We visited Craig Carr of Dumfries Wildflower Honey on a late summer afternoon and were amazed at his passion and commitment to protecting pollinators and uniquely respectful relationship with bees. He had saved a few cases to show us the honey extraction process in action.
On the farm, Craig combines practical experience with dedicated reading and networking with others who sustainably tend to bees across the world. Here's an excerpt from one of his letters - September 2019:
Bees are really smart and have developed a complex, democratic society with some unique qualities like the dance to tell others where the best nectar is located and so on.
Also, pheromones play a big role in their lives.
The first pheromone that I learned of is the "Queen" pheromone - that is an odor in the hive that means "all is well". This is produced when the queen is present, alive and laying 2000-3,000 eggs per day. Experienced bee keepers can see and smell when the "all is well" pheromone is present.
Another pheromone that I encountered a week or so ago I call the "sting the White Bear" (beekeeper in the white suit).
You see grass grows up in front of the hive and the bees have to fly around it to get back in the hive with their load of nectar. The (female) worker bees are like the Blues Brothers, they are on a mission from God and the bees waste no time and let nothing delay them from their mission.
So, there I am happily mowing my way in front of the hives without a care in the world and probably listening to Slim Harpo singing "I'm a King Bee buzzin 'round your hive".
And the bees that day are flying in and out of the hive like crazy and I'm smack dab in their flight pattern. What was really amazing is that on the first pass, those girls recalculated their flight plan and flew around me.
And then one bee of tens of thousands smacked into the side of my head and immediately stung me. That's not all she left some "sting the White Bear" pheormone even though I'm not wearing a bee suit.
Well, lets just say that the truce had been broken and with each additional sting it got so much worse such that I decided to mow elsewhere.
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