Letters to the Editor archive
Letters to the Editor - April 2013
Congratulations on your 150th anniversary. Attached are pictures of a club member by the name of Cherry Dias beside her bee mansion, which she made. I’d think any colony would be tickled to call it their home, don’t you? We thought this might fit well in the ABJ.
Doug Lively, President
Western Arkansas Eastern Oklahoma Beekeepers Association
NY Bee Wellness Workshops
Beekeeping is a challenging occupation. While honey bees seem to be sturdy insects, they can be susceptible to various factors. On average, about 30% of bee colonies do not make it through the winter; much of this loss can be attributed to disease. New and inexperienced beekeepers may have a much higher rate of loss.
Currently, each year hundreds of new beekeepers enter the field of apiculture in New York State alone, but honeybee disease recognition and treatment skills are not well established in this group. So, how is it possible to reach out and teach these new beekeepers? New York is a large state with thousands of beekeepers located from the eastern end of Long Island to the areas bordering the Great Lake and Canada. There are simply not enough instructors to go around.
The USDA-NIFA announced award opportunities through the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program, which funds programs that address the needs of farmers (beekeepers included) with less than 10 years of experience. A grant proposal was written for this competitive program and was successfully awarded to the state beekeeping organization of New York, the Empire State Honey Producers Association (ESHPA.org), which also provided matching funds.
In 2012, Pat Bono, 3rd Vice President of the NY state organization, initiated the NY Bee Wellness Workshops (NYBeeWellness.org). The goal was to reach as many beekeepers as possible by training key people as a team, from the local beekeeping clubs, how to identify and treat honeybee disease and then have them return to their clubs and train members of their clubs. The primary instructors are experts in the field of apiculture and possess excellent teaching skills.
Workshops were held at different locations in New York State to teach beekeepers by offering intensive 2-day, skills oriented, hands-on workshops. Twelve established, local New York beekeeper clubs, and a club from Connecticut, were represented during these workshops, for a total of 60 participants. The beekeepers were required to perform skills using a check list, since they needed to prove proficiency before they could teach others the same skill. Motivation was very high and survey results show a rating of the workshops as very good to excellent with improved skills in disease recognition and teaching by all the participants.
The first, inaugural workshop was held in western New York during a beautiful spring weekend. We set up the microscopes at the Ontario County CCE and carpooled to a local apiary.
The 2nd workshop at historic Stone Barns in Tarrytown, presented a few challenges: sweltering heat and threat of rain, but beekeepers know how to sweat! Security was tight for one apiary visit in preparation for First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to Stone Barns for an event, but we were able to complete our inspections at the Stone Barns beeyard and return to the Pocantico Hills Fire Hall before her event started.
At the 3rd workshop, north of Albany, tents were set up over the beehives at a beeyard in case the rolling thunderstorms interfered with our field work, but we were lucky- the downpour started after we got into our cars to return to the Saratoga County CCE.
The workshops were also a great group effort! We were very fortunate to have some of the best instructors in the bee world: Diana Sammataro USDA-ARS, Al Avitabile, Larry Connor (Wicwas Press), Doug McRory (Ontario), the Ontario Tech Transfer Team from Canada (Melanie Kempers, Les Eccles, Devan Rawn, Brian Lacey), and Christina Wahl of Wells College
Many of the beekeeping clubs have already implemented their training of beekeepers in their region of New York, and will also hold additional workshops this year as part of their monthly meetings and beginner beekeeper programs. Inspired by the NY Bee Wellness Workshops, clubs have written protocol, produced power points and even YouTube videos.
An educational website was established to provide required, prerequisite reading material to prepare the participants for the lab and field work. NYBeeWellness.com is now available to all beekeepers (particularly in New York) as a guide to identifying honey bee disease.
- The Field Guide to Honey Bees and Their Maladies (PDF)
- Ontario Tech Transfer powerpoints and pdf’s
- Bees at eXtension.org
- Lab testing resources
- Catskill Mountain Beekeepers Youtube on sugar dusting for mites
- Ontario Finger Lakes Beekeepers power point on Bee Disease
- Jamie Ellis videos on bee diseases
- Microscope power point
While this was the first year of the 3-year project, some see this program as a beginning to a permanent outreach training program for New York State beekeepers.
These workshops are made possible through funding from the USDA NIFA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program, Grant # 2011-494400-30631, and with matching funds from the Empire State Honey Producers Association.
Ideas and suggestions are always welcome. Please contact Pat@eshpa.org
Pat Bono, Project Director,
NY Bee Wellness Workshops
3rd Vice President, Empire
State Honey Producers Association
French Queen Breeders Association
Our association “Anercea” was founded 35 years ago and currently more than 500 beekeepers have joined us to exchange ideas on any subjects regarding queen breeding. Twice a year we have our two-day conventions with speakers, scientists or beekeepers coming from all over the world to share their vision, their knowledge or their research, quite often coming from United States.
We also give classroom instruction to beekeepers and beginners and it takes place in the apiary. For our readers, we also publish a quarterly bee journal named “Info-Reines” and I am glad to take this opportunity to announce our last special issue, our number 100. Our activities can be seen on our website : www.anercea.fr
Thierry Fedon, President
Domaine du Magneraud
Letters to the Editor - March 2013
Florida’s Successful Inmate Beekeeping Program
Attached you will find 3 JPG photos from our program, as well as 1 about recidivism and why it matters. We currently have 37 graduates at RMC, and there are over 50 graduates from across the State of Florida. The program has now expanded to 5 institutions, Lowell Reception Center, (females), Jefferson CI, Lancaster CI, (youthful offender), and Big Pine Key Road prison, as well as the original at RMC. One of our graduates is working as a hobbyist beekeeper in St. Augustine with 18 hives and another is using his skills on a small farm in Georgia. This program was started to try and reduce the recidivism rate, (currently 33%), among inmates in the State in an effort to reduce the burden on everyday taxpayers.
This has been a cooperative effort between the Department of Corrections, The University of Florida, The Department of Agriculture, as well as private enterprise. People like Dr. Jamie Ellis, David Westervelt, Dave Mendes, and Jerry Hayes have made this possible.
Department of Corrections
State of Florida
Whales and dolphins (cetaceans) are about 2 to 20 million times larger than a honey bee. Because cetaceans are so huge (tons), humans often see them after they become disoriented, swim onto a shore and become beached. Honey bees are so small (100 mg, 1.5 cm) that when they become disoriented and fly off, they are never seen again. Unlike beached Cetaceans, which appear on a narrow rocky shore or beach, bees do not appear in any specific location. A bees foraging area can cover about 20 million square feet. Since a lone forager’s life-span is only 8 to 12 hours -- while in the absence of their colony -- they die in the field after becoming disoriented and lost. Hence, unlike cetaceans, it is unlikely they would be found on the ground in any specific location or in appreciable numbers.
What cetaceans and honey bees do have in common is that both possess a magnetoreception sense which they use for orientation purposes. Behavioral scientists have accumulated decades of experimental data on animals’ ability to perceive and align themselves in magnetic fields. In fact, research has demonstrated that many animals can be trained to respond to changes in local magnetic fields (Gould et al., 1980; Hsu et al., 2010), and their magnetic sense can be altered by modifications to magnetic fields (Gould et al., 1978; Frier et al., 1996; Gould, 1998; Frankel, 2009; Johnson and Lohmann, 2008; Wajnberg et al., 2010). Such findings provide a novel theory as to a cause for the cetacean beaching disorder (CBD): it involves a sixth sense, termed magnetoreception.
Whales and dolphins use their internal “compass” to detect Earth’s magnetosphere and they use it when migrating in the absence of visual cues. Other aquatic animals also possess a magnetoreceptive sense. When they become disoriented, they too become noticed, usually near or on a narrow stretch of beach. This extra sense opens the possibility that an environmental stress -- involving severe fluctuations in Earth’s magnetosphere -- can affect a cetaceans’ or bees’ homing ability and thereby lead, respectively, to beachings and adult bee losses. It’s been known for over a century that coronal eruptions on our Sun create solar storms which cause disturbances to Earth’s magnetosphere. Now it’s time to put recent evidence for a magnetoreception disorder (MRD) into perspective.
Like hearing and eyesight in most organisms, a magnetoreception sense can malfunction, which renders it untrustworthy. My research indicated that magnets, magnetic field oscillations and major disturbances to Earth’s magnetosphere (geomagnetic storms), cause foragers to become disoriented and unable to return to their hive. Thus, the role of a magnetoreception disorder is strongly implicated in the sudden losses of adult bees from a colony (CCD). Similarly, a group of researchers from the University of Kiel, Germany, compared records of sperm whale stranding in the North Sea between 1712 and 2003 with solar activity (sunspots) (Heinrich and Ricklefs, 2005). A chi-square statistical test of their data indicated only a 1% error probability that sperm whale stranding depend on solar activity. A 1998 to 2012 survey of worldwide cetacean strandings at Pollen Bank indicated that 98% of beachings happened on days when major geomagnetic storms occurred. Likewise, in the case of honey bees, winter colony losses in the northeast USA from 2000 to 2006 was strongly correlated (R2=0.989) with major geomagnetic storms here on earth. The strong correlations of sunspots and geomagnetic storms with beachings and colony losses are indicative of a MRD for both cetaceans and honey bees.
There are other similarities involving CCD and CBD (besides the abbreviations). (1) In cases of CCD, the surviving colony can recover and grow, suggesting the cause was not a contagion or a pest. In many CBD cases, whales and dolphins can often be turned around and “shuttled” back to sea and they survive, also indicating a contagion or pest is not involved. (2) Necropsies of beached cetaceans often reveal no evidence of a common disease or organ disorder. In many cases investigators indicated the animals appeared healthy! Likewise, examination of remaining bees in a CCD-afflicted hive reveal no consistent pest or pathogen which might cause identical symptoms of the disorder. The queen, brood and young workers appear healthy! (3) As with lost bees, beachings are more frequent when long distances (migrations) are considered. Evidence for a MRD is far more conclusive than data obtained in search for a biotic cause.
There is relief in sight for honey bees, whales and dolphins in the next 6 to 10 years. The current sunspot cycle appears to have crested (2012/13) and it was the lowest peak since 1910. For comparison, about half as many sunspots happened in 2013 (n=65) as occurred in 2000 (n=120) when beachings and colony collapse were widespread. Remember, geomagnetic storms can occur at any time, they will just be less frequent in the next few years.
Frankel, R. B. (2009). Magnetotaxis in bacteria. www.calpoly.edu/~rfrankel/magbac101.html
Frier, H., Edwards, E., Smith, C., Neale, S. and Collett, T. (1996). Magnetic compass cues and visual pattern learning in honey bees. J. Exp. Biol. 199, 1353-1361.
Gould, J. L., Kirschvink, J. L. and Deffeyes, K. S. (1978). Bees have magnetic remanence. Science 201, 1026-1028.
Gould, J. L., Kirschvink, J. L., Deffeyes, K. S. and Brines, M. L. (1980). Orientation of demagnetized bees. J. Exp. Biol. 86, 1-8.
Gould, J. L. (1998). Sensory bases of navigation. Current Biol. 8, 731-738.
Heinrich, K. and K. Ricklefs, 2009. Are solar activity and sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus strandings around the North Sea related? J. Sea Res. 2005, 53: 319-327.
Hsu, C. Y., Ko, F. Y., Li, C. W., Fann, K. and Lue, J. T. (2010). Magnetoreception system in honey bees (Apis mellifera). www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0000395
Johnson, S. and Lohmann, K. J. (2008). Magnetoreception in animals. Phys. Today 61, 29-35.
Wajnberg, E., Acosta-Avalos, D., Alves, O. C., De Oliveira, J. F., Srygley, R. C. and Esqivel, D. M. S. (2010). Magnetoreception in eusocial insects: an update. J. R. Soc. Interface. http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/7/Suppl_2/S207.full
Thomas E. Ferrari MSc, PhD
Botany & Horticulture
Pollen Bank, P.O. Box 6697,
Bakersfield, CA 93386
Web Site: thepollenbank.com
E-mail: the firstname.lastname@example.org
Bee Poem — The Venom of the Bee
I wonder if you would be interested in publishing the attached poem, The Venom of the Bee? After having a discussion with a friend about bee versus wasp venom, I was inspired to write this verse, tongue-in-cheek, but also to instruct.
Costa Mesa, CA
The Venom of the Bee
by Robin Theron
Millions of years ago
Wasp said, “You Bee’s must go
Evolving on your track,
Go on, no looking back!”
Paper wasps now eat meats,
Sipping nectar for treats,
Honey bees are vegan
’Cause they preferred pollen.
The stinger of the bee,
Unlike wasp’s cutlery,
Is barbed, she can’t retract;
Stinging’s her final act!
Their venom’s not the same,
(If you compare the twain,)
Bee’s acid all the time,
Wasp’s always alkaline.
