2015 Survey Q & A – Local vs. Foreign & Organic vs. Non Organic

Q – Please continue to differentiate local vs foreign, organic vs non organic practices.

A – Thank you for your comment. I am at a loss as to what is meant by local vs foreign practices. Beekeeping is all individual and all local – foreign beekeepers do essentially the same things we do here in US, sure the hive may have slightly difference dimensions, time of year varies and they might use miticides with different commercial names but the applied biology basics of beekeeping are the same here in US as in foreign regions. There are no “special” things a Portland or Medford or Oregon beekeeper might do that is different than what one might do in Delaware or a foreign country. There are so many possible variations that any beekeeper might elect to do anywhere they keep bees – that is the fascination (and for some frustration) of beekeeping.
Organic beekeeping has no accepted definition. What you might accept as organic might be very, very different than what another might accept. Problem comes in when we attempt to define organic in case of bees – is honey a plant product (which have specific organic licensing requirements) or an animal product (very different licensing practices) and on top of that honey bees may “trespass” miles away from their home. Additionally what one country might label as organic needs to be “accepted” by USDA under general trade agreements and foreign beekeepers have vastly differing rules on labelling their product as organic [I could speak specifically to “coffee” honey for example]. Relative to miticides, any chemical can be used and we can still call the honey organic if you apply the general rules of organic – which do permit use of even Apivar (the synthetic miticide) if the colony is in “imminent danger of dying” – and Varroa mites if unchecked can be expected to kill a colony in 2-3 years of establishment (that fits my definition of imminent). Certainly acids (MAQs, HopGuard, Oxalic (soon to be legal in OR) or essential oils (Apiguard and ApiLife Var) for varroa mite control are permitted and still call the care of the bee colony “organic”.
If this all sounds a little murky – then you get the picture. Natural, local, {specific] floral source, raw, organic – all words commonly seen on honey labels – all are only as good as the person who is using such a label for their [or their purchased] honey. Sorry to disappoint with this response some who may view local vs foreign, organic vs non-organic differently. You are all entitled to an opinion.

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