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Obama has been brewing his own organic beer with honey from Michelle’s garden beehive.

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“Workers in the Maoxian county of Sichuan, China, an area that has lost its pollinators through the indiscriminate use of pesticides and the over-harvesting of its honey, pollinates pear and apple trees by hand. In this part of China, the honeybee has been replaced by the human bee, for the past two decades. Every spring, thousands of villagers climb through fruit trees hand-pollinating blossoms by dipping “pollination sticks” (brushes made of chicken feathers and cigarette filters) into plastic bottles of pollen and then touching them against each of the tree’s billions of blossoms.”

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“When I consider the lack of cooperation in society, I tell myself it is due to ignorance of our interdependent nature. I am often moved by little insects, like bees. The laws of nature dictate that they work together in order to survive, since they are endowed with an instinctive sense of social responsibility. They have no constitution, laws, police, religion, or moral education, but they faithfully work together because of their nature. There are times when they might fight, but in general the entire colony survives thanks to cooperation. Human beings have constitutions, elaborate legal systems and police forces, religions, remarkable intelligence, and hearts endowed with the ability to love. But despite these extraordinary qualities, in actual practice we lag behind the smallest of insects. In some ways, I feel that we are poorer than the bees.” ~ The Dalai Lama -My Spiritual Journey

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Huffington Post Article:

Kosher Honey: Making It a Sweet Rosh Hashanah With Bees

“At no time during my experience in a New York City rabbinical school did I think I would ever be donning full beekeeper regalia and watching as thousands of bees made honey on a farm in Michigan’s Amish country. But that is precisely what I found myself doing for the first time this past spring.

In addition to learning about the honey-making process, I’ve also learned about colony collapse disorder, the unexplained phenomenon of worker bees disappearing from hives causing a shortage of bee honey in recent years. I learned this from Don and Carol Ragan, a lovely couple who own the Windmill Hill Farm in Croswell (located in the “thumb” of Michigan). Carol first contacted me in February immediately after reading an article in the Detroit Free Press about Kosher Michigan, the kosher certification agency I started. She wanted to know what was involved in obtaining certification for her bee honey.

I told her that I would have to get back to her because I really wasn’t sure what it took to certify bee honey as kosher. The mere fact that bee honey is kosher is itself odd. After all, it is a product of the non-kosher bee (no insects except for certain locust species are deemed kosher by the Torah). So, how can a product of a non-kosher animal be kosher? It is believed that honey is kosher since it is produced outside of the body of the bee. But that isn’t totally true. In actuality, bees suck nectar from flowers with their proboscis (mouth) and this nectar mixes with saliva and is swallowed into the honey sac, where enzymes from the saliva break down the nectar into honey. The nectar is never digested, but rather transformed into honey by the saliva. The honey is regurgitated when the bee returns to the hive and the water is evaporated, thereby thickening it into honey which is then sealed in the honeycomb. The rabbis of the Talmud explain that bee honey is kosher since it is not an actual secretion of the bee, but rather the bee functions as a carrier and facilitator of the honey-making process.

All of this is interesting because honey is a staple food of the Jewish New Year’s holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which begins this year on Wednesday, Sept. 28… Among the familiar traditions of Rosh Hashanah are the dipping of apple slices in honey and eating honey cake…

“We’re passionate about making honey,” said Carol Ragan. “When we first discovered hives on our Croswell farm we were excited to experiment with making honey. We never realized how much we would come to enjoy it or how much of a market there is for honey products.”

Even with colony collapse disorder, beekeeping is on the rise throughout the country. New York City legalized recreational beekeeping last year, and even Michelle Obama had a beehive installed outside the White House.

…While the Bible describes Israel as “the land flowing with milk and honey,” it was more than likely referring to date honey. Bees were not common in Israel thousands of years ago, but today Israel has about 500 beekeepers with approximately 90,000 beehives that produce more than 3,500 tons of honey annually.

The basis of using honey in baked goods and dipping apples into honey on Rosh Hashanah is to have a sweet year. While the secular New Year is kicked off with toasts of champagne, the Jewish New Year is launched with the sweet taste of honey. And maybe a little sugar high too.”