Ruptures cell walls, always,
To pump in melittin;
You’ll know you’ve been smitten!
A little injection -
A huge reaction.
A bee just does it once,
The wasp can pounce and pounce.
Bee venom’s just a jot
That sears skin flaming hot;
Our bodies fight it off
Yet hurt us in their wrath.
So, quickly, scratch it out
To minimize its clout:
“You soothe it with some ice,”
Is medic’s sage advice.
But beekeepers are dumb
So we keep coming on,
Interfering, then hope
We can calm them with smoke.
There’s always some mistake
We wish we didn’t make:
We squash an errant bee
And make the rest angry.
Or, we go too early;
And there is no honey;
Or, maybe, find too late,
Their dumb queen didn’t mate!
Just one sting too many
(I never want any!)
And you might have to block
Has that hazard we face;
To counter their poison
You take epinephrine.
But, isn’t it funny?
We still like the money
That keeps us going on
And don’t forget honey,
Which also brings money,
And wax and propolis –
I’ll keep it up, I guess!
WHEN is ENOUGH - ENOUGH?
The November, 2012 issue of the American Bee Journal, on page 1020, headlines: PESTICIDES NOT YET PROVEN GUILTY OF CAUSING HONEY BEE DECLINES and quotes a paper in Science that dispute previous accusations about the role played by pesticides in killing bees.
The lead author, Dr. James Cresswell, admits that neonicotinoids do affect honey bees, but claims there is no evidence they would cause a colony to collapse.
One might question what is the importance of this hypothesis - a bee hive dies quickly or a bee hive dies slowly when the same factors are responsible? Or is this another paper intended to deflect criticism of the chemical industry for killing bees.
My Uncle Ellie sprayed his cotton crop for boll weevils in 1934 and soon had several dozen dead and/or dying hives of bees. All colonies did not die immediately, but were soon invaded by wax moths because of their weakened condition. None of the hives ever produced any more surplus honey. Dr. Cresswell would have had a problem explaining to Uncle Ellie that pesticides did not kill bees.
My beekeeping experience began about 1932 and a few years later I took two hives to another uncle’s farm in anticipation of having some clover honey. However, Uncle Richard sprayed a crop and I had two boxes of dead bees. I have always associated the loss of those two hives to the spraying of a crop with chemicals.
Chemicals have been killing bees for many years - long before anyone had ever heard of neonicotinoids!
When the chemical industry was kept busy preparing for World War II and during the war, few agricultural chemicals were being produced and the number of bee colonies in the United States reached an all time high of six million. But when the war ended more agricultural chemicals were produced and by the early 1980’s the bee population was about four million and today it has dropped to a little over two million.
Countless references can be quoted relating bee kills to pesticides.
Larry Connor, in the July, 1981 issue of American Bee Journal urged beekeepers to report their losses and, in discussing why bees were disappearing, said: “But many more die because of pesticide use in many parts of the country.” Mr. Connor wrote again in the August, 1981 ABJ: “Now in the middle of 1981, we have seen a number of major problems facing the bee industry.” First mentioned was “the increasing damage of insecticides to honey bees.”
Now 30 years later, Dr. Cresswell infers that perhaps we may be overreacting in blaming pesticides for bee losses. Perhaps his busy schedule has not permitted a search of what has been written in previous years such as:
American Bee Journal, December, 1976, tells of a major bee kill of more than 2500 colonies from insecticides and pesticides near Lewiston, Idaho. Another ABJ article in May, 1977 has an article about five thousand colonies being lost in Kerr County, California as a result of aerial spraying of crops.
Then, my conclusion is how is such a title as PESTICIDES NOT YET PROVEN GUILTY OF CAUSING HONEY BEE DECLINES justified when the obvious answer has been with us for many decades?
Carol Stream, IL
Letters to the Editor - February 2013
Smoker Shortage in Kenya
We know that beekeeping involves an outlay of capital and most of us - hobbyists for whom selling honey is a side benefit rather than a matter of personal survival - are able to purchase a reliable smoker and experiment with varying types of fuel and different techniques to keep it burning.
This is not the case for many of our beekeeper friends across the world for whom such a purchase is a considerable expense. In Kenya for example, which is where I have a little practical experience, 75 % of the population exist on subsistence farming, more than half of whom live below the poverty level. To supplement their meager income and to provide a little much needed cash, these rural farmers have several options. One is charcoal, the production of which unfortunately destroys much needed vegetation (the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize was the late Wangari Maathai who was recognized for her environmental activism in Kenya, not least the planting of millions of trees to replace those that had been destroyed.) Another is beekeeping, in the course of which not so much as a leaf is destroyed; indeed through the act of pollination the cycle of life is continued.
Clearly the latter is the preferred alternative, but it is not widely practiced as a cash crop for several reasons, one of which is the capital outlay needed to produce honey of a marketable quality.
The challenge became clear on the long drive from Nairobi to Mombassa in July of 2011, when our two vehicles stopped several times at roadside stalls where invariably there was one or more beekeepers seated behind a table with honey bottled in a variety of containers, selling for what we would regard as low prices; e.g. the equivalent of $2 for a wine bottle full honey. And when we arrived at our destination on the coast of the Indian Ocean, a delightful hotel that attracted Europeans in particular, we were welcomed by a beautiful display of South African wines at exotic prices. South African wines? My first question was why not display Kenyan honey in attractive jars with appealing labels and provide a much needed source of income for local beekeepers?
The reason was not one I had anticipated. Smoking a hive is vital for a Kenyan beekeeper because of the well known traits of African bees. Indeed as often as not there were two smokers going when we worked colonies in Nairobi and along the east African coast. But because they cannot afford a smoker as we envision it, local beekeepers use basic alternatives, most often a simple brush torch. It works in terms of calming the bees but, and it’s a big but, ash that is blown into the hive ends up in the honey.
Thus, local honey also contains residues of local ash - black specks that float in the container - which make it difficult to sell to a more sophisticated (ie. tourist or international) market.
There are several solutions to this. One is to improve the quality of straining during extraction because, once again, the inhibitive cost of say a radial extractor leaves only basic means of extraction. A second is for us to collect and send smokers to these beekeepers, but besides the expense it smacks of paternalism and is not a global solution. The third is to see if we could design an alternative smoker that could be made from inexpensive local materials by beekeepers in Africa, Asia and South America, if not even further afield.
Africans have shown ingenuity in their need to produce much from little. For example, only 2% of hives in Kenya are Langstroth in design; 3% are top bar hives and the remainder are log hives. Why? Because despite their limitations in terms of working the bees, log hives are inexpensive and can be made quickly and locally. One beekeeper we met estimated that she could make three log hives per day at a cost of US$3 each, whereas a top bar hive and a Langstroth deep cost her US$55 and US$70 respectively, not to mention that the dimensions of the Langstroth hive bodies we did see were irregular and a log hive does not need the additional expense of frames and foundation.
The above refers to Kenya in particular, but is equally applicable to most developing countries worldwide.
“Every time you have a problem,” according to David Feld of Geese Peace, “you have energy.” Scattered across the USA we have a wide range of expertise in a broad range of fields related to beekeeping, as well as a concern for our fellow apiarists across the globe, as articles in this journal and others confirm. The challenge is, can we harness that energy to change the paradigm of the conventional smoker and come up with something that can be made of local materials by beekeepers who have limited access to the tools and resources we take for granted?
Famously, it has been asserted that a butterfly flapping its wings over Thailand can affect the weather patterns over New York city. Small beginnings can have huge consequences. Can we do something big in thought but small in effort that which might significantly impact the quality of life of millions of people across the globe?
If this intrigues you and you would like further information or somewhere to share ideas, please contact me at email@example.com.
Marwin Despain -The Gentle Beekeeper
Marwin Despain passed away Aug. 28, 2012. He was a beekeeper for 60 years. His Dad had 2 hives and gave them to him as a teen. He didn’t know much about it. But, he got a thrill out of chasing down bee trees and putting the bees in a box, if the property owner gave permission.
After marriage, with three kids, Delmar Smith (original owner of Crater Rock Museum, Central Point, OR.) offered to teach him beekeeping from the ground up--making boxes and frames, queen cages, wax melting, extracting, tending the bees, etc. So Marwin took the job, this was in 1959, for $1.25 an hour. His family nearly starved. But he learned and loved every minute of it. He did this for two years. Then, since he had been a surveyor, he continued to do that full time and beekeeping also. A few years later he bought out Vic Pointdexter’s outfit of 700 colonies and equipment and trucks, moved to an acre of ground and built a honey house, and a nice shop.
He sold honey to all the fruit stands in the valley, truckloads to Heinz up North, sold pollen (which his wife cleaned and packaged), took bees by the truck load to the Almonds in California, put some in the alfalfa, pollinated cranberrys at Bandon, OR, sold comb honey, and had bees for pollination in nearly every pear orchard in the Rogue Valley. Some orchardists in the 1960’s and 70’s did not think they needed pollination, so he would tell them, “I will put 10 colonies in one section, of your pears, and if you don’t enlarge your harvest, you don’t need to pay me.” The next year they would ask for pollination for the entire orchard. Even Bear Creek Orchards ordered pollination. He also raised queens.
One year Farm Home Administration, where he had financed the outfit, told him he couldn’t get containers, so he put an ad in the paper to sell honey in customers’ containers. It went for .25 cents @ lb. then. People came all day and his wife filled, and weighed their containers. It was a good thing he still had lots of 5 gallon cans on hand, for the big orders.
He loved to get swarms people called in. Crowds sometimes gathered to watch from a distance. They thought it was magic when he tapped the box with his hive tool, and the rest of the swarm would march in. He also enjoyed giving demonstrations on honey bees in school classrooms.
The main problems back then for the bees were wax moth and Varroa Mite. It took a lot to keep these pests out, but it was nothing like all the problems bees have today. One night, long before cell phones, he was putting bees in an orchard on a hillside and hit a tree, breaking the radiator. He walked out several miles to an all-night market and called his wife at 2:30 AM. She took the little kids out of bed and went across the valley to get him. Another night his wife woke up about 3:00 AM, and he was not home. He had gone about 7:00 PM to check some bees in some alfalfa and said he’d be back in an hour. She called the police and the officer said, “wait just a minute, I have another call ... Does he have a white flat bed truck?” “Yes.” “Well, another officer is talking to him, listen in.” “You get home, and don’t you ever scare your wife, like this again.” When beekeepers get in a yard, they lose all track of time, and all else in the world. It is a very emotional addiction to some of them.
The last few years he was too old to lift the 15 hives he had left. We didn’t use our pasture anymore and vetch grew up in it. So, he just left them home for the first time, and they made beautiful honey, and no moving them or lifting was required.
I (his wife) always said I wanted life without bees, at least for awhile. NO more bottling honey, no more conventions, no more time without him. Then he passed away, after a fall, and a stroke. I went to a mill to talk about selling his lumber and materials. They said the manager was at a National Bee Convention. On the way home, I wanted to go to that meeting. No more beekeeping? The tears rolled down my cheeks. But, what a journey we had.
Eloise M. Despain
Central Point, Oregon
Another Poem from
Sent in by Margie Smith of
Good or Bad?
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,
Some wise man once said,
And one man’s disaster is another man’s pleasure,
When by it he is fed,
And a noxious weed to an ecologist,
Is a beautiful plant to me,
When it’s blooming at its loveliest,
Producing honey for a bee,
It thrills my soul when I behold,
Fields of Purple Loosestrife blooming,
And I love to see bees up in the trees,
Of Chinese Tallow looming,
Brazilian Pepper is a pepper upper,
A good fall crop of honey,
A beekeeper knows it will mean his supper,
For to him, Pepper is money,
Melaleuca trees in groves so thick,
Are a beautiful sight in bloom,
And though they make ecologists sick,
To a beekeeper they’re a boon,
Good things come and good things go,
On that you can bet your money,
So call them bad if it’ll help them grow,
And bees can still make honey.
Retired Florida Apiary Inspector
I have enjoyed William Blomstedt`s articles on Organic honey and beekeeping. I believe that the subject is an important one and I hope that time will determine what actually constitutes organic honey and the beekeeping practices it requires.
I would like to relate a curious incident that occurred in one of my apiaries perhaps ten years ago, that might lend some insight into the way we might eventually determine what is organic honey and what are organic beekeeping practices.
The hives in question, managed organically according to the then European standard for organic management of honeybee colonies, were situated on an organic avocado and mango grove and placed there for spring pollination purposes. The grove was situated in an area that on one side was bordered by a large citrus plantation that was cultivated conventionally and that required periodic spraying from the air to control the Mediterranean Fruit Fly.
Although I had had an ongoing pollination agreement with the grower for years and had never had any real problem with the pesticide spraying in the neighboring area, on this particular spring my hives were devastated by the pesticide spray. This occurred at the end of the citrus honey flow, which had been particularly strong that year and the hives were full of honey. Piles of dead and dying bees in front of every hives attested to the severity of the poisoning.
