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FARM & APIARY
That's me on the left, along with a friend of mine, John Reynolds, who keeps bees too. I let him think he's teaching me

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Yup, this is a recent photo of me!

THIS IS INFORMATION ABOUT ME

My name is Rob Green, and I believe that you'll find that my honey is the best tasting you can find anywhere. I say this because that's what everyone is saying when they taste Bluffwood Creek honey.

I'm an Advanced Master Gardener and past president of the Master Gardeners Association in Hendricks County, Indiana and started keeping bees, in part, to help with pollination. I train beekeepers. In fact, since 2000, I've trained well over a thousand beekeepers.

       THIS IS INFORMATION ABOUT THE HONEYBEES
Bees are necessary to a significant portion of our agricultural economy, and most wild honeybees have died out from parasites and disease. With state budget cuts, and the DNR no longer restricting bees coming in from hive-beetle infested areas, I'm very concerned about the future of beekeeping in Indiana. I started selling my honey to my friends... and my friends told others... who told others. And my single hive had become around 40! The hives are currently located at my farm in rural Hendricks County surrounded by farmland, clover meadows and wildflowers. Each little worker honeybee works like crazy creating honey. One bee makes about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime! This is my 22 acre farm.
Every spring I say, "that past winter was the worst winter we've ever had" because of dead hives. Here are my hive losses for the past four years:
                 2013-2014 100%
               2012-2013 80%
        2011-2012 35%
               2010-2011 85%
        2009-2010 80%
 
WHY ARE THE BEES DYING?
 
Cold winters are not the only reason. The summer of 2010, a USDA survey of our colonies indicated low but significant levels of Nosema Cerana, a micro sporidian fungal parasite that has all beekeepers really worried. Nosema, along with the two dozen identified viruses that come for free from the bloodsucking mites, is the toxic connection that appears to be the root cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

    While almost all beekeepers with more than a hive or two use chemical mite treatments and antibiotic treatments, we do not. And while we use only natural remedies and techniques, it means our risk for die outs are as bad or worse than the other beekeepers. On the positive side, our honey is far and away better tasting.
 
 
In August 2011, the USDA again sampled our bees. They studied the bees with electron microscopes and could identify the viruses now more than two dozen and all injected by the varroa mite bites. And the USDA study also identifies Nosema cerana as distinguished from Nosema apis, both bloodborne parasites called microsporidians, the former being much more toxic than the latter. (The USDA does not distinguish between the two types, for beekeepers outside of this survey, so I'm fortunate to be in it). The results of the survey came near Christmas Day 2011, way too late to do anything about it.  The survey indicated that as of August 2011, I had only a few virus types, and low numbers of infection. I also had very low levels of Nosema cerana. So I was encouraged and remained optimistic throughout the winter.

The winter turned out incredibly mild and short. Apple trees were in blossom before the end of March. My bees were inspected in March and the happy news was ... we only lost 1/3 of the hives, a big improvement over the past two years. In fact, on the last market day of March 2012, we had our honey once again on the table at the market, and available for purchase from our website. From the original count of survivors, at least one is queenless and another one subsequently died, but the news is actually good, and actually encouraging.
 
That brings us to the most recent winter, 2013-2014.  With the record-breaking bone-chilling days, weeks at a time, coupled with bees already dealing with viruses and parasites, every colony died. EVERY ONE.
 
What's a beekeeper to do?  I've invested in new colonies and when people ask if they can help, I direct them to the first page of this website, where there is a donate button.

SO, IT'S NOT CELL PHONES, TOWERS, KILLING THE BEES?

        No. Cell phones, cell towers, global warming, GMO crops and even neonicotinoids have been exonerated so far in the causes of hive deaths. The cell phone story came from an environmentalist in Europe, global warming from a politician. The concerns about GMO crops and neonicitinoids are more complex. First of all, we're talking about pesticides that are either a natural part of the plant or those applied as seed coatings and sprays to the plants during the growing season. Insecticides kill insects. (I'll bet that was no surprise to you). And honeybees are insects that are very sensitive to insecticides. As far as honeybees are concerned, it would be a much nicer world without these pesticides and the chemical surfactants in the sprays.

        But the one consistent symptom of our honeybee problem, is that it's contagious and that it's pathogenic in nature. Sick bees that are loaded with viruses and internal parasitic entities.

        So this is where the environmentalists and the majority of scientists & beekeepers part ways. While they say they're concerned about the bees (typically native bees and NOT honeybees more about that later), their passion ends up being focussed on GMO specifically around here, at Monsanto and Bayer, a major pesticide maker.

        A lot of people have objections about GMO products, although the evidence they cite seems to evaporate when examined closely. People are not dying from eating this stuff. In fact, in some countries, certain crops now grow for the very first time, and those that did prior to GMO are finding their yields increased and more people are getting fed. Some object that animal RNA is being spliced into plant RNA, and I understand that objection. But at the genetic level, the genome components are neither animal nor vegetable.

