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"I’m an organic farmer. I practice beekeeping without the use of chemicals or antibiotics. I do this for a variety of reasons which I will leave aside for now. This is about the prospects for sustainable beekeeping from the point of view of an organic bee farmer.
There’s an argument to be made that beekeeping as currently practised isn’t sustainable. Doubtless the purveyors of standard beekeeping which employ all these chemical stratagems would insist that theirs is the best way -- that when each chemical loses its effectiveness there will be new generations of better chemicals to employ – better living through technology. Aside from getting into the nitty-gritty of disagreement, let’s just suggest that the costs of chemicals and antibiotics turns out to be too great (costs both financial and in health), and that it’s better to practice beekeeping without them. Given that, what does sustainable beekeeping look like?
One thing’s sure (in my experience) - beekeeping without chemicals and antibiotics is more labour intensive. Look at the case of the virulent disease American Foul Brood. The usual method of dealing with this is to give the bees antibiotics as a prophylactic treatment. This doesn’t get rid of the disease but keeps it in check – though not perfectly, as this method does, as you might expect, lead to resistant cases of the bacterium, which will lead to further problems for beekeeping in the future. Hence the sustainability question.
I don’t use antibiotics in my operation. What I do is similar to what is done in New Zealand, where antibiotic use is not permitted. The first practice is careful inspection of the brood in every hive, to ensure early detection of the disease. Once an instance of foul brood occurs, drastic steps must be taken. The Ontario ministry of agriculture guidelines call for destroying the colony, bees and everything. An alternative that saves the adult bees (and thus the colony) is to remove them from the hive and put them on to new equipment. The equipment and all the wax and brood must be burnt. Done properly, the American Foul Brood doesn’t recur. But as I said, the inspection regimen is more time-consuming.
The story with other aspects of beekeeping is similar. The introduction of chemicals to deal with varroa infestation, and the viruses which accompany it, makes it quicker to go through a hive. Many of the chemicals can be damaging to bees and questionable for human consumption if they get in the honey. Some of the chemicals used are regarded as acceptable for organic farming. These are organic acids, and their use as become very common in beekeeping. They are however not without problems, and their use presents risk to the queen and the possibility that residues may persist in the comb and honey and have long term consequences for bee health which remain undetermined.
In my experience, beekeeping without chemicals is possible, though not (as yet) very profitable. Because beekeepers must make a living the question of sustainability must be posed with that of profitability. If it turns out that the only way of beekeeping is at the small scale of individual beekeepers, or small groups of beekeepers handling a few hundred hives, then the cost of beekeeping products and services (honey, pollen and pollination, beeswax etc) will need to rise. Obviously no one wants the cost of food to rise. The means of producing a sufficient amount of healthy food to feed our world is something that will probably take ingenuity and effort to arrive at.
There are other aspects of sustainable beekeeping that need to be looked at. We need to think about the chemicals used on crops and the effects this has on bees, and we need to have a hard look at the reduction of wild forage areas for bees. First then, let’s consider neonicotinoids. This class of chemicals has an effect on insect nervous systems. It is said that their main advantage is that they are a targeted chemical, in that they only affect the insect which is a pest of the crop they are put on. It turns out this isn’t exactly true. But how far from true has yet to be established. It can’t even be said that these chemicals have no effect on humans and other animals. This is unknown. All that can be said is that they have no obvious effect.
No one denies that they are harmful to bees. They will, at only a small dose, kill a bee by affecting its nervous system. Used properly, the amount of neonicotinoid that a bee might find in a flower and take back to the hive should never be sufficient to kill that bee or any larva. The current controversy over them is whether the minute presence in the bee and in the hive is sufficient to cause sub-lethal effects which may lead to early death which in turn may lead to colony collapse. This is what the present limitation of use of neonics in Ontario should determine.
Neonicinoids are in any case an improvement on the previously widely used class of chemicals, the organo-phosphates, which did have clear effects on not only mammals but widespread effects on the entire range of life anywhere near the fields where they were sprayed. Not only did beekeepers witness the deaths of colonies that had been too near a sprayed field, but it was this class of chemicals that led to the development of the ‘silent spring’ - the extreme reduction of bird life which so devastated the sensibility of Rachel Carson, who wrote the book of that name which proved so important to the development of the ecological movement.