Examining the hives, I found them considerably depopulated, although there were, at least, a core number of house bees, along with the queens, to maintain life in the hive.
I had rarely seen in my apiary such devastation from pesticide poisoning and I feared that the honey had been contaminated irrevocably and so I sent honey samples to an accredited laboratory along with a sampling of the dead bees. The results were more than interesting. The bees revealed extremely high pesticide poisoning (parathion), which obviously accounted for their death, yet in the honey samples there were absolutely no residues of the pesticide or for that matter, of any synthetic contaminant.
I leave the reader to draw his own conclusions, but mine were that in this imperfect world the organic management of hives is the basis for, and probably the only realistic parameter for the production of organic honey.
Letters to the Editor - January 2013
Adaptable Bees Living in a Natural Pollen Trap
Rolf, a non-beekeeper colleague of mine, had been enjoying observing a bee colony that had graced his back yard by making a home in his outdoor fireplace. He used the fireplace infrequently, so for about 3-4 years all were happy. After a lapse of some time he looked into the fireplace in preparation for a fire. This time he heard a serious buzz and started to retreat. The buzz followed him and before he could get back inside the house, about two dozen bees had stung him. After this, he thought that, being in Tucson, Arizona where all the feral bees are Africanized, he should protect himself and the neighbors by sending the bees on their way. I was called to help and several weeks later found a rather testy colony that “greeted” me as soon as I opened the back door. This was obviously time for a bee suit.
Careful scrutiny of the fireplace (Figure 1) failed to reveal the colony or its entrance. I was being bombarded by a constant stream of bees bouncing off my veil, making further progress difficult. Time for my secret tool to eliminate bees – the insect net. Insect nets are not really secret (www.BioQuip.com), but I have been amazed how little they are used as a element in bee removal situations. In fact, I am unaware of any other report of use of nets to police up most of the remaining bees quickly after a removal, or at an attack scene. I am not sure just why, as I have found insect nets to be an excellent and efficient way to get rid of flying bees. One simply swings the net in front of your face, the place where the bees are targeting (Schmidt and Boyer-Hassem, 1996) collecting attackers until the net gets too heavy for efficient swinging. A good spraying of the net with detergent water and inverting the net readies it for use again. After about 10 minutes and five nets full of bees eliminated, the fireplace could be climbed. Lo-and-behold, there was the entrance just below the very top of the chimney. The fireplace consisted of cinder blocks with a facade in front and the bees were nesting inside the block hollows with their entrance through a small gap in a mortar joint. About a gallon of soapy water was sprayed into the entrance and all bee activity stopped. The entrance was then plugged with steel wool. Job done.
Never underestimate the abilities of bees, however. Little colony activity was noticed for about 10 days, but then regular activity resumed. What was the story? Upon return one noticeable difference was a large number of pollen pellets and dead bees on the floor of the fireplace (Figure 2). The dead bees were there because a large population of spiders had made webs in the fireplace and were cutting bees out of the web and dropping them. But why the pollen pellets? Could it be that the bees were rejecting some of the abundant pollen, mainly from desert broom (Baccharis sarothroides), a known poor quality pollen (Schmidt et al. 1987)? In 30 years of bee research I had never noted fresh pollen being rejected at the entrance in quantity. This pollen appeared pristine and looked just like what we collect in pollen traps. It was not old pollen that was being carted out of the colony as we sometimes see in Tucson in the case of cottonwood pollen.
With net in hand, I quickly removed the attacking bees again, allowing the fireplace to be scaled and inspected. The bees had found another entrance one block joint away that was about the diameter of a pencil. It was so small that only one bee could enter or depart at a time. The colony was living inside a natural pollen trap! The entrance was so tight that often, as the pollen-laden foragers entered, one of their corbicular pollen loads was brushed off and fell to the floor, just as happens with a beekeeper’s pollen trap. Who says bees are not amazingly adaptable? They were still thriving even given some of the worst conditions imaginable.
Postscript Comment. In figure 1 notice that I am wearing blue nitrile gloves. These are gloves originally designed for surgeons because they are very tough, flexible and resistant to piercing by sharp instruments. Honey bee stings are biological hypodermic syringes. They rarely can penetrate nitrile gloves (I did not receive a single sting through my gloves) and the gloves provide excellent feel, dexterity and grip, just as needed by surgeons. These properties allowed me to swing the net without difficulty and to block the entrance by pushing in steel wool. Even two or three layers of latex gloves do not provide equal protection.
Schmidt, JO and LV Boyer-Hassen. 1996. When Africanized bees attack: what you and your clients should know. Vet. Med. 91: 923-28.
Schmidt, JO, SC Thoenes and MD Levin. 1987. Survival of honey bees, Apis mellifera, (Hymenoptera: Apidae), fed various pollen sources. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 80: 176-83.
Justin O. Schmidt
Southwestern Biological Institute
1961 W. Brichta Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
What is Travel Stress?
Mr. Jerry Hayes, in his The Classroom column in the October 2012 issue of the American Bee Journal, explains his eight reasons for the decline of bee colonies in the United States. Number one on the list is travel stress. Perhaps he did not mean that “travel stress” was the most important factor, but is the number one on his list of reasons.
By coincidence, the obituary of Mr. Dave Emde also appears in the same issue of the American Bee Journal. The obituary describes Mr. Emde’s involvement with migratory beekeeping as far back as 1966. I quote from the article: “Migratory beekeeping was Dave’s first love. When it came to moving bees, he was an innovator.”
I was a migratory beekeeper in 1937 when I transported two of my six hives to an uncle’s farm in anticipation of harvesting clover honey. Unfortunately, my uncle sprayed one of his crops with pesticides, and I had two boxes of dead bees. My opinion has always been that the bees died from chemicals and not from travel stress.
At one time most of the packages of bees were shipped by the United States Postal Service - a practice which began well over one hundred years ago. Starting less than 30 years ago, there were problems with the postal service shipments. The main reason was probably due to the fact that a few bees would “hitch-hike” on the outside of the shipping cages. Once inside a mail sorting room, these bees would decide to fly around, looking for an outlet, and this upset the mail personnel. Some packages might be taken outside in a cold and wet environment and other packages were deliberately turned on their side. In this position the feeder cans would leak and wet bees would soon become dead bees. There were other examples of truck loads of packages becoming over-heated in the postal service trucks and dying.
The above are not examples of travel stress, but examples of abuse, which in some examples was not accidental. Then transporting the bees by truck eliminated most of the problems. Today a person can usually expect to receive live bees by using over night delivery and placing orders for bees to be shipped early in the week; thus eliminating the packages sitting in a hot room over the weekend.
Again, were bees being lost because of travel stress or because of callous treatment?
However, I believe that Mr. Hayes was referring to bees being transported across the country by trucks. If we can now safely truck packages of bees in small wire cages, why can we not do the same with bees shipped in their homes - the beehive? In the hive, the bees are with their sisters, their mother, and hopefully with a food supply. They have not gone through the trauma of being shaken into a small wire cage and are not accompanied by an unrelated queen. Considering the large quantity of bees that are being moved several times during the year by the commercial pollinators, travel stress as a number one reason for population decline in bees seems to be less important.
Some readers may recall that travel stress began to receive publicity after there were large die-offs of bees AFTER the new neonicotinoids became widely used and also AFTER seed treatments were increased from 0.25 mg/kernel to 1.25 mg/kernel.
Certainly, some bees do die as a result of careless treatment or unexpected weather conditions, but my opinion is that too many articles have been ignoring all true facts and avoid pointing a strong finger at the real cause of many of the die-offs - the chemicals.
Mr. Gilles ratia, president of Apimondia (International Beekeeper’s Organization spoke at the January, 2012 meeting of the North American Beekeeping Conference and Trade Show on the subject of Possible Factors of Colony Losses. The Number One of his possible list of factors was pesticides - not travel stress.
Other than the organic beekeepers, who else really blames chemicals for causing so many of the die-offs?
Dr. Lawrence DuBose, Ph.D. Retired
Regarding Wyatt Mangum’s article on mice in beehives, Nov. 2012, I thought it might be interesting to show how resilient the bees are in coping with small furry intruders. The first photo shows a dead (stung?) mouse being “cleaned up” by the bees, with anything that can be eliminated from the hive (hair, skin) being removed by the bees. The second photo shows the propolized remains of another mouse, effectively mummified to seal away any pathogens on the carcass.
Letters to the Editor -December 2012
Because beekeepers are not directly working with bees in the winter, they can (in addition to repairing and painting hives) spend some time in quieter moments, such as sweeping away snow from their hives or taking a young family member to the hives to see if bees buzz in winter. The Honey Bee Barn Quilt in the background is a nod to the now-popular activity of painting barn quilts. Why not let the honey bee get in on the fun?
I've been painting and teaching art for 30 years on high school and college levels. My work is represented in four Wisconsin art galleries, as well as in my own gallery in Stevens Point, WI. I am drawn to the art of beekeeping because of its importance in the agricultural arena, and have been painting one bee-themed painting each year. The local beekeepers' club members in my county always end up buying them.
16"x12" prints are available for $45 from the artist (firstname.lastname@example.org).
820 Water St.
Ogdensburg, WI 54962
Publicizing Deceptive Marketing May Increase Honey Consumption, Raise Honey Prices
Many processed foods labels and advertisements that prominently claim 'honey' as an ingredient are deceptive and possibly illegal. Despite insignificant honey content in their formulas, numerous food dry mixes, confections, snack foods, baked goods and cereals feature 'honey' in their advertisements and on product labels.
Protests by the honey industry have not persuaded violators to observe USA 'truth in advertising' laws. Offenders simply ignore the protestors.
A deceptive example: Quaker 'Honey Graham Crackers' has NO honey content.
A deceptive example: Pillsbury 'Refrigerated Biscuit Dough' features 'Honey Butter' on the front label plus a vignette of honey pouring onto an open biscuit, but the ingredient statement lists neither honey nor butter in the contents.
A detailed, extensive list of food products with deceptive claims for honey content is published by 'Bee-Good' on website 'Shame' @ http://bee-quick.com/wall.
But despite documentations of deception, violations continue.
The most frequent deception is 'Angel Dusting'; formulating a processed food whereby an ingredient which would be beneficial in a reasonable quantity is instead added in an insignificant quantity which will have no consumer benefit, so the vendor can claim that it contains that ingredient, thereby misleading consumers into expecting that they will gain the benefit. 'Angel Dusting' benefits disingenuous vendors and cheats gullible consumers.
Some industry offenders may claim that the USA Food & Drug Administration's failure to establish a 'Standard of Identity for Honey' relieves processed food marketers from including significant honey- content in food products that feature 'honey'. Lacking a legal standard for honey, how can honey dealers prove that the food processor, and therefore the food vendor, violated 'truth in advertising' laws by deceptively featuring honey as a significant ingredient in their products?
Such defense is unsupportable because USA PDA requires honey vendors to accurately identify the contents on honey labels. Documents of sourcing, processing and sales must specify, identify and quantify 'honey' transactions. Despite the inability of USA laboratory tests to determine honey content, the food industry knows and identifies real honey. To claim that honey content cannot be determined by laboratory tests may not defend violators of food label laws.
'Ingredient deception' by food processors and retailers does not cheat only the consumer. The entire honey industry is harmed by the deception: insignificant honey content in processed foods that claim substantial honey content reduce honey consumption and depress wholesale honey prices.
To compensate for their losses, beekeepers, honey packers and dealers may be entitled to collect monetary damages from the violators: food processors and food vendors.
Suits for recovery of financial losses may be initiated by any wholesale honey vendor who can establish that he/she sold honey at depressed market prices during the years in which deceptive practices of the defendants are claimed. Federal statutes-of-limitations specify the number of prior years for which damages may be collected.
A qualified law firm may pursue a class action lawsuit on behalf of USA beekeepers, honey packers and dealers; legal fees and lawyer's compensation to be deducted from future punitive awards.
My plan, to publicize current deceptive marketing of the violators, is a Win-Win strategy for the plaintiffs. Financial benefits to the wholesale honey industry may precede court actions. Risks of an adverse court ruling may prompt some prospective defendants to correct deceptive labels. To preempt litigation, other potential defendants may increase the honey content of their products whose marketing features "honey".
Honest representation of processed foods is critical for the entire industry: beekeepers, honey dealers and vendors, food processors and food marketers.
Every participant in processed foods formulating, processing and marketing must observe 'truth-in-advertising' to maintain the confidence of the industry's most important member, the lady who decides what goes into her shopping cart.
Great Foods Inc
Vernon Hills, IL
Letters to the Editor - November 2012
I was just reading Roy Henderson’s thoughts about mite sampling.
