About Mystic Flight Apiary

Established in the spring of 2009, Mystic Flight Apiary was the fulfillment of a dream that started in the Upstate of South Carolina.  It was there that I was introduced to the honeybee as well as the various aspects of beekeeping. Through observation, an enchantment with these little creatures began to build; I was fascinated by the inner workings of the hive and it didn’t take long before I was “stung”, as it were, by the bug.  As is the case with all best-laid plans, life happened and my plans to don a bee suit were put on hold for the next several years.

In 2008, shortly after purchasing land in Batesville, I made contact with Jim Orem of the Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association.  Through Jim, I obtained my first hive and began an education that has continued to this day. Jim not only became my mentor but a friend and someone that has helped me refine the philosophy of beekeeping that has become the hallmark of Mystic Flight Apiary.  And what exactly is that philosophy?  To keep bees and produce honey as naturally as possible.  As is stated on our Home page, this includes a treatment free and foundationless frame approach to keeping bees.

Why Treatment Free?
Beekeepers contend with a number of diseases and/or parasites that can be detrimental to a hive and in some instances fatal.  Unfortunately, it has become standard practice among many beekeepers to chemically treat for such conditions in an attempt to keep their bees healthy.  In reality, this type of treatment perpetuates bees that are incapable of surviving the very thing they are being treated for.  In addition, these treatments contaminate the comb (wax) and upset the entire ecology of the hive.

“There is no way to maintain the complex ecology of a natural beehive while dumping in poisons and antibiotics. The beehive is a web of micro and macro life. There are more than 30 kinds of benign or beneficial mites, as many or more kinds of insects, 8,000 or more benign or beneficial microorganisms that have been identified so far, some of which we know the bees cannot live without and some of which we suspect keep other pathogens in balance. Every treatment we dump in a hive, from essential oils (which interfere with the bees smell, which is how everything in the dark of the hive is communicated, and kill microorganisms, beneficial and otherwise); to organic acids ( which kill microorganisms as well as many insects and benign mites) to acaracides (which are always just chemicals that kill arthropods which include insects and mites but kill mites at a slightly higher rate); to antibiotics (which kill the microflora most of which is either beneficial or benign but useful in maintaining the balance and crowding out pathogens); even to sugar syrup (which has a pH that is detrimental to the success of many of the beneficial organisms and advantageous to many of the pathogens: EHB, AFB, Chalkbrood, Nosema etc. unlike the pH of honey that is much lower and detrimental to the pathogens and hospitable to many known beneficial organisms). I think we’ve reached the point that it’s silly to act like we’ve been doing any good when the bees are collapsing in spite of, if not because of all of this.”

– Michael Bush, The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally. X-Star, 2011. p.36

For this reason, Mystic Flight Apiary has adopted a treatment-free approach to beekeeping whereby there are absolutely no chemicals introduced into the hive… ever.

Why Foundationless?
The short answer… No chemical contamination of the comb.  Current practice among the majority of beekeepers is to use wax foundation purchased f
rom a supplier of beekeeping equipment.  In almost all cases the supplier has purchased the wax used to make their foundation from various beekeepers across the country.  Typically these beekeepers are running large-scale commercial operations as most small-scale beekeepers rarely have enough wax to justify selling.

For reasons described above, commercial beekeepers are more likely to use chemicals to control disease and/or parasites in the hive thereby contaminating the wax comb.  This contaminated comb is then sold to various beekeeping suppliers, is processed, and in turn sold back into the beekeeping community as foundation.

Rick Orr, Mystic Flight Apiary

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