An ABC interview with me for in Hayward

Original Article:

Felicity Chen had a problem. Actually, she had a solution for her mother’s asthma symptoms — cannabis. Her problem is that her mother had a bias against cannabis. She saw smoking marijuana as a vice. So Chen looked back at her childhood for a solution.

“Growing up, we used a lot of Eastern medicine, ” said Chen. “We’ve always added some sort of herb to the water and I would drink that to make me feel better.”

RELATED: Michelin-style private dinners with cannabis

So Chen began infusing raw honey with cannabinoids and adding a spoonful to her mother’s tea. She said her mom saw it as just another herbal treatment, which she was used to taking.

Chen eventually teamed up with Stefan Carpentier, who owns A Jar of Honey, a beehive business in San Jose, to establish beehives near her home so she could source local honey, which is known to alleviate allergies.

They produce two types of cannabis-infused honey under the brand HoneyPot Supply. One contains THC, cannabinoid that produces a psychoactive effect. The other contains CBD, another cannabinoid in pot that does not produce a “high” and has been shown to have medical benefits, including reducing inflammation. Honey with CBD is their biggest seller.

HoneyPot will be one of the products showcased at the next Thursday Infused dinner, held on June 14 in San Francisco. The dinner highlights local chefs and foods that have been infused with cannabis to enhance the dining experience.

Pollination services might not be worth it for many Beekeepers

It looks like in Canada Beekeepers become selective in which trips they want to send their bees for.

Beekeepers becoming wary of pollination

Compared to almonds in California, blueberry pollination in British Columbia is small potatoes. But there are some similarities. Commercial beekeepers migrate long distances from cold northern prairies to the mild coast with thousands of colonies. They are paid for pollination and their bees get a boost with early pollen and mild temperatures. But beekeepers come away wondering if the hassle and stress on their bees was worth it.

Here in western Canada, several beekeepers from northern BC and Alberta have decided that the 1,200-kilometre trek to the lower mainland’s berry bushes isn’t worth it. The blueberry area near Vancouver needs at least 45,000 colonies of bees for successful pollination. The beekeepers who are rethinking the southwest migration hold about 4,000 hives. The difference – 10 percent – won’t cause a berry shortage this year. But it represents a growing concern among beekeepers that the monetary gain from hauling bees long distances isn’t compensating for the pressures and expenses involved.

An Alberta beekeeper – Danny Paradis – says in an interview that BC berry growers are using a new fungicide that weakened his bees, resulting in a poor summer for the colonies when they returned to Alberta after spring in BC.  But one of the biggest commercial beekeepers in the Vancouver area, John Gibeau of Honeybee Centre, disagrees. He is the country’s top blueberry-pollinator. Gibeau tells reporters that nothing has really changed in 40 years but last year was a bad-weather year, resulting in weaker hives.

I know both of these beekeepers. They are smart professional operators. Neither has an ‘axe to grind’ but they obviously have different perspectives. In the end, beekeepers will decide if the money from spring pollination balances the cost in stress, time, transportation, and effort. Blueberry rental in British Columbia’s lower mainland is relatively new. Berry farms have expanded dramatically in the past two decades. Theoretically, over half a million colonies in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC’s Peace River could make the thousand-kilometre migratory pollination trip. But just two percent of those ‘potential’ bees actually are taken for a ride. To me, this suggests that Canadian migratory pollination isn’t quite worth the effort – something Danny Paradis might contend.

I’m not sure what British Columbia pollination fees are this spring, but in the past beekeepers told me that they were paid as much as $130/hive.  That equals about 70 pounds of honey at recent wholesale prices. If colonies return to the prairies weak from pollination,  they can easily lose that much honey on the summer crop – and it costs money to haul bees into pollination.  (Besides, few commercial prairie beekeepers want to be on the coast and miss the local hockey and curling action. Some things are more important than money.)

Over the past fifty years, pollination fees for California almonds have gone from about $5 to $200 per hive. The colonies rented there are about twice as strong as they were in the early days of pollination, but the rental is still at least 20 times higher, per bee. But that’s still not enough to compensate beekeepers who end up with damaged colonies.

My guess is that more and more beekeepers will opt out of pollination. Meanwhile, some growers will switch to newly engineered self-pollinating crops and others will experiment with wind, mechanical pollinator-drones, or other schemes. But for the next few years, growers will offer more money – there is a huge advantage in doubling or tripling a crop by spending just a couple hundred dollars more per acre for bees. And many beekeepers will accommodate.

Bee swarm catching like from the text book

This week I caught a Swarm and all really worked like in the textbook. So I felt the need to write a few lines about it.

  1. Local bee swarm (I was there in 7 minutes)
  2. A super nice person calling in the bee swarm
  3. Bees were in a tree just on chest hight with concrete below. This makes it so easy for the bees to find their way to the queen from the floor.
  4. The swarm dropped into the bee bucked like a charm. ==> Not too many panicked bees at the time of drop.
  5. The ~1000 bees left in the tree and in the air all seem to get the message of where the queen moved to and within 20-30 min almost completely moved in with her into my bucket, it was a true sight of beauty how nature works beautifully. (The march of the bees)
  6. During the drive home in my Fiat 500, the bees stayed in the back and did not bother me or freak out in any way.
  7. After being dropped into their new home, they accepted it right away and started building out their new home almost on arrival.
  8. Beautiful. I love bees, try to help as much as I can, one bee at a time.

Here is a short Video of the March.