January Newsletter: Why you should NOT eat local raw pollen! Honey...vegan or not? Got mask rash?
Upon entering the new year, I thought about all the topics I wanted to write about in 2020, but for one reason or another I couldn't. I also thought about fresh starts; entering the new year with a clear mind. So what the heck, I put together a proposal that I spewed out as fast I could to our queen bee; cringing my face as I waited her reply. To my surprise it was, "Oh go for it, after the year we had...go for it, but put in your disclaimers and end on a positive note!" Excited and running to my computer I replied "You got it!" So here you go.....
Why you should NOT eat local raw pollen. Just as people can be passionate in their parenting styles, beekeepers also have their own philosophy that they are passionate about when it comes to the pollen topic. *Disclaimer: The point of view I will be presenting is the view which my family holds and that of some of our mentors in the beekeeping community. We often get a lot of people coming into our store front asking for local pollen. The very next thing we ask is, "Are you wanting pollen for protein or for allergies or overall health?" If the reply is protein, we reply that you would have to eat a ridiculous amount of pollen to equal the amount of protein you could get with just eating animal, fish or plant based proteins such as legumes.
If the reply is allergies or overall health. Our reply for allergies is eat our raw local honey. The pollen that in is the honey has been cleaned and made safe to eat. What is questionable is the local RAW pollen is safe to eat, which is why we don't sell it. Special devices called pollen traps are put at the front of the hives.
When the bees enter the hive, the device causes the pollen to fall off the bees legs and into a tray and that is how you get the granular pollen you see at stores. The problem with this and why WE stay far away from this kind of pollen is because the pollen was collected is raw and the bees were not given the chance to clean it.
If the flower that the pollen was collected from was sprayed with roundup or any kind of pesticide or fertilizer, you are eating it!!! In my mind there is no safe local RAW pollen. The only safe raw pollen is that which is USDA stamped organic. As far as I know, not available in Florida. Florida is too heavy in agriculture to provide it. You have to have an area of over a 50 mile radius that is completely chemical free and organic to legally get approval to call it as such. The pollen that is safe, is the pollen in actual honeycomb. This pollen has been cleanse by the bees of all toxins. Where do the toxins go...in the beeswax. Just as you sweat toxins, so do the bees. This is why the state recommends beekeepers scrape their frames of all
combs every 5 years. It is believed that after 5 years there is enough toxins in the combs to get into the honey product. This is why at a Sarasota Honey Company (SHC) we scrape our combs every year or every other year at most. When we harvest the honey the good pollen is in those same frames and are harvested as well...mixing with the raw honey. We stand firm that we will never feed our customers anything we wouldn't feed to our family. This is why our bottles are glass or if plastic bottles have to be used for shipping... it BPA Free.
So to recap, if you want pollen for allergies or health reasons eat local raw honey. You not only get the benefits of the pollen you also get the all the health benefits raw honey. If you want to eat pollen for protein, you get a better bang for the buck by eating plant based, animal/fish based protein. If you want eat raw pollen because you just want to...buy USDA organic raw pollen.
Honey...Vegan or Not?
As a college student, I come across people of all kinds of lifestyles. In the past, the folks that have given us some backlash are those that practice a vegan lifestyle. However, after our queen bee started to give tours on how Sarasota Honey Company does things differently we have seen growth, acceptance, and encouragement from those of the vegan community. Many started calling our honey vegan. Our Queen bee has steered clear of the topic, afraid of backlash from those that are not in know. I will now lay out the cards, and ask you the reader... what do you think? The Vegan Society stated that honey is not vegan due to the following:
"Conventional beekeepers aim to harvest the maximum amount of honey, with high honey yields being viewed as a mark of success. When farmers remove honey from a hive, they replace it with a sugar substitute which is significantly worse for the bees’ health since it lacks the essential micro-nutrients of honey. In conventional beekeeping, honey bees are specifically bred to increase productivity.