I take exception to his suggestion that we should just treat for mites no matter what. I consider all treatments as being somewhat harmful to really harmful, that are applied to the bees. I am trying to raise bees without treating them for mites. The only way for me to know if I have succeeded is to sample the bees for mites. I like the sugar roll because the bees are still alive when I get through. I personally believe all beehives should be sampled many times each year, but I have a hard time just doing it in August.
What Are the Answers?
Several years ago I was careless in failing to protect our brood comb (I winter hives using two brood chambers) in hives that did not survive the winter. When I did examine the hive boxes, all of the brood comb was completely riddled by wax moth larvae and their webs. Only the wood frames could be salvaged.
Then, about two years ago I observed that a frame of brood comb that was being used in lectures on beekeeping was not being bothered by wax moths. I believed this to be strange and, out of curiosity, I intentially left more frames of old brood comb exposed to the environment. (A container of Para-moth had been purchased, but was only opened to show an interested beekeeper what the crystals looked like).
After observing for over two years that brood comb, left unprotected, was not being bothered by wax moths, I decided to have some of the comb tested.
Several laboratories in the Chicago area were contacted and none “would” or “could” do the testing. The same was true for a university laboratory and another laboratory suggested by Mr. Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine.
To the rescue was Intertek Food Service in Bremen, Germany. Their report is in the Addendum.
The summary sheet for the Intertek report shows DEET present as 0.041 mg/kg and coumaphos present as 0.353 mg/kg. With the exception of about half a dozen of over 150 pesticides, including clothianidin, the other pesticides were listed as 0.01 mg/kg. - meaning almost nothing.
Based on the data from “other pesticides” the logical conclusion would be that the wax moths were being repelled by DEET and/or coumaphos. However, when there was a severe wax moth problem a few years ago, the hives were being treated for the Varroa using coumaphos. Based on this fact, it now appears the problem is DEET.
If my hypotheses are correct, the following questions deserve answers:
● - How did DEET get into the bee hive?
● - Does DEET pose adverse effects in any way? For every day the life of a worker bee is shortened, the bee’s potential for producing honey is reduced by a minimum of five percent.
Perhaps, all of my questions and concerns have been explained in some research study that I am not aware of. I do find it strange that when a few years ago wax moths really destroyed brood comb and now they do not.
Dr. Lawrence DuBose, PhD. Retired
Monsanto Employees Learning About Honey Bees
We are so glad to have Jerry Hayes here at Monsanto teaching and showing us how important honey bees really are. I, like many others, always knew how important they are, but now I am really noticing and being more honey bee and flower aware. I took the attached photo while I was simply in my yard looking around and saw this great relationship between a bee and a flower. I am excited about honey bees now like I never was before.
St. Louis, MO
Glenn Apiaries OwnerS to Retire
This is to announce that Tom and Suki Glenn of Glenn Apiaries are retiring at the end of this year. We'd like to thank all of our customers for their support over the last 35 years.
Due to some family health issues this year we are now giving priority to caring for loved ones.
We will be finished selling queens at the end of the 2012 season. We won't be able to provide any breeder queens next year. However, our website has lists of people who can help you with your queen needs. www.glenn-apiaries.com
At some time in the future we plan on using our skills to work on bee development projects.
We've been proud to have worked with so many wonderful beekeepers. Thank you for 35 great years.
Tom and Suki Glenn
Letters to the Editor - October 2012
More Hive Art
I do believe Connie Collins Molloy and you have started something with the artwork cover! I (as well as Brian VanIwarden apparently! [July p.633]) took that article to the local middle school art department last September to see if there was any interest in an unusual project. I had an ‘inside source’ (my daughter goes there) and they were looking for different types of mediums to work their artful magic on; so it truly is a win-win situation. I volunteered beehive boxes and they agreed! Attached are a couple photos of the hives getting prepped for next season. I just got them back at the end of the school-year in June so they are getting setup with tops, bottoms and straps. Two notes though: 1. I believe their assignment was repetitive patterns (since they heard the boxes get reversed and moved around) and 2. some are not pictured as I already pulled some for use due to a couple late swarms…
Great Falls, MT
This is in response to the ABJ Extra News article; "The National Honey Board Clarifies Confusion Over Pollen and Ultrafiltration" dated August 7, 2012.
In my humble opinion, "pollen filtration" removes most of the good qualities from the honey. How can your body build immunity to certain flowering plants that cause millions of us to suffer with allergies each year when the pollen particles have been completely removed from the honey?
The alteration of any product should be labeled as such. Maybe, the label should read "Pollen Free", so the consumers who are trying to help with their allergies could select a honey product best suited to their needs.
The article goes on to say that the beekeeping industry has been using this "tried and true" method for over 50 years. I don't know where they get their information, but most beekeepers that I know and have met over the last 49 years of my beekeeping history have been straining their honey, not filtering it. Most of us only strain out the larger particles and leave the minute particles in place along with their benefits.
To me it would be like removing the carbonation out of a Coke and still calling it a Coke. I guess technically it is still considered a Coke but, why bother drinking it? Honey should remain intact with all of its good qualities and not made into *sugar water* and then call it honey.
Lone Star Farm
Providing Water for Bees
I have been worried lately about the drought here in Ruidoso, NM, where I live and raise bees. I am encouraging everyone I know to put out water for the bees. I took these photos at one of my terra cotta saucer troughs and my beekeeping mentor suggested I send you a few.
Urban Beehives in Kentucky
Here are some photos of my two beehives on top of the Kentucky Home Life Building in downtown Louisville. Tana Peers was the artist of the hives and my husband, Jens, and I maintain the hives. This area is the largest green space rooftop garden in Kentucky. It is maintained by Bernheim Forest. The roof is green, mainly with sedums and has 3 gardens: 1 native grasses, 1 rock garden and 1 cedar glade. The purpose is to see how native plants do in an urban environment.
Jens and I took over the beekeeping project late last fall. We started two new hives this spring and they have exploded. We have two supers on each hive. These pictures were taken in April before we installed the bees in late May and July 1. I am keeping a journal on how they are doing. One challenge was taking the full hive bodies up the elevator when we installed. We split two of our hives in the early spring and waited until after the Derby festivities to install them. The hive body was packed and we immediately put a second hive body on. Two weeks later the first super went on, so the build up was fast. We have not fed them.
Another challenge is the wind exposure up that high and how to anchor the hives down. We have tried several types bungies through the storms this spring, some types work better than the others. When we took the honey off it was dark and very sweet, yummy!
Thanks to Dadants who donated a hive for my project.
Model Kentucky Beeyard
This photo is the beeyard of Eddie Wilson, of Berea, KY. Eddie is a member of southeastern KY beekeeping association, London, KY. Eddie takes pride in his bees and beeyard and is very active in his community and beekeeping association.
I took some photos last fall, and they looked kind of artsy. An older beekeeper I know has a few yards that are not active anymore, and are going back to nature, so to speak. I think that this is a kind of a "circle of life" that happens with beehives and old beekeepers. The yard is kind of nice with the fall colors, and everything is growing together.
Andy The Bee Guy
Letters to the Editor - September 2012
A Beekeeper Extraordinaire in Green Bay!
Our VP Steve Hupfer, recently went through Brown County Beekeepers Association's old boxes of secretary's minutes, which go back to 1953. The Club may even have started before that. So, our Club is approximately 61years old.
Many years ago, this Club had only 7 members. There was a vote taken whether to keep the club, or disband it. The vote was 4-3 to continue. We now have over 100 members and we are still growing.
Now for the highlights of our Club's history.
As best as we can tell the 1st meeting for Tom Cashman, our current Sec./Treas., was in 1971. He attended with his dad. Tom's dad was a dairy farmer and a beekeeper, with up to 150 hives. To this day, Tom is still a beekeeper.
In Tom’s second year as a member, he became the Club Secretary at the age of 28, from 1972-1982. He was then elected Treasurer from 1982-1987. Since 1987 he has been the Sec./Treas. for 25 years! All total, he has been an officer for the club for 41 years! The records show he has missed only TWO meetings!! Fantastic dedication!!
Tom has seen the Club go through many ups and downs in membership, and in beekeeping methods. Years ago, the meetings were more of a social gathering with very few beekeepers sharing their secrets of success. He explained that years ago, the only malady they had to deal with was American foulbrood. Also, farm fields were loaded with alfalfa blossoms, which provided lots of good foraging for the bees. Of course, there were many, many more dairy farms that planted alfalfa back then. But, the blossoms are no longer available today, because of early harvesting.
Without Tom being a solid anchor for the Club over the years, we doubt the Club would have continued to exist this long. His minutes of the meetings always included enough detailed information to inform the reader. He is always there to help in anyway he can and participates in all of our functions. This is an example of the kind of commitment and dedication it takes to hold an organization together, for so many, many years. You will never, ever, find dedication like this today. But, if each member gave just a small portion of their time, say 4 hours a year, it would be a tremendous benefit to the Club.
Tom is an Army veteran, having served 3 years, including a tour in Vietnam.
Tom is an active member of the Neville Public Museum Astronomical Society in Green Bay. He owns a couple of big telescopes that reach beyond the universe (Not quite!).
We can't thank Tom enough for all of his years of service. He has truly led by example. Thank you for keeping this beekeeping family together in Brown County, Tom! The bees in this area are forever grateful!
Tom recently celebrated his 69th birthday.
Brown County Beekeepers Association
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Hoorah! Hoorah! Thank you so much for your very informative interview with Jerry Hayes, now a researcher with Monsanto. I live in Florida and have known Jerry for about eight years. In all that time, I have seen Jerry committed to one cause; helping honey bees and beekeepers worldwide. When Jerry announced his decision to move to Monsanto I, like most of his many friends, took the news pretty hard. I was very close with Jerry and his family, so I spent months not even able to email him, much less talk on the phone without crying, and many other close friends of Jerry’s felt the same way.
What I do know is that Jerry would never leave his position as Florida Chief Apiarist and be separated from his family he loves very much (they are still in Gainesville trying to sell their house in a recession market) unless he saw an opportunity to do research that hopefully will lead to the destruction of the Varroa mite. Just imagine what it would be like to keep bees with no threat of this incredibly-resistant parasite. I became a beekeeper about eight years ago, so I never experienced the glory days, although others talk fondly of those pre-mite years.
Jerry has taken immense criticism from beekeepers who know very little about Monsanto, except they are the evil ones and Jerry is a traitor, going over to the dark side. I hope everyone reads this article and stops spreading vicious, unfounded rumors. Jerry Hayes is the best friend beekeepers will ever have.
Why High Filtration of Honey?
The jar of honey on the left was extracted on June 23, 2012. The “raw” honey was allowed to remain in a container for three days. Then the surface layer of beeswax was skimmed off and the honey was put in a jar. Nothing else was done to this jar of honey. This was clover honey.
The jar of honey on the right was purchased from a grocery store and labeled as “Pure Clover Honey.” The store-bought honey was in a 2-pound plastic container. One pound of the honey was transferred to a glass container. This honey is clearer - I have assumed this to be because of high filtration, but it is also darker. Either it is darker because it is not clover honey or more likely - because it was over-heated to prolong the shelf life.
The important question is “Why remove pollen?”
Pollen is sold in bulk form and also in capsule form as a dietary supplement. Many people who have purchased DuPage County Forest Preserve Kline Creek Farm honey have claimed their allergies have been improved.
So where is the logic of removing pollen except that removal makes it impossible to trace the possible source of the honey?
BEEKEEPERS MUST HAVE THE HIGH FILTRATION PROCEDURE REMOVED FROM THE TREATMENT OF HONEY.
Lawrence DuBose, PhD
Carol Stream, IL
Our Two Cell Cup Requeening Method
My friend Doug Hill and I recently discovered a queen grafting method that could revolutionize beekeeping for sideliners or those having several hives: I have never read anything resembling this in the bee publications.
While making splits this year we were checking those one week old to see if the queen cells had hatched and the queen was out. On one of the brood frames we had placed in the split (new hive) we noted a drawn and capped queen cell. What was unusual was that this cell was in a push in cell cup that was at least three years old. You could see the royal jelly in the cell; the bees had made a new Queen in an old cell.
If they would do that, what would they do with a queen cell cup grafted and placed in a queenless hive? On our next visit to a split yard I took my grafting kit — chinese grafting needle, eye dropper and small bottle of royal jelly. The yard had 32 split hives, all had been in place 3 weeks. On the first pallet of four hives we found two with no eggs, larvae or queen. All beekeepers know you are looking at a dead hive, the bees just don’t know it. You have several options, put in a frame of brood with eggs and larvae or combine with another queen-right hive. We chose the first one; we put a frame of brood in the hive. First, I grafted a small larva from the frame with a small amount of royal jelly to allow the larva to slide off the grafting needle and placed it on the new brood frame.
