Breeding a better bee!
At Bare Honey we believe the time tested method of breeding stronger bees is the key to overcoming the many problems that plague bees today. We breed a heritage bee from Russia, while most American beekeepers have been breeding Italian honey bees (Apis mellifera ligustica) since they were first imported to the New World in 1859. Their Italian bees were and are excellent honey producers, and show a gentle temperament making them the most popular race of honey bee in North America.
But Italian honey bees are susceptible to two deadly parasitic mites, the tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi) and the varroa mite (Varroa destructor), which were introduced into the U.S. in 1984 and 1987, respectively. Colonies contract these mites through equipment sharing and overcrowding, and, once infested, entire colonies can succumb within one or two years. Beekeepers have relied largely on pesticides to control the mites, but many of these chemicals can contaminate the honey and beeswax in a hive. The mites also are becoming increasingly resistant to the pesticides, making the chemicals less reliable and, eventually, ineffective. The high colony mortality that accompanies these two mites is a serious concern of the bee industry today
On the far eastern side of Russia, in the coastal Primorski region around Vladivostok, our Russian bees were exposed to varroa mites for approximately 150 years, much longer than other bee breeds have, researchers have surmised that the Russian bees have developed a resistance to the mites. Indeed, subsequent research has shown that these Russian bees are more than twice as resistant to varroa mites than other honey bees. Moreover, they are highly resistant to tracheal mites, the other mortal enemy of bees.
Along with other dedicated beekeepers around the US, we have been diligently breeding regionally adapted Russian bees. We believe that through responsible nurturing of our little livestock, carefully breeding, and raising the awareness of irresponsible pesticide use we all can contribute to the survival of the honeybee!
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