Finally we have the matter of forage areas. We need to do something about the way we farm generally if we are to maintain healthy bees and other native pollinators. The reduction of hedgerows, and the increase of urban mowed areas (to go along with the vast areas of lawn in urban areas) has seriously impacted the life of native solitary bees and other pollinators. Put briefly, we need to fall out of love with our lawns, and in love with wild untended areas.
Taken together, these steps should lead us toward some sort of sustainable future not just for beekeeping, but also for agriculture and for wildlife generally."
Stephen also sells his honey at markets!
On Saturday, from 9 - 1 at the Backyard Farm and Market on the north-east corner of Eglinton and Erin Mills Parkway (across the street from Credit Valley Hospital).
On Sundays, from 9 - 2, at Many Feathers Market at Lisgar Go Station (10th line and Argentia).
He also has workshops at 10 Arch Road if these markets aren't convenient.
Sampling is available. Prices are $10 for 500 grams, $19 for a kilo.
Hello kind krafters! I hope you’re all doing well, and enjoying these remaining few weeks of summer. I am happy to say I have made a full recovery after being sick for a few weeks, and with that I’m slowly getting back into the swing of evening and weekend adventures. With the procession back into my usual routine, I have also gone back to spending most of my free time working on my Sustainability Internship Project, mapping and hiking HRM trails. As it currently stands I have 10 trails left to map, and four weeks to do it. This week I hit a pretty significant milestone in the mapping process, officially breaking the 200km mark of total kilometre’s hiked since the commencement of this project.
Between now and the end date for my internship, I will end of hiking approximately 300km, a number even as an active and energetic outdoor recreationalist, I would never have imagined being capable of doing in a single summer. I’m proud of the work I’ve put in so far, and ready to tackle that which still has to come. In the meantime, I thought I would share some lessons I’ve learned over my last 200km of hiking, and share some of the trails I’ve encountered since my list mini-trail review.
Lessons Learned on the Trail
Put These Tips to Work: More Trails to Check Out in Halifax
This is a beautiful little trail located in Bedford. The trail begins on Shore Drive, winds into the woods and up a hill. Here once you reach the top you encounter the Monolith and receive incomparable views of the Bedford Basin. Continue onwards and upwards and you will each Eagle Rock, offering more breathtaking views of the basin. This one is great for a quick and quiet getaway after work or on a busy day.
I mentioned this one in my last post as my first hike after getting sick. It’s a bit off the beaten path, requiring some driving on an old and extra bumpy service road, but is a gorgeous pathway through the woods and surrounding lakes. The areas surrounding the service road in are also nice spots for camping and kayaking.
This spot is pretty cool. The woodlot is located adjacent to the Musquodoboit Valley Natural Resource Education Centre run by the Department of Natural Resources. The spot demonstrates integrated forest management and offers a plethora of outdoor based education opportunities. The pathways are lined with giant old growth trees and interpretive signs, along with a shorter pathway known as the storybook trail, which guides visitors through the path while displaying pages from a children’s book.
Uniacke Estates trails are a series of 8 trails located on the grounds of Richard John Uniacke’s former estate, now preserved as a museum park. The park offers a wide range of outdoor experiences for every level of recreationalist, with short lakeside paths, gravel pathways, and some bushwacking off the beaten path trails at the farthest end of the loop. It’s especially beautiful after a rainy day when the forest is brilliant green.
This is a pretty gorgeous spot located in Cole Harbour. An historic site of former farmland, the park has numerous trail options perfect for biking and hiking. The pathways also lead down to the water for amazing sunset views and swimming opportunities. We even saw a giant adolescent eagle when we hiked this trail!
Amazing up-close coastal views! This trail truly showcases the beautiful of Nova Scotian coasts. It can be pretty boggy (remember those Smartwool socks!) and a bit tricky to follow (check out my AllTrails map for waypoints to watch out for), but it is truly a must hike trail if you’re in Halifax.
Now It’s Your Turn
I hope you’ve enjoyed my trail recommendations, and find some benefit in the little tips I’ve shared. As always, please reach out and share with me your trail experiences. And if you have any tips and tricks for staying safe, happy, and comfortable on the trail, share them with me!
Have you ever been able to take a step back and see that everything in life has been made up? Numbers, measurements, language, technology, and diagnoses- what made these things real? Someone had an idea, studied a pattern and created a label for it. If you are able to wrap your head around this concept you are in for a treat with this blog.
