Saturday, July 29, 2006

Honey Helps Problem Wounds

A household remedy millennia old is being reinstated: honey helps the treatment of some wounds better than the most modern antibiotics. For several years now medical experts from the University of Bonn have been clocking up largely positive experience with what is known as medihoney. Even chronic wounds infected with multi-resistant bacteria often healed within a few weeks. In conjunction with colleagues from Düsseldorf, Homburg and Berlin they now want to test the experience gained in a large-scale study, as objective data on the curative properties of honey are thin on the ground.

The fact that honey can help wounds to heal is something that was known to the Ancient Egyptians several thousand years ago. And in the last two world wars poultices with honey were used to assist the healing process in soldiers' wounds. However, the rise of the new antibiotics replaced this household remedy. "In hospitals today we are faced with germs which are resistant to almost all the current anti-biotics," Dr. Arne Simon explains. "As a result, the medical use of honey is becoming attractive again for the treatment of wounds."
Dr. Simon works on the cancer ward of the Bonn University Children's Clinic. As far as the treatment of wounds is concerned, his young patients form part of a high-risk group: the medication used to treat cancer known as cytostatics not only slows down the reproduction of malignant cells, but also impairs the healing process of wounds. "Normally a skin injury heals in a week, with our children it often takes a month or more," he says. Moreover, children with leukaemia have a weakened immune system. If a germ enters their bloodstream via a wound, the result may be a fatal case of blood poisoning.
For several years now Bonn paediatricians have been pioneering the use in Germany of medihoney in treating wounds. Medihoney bears the CE seal for medical products; its quality is regularly tested. The success is astonishing: "Dead tissue is rejected faster, and the wounds heals more rapidly," Kai Sofka, wound specialist at the University Children's Clinic, emphasises. "What is more, changing dressings is less painful, since the poultices are easier to remove without damaging the newly formed layers of skin." Some wounds often smell unpleasant -- an enormous strain on the patient. Yet honey helps here too by reducing the smell. "Even wounds which consistently refused to heal for years can, in our experience, be brought under control with medihoney -- and this frequently happens within a few weeks," Kai Sofka says.
In the meantime two dozen hospitals in Germany are using honey in their treatment of wounds. Despite all the success there have hitherto been very few reliable clinical studies of its effectiveness. In conjunction with colleagues from Düsseldorf, Homburg and Berlin, the Bonn medical staff now want to remedy this. With the Woundpecker Data Bank, which they have developed themselves, they will be recording and evalu-ating over 100 courses of disease over the next few months. The next step planned is comparative studies with other therapeutic methods such as the very expensive cationic silver dressings. "These too are an effective anti-bacterial method," says Dr. Arne Simon. "However, it is not yet clear whether the silver released from some dressings may lead to side-effects among children."
Effective bacteria killer
It has already been proved that medihoney even puts paid to multi-resistant germs such as MRSA. In this respect medihoney is neck and neck in the race to beat the antibiotic mupirocin, currently the local MRSA antibiotic of choice. This is shown by a study recently published by researchers in Australia. In one point medihoney was even superior to its rival: the bacteria did not develop any resistance to the natural product during the course of treatment.
It is also known today why honey has an antiseptic effect: when producing honey, bees add an enzyme called glucose-oxidase. This enzyme ensures that small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, an effective antiseptic, are constantly being formed from the sugar in the honey. The advantage over the hydrogen peroxide from the chemist's is that small concentrations are sufficient to kill the germs, as it is constantly being produced. As a rule much larger quantities of hydrogen peroxide would have to be used, as hydrogen peroxide loses its potency over time. However, in large concentrations it not only damages the bacteria, but also the skin cells.
Furthermore, medihoney consists of two different types of honey: one which forms a comparatively large amount of hydrogen peroxide, and another known as "lepto-spermum honey". Leptospermum is a species of tree which occurs in New Zealand and Australia. Honey from these trees has a particularly strong anti-bacterial effect, even in a 10% dilution. "It is not yet known exactly why this is," Dr. Arne Simon says. "Probably it is a mix of phenol-type substances which come from the plant and make life particularly difficult for the bacteria in the wound."

From: Science Daily

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


These are pictures of brood frames from Colony One, supercedure cells and brood from "June" colony.

Liquid Gold

In anticipation of an upcoming West Coast business trip I did an inspection today. I was interested in checking the conditions of the "June" hive. This is by far my weakest hive and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found! They've started to draw out a lot more comb and there is plenty of capped brood, eggs & larvae. They have a small amount of pollen, nectar and capped honey in the brood box as well. I did find a couple of supercedure cells and I intend to let nature take its course and replace the reigning queen. The colony can still destroy the queen cells and abandon their attempts to replace the queen. I guess we'll wait to see what happens.

