Sunday, April 9, 2017

Celebrate the Earth - Feed the Pollinators!

Hope springs eternal! The warmer-than-average spring weather is addicting and not a guarantee. Recent weather patterns have been quite the topic for weather forecasters, experts in climate change and, well frankly, all of us! Regardless of its longevity, plants are popping, birds are chirping and bees are heading out of their hives to hunt for food. It’s spring in Minnesota and time to begin thinking about activities to enjoy the outdoors and beautify our surroundings.

Earth Day 2017 is Saturday, April 22nd; it calls to remind us about the fragility of nature. How can we help in our own small (and larger collective) ways to maintain the ecosystem in which we live? Here are some tips to help the bees, help the earth and have a great spring.

  • Google the phrase ‘Earth Day activitiesto find a variety of fun, intergenerational projects and ideas to celebrate the day.

  • Create a plan for adding new plants to your garden. Choose plants that bees and pollinators like. Some of the greatest resources on earth are right here in our midst. Check out the U of MN’s Bee Lab website featuring Bees and Flowers to learn more:

Dandelions, clover and creeping charlie - weeds or food?!
These plants provide early nourishment for the bees.
Let the bees feast until other, later spring plants bloom.

  • Do your garden shopping at places that feature native, heirloom, organic and neonic-free plants and seeds, like:
    • May 7 - 28: Mississippi Market Co-op on West 7th Str, St. Paul. This year, they’re featuring a variety of bee, butterfly and monarch pollinator plant packs.

  • Participate in a local community cleanup event - many communities host an annual cleanup day on Earth Day. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, get outdoors, and help beautify the neighborhood.

  • Purchase foods from local farmers; it creates an added connection to the food on your table and supports their labors of the earth.

Over 30% of the food on our tables is pollinated by bees!

Whatever you do, thank you for thinking about the earth and our precious bee population. Have a great spring!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Seasonal Allergies & Local, Raw Honey

We are well into a Minnesota March with unseasonably warm weather. Ice is off many area lakes. Spring-blooming plants are popping up during brief warm surges, and many hardy Minnesotans are longing for a few more weeks of their favorite winter outdoor activities. Go figure! While it’s optimistic to hope for more permanent spring-like weather, now is a great time to prepare for the variety of conditions that trigger seasonal allergies.

Some of the annoying allergens include molds, dry plant materials and pollens. For allergy sufferers, the symptoms are typically itchy, red eyes, runny noses, sneezing, and/or difficulty breathing. Unless you see your doctor and get tested, it’s hard to know the exact cause.

As always, our first recommendation and disclaimer is, talk to your doctor about any potential problems you’re experiencing or remedies you may like to try to address these symptoms.

Having said all this, there are a couple of natural remedies that could work for you and are easy enough to include in your daily routine.

Local, Raw Honey and Pollen
After working around honey for the last two-plus years and talking with customers about using honey for allergies, I’m pretty convinced that local, raw honey is an excellent way to reduce, if not eliminate, allergy symptoms. I’ve never diagnosed a person’s condition; I’ve only shared testimonials from others who’ve told me how they’ve successfully used honey on a daily basis and found great relief from their symptoms.

So, how does honey work? Think about a bee’s diet - honey and pollen - their sources for carbohydrates, protein and other nutritional components - vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc. The better the nutrition, the stronger and healthier their little bodies can combat illness, reproduce more little workers, and fend off threatening environmental conditions.

The nutrition found in honey can work for us too. And better yet, honey doesn’t spoil. It keeps well on the shelf without refrigeration and only crystallizes with time (unless you purchased the unheated/unfiltered version, which is well on its way to crystallizing). The key is eating honey on a regular basis - i.e. every day. Start with a small amount (a teaspoon, or so), and work your way up. Be sure there is no allergic reaction to the bits of pollen found in raw honey before consuming a larger amount.

Then daily, put honey in warm tea or coffee, over toast or cereal, or just enjoy a spoonful of pure joy. It only takes a small amount (customers report using anywhere between a teaspoon to a couple tablespoons), and while each person’s experience will vary, relief was reported in a matter of days to a couple weeks.

The nutrition found in raw honey will help boost the immune system and give our bodies an extra chance to work with and for us. The goal: reduced allergy symptoms and a happier, healthier life!

A Quick Word about Propolis
Beyond honey and pollen, propolis is another by-product of the beehive. Honeybees collect it from plants and trees and use it to build and strengthen the hive. Propolis is a sticky resin with purported benefits - antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. It has been used for centuries in treating a variety of ailments, both topical and internal. Propolis is extracted at the time of harvest, separated out, and then formulated for use in many products today.

I sometimes refer to the combination of honey, pollen and propolis as the ‘trifecta’ for healing. Personally, I’ve used these and experienced relief from sore throats and prevented or reduced the symptoms of colds and mild summer allergies.

Best of luck to you with the changing of seasons!

Product suggestions for spring allergies (picture above)
Meadow Wildflower Honey - unheated/unfiltered or regular

Online Store Product Special (spend $50 or more in the online store and enjoy FREE SHIPPING with this code - SHIPFREE). Good through Friday, April 7.