Queen bees often have their wings clipped by beekeepers to prevent them leaving the hive to produce a new colony elsewhere, which would decrease productivity and lessen profit.
Honey’s popularity shows no sign of slowing. The honey industry, like many other commercial industries, is profit-driven where the welfare of the bees is often secondary to commercial gain."
All the above can be found in the honey/bee industry, but just as there is bad, there are some that seek out to do good and don't fit the description above. At Sarasota Honey Company (SHC) our hives are located in urban environment and we let our bees KEEP their honey, we take honey just as a new "honey flow" is about to happen. We empty the boxes just as the bees need them to refill. This is why we cannot afford to sell honey by the gallon.The time that most beekeepers in this area harvest honey is November and December. They have to do this because most of them treat for mites and you cannot have the honey on the bees when doing treatment. They also do this because many take their bees to the almond groves and the bees cannot travel with heavy honey boxes in December. Moreover, those boxes need to be freed up for the almond honey they will be collecting.
At SHC we do NOT rent our bees out to pollinate crop. We do not treat our bees for mites using harmful chemicals so they CAN keep their honey until the new honey flow starts. We are so busy with the holiday sales that we do not have the manpower to pull the honey even if we wanted too... but we don't and this is why... We have found that our bees are healthier, happier, and more productive on a diet of honey then on a diet of sugar/corn syrup water. We use the analogy of: Which athlete would you want on your team? The one on a diet of processed foods eating nothing but soup out a can? Or would you want the one eating grandma's made from scratch farm fresh soup? Yes the other producers can and do make more "honey" then we do and sell it for cheap because its made from sugar and corn syrup water. It just can't compare to the quality we bring in nutrition and taste that comes from happy honey fed bees.
Our bees live a normal bee life. They are not moved to from crop to crop and worked to death. We also condemn the practice of clipping wings. We raise hygienic bees, due to their hygienic behavior they notice EVERYTHING. In the past we would trade queen bees for gentic diversity. The queens that would come with a clipped wing, the hive almost always replaced or were not accepted by the bees. We make it a point to say please don't clip wings.
There is so much that we do at SHC that is not the norm that many said we wouldn't make it as beekeepers or as a business. However as our Queen Bee says, "If we take of our bees, put them first, they will take care of us" This is way of thinking, I believe has kept us through the toughest of times.
Now this is the part that confuses me. I have been reprimanded and even bullied by some students when it comes out that I and my family are beekeepers. But then the same people, I have seen in line at a local smoothie store ordering an "Almond milk smoothie with fresh berries and sweeten with a vegan "honey" made from apples." ALL of those fruits and nuts in that smoothie is 100% dependent on honey bees and supports the very type of beekeeping that Vegan Society condemns! I highly doubt a national smoothie franchise is purchasing their fruit from a vendor that doesn't rent beehives. Many farmers can't get crop insurance if they fail to show they have a certain number of hives rented. Even organic farms rent bees. So I conclude with this.... is our honey vegan? Can honey from bees be considered vegan given the beekeepers practices? What about the fruit and veggies that are pollinated by rented bees...are they vegan?
(Picture below is a pic of rented bees pollinating almonds for almond milk.)
*Disclaimer, My thoughts and questions are that of my own. They are not meant to offend anyone. They are meant to help this extremely confused college student that is a beekeeper understand and become a better educated and empathic person to those that think and live differently then I do. I wish peace, love, and knowledge to all creatures on earth...big and small... feathery, furry, and not so furry.
Got mask rash?
Queen Bee told me to end this Newsletter on a positive note, with that said there is nothing more positive then a possible solution and aid for mask rash. Dermatologist say a new skin concern is cropping up for people wearing face masks due to the coronavirus pandemic: mask rash. The rash forms when moisture builds up under your mask and irritates your skin, a lot like diaper rash. Warm and humid weather can cause excess sweating and more irritation. It is recommended that you wash your face with a gentle soap, followed by an astringent. At SCH we have found a new use for our Propolis Derma Rescue...it can also help with mask rash!