After grafting and placing brood frames in a couple of split hives, I decided to graft two cell cups to have a better chance of success on getting a new queen. We placed cell cups with grafted larvae in 9 of the 32 hives. As Doug says we gave these hives a chance to make a new queen or at least a snack. When I checked these hives 5 days later, all 9 hives had at least 1 drawn and capped queen cell, photo attached.
On inspection after 22 days we found 5 of these 9 hives had a new queen, but we also found two other hives without a queen. So, we repeated the 2 cell cup process. Two CC is the name we came up with for 2 Cell Cups, and is what we write on the hive cover.
I view this method’s benefit as I can spend a little time on a valuable bee hive and walk away, knowing I gave them a chance. The over 50% acceptance/take I am happy with.
Applications we have used, and
see for future use:
• When we open a hive and find no brood larvae or eggs.
• When capturing a swarm and queen is not present.
• When we find a drone layer, killing queen if present or has laying worker.
• Queen cells appear to be accepted better than a caged queen.
• When it is too early or late in the season to purchase queens or cells.
• On splitting, put two cell cups in each hive, no search for queen.
Bee Loss Question from California
May I share CCD experiences with other readers? My bees have been disappearing since about 1987, not the commonly thought belief of five or ten years ago. Bee colonies with three or four deeps would dwindle to about no bees, a queen, uncared for brood, and one or two supers of capped honey. No robbing was noticeable. This dwindling seemed to occur in possibly two weeks. No dead or crippled bees were noticed.
The bees were located in central California on hilly cattle grazing grasslands and oak trees. There are no cultivated crops. There is no known use of pesticides. Varroa mites are present. Any comments?
35 Granada Ct.
Portola Valley, CA 94028
Letters to the Editor - August 2012
Watch Your Step in Swarm Season
It seems that no matter what you do to prevent a colony from swarming, it happens anyway. Bees don’t read the beekeeper’s handbook. Anticipating this, I converted a deep hive box into a bait hive and placed it about 100 yards from our apiary.
On April 21, I checked my bait hive to see if there was any activity. There were five scouts checking it out. Hoping to discover which of our colonies was preparing to swarm, I started walking to our apiary. About half way to the apiary, I happened to look down, and to my astonishment, 10 feet directly in my path on the ground was a swarm. As I puzzled on how best to capture the bees and get them into a hive box, my wife joined me. I considered locating the queen and trying to put her in a hive box, hoping that the swarm would follow, but my wife said, “Just put a deep with frames over the swarm and they will move up into the box.”
Brilliant! I placed five drops of lemongrass oil* on a cotton ball, put it inside a deep with ten frames, and then placed the box over the swarm. The bees immediately started moving into the box. I put an inner cover on top, and about 25 bees gathered there and started exposing their Nasonov glands and fanning. The stragglers entered into the upper and lower entrances. A storm was fast approaching. Luck was on our, and the bees’, side. As soon as all of the bees were in the hive box, the hive box placed on top of the bottom board, and the outer cover in place, the storm broke.
Fast forward to June 2nd. We inspected Hive #2 and it has honey, nectar, pollen, lots of larvae, and capped brood. It is queenright!
*Lemongrass oil is a honey bee attractant that simulates the Nasonov pheromone.
“The Nasonov gland secretion is of critical importance in regulating the movement and formation of swarms.” (Ref.: The Hive and the Honey Bee, Revised edition 2008, Pg. 387, a Dadant Publication)
Ross and Leslie Englehart are members of the Howard County Beekeeper's Association, and the Maryland State Beekeepers Association.
Over the years I have enjoyed and learned a lot from Randy Oliver’s pieces in the ABJ. He has been a good teacher, for those of us who are long-time students, but not part of the academic world. I will always be grateful for what he taught me.
That is why I was disappointed by his recent article “Sick Bees (part 18 B) Colony Collapse Revisited. It is a long rambling monologue about his pet peeves, a lot of smoke but no fire, a spin on a controversy without mentioning any tangible facts.
In March three papers, one from England, one from France and one from the U.S were published, each one showing that when sub lethal doses of imadacloprid (a form of neonictinoid) were fed to honey bees, (and in one experiment, bumblebees), they had serious noxious effects on their respective populations. For bumble bees, the colonies grew more slowly than normal, but more importantly, the pesticides strongly inhibited the production of queens, which is crucial to the survival of this species.
For honeybees, the French experiment showed that the hives in question, when fed the pesticides, began to reproduce the symptoms of CCD. The American experiment, showed actual CCD in 15 out of 16 hives that consumed the neonic modified corn syrup.
I was surprised that he only mentioned Dr. Chengsheng Lu’s experiment of the Harvard School of Public Health. His assertion that the article “ was rejected when submitted to American Scientific journals” is incorrect, as it was published in the peer reviewed Bulletin of Insectology which has been around since 1928! In fact. A piece in Science News by Janet Ralof finds the research significant enough to mention. One part of the article talks about doubts raised by Louisa Hooven, a beekeeper and scientist at Oregon State University. I happened to attend a talk which Dr. Lu gave here in Cambridge last month, and I felt he adequately rebutted all that she brought up.
More serious was Oliver’s failure to mention anything about the other two reports published in Science, a well known scientific publication.
This is what I had hoped his article would be about, but it was not.
Far from being alarmist, these three papers were published about specific data. In no way could they be construed as the work of “spin doctors”. It is true, their conclusions are alarming, but they are the result of factual research and they could be the first steps in correcting the effects of these pesticides.
It was only after they were published, that the information got disseminated to the general media, because the initial publisher, at least in the case of the British and French work, was so well known and respected.
So let’s keep the discussion on one topic--in this case, the effect of sub lethal concentrations of neonicotinoids ingested by bees. Hopefully we can take these results, think about them, and see where they lead. Perhaps it is not an either/or proposition and some modification of the pesticide can be made to protect the useful pollinators, but to ignore, or dismiss this research out of hand is not helpful to the search for the truth.
I agree that sometimes the “zealots” on one side, as Oliver calls them, can be rigid, self righteous, and can easily launch into far out conspiracy theories. At the same time, it would be naïve to think that Bayer with unlimited funds and a lot of in-house toxicologists would not try, by any means necessary, to derail criticism of its product. After all, we have seen this phenomenon before when the Tobacco companies denied the health risks of smoking, and BIG Oil set up research Institutes for the sole purpose of delegitimizing Global Warming. In those two instances huge profits were and are at stake.
If Randy Oliver, as is his right, wants to defend the Neonicotinoids, then perhaps the ABJ could allow an equally qualified representative to present the other side. I am sure it would clarify these issues for beekeepers, large and small.
Randy Oliver Responds
Thank you for your letter Jeff. I apologize if you felt that I rambled in the introduction to this series of articles. I was simply trying to point out that there is a big difference between supposition and concrete evidence. I will indeed discuss the studies that you refer to--some in this month's article.
I am applying the same type of research toward the neonics that I've applied in investigating subjects such as varroa, bee nutrition, bee viruses, nosema, etc. I am not interested in defending nor damning the neonics--I am only interested in writing an objective analysis of the data and actual on-the-ground observations.
I'm surprised that you would suggest that "ABJ could allow an equally qualified representative to present the other side." Whose side do you think I'm on? The only side that I represent is that of the beekeepers! I have no love for any insecticides, but do think that most beekeepers would actually like to hear an objective and unbiased analysis of the actual effects of the neonicotinoid insecticides upon bees.
Jeff, I have never asked anyone to believe me about anything! Please, do your homework and check the facts for yourself. By the end of my series, if you feel that I have not been objective and accurate, I would be more than happy to include any well-articulated and supported contrary viewpoints in a subsequent article.
Grass Valley, CA
I am writing concerning Randy Oliver`s most recent article in which he discusses the neonics issue through the eye of his scientific beekeeping approach: Firstly, it is important to remark that I believe that Randy Oliver`s contribution to your journal, and to beekeeping in general is of great importance. His careful analysis of beekeeping challenges, particularly his sick bees series, has great value in helping us better understand the mechanics of bee pathogens, the environment in which they flourish and how they can weaken and cripple our colonies. His general recommendations for managing colonies I easily adopt as a long-time beekeeper to be important for successful beekeeping, commercial and otherwise.
Mr. Oliver`s recent article in which he presents a case for the use of neonic pesticides is, however, troubling. There isn`t enough space here for making the case for the discontinuation of the use of neonics. It would, however, not read much differently than Mr. Oliver’s article, only we would arrive at a different and opposite conclusion using all the wisdoms quoted as they can be used to prove any point of view. The problem is not the conclusions reached, but the atmosphere in which they are presented. I did not feel in the article the respect that a writer must have for his readers for the writer to be similarly respected by his readers. And all this concerning an issue of great magnitude where emotions, reason, and interests exist vibrantly on both sides of the debate, all being legitimate.
At best Mr. Oliver has written in a cavalier spirit in which we lock arms and jest. But is this appropriate for the neonic and other similar issues?
In a world where the facts of total world environmental pollution stand on their own hard won merits, where concern is not confused with fear and fact is not confused with propaganda, I feel we would do best to humble ourselves before our common responsibility to heal our injured environment.
Kathy Garvey’s Added Notes on Bee Photography
On Garvey's second camera: "I don't use the 60mm macro lens on the Nikon D700. I use all other lenses except macro. The ring flash is simply an attachment that fits on the 105mm macro lens and 60mm macro lens. It is not difficult to transport or to set up--it's just an attachment ring that clamps onto the lens within a second. I had two tiny flash units mounted on it. I take it many places."
Kathy Keatley Garvey
Letters to the Editor - July 2012
I was inspired by the cover of the August 2011 ABJ. Being that I have no artistic ability myself, I contacted my friend Heidi Hubinger, who is a middle school art teacher in Canon City, CO. She and her art students jumped on the opportunity to convert my bee yard into a living masterpiece. I thought you would enjoy seeing some of their work.
How To Speed Resistance In America's Bees
There seems to be two models that beekeepers are using to survive. Haul your bees south where they raise brood much of the year and don't get as confined for as long ... or winter in the north and select survivors from the carnage to breed the next generation from, in hopes of increasing survival next year. I guess there is actually a third... buy packages every year.
Only the second model can bring back a bee that can be kept year round in the north. The problem is that to get honey from new starts, they need to be in the hive in April, and only southern raised queens can do that. Northern raised queens only make nucs the first year and they are harder to winter than full sized colonies that are already not wintering well. The old model of southern produced queens is still the best, but there is little selection pressure down there and southern selected survivors don't survive in the north much better now than they used to. So all the bees coming north as packages or migratory bees only serve to dilute the northern survivor gene pool each year and little progress is made in the population at large. Only a few beekeepers in the north have been able to make it without southern replacements or migration and some are selling northern produced queens to augment their income and stay in business. This is a good way to spread northern genes, of course, but they come too late in the year to make big colonies, so you’re back to wintering nucs or requeening big colonies in the middle of the honeyflow that cost $75 + to repopulate just a couple months earlier. It feels like we are just spinning our wheels, often losing money doing it.
It seems to me that we need to take the best of all of these methods and combine them, but first let's look at another product of agriculture that faced a similar problem 100 + years ago and overcame it......... alfalfa. Alfalfa came to the Americas from Spain to feed the horses of the early Spanish conquest of Mexico. It moved on to Chile and from there to California. The Spanish variety was not winter hardy and couldn't move to the colder U.S. interior. In the mid 1800's a German immigrant from northern Germany named Wendalin Grimm wanted to grow alfalfa for his dairy cows. He was familiar with it in Germany and considered it superior to the clovers that were being used in his area. So he got some seed from northern Europe and planted it on his Minnesota farm. Most of the plants died the first winter in that cold climate, but after 15 years of selection of surviving plants, he had a strain that would later be named Grimm. It is a parent of most of today's alfalfa varieties planted in the northern states.
An alfalfa variety is in fact usually composed of a mixture of 15 or so parent plants that excel under different micro-climates... sand or clay, wet or dry soils, etc.. When you plant a new seeding, the first year you have several plants per square foot. As the plants get larger, they crowd each other out and the plants that fit that spot best are the survivors, giving good yields over the life of the stand (usually 4-5 years) or more. Today some seed is produced in the Pacific northwest, but a few years back, most was produced in the southwest where seed yields were best and costs lowest. The northeast and upper midwest, where much of the seed is used, are poor areas to produce seed because of rain and low seed yields. However, because of the multiple parent nature of alfalfa varieties and their tendency to move their genetic makeup toward the environment in which they grow, the foundation seed needs to be maintained in the north. So how did they produce northern bred seed cheaply? Seed fields were planted in the southwest with northern produced foundation seed. Seed fields were kept only 3 years so genetic drift was minimized, and then planted again with northern produced seed. The end result was great genetics for a great price.
