Bees, Bees, and More Bees…And Honey Too!

Today our new-found friend, Justin the beekeeper, finished installing some bee hives and electric fencing on a small corner of our lower pasture. It was an exciting time for us, and the bees. Our dogs were enthusiastic also, as they tried to figure out what all the hubbub was about. I know that they will be even more stimulated when they lay their inquisitive noses on the woven wire for that first, and hopefully last time, and receive that startling jolt from that fully charged car battery attached to the fence.

Hopefully, they will forgive us for that. If we could, we would tell them that the electric shock is really not for them. The fence is there to fend off the sweet desires of a wandering black bear. As we all know, they love bees and honey too, and tend to be a bit rough on hives.

Justin is a fairly new beekeeper, but he already knows a great deal about his craft. We know nothing about bees or beekeeping, so we learned a few things recently from him and some preliminary research. I think that I knew this and forgot, but honey bees are not native to North America at all. They were imported from Europe in the early 17th century and quickly disseminated throughout the country.

Justin installed eight hives, which for now hold about 5,000 bees per hive. I don’t know about you, but 40,000 bees is a lot of bees in our book. He tells me that the hives will contain about 10,000 bees per hive when they finish doing that “birds and the bees” thing. Go bees!

Apparently, there are many kinds of honey bees. Our bees are about one half Carniolan, or “carnies”, and the other half Italian honey bees. Both types are considered to be excellent honey producers, and resistant to disease. Both are also considered to be non agressive and gentle in their behavior towards the beekeeper. This seems like it might be a great characteristic, particularly if I were the keeper!

Justin tells us that at top production he might be able to harvest about 40 pounds of honey per hive, or about 320 pounds in a good season. That’s impressive. We traded him a little bit of future honey in return for keeping his bees on our land, which I believe will be a great arrangement for all concerned.

It’s a small corner of our property, after all, and we will not miss it. Our small apple orchard sits just above the hives, so the bees will no doubt help with improved pollination, and increased fruit yields and quality. Honey bees are the most important pollinator of apples, and vital to the health and vitality of an orchard.

So, there you have it. Hopefully, the bees will remain active, healthy and happy. We will have the tasty pleasure of homegrown and backyard honey, which will help us to do the same. And, we feel just a little more grounded to the earth, and more open to receive the willing bounty of the land. We welcome the small ones to our growing farm community, and we are grateful for a new friend.  A bit of cooperative collaboration, like bees in a bee colony, can go a long way. A little honest barter, can’t hurt anyone either.

Perhaps you have a beekeeper near you who might be interested in a similar arrangement, and you can make a new friend or two along the way too.

Food Freedom!

Cow Shares and Bull Crap

Sustainable Settings, near Carbondale, Colorado, is a non profit organization that promotes whole systems strategies in sustainable agriculture, green development, land stewardship, and much more.

They have been getting a lot of attention lately for their raw dairy co-operative and herd share venture. About forty shares have been sold to eager consumers and raw milk advocates, and the small guernsey herd cannot produce enough to satisfy the public demand. The story is the same wherever and whenever a herd share program can be found.

Sales of raw milk are governed by the individual states. Each state has different laws, and in some cases it is banned altogether. The FDA has jurisdiction over interstate sales, and has banned all sales of unpasteurized milk across state lines. In Colorado, herd shares are deemed legal by state statute or regulation. If you live in Colorado, joining a herd share cooperative is the only way to legally purchase raw milk.

Raw milk proponents are becoming more vocal and better organized. Several groups, like the Farm to Consumers Legal Defense Fund, are fighting in the courts on behalf of their farmer members in an effort to change the law. According to Steve Bemis, Esq., “Some state regulators and especially federal authorities continue a relentless campaign against raw milk and free choice in food”.

The federal government has now claimed that fresh milk is 150 times more likely to make you sick than pasteurized dairy. How absurd? What a complete and utter load of crap! How long do you think it would take me to find 150 heartfelt testimonials as to the health benefits and curative properties of a raw milk regimen. Not long, I can assure you.

I will agree that there is a great sickness here. However, it is not to be found in the people who believe in their right to eat what they want, when they want it. It is the FDA’s thought process, mindset, and culture of arrogance that is deathly sick. Their unflinching pursuit of government regulated control of what you and I ingest must simply be checked. The laws must be changed.

For now, you cannot argue with the sick minds’ at the FDA and other similar government regulatory agencies. They simply cannot hear you because they don’t think they need to listen to the poor unknowing public. I’d say it is about time they enjoyed a regular dose of raw milk at their family dinner tables.  It might help them clear their muddled minds and see the light that burns more brightly every day.

I hope that I can one day own a herd share at Sustainable Settings, or a place just like it. I defend your right to do so too, should that be your wish. I believe the founding fathers of this country had something to say about that very thing when they penned that glorious document called The Constitution.


New Evidence That Natural Gas Fracking Has Impacted Groundwater

Lisa Bracken of Project Forsaken has ground breaking information that fracking has impacted groundwater. She writes, “It directly contradicts the industry’s long-held argument that it is a safe and benign practice which has never impacted groundwater. As disturbingly, it also reveals a situation wherein a state agency acted to suppress public health information and misinform a congressional inquiry…This information is in the hands of those with the authority and expertise to corroborate it, and the story will be forthcoming soon”.

Anyone interested in reading about the health and environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing should take a look at Lisa’s website. Her’s is not a pleasant story, but it should be read by all who are threatened with the prospect of fracking in your neighborhoods and backyards.

You can find her work at

A Journal of Honest Food, Freedom, and The Natural World