        But look, I'm not a scientist. While I appreciated the passion by the environmentalists for a while, I'm noting that there's more and more dishonesty, lying and outright fraud. And while they may have put so much news through the google channel, a lot of what they cite is simply not factual. I saw a blog that talked about a "definitive" Harvard study that "conclusively" proved that colony collapse disorder was caused by neonicitinoids. I've seen the study and if failed miserably in peer review because the science kept moving the goal posts. In fact, in the study, the scientist force fed neonicitinoids to bees in sugar syrup. In violation of test standards, he had to keep increasing the dose until some of the bees actually died. Of course insecticides killing insects is hardly rocket science. But the scientist has won more funding to do more great... well, whatever it is, it's not science.

        Human life span is increasing, not decreasing, and that's with GMO in 80% of what we eat. You may not like that 80%, and I may not either, so it's up to us to choose what we eat. The big fuss over GMO needing to be on the label... I'd like to see it, but I already know, and you should too, that certified organic and CNG certification both already means NO GMO. So head to the organic section at Kroger, Wal-Mart, or visit Whole Foods (who have some organic products) or your health food store (who again, have some of their products being actually certified organic). You already have the tools to eat healthy.

        So, my farm IS certified organic for the crops, and the hives and honey are certified by CNG and is listed at www.naturally grown.org. There is no GMO allowed at my farm or in my products, and no antibiotics, and no pesticides used as in the conventional treatments for Varroa mites.

 
WHAT'S THE DEAL ABOUT RAW HONEY FROM A BEEKEEPER?
 
First of all, most store brand honey contains imported honey. But honey comes from Argentina (cited for dumping tainted honey below cost in the U.S. market and it often contains Nitrofurans and Cipro, an antibiotic). Chinese honey, for a while illegal but still appearing in the USA and Canada in huge quantities, sometimes under the label "organic honey", was banned entirely from Canada and the whole European community because of measurable levels of chloramphenicol an illegal substance that causes aplastic anemia, a form of cancer. In fact, published reports in 2011 indicated that a third of all the honey for sale in the grocery stores was Chinese in origin. Even worse, some of our most trusted honey companies are admitting to finding tainted honey in the distribution system, and instead of turning the brokers in to the authorities, they just push it back into the distribution channels where some other company will buy it without checking and offer it for sale to the public. Much of this honey is labeled Product of USA, or sometimes Product of India or Product of Viet Nam, where it is shipped via. But the label is not to be trusted.

References:     fda-seizes-chinese-honey
                        why-honey-gets-contaminated-by-antibiotics
                        chloramphenicol found in honey, fish, crabmeat in Louisiana
 
Most store brand honey (if it truly originates from the USA or Canada*) is presumed safe (and that is one awfully big presumption), however it has been heated, and therefore has lost most of its flavor. This is actually done on purpose because of the low grade and poorly flavored honey they use in store brands. By heating cheap imported honey from China and South America (which has been described as tasting like it was strained through dirty gym socks) they can knock out most of the objectionable taste. They then blend it with the minimum amount of a domestic honey needed to impart an acceptable flavor. It can still contain organisms including "foulbrood" spores. It is for this reason that when a hive is in trouble, we must never, ever feed the bees honey from a store. There's too much risk of infecting the hive... Look at the label closely... If it just says PACKED in USA, or USDA GRADE A or CANADA No 1, there's an excellent chance that it came in barrels from somewhere else. A honey vendor in Alberta, Canada was charged by the government for mixing the most impure, rankest Chinese honey tainted with a cancer causing drug in his bottle of Pure Alberta Organic Honey. So a label that says "Product of USA" is not to be relied upon.

*What do we mean by truly originates in Canada or the USA? According the to American Honey Producers Association in 2006, Chinese honey which now also contains CIPRO (another banned substance) is showing up at Dollar Stores, Discount Marts and Warehouse Clubs labeled as Product of USA. The fact is, you cannot even trust the labeled country of origin. China now microfilters their honey so there's no trace of pollen in it, that might identify the country of origin. Europe, who already blocks the import of Chinese honey (more successfully than the U.S. does) now refuses to allow honey without pollen in it.
 
Companies including Sara Lee and Smuckers have found themselves in possession of cheap bakery grade honey containing cancer causing chloramphenicol. We documented this news in the state Beekeeping Journal.

If that's not bad enough, a Michigan honey packer had been accused of diluting honey with up to 5% high fructose corn syrup a sweetener that is used in many products from soft drinks to ketchup which has been linked to childhood obesity cannot be detected. This cheap corn sweetener costs pennies a pound and is believed by some to be widespread in Amercian honey today. Finally, the honey packer was one of two caught with adulterated honey. But it wasn't just HFCS they were packing. They were found to be using Chinese honey in their mix. As recently as early 2013, it was announced that the government authoritied had settled for some fines but no jail time. And executives directly involved were terminated. But by April 2013, news of a class action lawsuit by other major beekeepers sought very large damages from these two packers.

references:    nations-biggest-honey-packer-admits-laundering-chinese-honey
                    US Justice Dept. document
                    funny-honey-bringing-trust-to-a-sweet-sector-fraught-with-suspicion

Who were these packers? They packed for a number brand names, including store brands. One of the packers was Groeb Farms of Onsted, Michigan. They pack for a lot of store brand labels.