It seems to me that this is a perfect template for what we need in the production of a north hardy survivor strain of bees that do well all over our continent. We need 2-3 large, reputable queen producers in traditional production areas to start a completely separate strain of bees from pure northern survivor selected stock. They need to be kept separate and isolated as much as possible from other southern strains. Drone mother colonies need to flood the area with drones of the same strain so that progeny are as near as possible 100% true to strain. Yearly, heavily selected northern survivors need to be incorporated to maintain and improve the line.
We in the north could then replace losses with resistant queens and packages early enough to get a crop that year. Our selection pressure would then improve as dilution with weaker southern strains could stop and the whole country could together move toward greater resistance. It seems to me the sales potential for such a strain would be enormous... look at what people are willing to pay for northern-produced queens. Incorporating survivors into existing lines in the south will help, but they are just too diluted. The packages I get out of the south and west are very yellow bees... and yellow bees don't survive very well anymore up here since the mites became a factor.
The foundation stock for these lines could come from a program already in place in the north like the Buckfast bees in Ontario, Kirk Webster's line, or someone else already selecting for survival in the bad winter loss areas of the north. The lines could be maintained from the same sources. On big die off years it's easy to watch which of the survivors develop normally through dividing and produce a crop, too. Last winter was such a disaster for me with almost 90% loss. Of the 29 live colonies only 10 built up twice and made a good crop. In the hands of a southern breeder, they could be a start of a good line, if they could be kept from outcrossing and only heavily selected queens brought in for maintenance and prevention of inbreeding... at least it makes sense to me.
The Elephant in the Room
Recently, I went through my back copies of the ABJ and I came across Bob Harrison’s article entitled “Neonicotinoids More Questions Than Answers” (April 2008 issue Volume 148 # 4)
His contention is that “the subject of neonicotinoids (systemic insecticides) has been avoided by most authors of bee articles: (and) also by many researchers.”
Without naming them, he tried many times to reach the representatives of the chemical companies about these pesticides “but only 1 in 10 will return my calls,” he says.
This would be of little interest except for the fact that these pesticides represent a huge number of products and millions of dollars in profit for their manufacturers. While they can successfully protect against many insect pests, their use has become of concern to beekeepers all over the world.
They are systemic pesticides. The chemical, when in contact with the plant gets distributed internally to all its parts. Systemic pesticides, according to Harrison, “have been found to stay in the soil and contaminate pollen of other crops rotated into the field” and other uncultivated areas from run-offs.
In his research he refers to experiments by a group of scientists from the National Institute of Beekeeping in Bologna, Italy, that finds significant collateral damage to bees when they have been in contact with sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid). I looked it up on Google and, sure enough, it was there for all to see
Bob Harrison’s article was prescient, and his question: “How are neonicitinoids affecting bees in sublethal doses?” got some answers last month.
There were three articles published in the magazine Science. All of them indicating, in different ways, that sub-lethal exposure to bees of these pesticides did indeed have serious effects.
First, Chengsheng Lu, an environmental scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, to understand why CCD occurs in winter and early spring, sets up an experiment in which a group of hives are fed corn syrup with low “non lethal” (as defined by the USDA) dosages of imidacloprid during the summer. They accumulated this food to survive the cold season. In each of the four units, there was one control hive fed pure syrup, and four fed the contaminated one
In late winter, early spring: of the sixteen hives fed with contaminated corn syrup, 15 appeared to be, (like those affected by CCD), largely emptied. Of the four control hives, three came out normally, 1 died of unrelated dysentery.
Second, a group led by Penelope Whitehorn and David Goulson of the University of Stirling in the UK, examined the effects of neonicotinoids on bumblebees.
They raised 75 colonies exposing some to contaminated pollen and sugar water,(again in overall sublethal dosages.) Both the high doses and the low doses given to colonies reduced their growth rates. Even more importantly, however, they drastically inhibited the production of queens. (which is crucial to the survival of bumblebee colonies).
Third, a group led by Mickael Henry in France, attached miniature radio transmiters to a number of honey bees with a receptor that could count them as they returned to the hive. They found that around twice as many treated bees as untreated ones failed to return. "That, mathematical models indicate, might easily cause a hive to collapse." (Italics mine)
In 2006, David Hackenberg raised the first alarm on CCD. In the initial research, bees were found to be suffering from some sort of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). They were affected by many diseases all at once, which their bodies were unable to defend against. While there has been a lot of discussion about those diseases, there has been very little about the condition that might have brought it about. Bob Harrison mentions it as one of the ways that neonicotinoids kill bees.
Subsequently in France, Alaux et al (2009) from INRA (National Institute of Agricultural Research) showed that “the administration of tiny amounts of systemic neonicotinoids to CCD bees was associated with a weakening of bee immunity.” In the same year Pettis and Van Engelsdorp from the USDA had produced identical results.
So here we have the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.
It was courageous of Bob Harrison to write his article, it was even more courageous of the ABJ to publish it.
Would it not be the right time to revisit the whole issue and discuss at greater lengths some of these findings?
Honey Filtering, Class-action Lawsuits and Adopting Honey Standards of Identity
by nancy Gentry -
ABJ june 2012
As a hobby beekeeper with 40 year's experience, I was disturbed by statements made in the above referenced article.
First, when we, in the United States, know the potential of a country for producing honey, we should immediately see "red flags" when, all of a sudden that country suddenly begins shipping quantities of honey, beyond their capacity, to the United States and reject these shipments until their legality can be verified. Malaysia was the example given in the article, but haven't there been many more?
I am not questioning that the writer has stated "mis-truths", but I question why "the USDA encourages honey to be highly filtered -- etc." I strongly question this as being necessary.
As a hobby beekeeper for 40 years, my honey is not even strained through cheese cloth. I have found that by allowing the extracted honey to remain in a holding tank for two or three days, pieces of beeswax and other non-honey particles will float to the surface.These extraneous materials are skimmed off and the honey is placed in jars. That is it! I can certainly advertise this as "raw" honey.
My clover honey, despite the incorrect and misleading statement in Nancy Gentry's article, is lighter in color and more attractive than honey - advertised as "pure clover honey" - purchased from the grocery store, where the ultrafiltration may have been used.
My procedure could easily be adopted by the big packaging companies - if they so desire.
Yes, my honey does crystallize, but by controlled heating in a water bath, it will return to the original condition with no change in color or flavor. Most of the honey is sold before crystallization occurs.
People make special trips to the DuPage County Kline Creek Farm Visitor's Center to buy this honey and the crop is sold out every year. A number of the customers buy the honey because they want honey with pollen grains.
Why must people continue to do things the wrong way. Pollen grains belong in honey!
Lawrence A. DuBose PhD.
Retired Civil Engineer
Sump Sale Money Would Help New Beekeepers
We (Indiana Beekeepers' Association) had a beekeeper pass away because of Lou Gehrig's disease. His wishes were to get young beekeepers started. We have sold all of his equipment and established a Brent Bridwell fund. With memorial donations and the sale, we have a nice fund for the project. One remaining item is a sump. Would you please advertise it for us? We have four new young beekeepers started so far.
It is a new 50-gallon capacity sump made by Cowan Manufacturing Company. It has never been used and is still in the crate. The suggested retail is $2300 - $3000. Make us an offer. Proceeds go to the Brent Bridwell Young Beekeeper Project. Contact Ron Myers at 317-462-7380.
Letters to the Editor - June 2012
Early Kentucky Swarm
My niece, Lisa Austin’s first swarm in beekeeping which she hived with no problems. Swarm season came early in southeast Kentucky due to nectar plants blooming 2 to 3 weeks early. Photo by Steve Austin.
Insulating Hives for Winter
I am a beekeeper on Harsens Island in Lake St. Clair in Southeast Michigan, but, an architect by profession. When I started beekeeping it bothered me that my bees were spending the winter in un-insulated wooden boxes. As time went by I noticed that I always had winter losses in my hive boxes, but very rarely had any winter losses of the feral hives in the trees in my woods. When I thought about it I decided that the mass of wood surrounding the feral bees was enough to provide a layer of insulation. I decided I wanted to insulate my hive boxes for the winter, but I’m pretty lazy and didn’t really look forward to installing it in the fall, removing it in spring and packing it up and storing it over the summer. It certainly couldn’t hurt to leave the insulation on all year round if I could find a system that wouldn’t interfere with my management of the hives. After a couple of years of experimentation I came up with a system which reduces the heat transfer through the walls of the hive to one fifth that of standard un-insulated ¾” solid wood, it doesn’t change any of the interior components of the hive, it stays on all year round and costs less than $5 per super for materials.
In the fall of 2010 I had 4 hives. I insulated one of them. That was the only hive to survive that winter. I replaced two of the colonies and by the fall of 2011 all three hives were insulated. That winter they all survived and even thrived. They used very little honey over the winter. Granted, it was a mild winter and most hives did well this winter, but I didn’t want to wait another year to share what I have learned with those beekeepers who want to insulate their hives. I know many beekeepers don’t want to or don’t believe in insulating. I also know that most beekeepers provide winter ventilation for their hives. This system is not for them.
The Stewart Farm Year Round Insulation System for Bee Hives is simple and once you have collected the proper tools and materials, it should take only 15 to 20 minutes per super to make the pieces and install them. It can be installed in the shop or in the field. Tools needed include a utility knife, hand saw or power saw, power screw driver, tape measure and pencil. Materials needed are ¾” foam board insulation, ¾” wide foam weather-stripping tape, 1 x 2’s and 2” exterior screws.
Cut the 1 x 2’s in 12” long pieces. Cut the foam board the size of each side of the super. The foam board goes on the outside and is held on with a 1 x 2 acting as a cleat and handle. Two screws through the wood cleat will hold it in place and tight to the super. For the bottom board place a piece of foam board below the bottom board. If you have a screened bottom board with a slide out board, you can replace the slide out board with foam board. If the ¾” foam is too thick we use some ¼” foam board. We flip them over when they get too dirty and then throw them away when both sides have been used. To insulate the edge of the inside cover we use the ¾” wide foam weather-stripping tape around the perimeter and leave the ventilation slot uncovered. This may be one of the most important components to insulate even though it is a very small surface being insulated. If it is not insulated, the inside surface of the inside cover would be the coldest surface in the hive and moisture could condense under the cover. The last component to insulate is the top cover. Cut one piece of foam to fit tight inside the sides, but the bottom surface needs to end up at or below the edge of the top cover so that the wood edges of the top don’t rest on the insulation around the inside cover. Yes, you will lose the telescoping feature of the top, but you can weight it down. Use foam board scraps for spacers as needed in the top cover before installing the large foam board.
For your readers I have a more detailed narrative with drawings, templates and a video on my website at http://bees.stewartfarm.org. Though this insulation system is patent pending, I welcome and encourage beekeepers to try it themselves for non-commercial purposes. If they use the system, I would love to hear about their experiences, results and any suggestions for improvements. If they send me an email, I can put them on a list to get any updates and to hear about the experiences of others.
Harsens Island, MI
Custom Garden Hive
Here are a couple of pictures of my garden hive. My mother-in-law, Thelma Safarik, an accomplished artist, did the paint job; that is her in the photo with me.
The hive boxes are standard Dadant boxes, but I made the cover/roof, the inner cover, and the screened bottom board with removable monitoring tray myself. Under the peaked roof there is a vented inner cover with a three-inch hole in the middle that accommodates a two-quart Ball jar for feeding syrup. The screened bottom board is made of redwood. I made it six inches high so that the mites fall a little further from the screen and hopefully can't get back into the hive.
I positioned the hive just a few feet off our patio where we can see it from our living room. Oh yeah, the bees: they are coming next week. I hope they appreciate their new home!
Custom Painted Beehive
Inspired by the interesting and colorful cover of the August 2011 American Bee Journal, our neighbor, Gladys Colmenaras, painted one of my bee hives. On her behalf, I am enclosing her picture with one of the hives she painted.
I started keeping bees when I was about 13 years old; I have been a sideliner, and a commercial beekeeper, and was Kentucky’s bee inspector for 2-3 years. To give you some perspective, I worked for Henry Hansen in Northwestern Iowa in 1957, and beekeeping was easy then. We produced 250,000 lbs. of honey from 2000 hives starting with a 2 lb. package in the spring. Since then, I have kept bees at all levels, but decided to get out when mites made their appereance. I have thoroughly enjoyed a long career as a wildlife biologist, but have never gotten over my love affair with beekeeping. Consequently, since I have retired ( a word I don’t care for), it is back to keeping bees. During my absence from intimate contact with the industry, I am taken back by the changes that have occurred. Pest problems have multiplied four-fold and beekeeping is no longer easy by any definition. However, the rewards seem to be good for those who can successfully deal with the multiple problems. Honey prices are high, demand for pollination seems to be ever increasing, and the demand for replacement hives to the north is strong.
So, in my 74th year, I once again embark on what I hope to be a long career keeping bees in the 21st Centuray.