Since I was all suited up and in the bee yard, I decided to take a quick peek at the three newest colonies that I recently acquired from BeeYond Wonderful Apiaries. All three brood boxes are 100% full of capped brood, nectar & honey. I'm very satisfied with the transaction I made with Mike Sorensen and can't believe the amount of bees in each colony. WOW! Perhaps one day my "June" colony will look like these! They're currently working to fill the honey supers that will be used for Winter stores. Colony One has filled their super so I added another deep brood box last week. I'm amazed at how fast they're drawing out & filling the comb in the new brood box. The picture above is a frame from Colony One's honey super. How beautiful is that? Colonies Two & Three have their honey supers filled to about 20% capacity, so they have a ways to go yet. It has been raining in the area off/on over the past few days. I'm hoping the rain will bring some relief and help with the Fall honey flow. I would love to have some excess honey this year.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Two years ago I decided that I could no longer stand my backyard. Katie (my wife) had two Black Labrador Retrievers that had destroyed our backyard to the point we couldn't go out there. I decided to replace the fencing, build a nice deck, install a dog run and have sod put down in an attempt to reclaim our yard. I spent most of the Summer working on this project and putting the finishing touches on my new "kingdom". The dogs took to their new space and it kept them from digging up the sod and "depositing" any surprises on my new grass. As fate would have it our 14 year old Lab, Bogie had to be put to sleep soon after. That left Diesel all alone in the backyard and he immediately became depressed. Katie found Diesel a new home out at the farm where she rides. I now had a brand new, barely used dog run.....and no dogs ! ! !

From the pictures I've previously posted, you can clearly see that I live "in the city". The edge of the dog run is about 60' from the deck on the back of the house. The hives are located an additional 12' from the fence and most are pointed away from the house towards the property line. The one exception is the hive (far right) installed from a package in June. I like to watch the bees in this colony and this helps me keep a close eye on them. I've installed a green mesh cloth on the fence that runs along the property line. On the back side of the property line is an area about 10'-12' deep that is full of bushes, trees and a storage building. This helps get the flight path of the bees above the head of anyone who may be outside. All in all, I feel that I have a safe barrier between the hives and any unsuspecting persons. I did take the opportunity to explain to the neighbors that I have honeybee hives and not to worry. I educated them about the Do's & Dont's and they are quite curious about my new hobby. They can't wait to get some honey!

I'm constantly evaluating the amount of bee traffic in/out of the hives, location and the risk vs. reward of having this in my backyard. I don't plan on adding any more hives......4 is definitely my maximum capacity. I've decided to shift all 4 hives to the left and push them back between the two big Oak trees. I cut my grass about once a week and have never had a problem with the bees becoming angry at the mower or my presence. The first time I cut the grass was about an hour after I installed the packaged bees. I thought for sure that I was asking for trouble, but they seem to totally ignore the mower and anyone who's in the backyard. We'll see if that changes! I guess I'll be the first to know

New additions

I installed my first hive from a package of bees on June 1st, 2006. Since then it has been a very uneventful 7 weeks. The temperatures have been in the high 90's and we are in somewhat of a nectar dearth. The bees are very slow to draw out new wax on the Rite-Cell foundation I have installed in the frames. Because I'm a beginning beek, I have to use brand new wooden ware, foundation, etc... I don't have the benefit of drawn comb from last year. Also, the queen in this colony is "suspect". She has a spotty brood pattern and I have found supersedure cells on several frames. I've decided to let nature take its course and replace her! This should get me through the Summer and into Fall, when I plan on replacing her with a top quality instrumentally inseminated queen.

I did some "horse trading" with Mike Sorensen for 3 complete hives. As I've mentioned previously I travel for work, a lot! In doing so, I've accumulated quite a few frequent flier miles and traded Mike a couple of plane tickets for 3 hives. My small Urban apiary has now been expanded to a total of 4 hives. Once things settle down a bit I'm going to take 1 frame of brood from each of the 3 new colonies and put them into my weakest one. I hope this will give the hive a "kickstart" and get them in good shape headed in to the Winter. I'm worried they won't have enough Winter stores to make it to Spring.

The beginning

April 2006 -

I was on a business trip when my local contact mentioned his father-in-law was a beekeeper. We discussed the European Honeybee and the benefits of honeybees in general (pollination, honey production, wax, etc...) over lunch one afternoon. By the end of the lunch hour I had become increasingly interested in beekeeping. I spent the evening (and many more!) in my hotel room researching honeybees, beekeeping and anything related to bees. I was rapidly becoming addicted...........and I wasn't even sure if I may be allergic to a bee sting!

It was during this research that I found out The University of Georgia honey bee program offers an annual Beekeeping Institute in cooperation with Young Harris College, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia. I attended the short course from May 19th - 20th, 2006. I highly recommend this course for anyone remotely interested in honeybees & beekeeping. Prior to attending the course I read "The Hive and the Honeybee", "The BeeKeeper's Handbook" and "First Lessons in Beekeeping ".

I attended the UGA short course, read several books and was knowledgeable about the honeybee...........but I had no practical experience aside from the "field" exercises I participated in at the short course. An internet search turned up a local beekeeper, Mike Sorensen so I contacted him and we met shortly thereafter. I asked quite a few dumb questions and hung around while he worked his hives until I got a better feel for what I was getting myself into. Mike recommended I order my package of bees from Rossman Apiaries. On June 1st, 2006 I drove to Moultrie, Ga. and picked up my bees and returned home. I installed them in the late afternoon in a Langstroth hive and immediately began feeding them 1:1 sugar water to help strengthen the hive.

I live downtown, in an area that is ideally suited for the honeybee. Many homeowner's have nicely landscaped yards and have ornamental & decorative plants, bushes, trees and shrubs that are beneficial to the honeybee and the production of honey. This area is also native to many feral nectar/pollen producing plants. After careful consideration, lots of research and after speaking to several "beeks" (beekeepers), I decided to located the hive in my back yard so that I can properly manage the colony and truly enjoy my new hobby.