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BEE-licious and Good For You Too in Bronxville

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but according to local beekeeper Richard Fisher, a spoonful of local honey may help allergy sufferers avoid medicine completely.

Fisher, 70, raises bees in three separate hives in Yonkers and sells the honey in Bronxville. He harvests, strains and bottles the honey and delivers it to the Village Natural Market in Bronxville where it is sold exclusively.

"It sells very well," said Village Market owner Nabendu Dutta. "It is a natural remedy for allergy sufferers."Fisher said female bees harvest and deliver nectar and water to the hive. Once the main ingredients have arrived, the honey is made.

"An average bee only lives about six weeks over the summer and produces just one-10th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime," he said. "Because the nectar is from the area, it is like a natural allergy shot, helping sufferers gradually build up immunity."

There are roughly 40,000 bees living in each of Fisher's three hives.

"If you put your ear alongside of the hive, you can hear them in there buzzing away," he said.Just about every day, Fisher said he scrapes honey from the combs the female bees make out of wax in the hive. But he noted a beekeeper must be careful to take just the right amount of honey.

"If you take too much, they can starve to death," he said.

Fisher lends a helping hand to his bees. "They get mites and I treat them for that," he said.The cure?

"Powdered sugar. If you ever see a white bee flying around, it's the powdered sugar for the mites," Fisher said.There are other obstacles in a bees' life Fisher cannot make any better.

"This has been a really tough year for bees due to all of the rain," he said. Rain dilutes the nectar needed to produce honey. The diluted nectar means bees must harvest twice as much to accumulate the honey they need.

"Once the warm weather is over, bees will stay in the hive during the winter. They don't come out unless the temperature is over 49 degrees" he said. "As soon as it hits that temperature, you will see them venturing out."

Fisher said he only became a beekeeper about six years ago. "I guess you could say I am an animal lover, and I am always interested in trying new things when it comes to animals."For the first year, Fisher said he spent his time reading books and attending meetings and classes at the Backyard Beekeepers Association in Connecticut.Then he got started and has been at it ever since. "I don't know why I started doing this but I like it," Fisher said. "I guess you could say I am just a crazy guy."

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