The Truth Behind The Myth – Bee Pollen Benefits

People have extolled bee pollen benefits for centuries. There is actual historical evidence that bee pollen was used in the days of Pythagoras and Hippocrates. Imagine Hippocrates the “Father of Medicine” actually used the pollen as well as prescribe it for his patients. There is also evidence that the ancient Egyptians also used this “Super Food”. As the name implies it comes from little old “honey bees”, but what makes this nectar so special is the question on everyone’s mind. Bee Pollen benefits include antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties. How do these little insects produce a product that can accomplish so much?

It starts with Pollination

The busy little bee is what keeps the flowering plants of this planet blooming. Flowering plants are hermaphrodites, which only mean that it’s an organism that has reproductive organs associated with both male and female sexes. In flowers this is the stamen and the pistil. Pollen is formed by the Stamen which is the male part of the plant reproductive system. The Bee gathers the nectar from the flowers and also gets the pollen on its body as it flies from flower to flower the pollen is distributed onto the pistil, where it then germinates resulting in fertilization. The result will be a seed with the genetic coding of both parent plants. This simple act makes the Bee one of the most important insects on the planet. Consider this 13% of all the food we consume would disappear without those little workers doing their thing.

The relationship is twofold they distribute pollen in exchange for a share in the product. The bees form little pollen basket, that they attach to their rear legs, to take their harvest back home in. Bees are also very smart a single hive will only use pollen collected from one plant source in the area. The pollen is everything to the bee. It is its source of nutrition and it also gives them the staple needed to build those magnificent hives.

Bee pollen benefits the bees first and foremost. Pollen is their food and build material source. To gather a single gram of pollen a bee will have to make over 50 trips to the flowers. This takes and enormous amount of energy and the pollen itself provides them with the energy necessary to carry out their tasks.

The bee pollen benefits for mankind are amazing and numerous. It is being used for everything from cancer treatments to weight loss. It is believed that the nutritive properties of bee pollen also will benefit humans as a stress reliever, an auto-immune booster and even a product to increase a waning libido. The amino acid in bee pollen benefits those struggling to lose weight by increasing the metabolic fat burning rate and it is also a natural appetite suppressor.

We recommend that you not only try natures “super food” for yourself but that you also learn more about it. You can do both online. Get busy as a bee and see what bee pollen can do to improve your health and overall sense of well being.

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Solving the Mystery of the Disappearing Honey Bee

Research continues on the agricultural and environmental mystery known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). However, finding a cause and a subsequent cure for the problem is fast becoming a race against time for scientists.

The number of disappearing honey bees in recent years is indeed staggering. Many beekeepers estimate that, at the current rate of bee loss, there now may be only a ten year window to find a cure. Colony Collapse Disorder is unique since it leaves bee hives with a queen bee, a few newly-hatched adults, and plenty of food, while all of the worker bees responsible for pollination just disappear.

The fact is that, in the last two years, close to two million colonies of honeybees across the US have been wiped out by CCD. Internationally, the problem has taken the lives of billions of honeybees in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and the UK. In Taiwan, ten million honey bees are reported to have just vanished.

A lack of commercial honey bee pollination would be devastating to agriculture. Ninety crops worldwide depend on honey bee pollination as does the cotton plant. Therefore, Colony Collapse Disorder threatens both our health and our attire. So, unless a future diet of cereal and grain, and clothing without cotton appeals to you, hope that current CCD research soon solves the problem of the disappearing honey bee.

There has been considerable speculation on the cause of the sudden disappearance of the honey bee. Global warming, cell phones, terrorist attacks, and power lines have all been identified as potential causes. All of these possibilities have been discounted while other possible reasons have recently come into scientific focus. The major problems that the honey bees face can be broken down into four categories; mites, pesticides, virus, and stress. It may even be a combination of some or all these bee problems that account for the mystery of CCD.

The varroa mite has been a problem for the honey bee since the late 1980s. For over twenty years this external bee parasite is responsible for dramatic declines in the honeybee population in North America and throughout the world. The mite problem for the honey bee was particularly acute during the winter of 1995-1996. Since then, bee losses have continued despite heavy use of pesticides to control the mite populations. However, parasitic mites cannot explain Colony Collapse Disorder as there is no evidence that mite infestation is directly involved, although they may contribute indirectly by reducing the immunity of the bees.

New pesticides are another possible explanation for Colony Collapse Disorder. A new class of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, have been found to be highly toxic to various insects, including bees. In fact, research has found that the level of the insecticide found in pollen has had a delirious effect on honeybees.

A team of scientists led by the National Institute of Beekeeping in Bologna, Italy, found that polluted pollen may be one of the main causes of honeybee colony collapse. Bees fed with 500 or 1 000 ppb (parts per billion) of insecticide in sucrose solutions failed to return to the hive and disappeared altogether, while bees that had imbibed 100 ppb solutions were delayed by twenty four hours in their return.

Signs of colony collapse disorder were first reported in the United States in 2004, the same year American beekeepers started importing bees from Australia. It has subsequently been discovered by Hebrew University researchers that these Australian bees were carrying a virus. The virus identified in the otherwise healthy Australian bees has been named Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) after the researchers responsible for the discovery.

Although worker bees in Colony Collapse Disorder vanish, bees infected with the IAPV virus die close to the hive. Scientists used genetic analyses of bees collected over the past three years and found that IAPV was present in bees that had come from Colony Collapse Disorder bee hives 96 percent of the time. Scientific research continues concerning the disappearing honey bee and IAPV.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “The number of managed honey bee colonies has dropped from 5 million in the 1940s to only 2.5 million today. At the same time, the need for bee hives to supply pollination services has continued to climb. This means honey bee colonies are trucked farther and more often than ever before”.