When you are able to approach life with the understanding that everything is made up, you are able to see life in a unique way. If everything is made up, why must we accept labels that we are told are concrete? Why on earth do we let these labels define who we are, or who we will become? Labels are powerful. We sometimes believe that a label will define our future. A made-up label should not have the power to determine our health, our careers, or our success. It is time that we say, “forget the labels they do not define us”.
I can admit it; I catch myself accepting things that I do not always agree with, and I justify it with the reasoning: “… that’s just the way it is.” But why? If the label that is to define my future wasn’t even created by me, why should I just accept it? I shouldn’t.
My aunt, Alison Shannon, introduced me to this concept. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Alison, I encourage you to get connected. With a degree in Kinesiology from Guelph University, Alison has always been interested in connections between the body and mind. Post graduation, Alison found it challenging to apply the knowledge she learned in school to the therapy she was doing with clients- until she started working with one of her four sons, Jeffrey. She first realized the power of labels after Jeffrey presented with some unique learning abilities.
Had Alison accepted the label placed on Jeffrey, he would have been labeled as dyslexic with ADD. Alison knew Jeffrey had a unique way of learning. Alison’s choice to disregard this label for Jeff was in response to something his second grade teacher told her. The teacher was implied that Jeff would not go on to have a successful life because of the limitations associated with these labels. Alison refused to let Jeffrey believe that there was something wrong with him. He simply had a different way of learning.
Alison started studying Jeffrey’s learning patterns. She investigated a number of different approaches to help Jeff reach his full potential. During her research, Alison stumbled upon a movement-based program offered by a corporation called Brain Gym. Brain gym is an international, nonprofit corporation that is committed to the “principle that moving with intention leads to optimal learning”. With movement-based programming, Jeffrey excelled in his learning and went on to be successful in school and in life. Jeffrey is currently living and working in British Columbia. This past year Jeff was able to teach many clients how to Heli-ski; an activity Jeff loves to do himself and many people only dream of doing. Jeff has a contagious personality and excels at his career. Jeff now makes a living doing what he loves. I admire Jeffrey- he has a thrilling career that is constantly presenting him with new and exciting opportunities. Jeff if you’re reading this I miss ya, and let me know when I can come visit!
Seeing the success and empowerment that Brain Gym gave Jeffrey, Alison was devoted to learn more. She said that she had no idea where Brain Gym was going to take her but she followed its path anyways. Alison practices Brain gym to this day, and sees first hand the benefits it provides to many of her clients. After my last concussion healthcare experts told me that I would never play sports again. I was told I would live with a life-long learning disability and would not be able to keep up with school at the capacity that I once did. This was devastating. I was discouraged and felt this was the only outcome I would have. With Alison as my teacher, I decided to ditch those labels and create different outcomes for myself. I began using Brain Gym and the results were astonishing. A few years later, I am playing intramural sports and excelling at University with a full course load while working a part-time job- the things I was told I would never be able to do with the diagnosis I was given.
The Williams brothers
I would recommend Brain Gym to everyone. It can be used for anything. I continue to use it now to stay calm and focused during the school months. I have found that after my concussions, Brain Gym helped me see my strengths, and taught me how to use those strengths to create a learning approach that works best for me. Since using Brain Gym my grades have improved dramatically, as well as my overall mood and confidence. The biggest impact Brain Gym had for me was helping me get symptom free after my concussions. When my symptoms flare up, I am able to recognize them and make them dissipate. The success I have had with this programming has inspired me to investigate the power of movement-based therapy modalities for individuals who have sustained traumatic brain injuries as my thesis topic.
Alison inspires me. To me, she is Superwoman. There is no challenge that Alison cannot both accept and conquer. Alison’s ability to practice mind over matter is extraordinary- she can do it not only for herself, but also for others. Alison has a talent in recognizing body and mind patterns in a way I have never seen before. She is always expanding her knowledge and training. With a successful existing practice, Alison continues to set new goals for herself. With innovative ideas and an eye for a new market, Alison is currently working on a project to bring the knowledge she holds to the general public. Alison’s goal is to teach people how to help themselves. She said the coolest part of her work is how many of her clients end up forgetting they were ever ill or injured. I found this incredibly powerful. When people are labeled with a diagnosis or injury it is challenging to focus on things other than the outcomes associated with the label given.