Letters to the Editor - May 2012
Fence Post Swarm
Hello, I am a new beekeeper. We took this picture before we became beekeepers. They just showed up one day on a fence post along our drive way; they stayed for a couple days then were gone.
Honey Bee On Senetti Plant
Really enjoy your magazine each month! I wanted to send a recent photo I took of one of our bees from our hives on a Senetti plant I had just put on the front porch. There are not a lot of purple flowers around and to find that our bees really were attracted to it was a nice surprise! It is really nice as a screen saver also....
Robin Hood Knight
How To Stop Ants Around Bees
I have good results with “Cream of Wheat.” I sprinkle it around close to the hive, corner of entrances; or in front of bee hive. The ants eat it and take it back to their nest. Cream of Wheat “swells” inside the ant’s stomach, thereby constipating them. This stays in their system and they die. I carry a box of “Cream of Wheat” in my bee truck.
In areas where ants are terribly bad, don’t use inner covers. If you do, leave the center hole open for the bees to guard against ants. Also, you can use tops of 3/4'' plywood, no inner cover and/or commercial tops, again no inner cover. This prevents ants from having a home to hide and saves you time and money when manipulating your bees. It goes without saying, “A strong hive will keep ants out,” in most regions. Good luck.
Bees are in trouble, and policymakers just aren’t acting quickly enough to help them. But backyard gardeners, sideline beekeepers and ordinary people all over the country have been stepping up.
To that end, we’re excited to announce the launch of a new website and resource center HoneyBeeHaven.org to help advance the cause. But we need your help to spread the word:
1. Take the pledge. Take the pledge to protect pollinators – bees need access to pesticide-free food, water and shelter…and every bit of habitat makes a difference.
2. Map your Honey Bee Haven. It’s easy to do, and will demonstrate the groundswell of citizen support to protect pollinators from pesticides – by creating Honey Bee Havens and Pesticide-Free Zones – now.
3. Share with your networks. Please share this email or link (http://bit.ly/zFYem5) to the new site on Facebook and Twitter (#honeybeehaven).
Since colonies began collapsing in 2006, beekeeping is on the rise alongside urban homesteading and organic gardening -- people are doing whatever we can in our personal lives to create safe spaces for pollinators.
You don’t need to be a beekeeper or avid gardener to create a safe haven -- tucking a few containers of bee-friendly plants on a balcony or front stoop will get you started.
Many thanks for your commitment to these noble and necessary pollinators.
Pesticide Action Network North America
San Francisco, CA
The Worker’s Dance
Beekeeping is a new avocation of mine as this spring will be my second season with four active hives. My day job is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where I specialize in cancer biology.
Enclosed please find “The Worker’s Dance – a poem” that I submit for your consideration for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of the American Bee Journal. This poem is my original work and it has not been nor is it under consideration for publication elsewhere.
Jeffrey L. Salisbury
THE WORKER’S DANCE A POEM
by Jeffrey Salisbury
She lived for the dance,
As we all did,
But for her it was more a focus of intention.
When we were young
We watched the more experienced ones,
Concentrating on the way in which movement translated a deeper meaning.
Studying how a step, a turn, a flourish,
Could excite those observing with us,
We were drawn into the space she occupied,
As we focused our attention on her meaning.
The more she moved,
With a tolerant endurance and its opposing eagerness,
We felt her need to drive a consensus of attention,
And the more we were drawn.
It wasn't the allure of her distinctive perfume,
The fragrant essential oils fresh from the garden,
Nor was it the light fine powder that she used to transform her very substance
To that of an ephemeral sprit.
It was more her manner,
The way in which her movement insisted our notice.
Did she have an escort?
Or was it her intent to guide us to the origin of her interest?
She was telling us a way, a reason,
Something of central importance to our very being.
If we could only decode her meaning
We would understand her feeling of expectation.
She would leave for a moment.
Where had she gone?
In her absence we would look attentively,
But without specific purpose.
When she returned we became refocused to her dance,
She was more insistent now,
More vigorous in her movement.
Was she flirting?
Our excitement increased with each circuit of the floor.
Slowly, as a whole we began to understand her intention,
Her meaning, as it dawned on us.
The direction to our reward.
Dry Pollen Feeders
I certainly enjoyed reading your article in the Feb 2012 ABJ regarding the making of Honey Bee Feeders for feeding dry pollen substitute (MegaBee). In fact, I made two (2) of them for my six (6) bee hives, but modified the mounting technique from what was described in the article.
Living out in the country has many advantages, but as you mentioned in your article, we encounter problems with various varmints (raccoons, opossums, etc.). Since they are somewhat numerous in my area, I decided to mount the feeders on posts rather than hanging them from tree limbs. I built my feeders just as you described, but did not use the eye bolts, hanging material, or the silicon caulk for preventing water leaks around the eye bolt holes.
I had some surplus “T”-Posts so I decided to use them along with 1 ½” Electrical PVC Conduit for mounting. This conduit is rather inexpensive ($3.89 for 10’ sec at Home Depot), so there wasn’t much difference in the overall cost for making this style of feeder. The conduit is rather slick anyway, but I applied auto polish on it and I don’t believe there is any way an animal can climb the five (5) foot section and disturb the feeder. I made a short wooden stub out of treated lumber to attach to the end cap and slide down inside the 1 ½” PVC Conduit. I don’t have a wood lathe, so I had to use hand tools to fashion the wood stub you see in the attached pictures. I attached the wooden stub to the end cap with two (2) screws prior to assembling the feeder. The stub was made to fit exactly inside the PVC. I probably didn’t need anything to hold it in place because it was a rather snug fit. Just to be on the safe side, I used a screw and placed it through the outside of the PVC and into the wooden stub.
The PVC Conduit easily slides down over a standard 6’ “T”-Post and there is just about the desired amount of clearance for easy removal when the feeder needs to be resupplied or when the feeder may need to be faced a different direction to prevent rain, etc. from entering the entrance and damaging the pollen substitute. I used MegaBee, but I assume there are probably other brands that are available. The clearance between the post & conduit makes it very easy to just slide the PVC up and off the post when additional pollen substitute needs to be added.
I placed the two (2) 5’ feeders about ten (10) feet in front of the hives so the feeders would not interfere with the bees’ flight pattern entering and leaving the hives. I did offset the feeders so they are not directly in front of a hive, but between hives.
My feeders have only been installed for three (3) days and for some reason the bees are not working the feeders. I live in the Poetry Community (north of Terrell, TX) and the bees are bringing in some pollen, but not in great abundance.
I did read an article in the March 2012 ABJ (The Classroom by Jerry Hayes) where another individual was having the same problem as I have experienced so far. Do you have any ideas why this may be occurring?
Earl Milliken Jr.
Editor’s note: According to author T’Lee Sollenberger, the very early availability of pollen and nectar due to the mild winter kept many honey bee colonies busy and they did not need or use as much beekeeper-provided pollen supplement or syrup as they might have normally consumed.
Letters to the Editor - April 2012
Regarding Howard Scott's [Feb] article "Tax Time Again" I saw one error in an otherwise excellent article. In the 2nd full paragraph of the third column he talks of paying social security tax on hobby income. This is incorrect. Hobby income is not subject to social security taxes.
(Hobby Beekeeper who reports his income from beekeeping on line 21 of form 1040 & expenses on Schedule A, and income tax preparer)
Reponse to Top-bar Hive Article
This letter is in response to the article "Newbees, Bee-Ware! by Anne Frey" in the January 2012 issue. Dear Anne, I was very surprised to read your article full of negativity towards the top bar hive. Where does it all come from? I hope most readers quit after reading the first sentence in which you state you never even used a top bar hive.
You claim the typical TBH kit costs $495? This not typical at all. I know the website you are referring to and they do sell a bundle of boards for that price. But there are many more who sell complete hives for much less than that. I myself advertise in the ad section of the bee journal and my cheapest cedar top bar hive (complete and fully assembled) is only $247 with free shipping! I even offer email support. There are pros and cons for every hive design, but talking bad about something you haven't even tried out is very unprofessional. I suggest you place an order for one of my top bar hives and try them out this year. You might be surprised! To this date I have never had an unsatisfied customer!
Cold Resilient Bees
Southern Arizona is known for being warm, but even here we get freezing nights. This year a good winter floral bloom allowed a colony to expand its population, forcing excess bees to overflowing the nest cavity and hanging in a cluster below. In mid February a 32oF night hit the outside cluster causing part of it to break and fall to the ground, landing on a piece of comb that had fallen previously. The remaining cluster was “frozen” in place, with one bee hanging by a leg from the bottom. By 11 a.m. all bees had recovered, including those on the ground which had flown back to the colony.
This reminds me of childhood experiences with bees taking “cleansing” flights during sunny February days in Pennsylvania. They would fly out of the warm hive, chill in the cold air during flight, and be unable to fly back to the hive. Hundreds of these bees littered the snow in front of the hive and appeared completely dead. But when collected and brought indoors, they came alive again and buzzed merrily in their jar until returned to the hive. This all shows that bees can be more cold hardy and resilient than we might think.
Follow up note: Nine days later a large swarm issued from the colony, settled in nearby dense vegettion, and departed for its new home 8 hours later.
Justin O. Schmidt, PhD
Southwestern Biiological Institute
Regional honey and Ca-MRSA (Community Acquired Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)
MRSA infections are a well recognized problem in everyday medical practice. Many of these infections involve the skin and can form abscesses. Occasionally, MRSA infections can become invasive and involve the central nervous system, bones, lungs and other body organs. Currently these infections have become resistant to antibiotics that previously were effective. A major concern of the medical community is that resistance patterns might spread to antibiotics in current use such as Vancomycin and others.
Given the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, a research group in San Juan County New Mexico over the last 9 months has been exploring the role of honey in the treatment of these skin infections. The group’s members are R. Stephen Rankin, M.D. (pediatrician at Pinon Family Practice), Joe Pope, M.D. (family physician at Pinon Family Practice), Beth Phillips (Four Corners Research Associates), Don Hyder, PHD. (biologist at San Juan College), and Mary Doshi, MLS, (ASCP) Director, Program in Medical Technology San Juan College. This group represents a collaboration of Pinon Family Practice, San Juan College, and San Juan Regional Medical Center. Dr. Pope and Dr. Rankin are also beekeepers and have a combined experience of over 20 years.
Honey has been used for wound healing for over a thousand years1. In ancient Egypt and Greece it was used in various types of wound poultices. Honey in wound treatment is also mentioned in the Bible and the Koran. There are reports of its use as far back as 1700 BC. It is currently being investigated for wound care in various parts of the world. Most of the honey used in wound care (Manuka) comes from Australia and New Zealand and it originates from plants of the Leptospermum species2.
In recent years, in vitro studies have been done on natural honey samples from Northern Ireland and various locations in Africa3. These samples have been tested against Ca-MRSA isolates and other Staphylococcal specimens. Results were favorable demonstrating activity against these organisms4.
From the United States no testing of honey has been done for regional samples from the Four Corners area. Our in vitro testing, in which we impregnated sterile paper discs with five different honey varieties and the antibiotic Vancomycin, indicates that the varietal honey from Northwest New Mexico has favorable bactericidal activity against MRSA.
In viewing the accompanying photo note the dark areas around each sample. These dark areas, also known as zones of inhibition, represent bactericidal activity. This means the organism, in this case MRSA, is killed as it is exposed to the substance. Vancomycin is the prototypical intravenous antibiotic used in the hospital setting for more serious MRSA infections. Note the favorable zone of inhibition around its disc. In comparison, Lot 1 and Lot 2—the samples of local honey from hives in the vicinity of Farmington, New Mexico—also show a large zone of inhibition. In contrast, the New Zealand Manuka Honey and two samples of clover and wildflower honey from a Farmington health food store show lesser signs of antimicrobial activity as demonstrated by the smaller dark areas around these samples. Also, note the control disc which does not show any zone of inhibition.
The bees and hives from which this Lot 1 and Lot 2 honey come have been managed in a certified naturally grown manner. That is, at no time during the year are the bees exposed to antibiotics, miticides, or chemical treatments of any kind. The emphasis is on raising or purchasing queens (and subsequent worker progeny) that are resistant to mites and diseases. This practice follows the approach of queen breeders such as Mark Spitzig and Melanie Kirby from New Mexico, Dr. Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter from the University of Minnesota, and John Kefuss from France to mention a few examples.
The hives are located in the vicinity of Farmington, New Mexico. The principal honey flow is in late June through most of July. The honey is dark and apparently the nectar source is a wild drought-resistant weed that blooms every year at this time. There is very little exposure to cultivated fields such as clover.
Given the favorable bactericidal activity, we propose to further investigate the use of this honey in superficial skin abscesses that are found to be positive for MRSA. Patients will be recruited from area Urgent Care Clinics, Emergency Rooms, and physician offices. FDA application is currently in progress.