Consider that the beekeeper of today, who is involved in crop pollination, must transport their bee colonies from one state to another several times each season. Therefore, tens of billions of bees are transported across the United States, in the backs of trucks, to pollinate crops every year. Researchers have suggested that this process is putting a high, abnormal level of stress on bees. This frequent change of hive location is known to stress and weaken bee colonies and it increases the threat of parasites and diseases among bees used in commercial pollination elsewhere in the country.

It should be noted that nobody in the organic beekeeping world is reporting Colony Collapse Disorder as a problem. Most people think beekeeping is all natural, but in commercial operations the bees are used for pollinating profit without much government oversight. So, it may be safe to assume that the current process of commercial beekeeping for industrial agriculture may well be creating the conditions of stress necessary for CCD to occur.

Mites, pesticides, virus, and stress are the four areas of primary focus among researchers trying to solve the mystery of the disappearing honey bee. It is fast becoming a scientific race against time to find a solution to a problem that threatens United States agriculture and the national and international food supply.

Albert Einstein once predicted that if bees were to disappear, man would follow only a few years later. Indeed, researchers need to find a solution to this worldwide bee problem very soon to insure that his theory is not put to a test.

Suggestions For Bert’s Bees Company

With an established and fanatic fan base and recent entrance into the large drug store chains, John Replogle has the unenviable task of transitioning Bert Bee’s from a good niche brand, into a widely revered great brand. Replogle needs to guide Bert Bee’s in this tenuous phase by making rigid decisions on which products to prominently feature as well as broadening the appeal of the company from just a “quirky” thing to do, to something that’s accepted, without alienating previous loyal customers.

The key with Bert Bee’s is to not change product lines and risk losing their identity. With the highly saturated yet rapidly expanding natural personal care industry, firms often fall into the trap of conforming to competitors ideas in hopes of getting the next cutting edge product. With dabbles into operating Bert Bees specialty stores and experimenting with a cosmetic line (unnatural), experiences of straying away from company ideals have lead to miserable failures. This product company has branded itself as the “Starbucks” of natural personal care industry by offering customers more than just a gratifying and pleasing product but a unique experience that brings them back desiring more. Replogle should capitalize on the “all natural” trend by dramatically increasing the marketing and promotions budget in addition to expanding into the body care product line to attract potential clientele.

Bert Bees has a remarkable ability to attain and retain customers as evidenced by 35% usage after awareness measure and 73% use after trial, significantly higher than all other competing brands. This implies that if the firm spent considerably more on advertising products customers would not only come, they be there to stay due to the draw of the products. With the renown “Bee-tify Your World” tour a monstrous success, the company should initially aim to hold a couple of these conventions per year and to supplement the tour, Bert Bees should partner with large hospitals or health care organizations resulting in entering commercial markets. After involvement with these respected outside organizations, much like competitor Aveeno, Bert Bees would have the endorsement of a third party, something the closed off company has yet to experience and something that would vastly increase consumer confidence. Finally, in an attempt to appeal to the more casual personal care consumer, investment in TV and radio ads (Ex. 1) are imperative. For Replogle, this may imply hiring more experienced marketers or getting involved in the process himself to ensure a quality advertisement that markets the fours aspects of Bert Bees.

Attachment and identification to products is what sets Bert Bees customers apart from the field. With entry into the shampoo and body care segment, the firm should continue to rely on their traditional logo for it sets them apart their not-so-natural competitors. Inclusion of the natural percentage on each product as well as odd bottle designs are musts because they adhere to company mantra of honesty and quirkiness. However, Bert Bees must cut down on significant segments of their product line, possibly their outdoor and baby care segment (slow growth), in effect lowering the inventory days for the company. This is not to say to completely eliminate these products, for there is a fiercely loyal base for these products. Bert Bees could accept special orders for these products (such as shaving cream and fig flavored chap stick) and sell them exclusively on the website, at a premium during certain select times of the year. In an effort to gain customer participation, surveys should be given at stores and conventions to ascertain what works and what doesn’t. Display issues can be resolved by geographically segmenting products certain regions have surplus of products as required. Finally, drug stores could offer a greater SKU selection (rather than limited) of products to customers via their websites.

Due to Bert Bees being in a rapidly evolving environment, much of these suggestions assume that customers retain the same tastes and competitors stay relatively the same size without any breathtaking innovations. Bert Bees has all the right tools to expand it’s horizons, it simply needs to market their products to achieve their mission of Bert Bees catering to “everyone, everywhere.”

Growing Organic Zucchini

Delicious Zucchini Tidbits

Zucchini is a “summer squash” and therefore doesn’t store long term like winter squash such as butternut or acorn squash.

When you’re growing zucchini, you need lots of bees. Bees pollinate your zucchini. Some of our friends got only a few zucchinis last year because they had too few bees in their area.

In the U.S, we use the Italian name for Zucchini. In Italian it means “plant.”

Much of the English-speaking world uses the French name for zucchini – courgette. Growing zucchini in the UK, S. Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, and Greece is equivalent to growing courgette.

When to Plant Zucchini

Growing zucchini is relatively simple compared to some garden plants.

Zucchini requires approximately 40 to 60 days to begin producing mature fruit.

Here in the inland Pacific Northwest, we usually plant zucchini about mid-May, just after the last frost.

