Archangel Michael ApiariesOwner: Daniel Rodriguez
Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery
12600 West Highway 318
Williston, FL 32696
daytime phone: 352-209-8235
evening phone: 352-591-1716
Web site: http://panagiavlahernon.org
Application Date: 2011-10-24
- Please briefly tell us why you are applying to have your apiary be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program.
- Our new apiary operation is only 2 1/2 years old and already practices organic beekeeping in keeping with traditional Monastic / Christian principles of frugality, humility, respect, and patience. Since the hive products will be coming from the Monastery's Melli Apiaries, it makes sense to be officially recognized for our wholistic and sustainable beekeeping practices in the marketing of our hive products.
- Is the land on which your apiary sits currently certified (by CNG or another organization)?
- Has the land on which your apiary sits ever been Certified in the past?
- How did you hear about Certified Naturally Grown?
- Bee Culture Magazine.
- Please check all markets where you sell your honey.
- You may use this space to specify where customers can purchase your honey (this will be displayed on your profile to help customers find you).
- Presently, we offer our hive products at our Monastery bookstore. In the future, we plan to provide a South Florida-based health food store our products as well.
- How many hives are in your apiary (or apiaries)?
- Before continuing, please take a moment to review the 5 steps to Apiary Certification. (You may do this by clicking the link below.) Are they clear?
Apiary Location and Position
- Some beekeepers seek certification for more than one apiary. Please provide the location (or locations) of the apiary (or apiaries) for which you seek certification.
- No other permanent apiary locations at this time.
- Briefly describe the landscape where the apiary is located. What surrounds the apiary? What are the nectar sources?
- The Monastery sits on nearly 200 acres of gently rolling pasture land buffered on all sides by thick pine forests. Beyond our forested edges, broad expanses of grassy pasture land predominate. Although this contributes to the unique tranquility of our Monastery, it does little for the bees. We are fortunate though to have a variety of plants and trees that provide some forage resourses for our small, but growing apiary. Our indigenous nectar and pollen sources include: Wild Blueberry, Spanish Needle, Wild Grape, Lugustrum Trees, Brazilian Pepper, Willow, Green Maple, some perimeter Goldenrod, and Chinese Tallow.
- Do you own or manage the land on which your apiary is located? (If at least one of your apiaries is on land you own or manage, answer yes.)
- Do you agree not to use on this land any synthetic materials that are not allowed under the CNG produce or honey programs?
- Yes, certainly. We already practice organic gardening in our small, but crucial garden plots.
- Use this space to describe any land management practices you use to support the honey bee population.
- We are agressively purusing a planting and irrigation program of dozens and dozens of acres of bee-friendly plants and trees to supplement the naturally-occuring nectar and pollen sources. An extensive variety of plants and trees to cover multiple seasons and changing local weather patterns are maturing rapidly: 40+ Chaste Trees (Vitex agnus castus); 70+ Eucalyptus; 7 Black Locust; 30+ Carolina Laurel Cherry; 60+ Tulip Poplar; and dozens of India Hawthorne shrubs, Orange Trees, Crepe Myrtle Trees, Bottle Brush, Tupelo,and Red Leaf Maple. There is more to come, like osceola & crimson clover, echium vulgare, thyme, mint, and bee balm already on order.
- Within each apiary for which you seek certification, do you manage any hives "conventionally", using practices or substances that are not allowed under the CNG apiary standards?
- Are all hives in the apiary at least 6 inches off the ground?
Hive Construction, Components, and Comb Removal
- Do your hives have any paint or chemical treatment on the interior surface of the hive?
- Do you have, or will you develop, a labeling system and schedule to ensure removal of at least 20% of brood frame per year, such that there is never brood comb present that is more than 5 years old?
- Please breifly describe your comb removal practices to date, and your plans for the coming seasons.