Jeff playing lacrosse
Alison wants to teach others how to use their senses to understand the world in a different way. Alison encourages movement-based programming. She provided me with this video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVQBn33vTzw to help illustrate the importance of movement. Alison said the people in this video would have positive hormonal release as a physiological response from the joy they are experiencing with the activity. Each time these people recount, talk, and think about this positive experience, the positive hormones will continue to be released. These positive hormones have been seen to increase memory, enhance mood and a number of other health benefits.
To learn more about what Alison does, check out her company facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dundasbodymind
If you are interested in getting connected with Alison, I encourage you to comment below or send me a message on social media and I can help make that happen!
Alison was kind enough to share some great reads if you are interested in reading more about the body and mind. I have listed some of her top recommendations here:
Hello kind krafters!
For this week I thought we’d try something a little different. Most of my posts here are about my adventures and recreational passions, which, usually, take up most of the free time I have outside of work. I love to be outdoors and I tend to have a lot of energy and stamina to spend my days hiking or kayaking or a mix of two. But these last two weeks have been the complete opposite. I’ve been sick, battling a throat virus that took a week and a half to properly diagnose and get the right treatment for. As a result, I’ve had little to no energy, and most nights have fallen asleep on the couch before ten o’clock. This leaves little time for adventure, and makes the short hikes I have done feel like marathons. I planned to have this post be about a mini-hiking trip I took right when I started feeling better, to a woodlot which practices integrated forest management. But the trip was rainy and I was too tired to explore all of the offshoots from the main 3km trail, and in the end complications with my camera meant I couldn’t access any of the photos I took for this post. So instead let’s talk about those times when you just don’t feel like adventuring.
As I mentioned, I’ve been sick. What I thought was just a summer cold, turned into a diagnosis of strep throat, to an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, to a blood test that found nothing, to a final diagnosis of an infection, that now is finally being treated properly and nearly gone. Over the course of the above outlined events of the past two weeks, my usual overflowing energy to go to work, and then head out on a hike and get home to do yoga and fall asleep ready to do it again for the rest of the week, was completely gone. As someone who wants to always be outside experiencing nature and the world, that’s hard.
I’ve never enjoyed the feeling of being sick, like most people for obvious reasons. But for me, it has always carried that additional feeling of disappointment. Disappointment in myself for not being able to jump up off the couch and go on a 5km hike. Especially now as I work to complete the final trails for my internship project, and enjoy the last month of sunshine and warm summer weather before we move into Nova Scotia fall and winter. There were days I planned to go on a short hike, only to find myself so tired I drove immediately home and laid down for three hours instead. Or planned to get up and do yoga, only to fall asleep on the couch at eight o’clock at night.
First hike after being sick, 2.4km Old Annapolis Road loop.
It’s been tough. But we all have these moments. We all have times when we are too tired or worn out to go on an adventure, even when it’s all we may want to do. We all have times when we just can’t convince ourselves to get off of the warm couch and turn off Netflix, to go outside and wander around. And, living in a world that rewards busyness and often gives us the feeling that we’re weak if we don’t push past our exhaustion and just go do it, we all have those moments when we’re disappointed in ourselves for not getting up and going.
But, just as much as I need adventure, I also need rest and rehabilitation when adventure becomes an impossibility. Self-care and rest are not practices to be ashamed of, nor are they tools to shun in the face of an illusion that we just need to suck it up and toughen up. As difficult as it may be, sometimes we need to spend that sunny day curled up on the couch watching Netflix and drinking water, or falling asleep in the hammock with a book, in order to able to spend the next sunny day hiking for six hours. And this need for rest and recovery when we’re sick or ill or just not feeling capable of adventuring, is nothing ever to be ashamed or disappointed or angry about. Below are a few tips I’ve learned from my last few weeks of rest and recovery and the process of working myself back up to daily adventures.
Puppy cuddles when you are sick are also recommended.
And as always,
Lately, I have been so busy that I have been neglecting many of my healthy habits. I am ready to get back into a routine and prioritize my nutrition and good health! I feel that my health is a composition of my mind, body, and soul.
How do I keep a healthy mind?
To keep a healthy mind, I make sure I do at least one thing a day that brings me joy. This activity can be as quick as a minute or two, or as long as a few hours. No matter the activity, I find that these minutes of doing what I truly enjoy keep me grounded and in an overall better mood throughout the week. I try to challenge myself as well. Challenging my mind helps keep it active and sharp during the week. What do you do to keep a healthy mind? My activities vary from day to day, and I would love to try some of the things that keep you folks happy!
