Since the beginning, what is best for the bees has always been our first and foremost commitment. Ultimately, nothing that is a byproduct of honey bees can exist unless you have healthy strong colonies. This means, no honey, pollen, bee bread, propolis, or all of the fruits and vegetables they pollinate year after year.
Bee health has been a popular topic lately, and likely will be for a while. There are a lot of different ways to keep bees, Each beekeeper using their own preferred technique. The bees teach us new beekeeping techniques and tactics every year. Each beekeeper is on their own unique journey. At Naked Bee Honey, we are slowly building our own tried-and-true methods to keeping our bees alive and healthy, with little human intervention. The core of our philosophy is to try and keep bees as naturally as possible. This begins with choosing the best possible location for chemical free foraging grounds, through to the inner workings of the hive. We strive to have little to no plastic frames or foundation in the hive, especially in the brood chamber. We want our baby bees to grow in wax built by their siblings, not man-made plastic. Natural comb allows them to customize the size of each cell they build from worker to drone to honey & pollen cells.
The most important and valuable act a beekeeper can do for their bees is to find them a place where they can thrive. A bee hive is the bees home, and as beekeepers, we choose where they are. At Naked Bee Honey we take this decision very seriously. All of our meadows are carefully chosen to be in a location that not only has an abundance of foraging grounds, as well as foraging grounds that are not covered in large scale agricultural chemicals. These chemicals are one of the number one impurity's that show up in honey testings. All of these factors are part of the reason why we have chosen to focus our ever growing business to the north.
Habitat loss is a real issue, not just for honey bees, but all pollinators alike. Habitat includes not in where they live, but where they can eat. With our expanding population, more fields are becoming driveways and houses, and more meadows are converted to corn and soy fields. The suburban obsession with perfect manicured lawns has turned what once were little pockets of foraging grounds into foodless green masses for pollinators. Dandelions are one of the best, and most essential sources of nectar for our honey bee populations. They are also one of the most hated plants by suburbia.
This is the most important part of beekeeping that my first bees taught me. Bees hate foundation, and can build natural straight comb on their own. It’s become the beekeeping norm to put foundation in the hive that is meant for honey cells not worker bee cells. With this practice, honey bees are forced to grow in a larger cell, thus making them more susceptible to Varroa Mites, the number one killer of honey bees.
Allowing the bees to build natural comb is not only beneficial for the bees, but for the environment as well. Wax in the hive needs to be removed every five years. With natural comb you can simply cut it out and it biodegrades in the ground. Plastic requires the beekeeper to either have to try and clean the frames, or throw them in the land fill. This adds more waste to the planet, and is not a part of what we stand for.
Varroa Destructor, the little creature that is a beekeepers worst nightmare. Varroa mites are the number 1 contributor to honey bee hive deaths. They carry an abundance of honey bee diseases. Varroa feed on the honey bees fat body, which similar to our bone marrow, is the engine of their immune system. We, at Naked Bee Honey, use an organic acid called Formic acid to combat any mite issues that we may have. It is all organic, and does not leave any residue or contamination behind in the hive. Varroa mites cannot build up resistance to it, which is great for us but bad for them.
We recently began work on breeding our own queen bees. Having isolated bee meadows allows us to carefully select hives for over wintering ability and disease resistance. When we mate our queens in the isolated bee meadow, we know exactly what drones they are mating with. We give our drone hives all the space they need for drone production, and do not discourage them to lay more. We want our drones to be strong carriers of the queen’s genetics.
Beekeepers will be the first to tell you that they do things a little different than other beekeepers. Thats because they likely do. All beekeepers keep their bees a little differently than the next. There is really no right or wrong way to keep bees. If you are a beekeeper and your bees are surviving, then you must be doing a good job at keeping them. The practices that we use are ones we have learned from others, or developed on our own from what the bees have taught us. We then take what we know and add our Naked Bee Honey values to the keeping of them. We will always continue to learn, and strive to become the best possible beekeepers we can.