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Bees still sweet for family



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July 24, 2013 - Morgan Foster's seventh grade science project is still creating a buzz for her family.

"Most teens would ask for an iPhone," said Angie Foster, her mother. "But my daughter asked for a colony of bees to help the environment during the outbreak of the colony collapse disorder or CCD—which caused the decline in honey bee populations worldwide. So what mom could say no to that?"

On Mother's Day 2007 the first colony of bees were delivered to the family's home.

While Morgan, a Goodrich High School graduate, is off to college, the bees continue to buzz.

"We now have 10 working hives and we sell out of honey each year," said Foster. "We keep the bees on some vacant land in Hadley Township and hope to someday get up to 30 hives—a point where my business will be profitable."

Angie is now the owner of "Garden Gate Farm" apiary and at 2:30 p.m., July 29 the Brandon Township Library, 304 South St.invites area residents to learn how to use honey to make lip balms and lotions from the local beekeeper. Foster is also on the board of Metamora's Seven Ponds Bee Club and a member of the Michigan Beekeepers Association.

"People just love non-pasteurized honey," said Foster. "By not bringing the honey up to temperature in the process you can preserve the proteins, which is pollen. You can really taste the flavors in the honey. My local honey has a slight taste of apples since there's an orchard right down the road from the hives. Then at the end of the season there's a barley taste."

Colony collapse disorder is still a problem for area bee keepers, said Foster.

"I keep 70 pounds of honey to keep the colony going over the winter," she said. "At best only 30 percent survive. Biologists are still working on the causes of the diseases that impact bees. It seems the bees just can't get over the hump and struggle and die. The bees are just not as healthy as they should be and die over the winter."

"By far the biggest cost for keepers today is the longevity of the bees over the winter," she added. "The cost of bees has gone from $70 to $90 per hive. I've also collected about four colonies of wild bees over the last four years."

Details: 810-636-8121.

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