If you live in the Southern U.S., you can plant zucchini as early as February or March, depending on your altitude and climate.

While we get all the zucchini we need from a dozen plants, some have recommended starting new zucchini plants every couple of weeks for the first 6 to 8 weeks of spring to keep new plants coming into bear during the summer as younger plants produce more zucchini faster.

When doing successive plantings, allow at least 70 days space in front of your last frost date to plant the last planting of zucchini.

If you live in Northern areas like we do, you can get a head start with your zucchini by starting them indoors.

Best planting location for zucchini

In order to get the most zucchini, give it lots of sunlight; 8 hours a day or more is best in Northern climates, and at least 6 hours daily in Southern climates. Zucchini likes well-drained garden soil heavy amounts of compost and/or composted manure mixed in. As mentioned above, zucchini prefers warm to hot weather. We had an OK crop last year, but because we had a cool summer, our crops were down from hotter summers.

Zucchini’s favorite soils

Zucchini does best in slightly acidic soils with a pH level around 6.0 to 6.5, but will still grow decently as high as 8.0. Compost and/or composted manure provides the needed N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) requirements for Zucchini. If you need to supplement your soil’s nitrogen levels, you can also add blood meal. If you need to supplement your soils phosphorus levels, you can add bone meal. You can also add wood ash to your soil if it needs potassium.

In the past, gardeners dumped about a bushel (40lbs) of manure in a hole beneath where zucchini was to be planted. It is more difficult for most gardeners to access that quantity of manure now, but if you blend a few pounds of composted manure or compost where your plants will be, it should be sufficient.

Compost and composted manure also provide trace elements to your garden as well; Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Sulfur, Boron, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Iodine, Tin, and Molybdenum.

You can purchase an N-P-K tester and a pH tester at your local garden supply if you’re not sure what your soil needs and your plants aren’t performing well.

In the fall, rototill or spade your garden leaves and debris into the soil. This allows it to decompose through the winter and prevents pests from having shelter through the winter.

Choosing the best Seed Varieties

Zucchini will grow in most climate areas, so finding a good variety is not difficult. While zucchini is susceptible to powdery mildew, we’ve not had problems with it as we don’t crowd our plants and we water them early in the day. Powdery mildew resistant varieties are also being developed, so you can probably purchase those seeds this year.

Germinating zucchini seeds

Zucchini requires soil temps over 60° and under 105°F to germinate properly. They will simply not grow at colder soil temperatures. The optimum germination temps are in the range of 85° to 95°F. Your seedlings should pop up within 5 or 6 days at this temperature. When you’re growing your seeds, make sure the soil is moist but not saturated or you’ll risk fungal diseases. If you’re in a Northern climate, you can use black plastic “mulch” to warm your soil up; this will help your seeds germinate more quickly.

Starting zucchini plants Indoors

When starting zucchini plants indoors, use a good sterile potting soil from your local garden store.

If you use garden soil, because your home or greenhouse is warm, the warmth helps bacteria in your soil to grow and may harm your seedlings.

You have several choices for potting your plants. We recommend soil blocks first, then peat pots, then plastic pots or trays. Our biggest issue with peat pots is that they don’t decompose as quickly as we think they should and we’re not sure that’s good for the roots.

Plant your zucchini seeds 3 or 4 weeks prior to transplanting the seedlings to your garden.

Plant 2 seeds per soil block, pot, or tray cell about 1 inch deep.

When your seedlings are a couple inches tall, snip the weaker seedling off at the soil level with scissors.

Transplanting zucchini

You may be able to transplant a little earlier to your garden if you lay down black plastic mulch to warm the soil. If you do this, you may need to use row covers to keep them from freezing.

Your plants should have at least 4 “true leaves” when you transplant them. You need to “harden off” your plants before transplanting. This is a simple process that entails moving your plants outdoors for longer periods of time for a week or two and reducing their water.

The best time to transplant zucchini is on a cloudy day or early in the morning. Once you’ve transplanted them, water them to make sure they’ve got enough moisture.

Use a garden trowel to dig a hole large enough to fit your zucchini and its soil, soil block, or peat pot into. Pack soil lightly around your plant, keeping the same soil level around the plant.

Your plants should be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart (we do 2), and the rows 4 to 5 feet apart (we usually have just one row, so we allow 3 feet on either side).

Planting Seeds Directly to Your Garden

We don’t generally plant zucchini indoors because it doesn’t typically end up ahead for some reason, but this year we may try using black plastic mulch to get a head start. You can plant seeds before the last frost if you’ve warmed the soil with black plastic and use row covers. We’ll let you know how it works for us. Using a soil thermometer, check your soil temp; if it’s around 70°F you can plant 2 or 3 seeds together at about a 1 to 2 inches deep, 24 to 36 inches apart in rows 4 or 5 feet separated. Once your plants are a couple inches tall with 4 or more true leaves, thin them down to just one seed per hill; choose the strongest plant.

Growing Zucchini Successfully until harvest-time

As mentioned previously, black plastic mulch and row covers are effective for giving your growing zucchini an early boost in the spring. Black plastic helps keep the weeds under control and keeps the soil moisturized. Keep your plants well-watered, but don’t drown them! I mentioned that some of our friends didn’t get many zucchini last year because they had too few bees last year to pollinate their zucchini.

If they’d known about hand-pollinating, they could’ve had plenty of zucchini. Just use a small brush such as a paint brush, and brush it first across a male flowers and then across a female flower to pollinate your zucchini. You’ll get all the zucchini you want and probably more, at least if the weather’s not too cold.