But just so we're clear on this, in spite of Chinese honey being UNSAFE, the government only charged them for not paying tariffs. This action was not about consumer safety (which would have been the #1 reason in my mind) but for lost tax revenue.

So you're safe if you buy from a beekeeper and request "raw honey," right?

And what's the deal about Raw Honey? Well, first of all, let's get it straight. "Raw" states nothing about the purity of the honey. A beekeeper can be using pesticides in his hives for mites, antibiotics too, even illegal substances, and still call his honey "Raw" if it's never been heated.  So, if you want raw, pure honey, ask the following questions:

 
1. Have you ever used miticides, even organic ones, in your hives? If the answer is yes, have you replaced 100% of your beeswax frames since the last dosage.
2. Have you ever used antibiotics? If the answer is yes, find out when and which one. It will likely be, that antibiotics had been used as a preventive measure, something every schoolchild knows is a bad idea.
3. Have you fed your bees High Fructose Corn Syrup as bee feed?
 
And to belabor the point just a little bit longer, why is there a definition issue with the word "raw" as in Raw Honey? Among some local honey producers, they claim raw honey is raw because it wasn't "flash heated."  When pressed, they'll admit to warming or otherwise heating their honey. Let's be real here. Raw meat is not raw if it's been gently heated or slow roasted. The definition of raw honey is honey that has had no heating applied to it, flash, slow or otherwise.
So a fourth question to ask is:
 
4. Do you heat your honey in any way, at any time during or after the extraction process?
 
And finally, because many beekeepers are now selling honey from other producers, this means they can't be sure of anything anymore. Honey is a commodity, and you have no idea how many hands it's passed through. If the label on the honey jar says "packed by..." ask question number 5
 
5. Is this honey produced 100% by your own bees?

Is this important? It sure is. There was a time that all honey tasted better than it does now. It was all locally produced, or at least, product of USA or Canada. While we can't make unsubstantiated claims, honey is different from region to region and particularly, country to country. Because it contains microscopic amounts of pollen, some believe that local honey can help with allergies. There's also been published material that suggests that honey contains a whole lot more than carbohydrates (plain ol' sugar). One thing for sure... our honey is local, unprocessed, and completely natural. Today, many beekeepers are out of business. Only diehard lovers of honeybees continue to produce local honey.
 
You can see a new photo below. This was taken in July 2007.  Four honey entries won four blue ribbons, one purple champion ribbon, and one lavender reserve champion ribbon. My honey in my arms (labeled after judging) is liquid, comb, pollen and cinnamon creamed.

Here's a challenge for you. Do a taste comparison. Taste a small amount of store brand honey and then taste Bluffwood Creek honey. If you don't immediately think that our honey tastes better, send it back for a refund!

Read what people say about our honey!

Read what Hendricks County Magazine said about me in May 2007

Read what Indianapolis Monthly said about me in May 2011.

And what a series of short interviews Dick Wolfsie and WISH-TV did in June 2014.
 

Our honey is not USDA Organic, because our farm is only certified by the USDA for the crops we grow, including Alfalfa, a mix of four kinds of clovers, popcorn and sometimes other crops.  However, we practice chemical-free and antibiotic-free beekeeping.  I do everything I can to make the honey as safe and pure as I can. And that means a great deal as all of the impure honey issues we've seen have had to do with either what the beekeeper used to treat his hives or worse, fraudulent activities such as adding corn syrup to honey to make more money.

But our honey IS certified as produced using the standards by CNG at naturallygrown.org. Their standards are tough and exacting..

Our honey is excellent, wonderfully tasting, and very very pure.

What would you like? Pure honeycomb squares? One pound bottles of light honey? And 8,12, and 24oz bears of honey? They're all great. Other products? Have you ever tried bee pollen? Pure beeswax? Beeswax is a natural wax that is used for lubrication around the home. Drawers stuck? Wood sticking to power saw? Screws hard to drive? Beeswax can help. It's also used for hand creams, lipbalms and candles. Handcream? We've got an incredible formulation. This cream contains Apricot Kernel Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E and just a hint of essential oils. It's a fabulous handcream that you're sure to love. (I've got two unexpected testimonials from men about how this handcream helps fix ingrown hairs. One man, Caucasian, had the hair on his arm. The other man, African American, had a problem with ingrown whiskers and is convinced that our cream solves his problem quickly and reliably. I also got a testimonial about the cream quickly healing up a cold sore.) Also available as a lipbalm in small containers. The lipbalm contains just a hint of honey for those sweet lips. Honey soap and candles are also for sale. In fact we have just a handful of special candle holders too... click here.

We also grow USDA Certified Organic popcorn, which beats Orville Redenbacher in independent tests.



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