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Honey bee on dandelion

Honey bees and children love the lowly dandelions. The wise honey bees eagerly work the succulent spring blooms. They choose the healthiest, most advantageous flora for the most nutrition and benefit after an exhausting winter. The dandelion is high on their list. We humans should take heed and learn.

It is amazing that humans spend money on toxic poisons to rid their lawns of these pretty yellow flowers. Then they spend more money at the health food store buying supplements that would have been available free from the dandelions they have eradicated. Who decided that the dandelion was a useless weed? Was it because it grows so easily it could not be exploited for profit?

Thankfully, the honey bees ignore human “intelligence” and include the nectar and pollen from the dandelion as a top choice for their spring time collections. This makes for very healthy honey and a healthy bee colony.

Consider gathering the dandelions in your area (unsprayed areas, of course) for better health. Dandelion tea is so good with a bit of raw honey and so good for you. Our ancestors made wine and/or syrup made with lemon and raw honey from the various parts of the plant to enjoy the benefits of the dandelion all year long. Chop new leaves, new stems and flowers into salads, over cheese, on toast or with vegetables…very eye appealing and healthy. Add fresh dandelion into smoothies for a health boost. Or, dry the various parts, store and use all year.

Heidi at Candle Bee Farm eats about 10 fresh dandelion stems per day for as long as the yellow flowers grace the farm every year. She also munches a few flowers each day. The younger, new growth parts contain the most health benefits and don’t taste bitter. Even older plants add a nice flavoring to salads and greens. Children proudly enjoy eating salads and vegetables for which they have contributed fresh picked flowers from the yard.

It has been said that the dandelion is good for the liver, gallbladder, spleen and stimulates the flow of gastric juices. It has been used as a blood purifier (“Spring Tonic”), for glandular health, a diuretic and even gout and rheumatism. The blood purification effect is also credited with helping acne issues.

Bee happy these wonderful plants are readily available to serve mankind. Perhaps, one day, we will see the beautiful blankets of yellow flowers in the fields with the same appreciation as the wise honey bees.

www.CandleBeeFarm.com

Linking to an interesting article about electromagnetic impulses between honey bees and flowers:

One out of every three bites of food we eat depends on the honey bee

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27173.cfm

Shiny Fur Coats

Recently a fellow natural rearing acquaintance was lamenting that her dog’s fur did not appear as shiny as that of some dogs fed commercial feed.  Might I suggest when this is the case, consider studying the ingredients of the commercial feed (even the chemicals). By asking and working with commercial feeders in an exchange of ideas a dialog of mutual respect and study is established. This is usually more beneficial than merely discounting the choices of others.

Research and compare how/if each of the commercial ingredients are present naturally in the raw diet being fed. Strive for variety and balance as found in the wild. Be sure you are feeding a complete amino acid profile for canines. Raw feeding of only chicken or fowl will not accomplish this. Red meat is required by canines for full nutrition. Consider adding fish, fish oils, fats, raw free-range eggs, minerals (sea veggies), chlorophyll (green tripe) and/or fermented greens. I find that chlorophyll is a commonly overlooked dietary ingredient important to living creatures for cellular oxygen, digestive health and color.

Many raw feeders do not follow a whole prey model of consumption. Rather, they pick and choose among lean, skinned meats from the grocer’s counter. Doing so may mean that the dog is not getting enough fats and oils. This is simple to remedy by adding a small amount of fats. Please, a very small amount, too much is not better.

Consider the bathing and grooming protocol. I had problems with my own dogs before I became more careful about this. Dogs should be lightly brushed at least once per day. While people gently brush their own hair daily, I see the same persons brushing their dogs as though they are attacking an unseen enemy. Be gentle with the fur and, especially, the skin of your dog. A quick brushing does not necessitate a harsh brushing. Pay attention to the force you are using on the fur and the skin. Always spritz the fur or the brush with distilled water before brushing. This prevents excessive pull, helps the grooming tool glide along the hair follicle and facilitates effect distribution of oils. It mimics the action of rain and dew on the beautiful coats of wild dogs.

The soap or shampoo used for bathing is critical to the health of the skin and fur. Products made for human use (even natural, gentle ones) are not suitable for use on dogs. The extensive research I have put into the development of Prima Natural Soap has made me acutely aware of this. I am currently doing research to develop a canine cleanser. However, this may take 1-2 years more for thorough testing.

The pH of a dog’s skin is basic. The pH of human skin is acidic. Generally, this is not considered by the makers of pet soaps and shampoos. Furthermore, the pH of dog skin varies from breed to breed. The German Shepherd has the highest, most basic skin pH as they are closest to the wild wolf canine body type. This explains why owners of German Shepherds, especially conventionally kibble fed dogs, encounter problematic skin. The diet and grooming of each breed requires careful consideration.

Most soaps in conjunction with aggressive scrubbing leave the scales of the hair shaft slightly opened. This produces the coveted fluffy look. Hair shaft scales being open produce volume but reduce the capacity for refracting light and dull the fur. This situation also leaves the hair shaft subject to damage and fray. Experiment with different pet cleansers, or research and make your own. The objective is to leave the hair shaft scaling smooth and closed. Healthy fur will refract light like a mirror producing an awesome shine. Furthermore, smooth hair shafts allow skin oils to flow easily away from the skin. This is the natural and healthy way to keep the skin clean with pores open and correctly functioning. The conducted oils also enhance the shine of the fur and further protect the fur coat…not to mention eliminating the dreaded “dog smell” from the undercoat or skin.

Every dog is different. My own same color animals of the same breed often require different cleansers for their fur. This is true even for those of the same lineage. What helps one dog to shine may leave another’s fur slightly ratted and vice versa.