Another idea some have used is to put an ad on Craigslist inviting bee farmers to place some hives on your property. We actually had a beekeeper contact us last year to do this, but we didn’t have good access to our property, so he went elsewhere, but we had plenty of pollinators anyway.

If you don’t have a beekeeper contact you (which is more likely), plant flowers that bees like near your garden. Foxgloves, Echinacea, and Petunias are just a few flowers that bees love.

Pruning your zucchini once the main stem gets to around 36″ in length helps your plant to concentrate on producing flowers and fruit instead of leaves.

Encouraging secondary rooting by burying the vine later in the season provides a boost to your plants.

Mulching & Weeding

As I’ve mentioned a few times already, using black plastic as a mulch works great both for warming your soil and keeping the weeds down.

After the soil temps have reached around 75°F, organic mulches, such as a few inches of grass clippings or straw will add nutrients to your garden soil and foil bad weeds, plus retain soil moisture.

Don’t pile mulch on the growing zucchini plants themselves or the will suppress these plants also. As zucchini roots tend to be shallow, hand weed (carefully) any weeds that are close to your plants. Zucchini plants will quite naturally stifle most weeds once the plants are mature.

Water That Zucchini!!!

Depending on your soil, how hot the summer is, and whether you’ve mulched or not, most zucchini require one good weekly watering of about an inch of water, or more. Sandy soil needs watered with less water but more frequently with less water; water drains out of the your soil faster if it’s sandy. During the summer, don’t overwater as it may cause your zucchini to rot. It’s a bit of a balance, but don’t underwater either as zucchini requires plenty of moisture to produce good fruit as well.

Don’t water your zucchini in the afternoon (isn’t that a song?) unless you’re lucky enough to afford drip irrigation as it may encourage mildews or bacterial wilt.

Zucchini’s Companion’s and rotation

Zucchini loves a flower called borage as it chases of the tomato hornworm, plus it attracts bees. Some say it also improves your zucchini’s flavor and makes it grow better – I haven’t found any scientific evidence for that one, but it sounds good on paper.

Marigolds and nasturtiums are good at repelling beetles and squash bugs and also attract bees to your zucchini patch.

Peas, beans, and other legumes benefit zucchini because of their nitrogen-fixing qualities.

Radishes are said to fend off cucumber beetles; plant them with cucurbit family members such as watermelon, squash, and cucumbers.

Potatoes apparently slow down the growth of squash, although I have to say I didn’t see this last year when they were planted close together.

While zucchini and other cucurbit family members can be planted next to each other, it’s best to rotate them to other areas of your garden to discourage the various diseases that afflict family members.

Harvesting Zucchini

Zucchini matures rapidly in warm weather and have a propensity to become, as we call them, “footballs.” This just means they get too large to eat – the centers become seedy and the outside becomes pithy.

Harvest zucchini when they are under 2 inches in diameter and around 6 to 12 inches long. Oversized zucchini can be composted; however, it’s better not to permit squash to get too big as they’ll drain the strength from your plants for awhile and delay new fruit development.

Check your plants every couple of days (or daily) during the warmer part of the season as they usually produce lots of zucchini during the summer heat. To harvest your zucchini, use a sharp paring knife to cut them from the plants; if you don’t have a knife on you, you can use a sharp twist and pull to harvest them. Some cooks deep fry zucchini flowers in batter or eat them in salads. I’ve not tried either, but maybe someday I will.

Storing zucchini

Zucchini doesn’t store in the winter; and they don’t store well in the summer either. They are so prolific, though, that you can usually depend on frequent fresh pickings to assuage your cravings.

Lay your zucchini loosely in your vegetable drawer of your refrigerator at no higher than 45°F for up to 5 days (in our experience). If you don’t eat them, compost them.

Canning zucchini or other summer squash isn’t a good idea; it’ll turn to mush. However, we’ll slice up excess zucchini, blanch it for 60 to 90 seconds in boiling water, and freeze it in zip lock-type plastic bags. It’s grand in the winter to add home-grown organic zucchini to soups or casseroles.

Preventative and Natural Solutions to garden Pests

My most unfavorite subject is garden pests. After I’ve worked hard and dreamed of tasty organic zucchini, the last thing I want is some nasty little insects and their larvae enjoying my food while I go hungry (although that might not always be a bad thing – maybe I could lose those extra pounds). Fortunately, there are some effective organic solutions to controlling many pests.

The most evil zucchini pest is the cucumber beetle, which comes in striped or spotted varieties. These beetles will eat both the leaves and fruit of any cucurbit family member, including summer and winter squashes, melons, and cucumbers. They also spread bacterial wilt just in case eating your plants isn’t quite enough.

We’re opposed to the use of chemical pesticides for many reasons, some of which are that these pests begin to become resistant to pesticides; also pesticides take out both good and bad bugs. Row covers are the best natural defense against these voracious beetles.

Infestations can be dealt with using an organic permethrin (comes in both organic and inorganic), but again, if you don’t have to resort to any insecticides your garden will be better off.

Another malicious pest is the squash vine borers. They normally emerge about the time the vines begin to extend out across your garden. Squash vine borers are about an inch long, plump, and white with a brown head. They are the larvae of a little moth with dark obverse wings and light back wings and a red abdomen. The moths lay eggs in the late spring or early summer near the bottom of your squash vines. The borers materialize about a week afterward and drill a hole in your vine to get inside them. You’ll see a small hole and green excretions below the hole. And you’ll see the vine expire rather abruptly.