- We have removed some of the frames that we inherited from purchased nucs, but that was truly only a matter of damaged comb and old frames. We will develop a removal program utilizing the yearly color-coded queen marking standards already in place. We have on-hand now a large supply of colored thumbtacks to mark the top bars of frames according to the year inserted. All of our frames/comb are around 2 years old only and have NEVER been exposed to any type of chemical treaments from us. Beginning this coming season we will remove 2 / 10 combs from the brood nest of 50% of our hives, and finish with the rest the following season. We will continue on with half of the total number of hives every other year.
- Does your hive contain brood comb that A) is from another beekeeper (including from purchased nuc), or B) has been exposed to Tylan, or C) has been exposed to three or more treatments of fluvalinate (Apistan, Mavrik) or amitraz (Miticur, Taktic, or Mitak)?
- Will you ensure that, through brood comb replacement or operation expansion, no more than 40% of the exposed comb will be present in the apiaries to be certified, AND that the exposed comb that remains will be marked and removed from your apiary within two years? Your apiary will have transitional status until all exposed comb is replaced.
- Please indicate the month and year when you expect you will have replaced all marked brood comb (the comb that was purchased from another beekeeper, treated with Tylan, and/or exposed to three or more more treatments of fluvalinate or amitraz)?
- According to ur previously stated removal plan, we will concentrate our efforts on those particular combs this coming season. Of the 50% of hives being targeted for removal, perhaps only 5% represents frame from ONLY Dave Miksa Honey Farms.
- Has any wax or comb in your apiary ever been exposed to coumaphos (CheckMite+) or fenpyroximate (Hivastan), or more than six indirect exposures of coumaphos (CheckMite+), hydramethylnon or fipronil (Max Force Gel roach baite) as closed trapping for SHBs?
General Bee Maintenance and Care
- Describe how you maintain your bee population from one season to the next. Do you rely on survivor colonies, incorporate feral colonies, purchase new bees every year, or some combination of these and/or other practices?
- Since we raise our own queens, having done so for two seasons under the mentorship of Dave Miksa, we overwinter a large number of 5-frame nucs with young queens to replace failing queens or deadouts in the early Spring. We first employed this strategy (learned from Miksa and articles from Kirk Webster) last winter and enjoyed great success, with only 1 nuc lost, this past spring. A small percentage of our production hives are also requeened in the late fall with a portion of this final round of young mated queens reserved from our mating yard.
- Do you sometimes feed the bees when honey supers are on the hive, or within two weeks before honey super addition?
- If and when your bees require supplemental feeding, what do you feed them? Please be specific and include all ingredients.
- We purchase white, granulated, fine cane sugar in bulk mixing syrup that is augmented with Honey-B-Healthy. We have already seen a decrease in our Summer dearth feeding due to our recent plantings (and expect significant decrease in future summers), and also feed in the fall to supplement stores. We also feed Mann Lake's Bee-Pro & Ultra Bee-Pro in dry form in a number of remotely placed Mann Lake weather-proof feeders. And lastly, we make our own pollen patties, according to Dave Miksa's recipe as follows: organic honey, filtered water, cane sugar, irradiated pollen (Drapers, Brushy Mountain, GloryBee), Honey-B-Healthy, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Lemon Juice, Mega-Bee, Ultra Bee Pro, Bee Pro. That's it.
Management of Pests and Disease
- Please briefly describe what measures you take to suppress the Varroa mite population in your hives.
- To date, we have not needed to do anything, but pursue an increase management style that relies on summer and fall splits to break the mite cycle. All of our hives are headed by our own queens. We began with mite-resistant stock (VSH, Minnesota Hygienic, New World Carniolan, and Canadian/Danish Buckfast), and will continue to work with these lines. We are now working with the University of Florida to fine-tune our breeding plan for our young queen-rearing segment of the apiary. We do requeen all of our hives with our own stock and plan to continue. We provide a drone-saturated mating yard at Larry Connor's "competetive" level, that is, over 10 sq in of drone comb / virgin queen or over 200 drones / virgin! Our relative isolation, no other apiaries nearby, and drone population limited to our recorded and evaluated drone mothers, provides great mite and desease resistant consistency amongst our queens even in our formative apiary years.
- How do you monitor mite population levels? When and how often?
