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 Lost Meadows, 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 do not us antibiotics in our hives, nor do we use harsh chemicals for mite control. We have found that our bees do better without these inputs. Our selective breeding program is based on raising queens that produce bees that can thrive without antibiotics or harsh mite chemicals.
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 will be living. At Lost Meadows 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 forage for them, but forage that is mostly free from Big Ag 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.
I’ve often thought of beekeeping kind of like learning a new language and trying to learn to read a book in that language at the same time. When you first get into beekeeping you need to rely and trust the experience of beekeepers around you and also the conventional beekeeping practices. I am not someone who believes in not treating hives or the darwinian style beekeeping practices some beekeepers preach. However, I have always been a believer in letting nature be nature and not using harsh chemicals. After my first year of beekeeping I realized I needed to learn the language of the bees, the disease and pest lifecycles and be able to thoroughly identify issues in the hive quickly if I was going to take this approach. To do this I kept bees conventionally and learned how diseases work, pests live and grow all while building my understanding of the language of the bees.
After a number of years I felt I was ready to loose the harsh chemicals and move closer to the original ways of beekeeping I had imagined in my first year. I was ready to learn and I needed some guidance. I worked part time for beekeeping operation who did not use antibiotics or harsh chemicals to treat mites. In this year I was able to learn some of the techniques and nuances needed to move away from the traditional chemical and antibiotic regimes a typically beekeeping operation uses. I have notices a huge difference in my bees since doing this and am so grateful for the learnings these beekeepers gave me.
Today, Lost Meadows is run as organically as possible. We only use formic and oxalic acid for mite treatments and do not use any antibiotics on our hives.
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.