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Johnstons Honeybee Farm in Eaton, NY has made significant strides in developing a disease resistant strain of bees, well suited to surviving in the Northeast United States. Our bees are resistant to both tracheal mite and the external parasitic mite, Varroa destructor. We had not used miticides in our hives from 2003 until Autumn of 2011. In Autumn of 2011 and then again in 2012, we used Apiguard on most of our hives. The active ingredient in apiguard is Thymol, an essential oil derived from the thyme plant; many consider this to be an organic treatment. No miticides were again used in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In 2012, we began grafting from queens that had low Nosema spore counts. Nosema ceranae is an intestinal fungus that is the latest disease to cause problems for beekeeping in the United States. This disease was not present in our bees in August of 2007 but appeared here in testing by NYS Bee Inspectors in August of 2009. Many researchers believe that Nosema ceranae has a big role in the appearance of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Evidence suggests that the use of a new class of insecticides, Neonicotinoids, predisposed bees to the spread of this Nosema by weakening their immune system. Our goal at Johnston's Honeybee Farm is to develop bees that show low levels of both Varroa and Nosema.
Johnstons Honeybee Farm has also originated two innovative new beehives: the Vertical Partition Two Colony Hive and the Combination Queen Rearing Nucleus and Comb Honey Hive. We have received two Farmer Grants to study these hives from USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE). These two new hives promise to allow Northeast beekeepers to produce their own bees that are better adapted for production and survival in their local areas. Starter units of the Two Colony Hive are currently for sale.
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