was believed that bees would thrive only in harmonious families, and they were supposed to be included in family happenings. They were considered to be models of domestic peace and harmony and were also highly industrious workers, attributes to which most households aspired. "Telling the Bees" was vitally important, whether it was good or bad news or simply everyday happenings. bees had to be told of a death in the family or they would die too. The bad news had to be given before sunrise on the following day for all to be well.

Sometimes a piece of funeral cake and a drink of wine was left by the hive after a funeral. The bees might also be formally invited to the funeral, or the beehives turned round as the coffin was carried out of the house past them.

Marriage, birth or burying.
News across the seas,
All your sad or marrying
You must tell the bees.

Home Page
Beekeeping Stories

Site Sponsored and copyright © 1998 by Austerfield Apiarytm home of the world's finest honey.
R.R.#5 Dundalk, Ontario, Canada. (519) 925-5010.