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Friends of the Bee Yard

We always thought that these were Monarch larvae or caterpillars. We were wrong. They are the Tussock Moth Caterpillar.

When we became beekeepers we started to become more aware of what nature had going on around us.  One of the things we noticed were the other creatures that we share our bee yards with.

We took the first picture and though we were taking pictures of the famed Monarch Butterfly caterpillar.  We were happy to see them, but when we looked up information about the fuzzy friend, we found out that we were not correct with our assumption.  It is actually the Tussock Moth caterpillar that we were seeing.  They like milkweed too!  They have a distinctive appearance of alternating bristles and haired projections that makes them hard to miss.  But those are not just for looks.  Hidden in the fuzziness can be urticating hairs which can cause painful reactions if they come into contact with skin.

This American Toad.

We also had a fun visit from the American Toad.  He, or she, was hopping along on its way home. We looked down and saw it sitting on a telescoping cover for a while when it was laying on the ground. After a little bit it moved over into a hole in the base of a tree next to where we were working. It definitely kept a keen eye on us.


Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar

This next happy little caterpillar is destined to become the Monarch Butterfly.

Although we rarely see Monarch Butterflies anymore due in part to the limited availability of their habitat – the plants of the milkweed family, every once in awhile we do get to see a caterpillar on milkweed at one of the farms we keep bees at.  The Monarch may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and it is considered an iconic pollinator species.

Much of the North American Monarch population migrates south in the late-summer/autumn to migration to Florida and Mexico. During the fall migration, monarchs cover thousands of miles, with a corresponding multi-generational return north. There has been a great deal of food and habitat loss that the Monarch needs to survive. Hopefully there will be some work done to help out the pollinators. Especially the Monarch.

Now that the weather is cold, and the bees are put to bed for the winter, we are thinking about all the other creatures we met this year!

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Honey Tariffs and Anti-Dumping Regulations

Nearly all consumer and most beekeepers are unaware that since 2001, American Honey producers have operated within a semi protected production zone within the borders of the United States.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact it is a very good thing to protect American beekeepers and the honey consuming American public.

The honey tariffs and anti-dumping regulations against Chinese honey help to protect American beekeepers, the domestic honey industry, and the billions of dollars in agricultural crop output that relies on pollination services of American Beekeepers. Also, equally as important, is the need to protect consumers from substantial risk due to illicit, often adulterated, food products entering uninspected and unsuspected into the food supply from China. In the past, Chinese honey has been found to contain antibiotics, unapproved beehive treatments chemicals, and even heavy metals. Honey Tariffs adn anti-dumping regulations were not enough for the Eastern European Union.  As a result of the poor quality and adulterated nature of Chinese honey, the European Union has outlawed it completely and unconditionally.

The United States Commerce Department began investigating honey being imported from China as early as 1995.  After the amount of honey doubled from 1998 to 2000 the commerce department issued a report detailing the problem with Chinese honey-dumping on the wholesale and retail markets.   After reviewing the Commerce Department’s report and recommendations, the International Trade Commission made the decision to start protective tariffs on Chinese honey imports that year and they went into affect December 10, 2001.  These honey tariffs and anti-dumping regulations impose a fee of between 25 percent to about 184 percent on imported honey from China.

Ever since the inception of the honey tariffs and anti-dumping regulations, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has repeatedly urged that the honey tariffs and anti-dumping regulations be lifted on the grounds that they are protectionist.  Of course, they failed to address honey product quality or contamination concerns. They are only interested in the removal of the honey tariffs and anti-dumping regulations so their inferior honey can flood the market.

These tariffs are revised in a “Sunset Review” every five years.  The second such review just happened on November 19, 2012.  At the review the International Trade Commission was able presented information on whether the honey tariffs and anti dumping regulations should or should not continue.

In reports submitted to the International Trade Commission during the most recent review, The American Honey Producers Association and the Sioux Honey Association detailed how the revocation of honey tariffs and anti-dumping regulations against Chinese honey would likely lead to “continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time” for the domestic honey industry.  Specifically, the trade associations pointed out how honey sold below market value would severely harm the industry.

After this and other testimony, the Commission decided that “removing the tariffs would likely hurt the domestic industry.” The International Trade Commissions voted 5-0 to maintain the protective measures on Chinese honey.  This effectively means that the honey tariffs and anti-dumping regulations will be in place for at least another five years.  The ITC will then publish its determination and views to the Dept. of Commerce on Nov. 29, 2012.