Best Homemade Honey (2000)

The Earth 'n Us

The curative properties of honey are legion; this sweet, dark elixir is not only heavenly to taste but may very well be the healthiest honey for miles around. Ray Chasser founded a farm in Little River 22 years ago and called it The Earth 'n Us. Today Chasser is still farming, right in the middle of the city. For twenty years he's been selling raw honey from his own beehives. Just within the past year, though, the bees have come under attack from mites and beetles, insects accompanying the feared Africanized bees, who have begun to invade South Florida. Chasser says he's been able to control the mites, but the beetles are destroying his non-Africanized bees, who don't realize the beetles are predators. The only way to kill the beetles, according to Chasser, is to use a highly toxic insecticide that inevitably gets into the honey. He won't touch it, and contends he's the only beekeeper in the region who doesn't. "So I've gone from 50 hives to 20 hives in eight months," Chasser laments. "But I've been watching, and the bees are beginning to recognize the beetles as their enemies. I saw a beetle fall into a hive, and the bees killed it. They're going to start fighting [the beetles] off." Even before this crisis, honey wasn't profitable for Chasser; he keeps bees because he's fascinated by the industrious creatures. He just raised the price for a quart of honey from six to seven dollars -- still a very sweet price.


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