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jBare Design donates a portion of the profits from their honeycomb ring to
The Center for Pollinator Research
and the study of Colony Collapse Disorder.

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Apiculture Museum in Radjovek, Slovenia

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VIDEO: Brooklyn’s Urban Beekeepers: Breaking The Law For The Planet

Link to our petition:

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The buzz around urban beekeeping

London’s Jewish Community Centre is doing its bit to ensure a sweet new year with a campaign to promote urban Jewish beekeeping. Community members are being encouraged to run their own hives to combat a dramatic decline in honey bee populations

“I have always been fascinated by the bee world,” she said. “But it’s not like chickens where all you need is some space and some grain. I’m so grateful this opportunity came up.”

Alison Benjamin, who runs the course with Brian McCallum, said: “It’s really important to start keeping bees in cities, there’s more of a diversity of flowers and plants. You can taste that in the honey. In the country, there are fields and fields of the same crop. In a city it’s warmer and more sheltered.

Bees can also be great for community cohesion. Some schools in south-east London have used beekeeping as a way of keeping kids calm because you have to be very careful and thoughtful when dealing with bees.”

New North London Synagogue also has plans for a hive of its own.”We think it’s a great way to bring people together and teach important lessons around sustainability that are rooted in our faith,” said executive director Claire Mandel.

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HoneyLove wants to make bee-lievers out of Mar Vista & Del Rey
KPCC 89.3 FM article by Molly Peterson

Science detectives say they’re making progress toward solving the mystery of the disappearing bees. But bee enthusiasts aren’t taking Colony Collapse Disorder lying down either.  This summer the Madeleine Brand show covered a documentary on concerns about bee colonies disappearing, and the show’s Jacob Margolis talked about his beekeeping setup

Now backyard beekeepers are looking to expand territory in Los Angeles where their hives are welcome. (Right now, LA City code allows bee raising (apiaries) in zones A1, A2, MR1, MR2, M1, M2, M3.) I heard about Chelsea McFarland, who with her husband Rob has founded HoneyLove, a volunteer group on the west side of Los Angeles pushing for expanded rights in the city of Los Angeles areas of Mar Vista and Del Rey to keep bees. I traded some emails with her to learn more. (What follows is condensed and edited some.)

Can you tell me more about your urban beekeeping pilot program? Are you getting any funding support from anywhere?

[The idea is] that interested residents in the community would be given the opportunity to host up to two beehives on their property.  Included in the program there will be an application/registration/inspection process and safe regulations in place.  Our primary goal is to set up a handful of communities with these pilot programs across LA and then take it to the full city council to allow all of Los Angeles to be involved! 

In terms of funding, we are in the process of getting our final tax-exempt stamp of approval on our 501(c)(3) non-profit HoneyLove.  In the meantime we are a self-funded volunteer group of friends and family… a true grassroots initiative! 

You’re doing feasibility studies through the Mar Vista and Del Rey Neighborhood Councils. What are they intended to accomplish? 

Essentially the studies are all about educating the council and the community about the concept of urban beekeeping, connecting with other cities who have legalized it (Santa Monica, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, Denver, etc.), and engaging and addressing the interests and concerns of the individual communities.

The full results of the feasibility study and our petition will be submitted to the community councils October 11 and then published online at 

In Mar Vista, October 11th is the big day that the MVCC will vote to approve or deny our pilot program. We are hoping to get as many people as possible to come out to the council meeting to show their support for that vote! 

Which came first, your love of bees, or your love of honey?

Hahaha… well Rob and I have always been animal advocates! We actually first met while working for the Orangutan Foundation International in Asia.  The honey definitely started tasting sweeter after we fell in love with our fuzzy little bees. 

Chelsea added that “HoneyLove is a resource for public meetings and events going on almost every week ranging from council and committee meetings to film screenings to our fun outreach events.” Mar Vista, are you in?”

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KENYAMen and women work together in beekeeping

“In the drought-stricken areas of Kenya’s northeast, beekeeping helps make life a bit sweeter, especially for women. A World Bank and government funded program helps beekeepers learn how to process and sell their products. Men and women work alongside each other and some women have their own hives now. It’s time to think EQUAL for women and girls.” thinkEQUAL

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