To thwart squash vine borers from decimating your crops, first, keep your eyes and ears open for the moths (they have a hum when they flutter that’s atypical of moths).

You can also employ yellow-colored bowls full of water to ensnare these moths; they’re attracted to the color, and will fly into the bowls and sink.

At this time, it’s a good plan to use row covers for a couple weeks until the moths vanish again. make certain you cover up the edges of the row covers with soil to shut out the moths.

If your plants commence flowering at this point in time, you can hand pollinate your squash if needed. Don’t use insecticides as they can also destroy valuable insects that pollinate your crops.

If you notice that a borer has created a hole previous to the plant wilting and dying, you can at times cautiously cut a hole in the vine and take out the borer. Cover the vine and the hole with dirt as it frequently will send roots into the soil from the cut area.

If you discover a vine that’s been killed by a borer, cut back the vine and destroy it.

Another rapacious nuisance is the squash bug. Early in the season, this bug eats mostly foliage and can be destructive to seedlings if not controlled. Distinct from cucumber beetles which decline in destructive activity from beginning to end of the gardening time of year, squash bugs get more copious and detrimental as the summer progresses and start to eat the fruit as it ripens.

Squash bugs are brown to black and more than a half inch long typically.

If crushed, squash bugs have a nasty aroma. When I was a youngster we called them “stink bugs” although there may be a different bug that actually bears that name more rightfully.

In the spring, fully-developed squash bugs lay orderly clusters of eggs on the underside of your zucchini’s foliage. The nymphs stay beneath the leaves throughout this time which can last for several weeks.

Vigorous plants seem to have good resistance against these vermin.

Row covers early in the season help manage these pests as well.

If your garden isn’t vast in size, you can look at the undersides of your leaves and squash any eggs you find and hand pick adults and nymphs and drop them into a pail of soapy water to drown them.

One way to entrap bugs is to lay out boards or newspaper in your garden. Pick up the boards or newspapers in the morning; these bugs will gather together under these objects and are much easier to seize than when they’re on your plants.

Rototill under all cucurbit relatives in the autumn to diminish areas near your garden where they can overwinter.

Aphids are also widespread pests that can be found on the undersides of your squash leaves. You’ll know they’re there if you see the foliage turning yellow and crinkling or curling. Aphids suck the sap from your plant leaves and leave a sticky material behind. The lone beneficiary of this process are the ants, who gather the sticky syrupy stuff. The best answer to the aphid problem is to bring in ladybugs to your garden. They feed on aphids and are very successful in eradicating these green, gray, or brown bugs.

An additional solution is to “wash” them off with a hose and high-pressure squirt nozzle or an organic insecticidal soap.

Environmental factors

Zucchini seedlings may be affected by a set of fungi that cause “damping off.”

Damping off fungi will assault the seeds, seedlings or very young plants and cause a kind of rot that contaminates the roots or bottom of the plant causing abrupt growth and collapse in typically (in our experience) less than a day.

If you’re planting in trays, use germ-free potting soil, disinfected trays, and stay away from using your garden’s soil. You can make germ-free potting soil by getting it very wet and placing it in a metal container in an oven at about around 200°F and heating the soil to around 160°F for about 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to confirm the temperature, and turn the oven down a bit if the temperature exceeds 165°F.

Cool the soil to at least 90°F before planting your seeds in it. Also be aware that too much wetness is frequently part of the cause of seedlings damping off.

Water your plants with lukewarm water as cool temps are likely to promote damping off fungi.

Powdery mildew is one more mildew that can have an effect on your zucchini plants, but appears totally different. It’s whitish and powdery and grows on squash leaves and stems. It is also caused by too much moisture, but heat and moisture rather than cool weather and rain.

If the leaves are contaminated, they’ll frequently die. If the contamination is severe, it can kill the entire plant.

If you are able to, steer clear of overhead watering. If not, water early on in the morning so the plants can dry off by midday or so.

If you keep pestiferous bugs under control and mist your vines and leaves with a compost tea or a baking soda solution, you probably won’t have an problem with this disease.

Other solutions consist of organic sulphur sprays or a weak solution of milk and water (9:1).

If you spot any of this mildew, annihilate your vines at the end of the season and rotate your zucchini to a fresh area next gardening season. You can also obtain seed varieties that are resistant to fungi such as downy and powdery mildews. Bacterial Wilt is a malady that’s spread by contaminated cucumber beetles.

As these beetles feed on leaves, the wounds which have the bacteria start to generate other areas of dull green patches.

Bacterial wilt can spread swiftly to the whole plant within a couple of weeks.

Controlling cucumber beetles is the best protection against bacterial wilt. Row covers are an effective prevention if sealed around the edges with dirt.

If a plant is infected, pull it up and dispose of it right away; if it’s entangled with an uninfected plant, kill the infected plant and let it die and dry.

Rotate your crop out of the vicinity next season. Rototill all squash, melon, and cucumbers under in the fall to diminish cucumber beetle overwintering areas.

All the Benefits of Organic Raw Honey

Artisan organic honey is very different from industrial organic honey, and its properties give incredible health benefits.

Many people consider honey as a “natural” and healthy food product, independently on its origin and production methods. And this is not entirely true. In fact, today the greatest part of the honey consumed in the world is no longer as good as the one that our grandparents used to eat. Yet, in Italy there are still small artisan beekeepers who chose to produce honey according to ancient methods that respect both the consumer and the bees themselves, without chemicals, pesticides and without the addition of artificial ingredients. “Made in Italy” organic honey is appreciated all over the world and recently also in the USA consumers are showing a growing interest for it.