- Sugar-Roll testing and calculations to determine hive and apiary infestation levels. We follow the procedure and calculations as outlined by Marla Spivak et al in the Dec 2010 issue of American Bee Journal.
- Before treating any hive for Varroa mites, will you monitor the Varroa mite infestation level to determine whether it exceeds the treatment threshold set by your local network? (If you run a survivor colony, and you never treat, please answer Yes.)
- If you choose to treat colonies infested with Varroa mites, will you keep records of treatment methods, along with pre- and post-treatment monitoring results?
American and European Foulbrood
- How do you prevent and treat American Foulbrood (AFB) and European Foulbrood (EFB)?
- Resistant & Hygienic stock.
- How do you prevent and treat Nosema?
- Resistant & Hygienic stock. Clean feeder jars. Close monitoring of syrup to prevent fermentation. No other strategies have ever been employed. Clorox Bleach cleanup & air-out of equipment prior to installation or re-installation.
- What has been your experience with other diseases (such as chalkbrood, viral diseases, wax moths, small hive beetle)? How have you dealt with them? How will you deal with them if they recur?
- Wax moths: Damaged combs are discarded, even if they are plastic. Close monitoring of hives to salvage combs from weakened hives before moths invade. Slow, conservative transition of our nucs into full-size woodenware to insure bee coverage on all combs. If need be, combs are pulled and foundation / dummy boards are inserted. Seasonal honey super combs are stored in first our freezers, then after 3-5 days, in our coolers. Beetles: a strong, strong hive + Cutts Beetle Blasters. Closed monitoring of hives when and during pollen patties are inserted. The smallest possible portion is given. Lastly, screened bottom boards are used on all of our 10-frame, 5-frame, and 3-frame mating nucs to insure adequate ventilation and this seems to prohibit moths and slows down beetles. No other problems.
- What measures do you take, if any, to protect the hives against pests such as mice, skunks, possums, raccoons, and bears?
- No problems so far.
- Please describe any other practices you follow to help strengthen the bee population under your care.
- Maintaining our own supply of nucs allows us great freedom in requeening with the entire nuc (brood + bees), instead of just queens. In addition, hives are carefully evaluated for problems and detailed diagrams and records are kept. This allows us to track the exchange of brood frames, when pulled from strong hives to equalize others. Any problems if discovered can be traced back to their respective sources.
Colonies Engaged in Pollination Services
- Are your colonies engaged in pollination by contract?
- Are you a part of a local network of beekeepers using natural methods? This could be a formal network like a county beekeepers association, or it could be an informal network of beekeepers in your area with a commitment to using natural methods.
- If this is a formal network please indicate the name of the network below. (If it is not a formal network, please simply write "informal".)
- Informal. Myself and two beekeepers about 7 miles away (who are also planning to apply for CNG certification).
- If this is an informal network, please indicate below the names of at least two other beekeepers who participate. They do not need to be CNG beekeepers, but they do need to have some commitment to and knowledge of natural practices. (If you're part of a formal network, please simply write "see above")
- Mitchell Szegi and Byron Teerlink.
Please indicate your agreement with the following statements by entering your name/s in the spaces following the statements.
- I/we will only use the Certified Naturally Grown name and label on apiary products (honey, pollen, propolis) that are in fact from the CNG apiaries described in this application.
- Daniel Rodriguez
- I/we understand that CNG beeswax certification is a separate process (not yet available in 2010), and that the basic Apiary Certification doesn't confer CNG status on beeswax.
- Daniel Rodriguez
- I/we understand the CNG work requirements: A) To complete at least one certification inspection of another CNG apiary in my area each year. B) To arrange at least two annual inspections of my/our apiary, to be carried out by qualified inspectors as outlined in CNG informational materials.
- Daniel Rodriguez
- I/we have reviewed the Certified Naturally Grown standards, understand them, and will abide by them. I/we understand that if I/we have any questions I/we may contact CNG for clarification.
- Daniel Rodriguez
- You may use this space to tell us anything else you think we should know about your farm: