Markets: Aptos, Monterey, Del Monte and Carmel
Products: Pine Honey, Avocado Honey, Sage Honey from Carmel Valley, and bee pollen.
History/Philosophy: After discovering that her family had been keeping bees in Italy for over 200 years until the early 1900’s, Lynne got into organic beekeeping in 1980. Lynne is passionate about her unusual profession of caring for bees, traveling throughout the state with her hives, making delicious honey, and raising awareness about the serious plight of bees.
Lynne transports her hives to wherever a particular nectar source is most plentiful. She travels to a Santa Barbara avocado orchard for avocado nectar and to Yosemite for pine nectar. Her sage honey comes from flowers in Carmel Valley, and she covers the coast from San Francisco to Big Sur for wildflower honey.
Honey Making Amen-style: Lynne extracts only capped honey from the hives after the bees have completely removed the moisture with their wings. Instead of heating her honey to 180 degrees in the extraction and filtering process used by grade-A honey producers, Lynne uses centrifugal force to spins out the honey without the use of heat. “The minute you use heat, you kill the enzymes in honey, some of which are found in no other food. These enzymes are beneficial for immune system maintenance.” With minimal filtering, her grade B honey is drained into barrels and glass jars for sale in bulk or small quantities. “The darker the honey, the stronger the flavor and higher the mineral content,” says Lynne.
The Plight of Bees: Due to the precipitous decline in the number of bees in some 24 US states, farmers are relying on beekeepers like Lynne to bring in bees to pollinate crops. When bees travel from blossom to blossom in search of nectar, they transfer pollen from blossom to blossom which fertilizes the plants and enables them to bear fruit. Almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, sunflowers, watermelon and many other crops all rely on honey bees for pollination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and that the honey bee is responsible for 80 percent of this pollination.
The cause of what is being called “colony collapse” is still unknown. Factors under consideration are exotic parasites and pathogens, pesticide use in the environment, and declining forage crops such as alfalfa and clover. Lynne works with Professor Jim Amrine, President of Acarological Society of America and professor at the University of West Virginia, on research as much as possible. To learn more about what is happening with bees, Lynne recommends the book, A Spring without Bees, by Michael Schacker. Pesticidewatch.org is also good resource.
Lynne has not lost bees to colony collapse, but she has lost hives to pesticide sprays. These experiences have led her to become a strong advocate for organic farming. “Each one of us can do our part in saving the bees by using safe, organic products for our homes, gardens and pets, and by planning bee-friendly plants like mint, basil, lavender, sage, borage and verbena. If you notice that you have bees in your yard, put out a flat dish with rocks and water so they can get water.”
Pest Management:No pesticides are used, instead only natural, essential oils and bee pollen mixed with brewers yeast to rid her hives of mites.
Workers: a partner and one worker — and millions of bees!