Here are five reasons for preferring it to other types of honey.

1. It contains fewer toxic pollutants. The regulation on organic beekeeping is very restrictive, and the plants that can be foraged by bees must be at least 3 km away from any source of pollution (highways, urban and industrial buildings, landfills, etc).

To safeguard their bees some organic beekeepers bring them in uncontaminated Italian Reserves and National Parks.

2. Organic honey has beneficial properties for digestion. Scientific studies have shown that antibiotics, but also pesticides can unbalance the intestinal flora (ISS -Ferrini) with adverse health consequences, so it is always better to prefer a honey free of these substances. By law, certified organic honey must be free of traces of synthetic antibiotics (such as tetracyclines, streptomycin, sulfonamides, etc.), or synthetic substances acaricide used in conventional beekeeping.

3. Organic honey is not pasteurized. Industrial honey is often pasteurized, ie subjected to thermal treatments at high temperatures. The result is a homogeneous and liquid product, often preferred by consumers because of these characteristics. Yet, the pasteurization process destroys many of the most important enzymes, vitamins and minerals naturally present in honey.

4. It is produced in small quantities. It is the freshness that guarantees the quality of the honey: it tastes and smells better and has a higher content of antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals than the other sweeteners.

Honey also contains minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, chromium, manganese and selenium. These minerals have a key role in many biological processes in our bodies that help to keep us healthy.

5. Organic honey saves the bees. Buying organic honey from small beekeepers is good for our health, but also to the world of bees, now in great danger. Small honey producers let bees live in wild areas and without the neonicotinoids used in intensive agriculture, using only natural remedies.

Are We Starving the Bees?

Are we unknowingly starving the pollinators and our precious ecosystem too? Are we unaware that each time we plant another one of those perfect looking, unsustainable hybrid plants that we are actually hammering another nail in their coffin… and ours too?

Like fast food chains, hybrid plants and flowers have slowly popped up everywhere and are in everyplace; and just like the nutritionists and doctors who voice concerns about the overall health effects from fast food chains on their patrons, so too are ecologists, scientists and gardeners voicing concerns about the overall health effects from hybrid plants on their patrons: the pollinators.

Pollinators, such as bees, require nectar and/or pollen as nutrients for themselves as well as for their unborn bees. Hybrids are generally hand pollinated by their manufacturer rather than by the bees and other pollinators who depend on them. These fast food hybrids lack proper nutrition for pollinators. Hybrid plants, especially those of the F1 variety, lack the sufficient nectar or pollen that hungry bees and other pollinators require. Pollinators eat from hybrid plants but they do not receive the proper nutrition needed to maintain overall health. These mass-produced plants populate our garden centers, greenhouses, city landscapes and gardens and have contributed to the decline of bees, butterflies, birds, even pests and all of their predators too. When our pollinators starve our ecosystem starves.

Are we starving the bees? Yes, but they are not the only starving pollinators. Bees are the most recognized pollinators because gardeners interact with them almost on a daily basis. When bees are absent, gardeners take notice. Many other pollinators depend on a nourishing menu of nectar and/or protein rich pollen too. Real organic, open-pollinated plants, both domestic and wild, have gradually been replaced by ones that are not. Today’s pollinators live in a world spread with unsustainable hybrids, genetically modified plants and flowers, toxins and pesticides.

The rise in manufactured hybrid plants and the decline in open pollinated plants have stripped the pollinators of a well balanced menu. The lack of plant diversity, increase in corporate uni-crops and destruction of natural landscapes have all been devastating for pollinators and all the other creatures who depend on them. Our peace-loving pollinators are losing the battle.

Planting a diverse array of multi-seasonal, true organic, open pollinated flowers and crops is one way to prevent starving the bees while at the same time nourishing our entire ecosystem, but it isn’t the only one. It’s one that we can all participate in whether you’re a window box gardener, a landscape artist or a farmer.

Raw Organic Honey – Nectar of the Gods

Raw organic honey is as healthy as it is delectable. I tried raw organic honey one day while shopping for groceries at the neighborhood nutrition store. It didn’t look appealing from the outside of the bottle, it looked quite waxy to be honest, but I was curious as to how it would taste. We try to keep our diet as organic as possible in my house so we’re always looking for something new and interesting to add to the mix. Honey is sweet so you can’t go wrong there. It can be used to sweeten our tea or add to a peanut butter sandwich for my daughter’s school lunch, so I knew at the very least that it wouldn’t go to waste.

I always pictured honey as a healthy sweetener that is fun to have on occasion. To my knowledge, honey was healthy though possibly a little too sweet to consume in abundance. Honey is one of those things that you don’t have at the top of the list when shopping at the grocery store. You very rarely hear anyone speak about eating honey and it is certainly not advertised very much on television. You most likely will not see a grocery store special on honey this week and many young children are probably not even aware of its existence unless it’s something they simply associate with bees. Honey is not the hottest item on the market right now, so there might be a lack of awareness of its health benefits.

Allow me to start by describing the experience I had when I first opened my jar of raw organic honey. The appearance did not change much once I opened the jar, as it looked just as waxy as it did from the outside. I was guessing that this might be one of those products where the non-organic version has been so processed I might not be prepared for the real thing. I began to get a little timid about tasting the first spoonful. Will it taste as weird as it looks? My family looked on as I hesitantly scooped out a pea-size sample and smelled it before following through with the taste test. Sure enough, I did it.