The effects of flea and tick preventative pesticides are horrid for proper skin function. The so called “spot” type applications are especially awful for they have prolonged systemic action. All of these can cause issues with the functioning of the pores and hair follicles…not to mention potential toxic effects on the entire body. It is my belief that such action leaves the fur slightly dulled and the skin more prone to hot spots, itching, infection and, surprise, easier attack by the very pests it is meant to deter or kill. It is far better to make your own herbal spray specific for the pests in your area. This is as easy as infusing aromatic herbs in distilled water and is actually a safer alternative for the dog and all with whom it comes in contact. If it works for my farm dogs who spend the day in the fields and the woods, it seems it would work for any dog.

The effects of fur “reddening” or “bleaching” by the summer sun will also be significantly reduced or eliminated when the fur is healthy with smooth scaling along the hair shaft. In this intended healthy way, smooth scales block individual hair shafts from the sun. Open , fluffed or damaged hair shafts allow the sun rays to penetrate. The light penetration causes color distortion. This is most easily seen with black fur as it will have a reddish tinge with sun exposure. But, it happens to all fur colors. I’ve heard of show breeders who keep their dogs totally indoors or covered so that their fur is not exposed to the sun! How silly this is as such practices prevent sufficient exercise and sun exposure necessary for health. The sun causes natural chemical processes in the skin required for proper bodily function. That is another topic beyond the scope of shiny fur.

Some show participants utilize artificial colorants, dyes and sprays to produce a temporary and artificial appearance of health and shine. Might it not be better and more economical to practice natural, common sense animal husbandry and reap the benefits for yourself and your loved animals?

It is always nice to be approached by strangers, even show ring handlers, admiring the’ shiny, reflective fur coats of my working and farm dogs. Unfortunately, the only question the admirers ask is, “What do you feed?” I encourage a natural, whole prey model raw diet. Health and vitality starts with a clean, properly functioning digestive tract. But, we should not ignore the important aspects of proper, extensive exercise and grooming.

Bee healthy, Bee well,
Heidi & the gang
Candle Bee Farm
Prima Natural Soap

Bee Blankets

Bee Blankets were put on the beehives today. Black vinyl wraps with foam backing capture the sun’s warmth by day and insulate at night. Hope the honey bees feel the love.
In the winter, the honey bees form a ball around the queen. They stay in constant, slow movement to keep her and themselves warm. They pass honey from one to another to her in the center.

Stress and balance

Tending the honey bees is a centering stress reliever. The gentle, hypnotic, contented buzz of a healthy hive is focusing and balancing. I can’t help but hum along when I’m with the bees. Honey bees are so aware and interactive. They fully utilize all of their senses, all of the time…touch, sight, smell, taste and sound. And oh, those wonderful dances they do. Their communication is highly evolved and complex. Yet, it is simply executed and engaging. It is a lovely way to be at one with nature and the universe.

Blooms of Spring

The fields are filled with the first blooms of Spring here at Candle Bee Farm™. The wild flowers didn’t blossom until after the rains this year so they are full of nectar for the industrious honey bees to start the season. All impart natural health benefits that are preserved by the honey bees in tasty raw honey. Here are a few I remember from this morning’s walk and just some of their beneficial qualities:

Red clover (blood circulation, isoflavones with antioxidant properties), valerian (good for tension, anxiety, insomnia), mayapple (laxative, purgative of parasites), wild garlics (blood cleanser, high blood pressure, ‘sweeten’ the gut and intestines, skin disorders), wild phlox (stomach disorders), chickweed (cooling, anti-inflammatory), coltsfoot (hoarseness, bronchitis, pneumonia, coughs), speedwell (mental exertion, memory, high cholesterol), dandelion (liver and gallbladder, blood purifier, improve digestion, rheumatism, glandular swellings), yarrow (mentstrual disorders, menopause, bone marrow and blood renewal) and field mustard (anti-cancer).

Everyone is familiar with the phrase, “April showers bring May flowers.” Here in Kentucky, we certainly have our share of Spring showers. Fortunately, Candle Bee Farm™ sits high on a ridge so flooding is not an issue. But, we often get severe winds up here.

Beekeepers have a different take on the subject of rain. Generally, people welcome it for the good of vegetation. Most people think of water from the clouds as only doing good for budding and blossoming vegetation. But, the bees have a different outlook. The timing of the rains is critical to honey bees.

Rain, while quenching the earth’s thirst, also washes the nectar out of the blossoms. Add to this the winds that usually accompany storms and the flowers are basically emptied of nectar and pollen…washed out by the rain and blown out by the wind. It may be a week or more before blossoms with fresh nectar are available again for collection by the honey bees.

Early Spring, when the weather gets above 56 degrees Fahrenheit, is when honey bees become active and the queen begins laying eggs. These eggs are crucial for building the beehive up to the number of bees required to maintain the existence of the colony.

Worker bees collect the nectar and pollen necessary to feed the young. A lapse of nectar availability for a week in the Spring could mean the loss of thousands of young bees. Rain and wind, when too frequent, can cause this to occur. If the number of honey bees in the hive isn’t built up in the spring, there will not be enough workers for the next 6-8 weeks of nectar collection. This summer nectar is what will be used to feed the new bee brood and, most importantly, be converted to honey for food for the winter…and sharing with humans if there is enough in excess. The key to preventing a lapse in nectar availability is not to take too much honey from the hive in the fall. Experienced beekeepers who are good stewards of the hive will keep a close watch on the amount of honey remaining for the winter and for the next Spring should there be an onslaught of storms or a lengthy time of cold weather.

So raining too frequently, too heavily or for too long of a time can devastate a honey bee hive. Just as we struggle when we run low on money, honey bees struggle (or worse) when low on honey.

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