What is good body health?
A well-balanced diet and daily exercise keeps my body feeling its best. This is where I have been really slacking lately. I have bursts of activity throughout the week, but I am definitely not meeting my daily suggestions for physical activity. I find daily requirement is hard to reach as I spend most of my day sitting at work and then I am tired by the time I get home! Nonetheless, I am excited to put those excuses aside and make the time for regular exercise.
To be healthy you need to be skinny. Says who?!
Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes. There are so many differing opinions when it comes to the best nutrition and exercise regimes. A couple years ago, I become obsessed with my body image, and was more focused on what I looked like than how healthy I was. I spent each minute of the day counting my calories and placing so many restrictions on my body. I was happy with some of the results I saw but felt drained, weak, and I was not as happy as I thought I would be. This was no way for me to live since I LOVE food! I ended up getting pretty sick and after recovering I was focused on listening to what my body was telling me I needed. I left behind the idea that I had to be stick thin to be healthy.
Our bodies are intricate systems, so sometimes it is hard to figure out exactly what it is we need. My advice to you is: be sure to analyze the recommendations you read online with a critical eye. Although a regime might work for someone else, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. Everyone is unique and that is important to keep in mind when you are setting routines for your healthy lifestyle!
It is how much?!?
Something I have always wanted to do is make my own fresh juice. There are a number of healthy benefits from extracting the juice from your fresh produce. For people that often battle digestive problems, fresh juice can be a great way to get the nutrients your body needs without having to digest a number of other components. What has been stopping me from drinking fresh juice press? The price to be honest! Buying the juice at local stores can be quite expensive! So I thought, I will just make my own! I looked into buying a juicer and could not believe how expensive they were, not to mention all the different options. I put off buying a juicer and bought a blender to make smoothies instead. Smoothies are my favourite! Fresh fruit, some veggies, all blended into one drink… how could you go wrong? You cant.. haha! Although I still love my smoothies, I have still wanted to make juice as well.
Neive having her glass of my first juice batch!
I did my research!
Here, a few years later, I have done my research. I have watched reviews and read journals about the benefits of drinking fresh juice and the do’s and don’ts when it comes to making your own fresh juice. I am excited to share that I purchased my first juicer today!
Today I made my first juice that I am calling ‘Beet Your Negativity’. This juice is simple and inexpensive to make! I combined fresh: beets, ginger, orange, lemon, cucumber, and apples. This juice was beautiful and delicious. I topped the juice with a little pinch of cinnamon. The fresh taste of the citrus fruit combined with the hearty beet flavour lifted my mood and gave me the energy I needed! I am hoping to learn more about the benefits of making fresh juice and making new recipes for a juice recipe book! I am going to focus on juices that are affordable to make so I can share my recipes with people that had the same hesitations about making juice as I did!
Trying my first sip of the Beet Your Negativity!
A Healthy Soul
Like I said earlier, I feel my best when I have a healthy mind, body and soul. For a healthy mind, I do things that bring me joy. For a healthy body, I try to give my body the nutrients and movement it needs to feel good and energized. For a healthy soul, I try to reflect daily and see if I made anyone smile that day. Making people smile is so easy to do and sometimes we don’t do it enough! I try to make it my daily mission to make a least one person smile a day. I find I am at peace when I know I have done my best to make someone’s day a little brighter. I feel my soul is healthy when I am achieving things I once doubted that I could do, when I am doing things that benefit someone beyond myself, or when I am relaxed and at peace. What makes your soul healthy?
Let’s set our healthy lifestyle routines together!
I am happy that I have set a routine for the next few weeks to help me live a healthier lifestyle. Focusing on my health helps me reconnect and figure out what I need to feel at my best. I want to have these routines set for when I move so I can continue them at school when life gets busy yet again! What do you do to keep yourself healthy? What is your favourite mind, body or soul exercise?
If you make your own fresh juice, I would love to hear your favourite recipes! If you are looking into get a juicer, I would suggest taking the time to do your research. Deciding on what juicer to purchase is the hardest part. If you are new to making juice and are not looking to invest just yet, there are many crafty at home ways to make juice without having to purchase a fancy juicer! I encourage you to share your thoughts with me and we can all get healthy together!
Thanks for reading!