Raw organic honey is the definition of God’s gift to sweetness. The flavor was out of this world and I couldn’t imagine how I would prevent myself from indulging in its goodness for the rest of the night. My family couldn’t wait to try it once they saw the look of satisfaction on my face as if I discovered new uncharted territory. Everyone loved it and I had to place it on a high shelf to prevent my daughter from eating it for dinner. I couldn’t believe the difference between your average store-bought honeys to this pure, straight-from-the-honeycomb natural blessing!

Once I became hooked, I decided it might be a good idea to learn more about the nutritional information pertaining to raw organic honey. How much is too much and what if any health benefit does it have? I loved it so much I wanted to use it in everything and I’m not just talking about food. I remembered that I used to make my own facial masks and that they included honey. I wondered what it would be like to slather it on my face; after all, you shouldn’t put anything on your face that you can’t eat. I gave it a shot. The label stated that it includes antioxidants and we ladies all know that this means it has anti-aging properties. It had the consistency of a peel-off mask as I applied it and I noticed the feeling of my pores beginning to tighten- not too shabby. I gave it a few minutes and wiped it from my face with a warm facecloth. If you want to remember what your face felt like when you were five years old, then give this technique a try. Raw organic honey is also a great natural conditioner for your hair and can be used to wash your hands due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial factors.

I looked up more information on the nutritional value of raw organic honey and found that it offers so much more than you would imagine it could. Raw organic honey contains 22 amino acids, 27 minerals and 5,000 live enzymes! Notice that I am writing about raw organic honey because it is untainted, the way nature intended. It is free of chemicals, artificial additives and pesticides. The pollen in non-organic honey is removed to help prevent granulation but this is where much of the nutritional value of honey is found.

Raw organic honey has many benefits. It contains simple carbohydrates that are easy on the blood sugar. These carbohydrates are great for energizing your muscles before working out and help muscles recuperate afterward. It eases morning sickness and sore throats. It can be applied to all sorts of abrasions to speed up the healing process including canker sores, eczema and acne. Rather than using bacitracin or hydrocortisone, go for a more natural approach! It is also recommended for application on diabetic ulcers. Raw organic honey has been known to lower bad cholesterol and reduce the chances of colon cancer.

Mixed with cinnamon this honey can provide relief for bladder infections, upset stomach, and arthritis- even something as simple as bad breath! Mixed with lemon, raw organic honey helps to reduce fat in trouble areas like our hips or love handles. It helps to transform that fat into energy, making it easier to burn off. Raw organic honey mixed with raw apple cider vinegar can relieve constipation and migraines. Mix the honey with warm raw goats milk and it will increase fertility.

Raw organic honey has phytochemicals called polyphenols which act as antioxidants. These help to protect against free radicals that contribute to aging and diseases. You will also benefit from the following vitamins when you consume this honey: niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper and calcium. The quantities of ingredients vary between jars depending on the source of flowers used by the bees that make the honey.

The bee pollen found in raw organic honey is known as a whole food and is sold separately in many nutrition stores as a supplement. It is said that you could actually survive on 35 grams of bee pollen per day. This natural wonder gives you energy and works to improve libido. It regulates mood and increases cognitive function. Bee pollen stimulates your metabolism, strengthens immunity and promotes longevity.

Everything in moderation as they say, so I’m not recommending that you eat a whole jar of honey every day although it does sound good. You should limit your consumption to about one teaspoon per day, as this serving will already contain 20 grams of fructose. Keep in mind that people with allergies to bee venom might not benefit from consuming raw honey but it does help to relieve 90 percent of all other allergies. Those allergic to pollen and mold will be eating a sample of what they are allergic to and this helps to build immunity. Note that children under one year of age should not be fed honey of any kind due to the fact that they do not have a fully developed digestive tract and cannot break down its bacteria.

In general, a little a day might do wonders for your health. I choose to eat my serving right from the teaspoon because I love it so much that diluting it wouldn’t be half as much fun. I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy my raw organic honey more than I did when I took that very first taste, but every bite is twice as pleasurable now that I know what it is doing for my health.

Raw organic honey is best for you when purchased locally and many of your neighborhood nutrition stores will buy from local farmers. Visiting one of these stores may cut down on travel time for you. If you do not have a nutrition store that sells local raw organic honey and you do not have transportation to the nearest organic farm, you will most likely be able to order their products online and have it shipped. You must try raw organic honey for yourself and taste the delicious flavor and the most amazing natural sweetness. Raw organic honey can be added to your favorite foods for a great secret recipe. There are times when I will take a great recipe from Food Network and turn it into an organic version adding a little honey for extra flavor. This little treasure never spoils and can be used as a natural preservative!

Make your dishes delicious with ideas like these:

Fried Salmon steaks with honey

Glazed cupcakes with honey and orange juice

Pancakes with honey rather than syrup

Honey sweetened cornbread

Honey can replace sugar in your pasta sauce. Throw in a little organic coconut oil and everyone will want your secret recipe!

Interesting Facts About Bees

When we start studying insects, the facts about bees we learn leave us astounded. There are approximately 20 000 species of bees, of which 7 are honey bee species. Honey bees are the only insects in the world that make food consumed by mankind, that do not prey on other creatures, and that make a positive contribution to agriculture to such an extent that the world would not have enough food, if it was not for them

Bees are amazing creatures that have remarkable brain power, although their brain is only the size of a sesame seed. They can calculate distances and direction, they can give directions to a successful harvesting field. Without any official organizing, they form highly civilized and organized colonies, with each bee doing his or her job unselfishly.

It is interesting to note that a honey bee will have to make about 1600 trips to the flower fields in order to make one ounce (28 gm.) of honey. Each round trip can be up to 5 miles (8 km), and this adds up to between 50 and 1000 or more flowers each day per bee.

Pollen is also collected from the flowers at the same time, and stored in baskets on the bees’ legs on the flight home. This pollen can vary in color from the palest of yellows to a dark reddish orange. The type od flower and pollen collected by bees has a distinct effect on the resulting flavor of the honey. As the bees fly from flower to flower, collecting pollen and nectar, the bees are pollinating the flowers and plants they visit, and in this way make themselves of utmost value to the agricultural sector. Bees pollinate approximately half of all plants world wide.

Once the pollen and the nectar are offloaded in the hive, there are a few processes that take place. The pollen is stored in open cells in the hive. The pollen is mixed with fresh nectar, to make bee bread. This is the staple diet of bees. The honey is regurgitated into open wax cells. Here other worker bees mix it with enzymes, and still others beat their wings over the honey to speed up the evaporation of excess moisture in the honey. Once evaporation is satisfactory, the honey is sealed with a wax cap for later use.

Honey is not however counted as a staple food of bees. Only in winter do bees eat the honey, and even then it is diluted with water and mixed with pollen to form bee bread. As long as nectar is in full supply, the nectar is used to make the bee bread.

Water is also an important part of not only the bees’ diet, but also for the maintenance of the hive. A number of bees have the exclusive job to cart water into the bee hive, and to cart it around in the hive. This water helps with the cooling of the hive. As the water evaporates, the bees beat their wings over the water, and thereby regulate the air flow in the hive. This helps to maintain the constant temperature that they require.

Although many scientist have tried, no one has been able to create honey artificially, as we do not have the enzymes which are needed for the changing of nectar to honey. By learning all the interesting facts about bees that we can, and by protecting the bees and environment around us, we can ensure that there is a storehouse of honey available to future generations.

Accomplish Your Organic Gardening Goals – 5 Easy Steps to Gardening With Confidence

“Thank you, good foods from Mother Earth, our life sustainers, for making us happy when we are hungry”. Chief Jake Swamp

Good food from the earth is organic foods. To keep your garden simple and healthy, you must insure that it has a healthy support system. Good soil and plant fertility go hand in hand.

Here are 5 tips to help accomplish your organic gardening goals.

1) Seeds, plants or shrubs must be planted at a particular time. Fruits and vegetables have a specific number of days from planting to maturity. Make a calendar, begin collection planting times, and include instructions for growing by each month of the year. In America there are many different growing zones. There are also frost zones. If you are familiar with these zones, growing and harvesting will be a snap.

2) A garden journal is of immense help. Take pictures of where each plant that produced well is located in the garden. Make note of planting times, where you received the plants or seeds from or any changes that may need to be made. There are many helpful computer programs available that will keep this type of information organized.

3) Using an organic method to grow and harvest foods definitely make a taste difference. Used directly from the garden, these foods can be served raw or with very little cooking, but always must be thoroughly washed and cleaned before serving. An added plus is no taste of being harvested and shipped green.

4) Growing a pollinator garden includes furnishing flowers, vegetables or both, that humming birds, bees and other insects will frequent. Up to 90% of plants, even the self-pollinated, benefit from cross-pollination and many different insects. The wind also plays a vital role in plant pollination. Honey bees, wild bees and bumble bees are beneficial. Be sure to leave a wild area in a corner for bees needs. Some are ground living, some will nest almost anywhere. Bees are drawn to many different blossoms and herbs. When bees and birds are present, the garden will produce more seed and fruit because the pollen is more live.

5) If there is no time or space, to make an organic garden then seek out an organic farmer. Maybe he comes to the local farmer’s market bringing fresh food daily or twice a week. Many times farmers feature pick your own areas when harvest is plentiful.

Ask friends and neighbors, or your neighborhood health food store for suggestions to find organic produce.

Bee Shortage in California

Honey bees play a vital role in the cultivation of several crops in California. Most notably, California’s almond industry depends upon bees for the pollination of the trees. According to the USDA, about eighty percent of the world’s almonds are produced in California. With California exporting over a billion dollars worth of almonds every year, honey bees have a larger part in the Californian economy than most people are aware of.

Honeybees carry pollen from one tree to the next, and without them, almond farmers are suffering. Over the past several years, there has been a steady decline in the availability of bees. Experts attribute this decline to an array of causes, such as mites, pathogens, and loss of their foraging grounds. The population decline is causing difficulties for farmers who wish to pollinate their crops safely.

The causes of the decline in honey bees are numerous and varying in nature, and our solutions must also be. The easiest way for the average person to help the situation is to prevent the extermination of bees as they can. Many removal companies utilize chemicals that harm or kill the bees. These bees are exterminated and disposed of.

Companies that do organic, humane bee removal do not harm the bees nor kill them. These businesses offer an extraction method that has been proven to be more helpful in the long run, as well as save valuable honey bees. The extracted bees are taken to a local bee farm where a beekeeper cares for them until a farmer needs them. Honey bee deaths are unnecessary and preventable. With the low supply, extracting bees in a humane, organic fashion does make a difference.

Many experts are very afraid of the bee decline, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. The notable scientist Albert Einstein once said, “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination… no more men!” When he said this over fifty years ago, many people quickly dismissed it. However, it is now generally accepted that without the bees, mankind would have a difficult time living. Many experts today agree with Einstein’s prediction, or believe that mankind would not be able to survive. With most people scared of bees, or unable to see their true value, it is becoming important to spread the word before it is too late.