We think that further clinical investigation may provide another alternative treatment to conventional antibiotics for wounds that are infected with MRSA. There also may be other regional honey sources that could be tested for bactericidal activity against MRSA and other organisms. This approach may facilitate the reduced use of antibiotics and the inherent problem of resistant organisms.
1) Majino G. The healing hand. Man and wound in the ancient world. Massachusets: Harvard University Press; 1975
2) Molan, PC Honey as a topical antibacterial agent for treatment of infected wounds World Wide Wounds, 2001
3) A.A. Al-Jabri, B. Nzeako, Z. Al Mahrooqi, A. Al Naqdy and H. Nsanze, In vitro antibacterial activity of Omani and African honey, British Journal of Biomedical Science (2003) pp: 1-4
4) Yasunori Maeda et al Antibacterial activity of honey against community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Ca-MRSA) Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice (2008) pp. 77-82
Submitted by R. Stephen Rankin, M.D. and Hannah Rankin, M.A. (father, daughter and both beekeepers)
Bee Skep Currency From North Carolina
I was digging through my family archive and found something that may be of interest to your beekeepers.
(I was trained as a beekeeper by Albert Jaycox, Univ of Illinois 1979, and did beekeeping when comb honey was still produced (by ME!) in basswood square sections!!) The bees are now under the direction of my brother, Steve King.
I have the bank note shown in these images in my currency collection. The attached images are of a 10 cent note from 1863 issued in Raleigh, North Carolina. The engraving is quite clear and crisp and the note is hand-numbered and hand-signed. I think the prominence of the skep’s inclusion shows the value of beekeeping to the nation/state at even this early date in our history.
I neither sow nor reap
But am part of every harvest.
I am not prey nor predator
Yet there is no feast without me.
Every sop and every sup,
Every dinner and every diner,
Each spirit lifted, and each uplifted spirit;
They are all a part of me. (I am part of all)
I am honeybee, sylph to the sun
Keeper of the seasons, rhyme to
Nature’s reasons. I fly forth at
First light; I set down by starry night.
I am honeybee, winged jewel of the air.
My father has no father. My sisters
Are legion, my mother is my sister.
The sum of me is greater than the parts;
Sans parts, I am nothing.
I am honeybee, sweet is my store
Each scent, each taste, each touch
Of flower, field, tree and grass
Within my honeyed combs lie
For dearth, for winter, for man
To partake, perchance ask.
Letters to the Editor - March 2012
Dealing with a Weak Hive
This letter is in response to the article written by Howard Scott in the January issue of the ABJ on page 35.
I agree with the logic Mr. Scott has that you should not go into winter with a weak hive. However, I disagree with his solution to the matter. The first thing a beekeeper should do is determine why the hive is weak. There are many reasons for a hive to be weak. A failing queen, high mite levels, diseases, pesticide use and low food stores to name a few.
You should look first at the queen’s brood pattern. If the queen is failing, it will be obvious because of the spotty brood pattern.
You should perform a mite load check. If the mite load is high, this is a reason for low population of bees in the hive.
Look for any diseases that may be present in the hive.
Check for low food stores in the hive, both honey and pollen. A hive could have plenty of honey, but if there is no pollen stored or coming into the hive, the queen will reduce her egg laying activities. Unsealed brood requires pollen to eat.
You should “Never” unite two hives together before you dispose of the inferior queen. It is intentionally cruel to force two queens to fight to the end. It is also intentionally cruel to pull all the food from a hive and leave them to suffer a long slow cold death. You should “never” move comb from one hive to another before you are absolutely certain that there is no disease present in that hive.
After performing the above inspection, you will usually find out which problem (maybe more than one thing) the hive is suffering from. If it is just that the queen is failing, (the bees are still good) dispose of the queen and properly unite the hive with a hive that could use the boost in bees and food. If the problem is from a high mite population, dispose of the queen and start a powdered sugar treatment to reduce the mite level (and dispose of any queen cells that are made). After the level is down, go ahead and unite the hive. If the hive has a disease, you should take all necessary measures according to the type of disease. If the weak hive is suffering from low food supply, you have options according to how much time you have before the cold weather hits and or how much this hive is worth to you. If possible, you may have time to feed this hive if it is worth saving. A nuc is better than a package of bees in the spring time. People winter nucs up North all the time.
Let’s not forget all the pesticide use that you have subjected the hive to all year long. It is certainly enough to have caused the hives to become weak. If you have to use chemicals in the hive, then you do not have a hygienic queen. A hygienic queen will produce bees that will keep the mite level down and keep the hive clean without the use of pesticides in the hive.
More and more beekeepers are getting away from chemical use and it works. You just have to have the right queen source.
Reponse to: Newbees, Bee-Ware!
By Anne Frey
ABJ Vol 152 No 1, January 2012 pg 41
It’s hard to know where to start or how to respond. I certainly wish to be respectful to the author and I wish to acknowledge things I agree with. I’m sure it was intended to be helpful. I am sorry to be long winded, but it seems to require a point by point analysis and that is a bit long for a letter, so I will limit this to only a few points, mostly swarming and wintering.
First I guess I’ll give my background. I built my first top bar hive back in the 70’s based off of a Greek basket hive. I built my first horizontal hive a few years later and my first horizontal top bar hive about ten years ago. I’ve kept between three and five of them since. I have top bar hives that can take standard medium frames and I have some Kenya style ones. I’ve had top bar hives in the Panhandle of Nebraska (USDA zone 5) and in Southeast Nebraska (USDA zone 6). For 29 years most of my hives were the typical Langstroth double deeps with shallow supers. Now most of my hives are eight frame medium Langstroths.
The author has some valid points. It seems a lot of people get into top bar hives with a lot of misconceptions. They seem to think that a top bar hive is “natural” and there is no other way to have a natural hive of bees. I’m not exactly sure where this comes from, but I suppose part of it is that a typical top bar hive has natural comb and a typical Langstroth hive has foundation. But I have seen top bar hives done with foundation, and I have thousands of foundationless frames in Langstroth hives. So, if your only reason for going with a top bar hive is to get natural comb, you have other alternatives.
Another is the belief that the shape is more natural. I’d have to say ANY shape is natural. I’ve seen successful colonies in soffits, gas tanks, walls of houses, floors of houses—bees aren’t particular about the shape. I see nothing more or less natural about a top bar hive. But the author makes the same error assuming natural is vertical rather than horizontal. Either is just as natural for bees and I see successful colonies in both configurations in the “wild” and in my hives.
The issue of “cold starving” is hardly unique to top bar hives. Starving within reach of stores is a common issue with Langstroth hives. Assuming that having a hive horizontal is the cause is “post hoc ergo proctor hoc”, the primary error in logic. Anyone with Langstroth hives in a cold climate for any time has seen this in a vertical hive. Occasionally you see a horizontal hive eat their way to one end with stores at the other and they starve if there isn’t a break in the weather. But if you put the entrance on the end (which I would highly recommend) you hardly ever have this issue in a horizontal hive as the brood nest is almost always at the entrance end. However if you have middle entrance, then I recommend (as the author quoted me) that you move the stores to one end and the bees to the other so they can work way from one end to the other. But again, this is not unique to horizontal hives. A Langstroth cluster often leaves stores behind as well and gets stuck.
To pick just two convenient examples, the idea that a top bar hive doesn’t do well in cold climates is inconsistent with the experiences of Dennis Murrel (in Casper, WY, USDA zone 4) and my experience in Nebraska.
It is also inconsistent with the history of beekeeping. Swienty (Swedish bee supply company) still sells a horizontal hive which is the traditional hive in all of Scandinavia and Russia. According to Eva Crane, horizontal hives have been and still were, at the time of her writing “The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting” (1999), the most popular style hive in every climate from the far North to the tropics.
The study which is quoted to demonstrate how poorly horizontal hives winter, says “When packages were received in mid-May, many appeared weak and several absconded soon after being installed. In addition, the packages arrived too late to take advantage of the spring/summer nectar flow, the best source of nectar for most of New Hampshire” and later, “The project resulted in over 97% loss of colonies, but many of those losses stemmed from weak packages and queens, unfavorable weather and lack of beekeeping experience.” I’m sure the same could be said of a lot of winter losses in Langstroth hives. The fact is that packages have been of less quality in recent years and winter losses have sky rocketed for everyone in every kind of equipment. The results of this study appear to be irrelevant due to the circumstances that occurred.
One of the author’s points is: “2: More care needed with overwintering.”
I take no more care overwintering with top bar hives than any of my other hives and have just as good success. If I had a center entrance, I might have to move some stores around, but I don’t. If I did, that wouldn’t be that much work if I only have a few hives.
One of the REASONS for a top bar hive is that you want a horizontal hive to eliminate lifting all those boxes to get to the brood nest. But you can build a horizontal Langstroth hive. I have a few and they do just as well as the top bar hives.
I think the real reason for a top bar hive is that you can build it from scraps for next to nothing AND you get the above benefits, to wit: natural comb, (with both natural cell size and clean chemical free wax) no boxes to lift (horizontal). If you want all of these in one combination, then a top bar hive is for you.
The biggest down side I see is that a top bar hive, because it has a limited and fairly constant space, requires more frequent interventions to manage it well. This is not a problem when it’s in your back yard and you can’t wait to get into the hive. But it’s very inconvenient if it’s somewhere further away where you have to drive there.
The swarming issue brought up by the author is not so much the fault of a top bar hive per se, as a SMALL top bar hive. Some of the commercially available ones are very small and in that case I would have to agree they are almost impossible to manage without swarming. You need a volume AT LEAST equal to two Langstroth deeps. You only have a limited space to work with and no supers to add on, so if you start with a very small TBH, it will swarm. Constantly. You need to start with a large one and manage the space well. But the labor of management is less. Fewer boxes to lift. Easier to get to the brood nest if you want to check for queen cells. It requires a lot LESS labor to manage a top bar hive to prevent swarming, but more frequent interventions.
New South Carolina Honey Law Exempts Small Producers
Looks like we have a new honey law in South Carolina as far as extracting and how much we can produce without a honey house.
TO AMEND SECTION 39 25 20, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO TERMS AND THEIR DEFINITIONS REGARDING ADULTERATED OR MISBRANDED FOOD AND COSMETICS, SO AS TO PROVIDE A DEFINITION FOR THE TERM “HONEY” AND TO PROVIDE LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR HONEY.
Amend Title To Conform
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 39 25 20 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding at the end:
“The term ‘honey’ means the raw food product produced by honeybees for human consumption. Honey and honey products are subject to all labeling requirements of this chapter. Honey sold wholesale to other retail outlets for resale must be processed and packaged in an inspected and registered food processing facility in accordance with the act regardless of the amount of overall honey produced by the beekeeper.
Beekeepers producing no more than four hundred gallons (4,800 pounds) of honey annually and who only sell directly to the end consumer are exempt from inspections and regulations requiring honey to be processed, extracted and packaged in an inspected food processing establishment, or from being required to obtain a registration verification certificate (RVC) from the Department of Agriculture. However, labels are required on all containers of honey that are sold in South Carolina. Beekeepers must file for the exemption on forms to be provided by the Department of Agriculture.”
Re-activation of Brother Adam’s Mating Station on Dartmoor
The summer of 2012 will see the re-activation of Brother Adam’s isolated mating station on Dartmoor. After something over 80 years, Buckfast Abbey had decided to cease using the mating station. The Dartmoor mating station played an important part in the development of the Buckfast bee, its distance from other apiaries being critical. It would have been a terrible shame to allow this site to remain out of use, and for no Buckfast bees to be bred in the United Kingdom, which is their country of origin. So permission and access was sought from the farmer to re-activate the famous mating station for the original use. In addition to this, the Abbot of Buckfast Abbey has graciously permitted the use of the Buckfast name for our queen bees, bred, according to the selection methods and breeding tools taught to us by Brother Adam.
In September 2011 Peter Little visited the mating station, finding it was becoming rundown and overgrown. Many of Brother Adam’s hives had been left on site, some of them having intact combs unused for some time. These will remain in the mating station, although Peter plans to use different designs.
The re-activation of the Dartmoor mating station and the re-commencement of serious breeding of the Buckfast bee in the United Kingdom is a project that began under the initiative of Roger White (Cyprus) and Peter Little (UK). In addition to the Dartmoor station, two other mating stations will also be set-up at remote locations on Exmoor. The management of the breeding program will be under the direction of Roger White, whilst the actual day-to-day management of the mating stations and supervision of the breeding stock in the UK will be under the direction of Peter Little of Somerset.
As the production of the queens will involve a marriage between the existing Buckfast programs and the Cyprus based Superbee breeding program, it has been decided to use the name “Buckfast Superbee queen bees” to best describe the queens produced. Permission to use the name has been sought from and given by the holders of the ‘’Buckfast Superbee” name.
The main aim of this co-operation is the breeding of a present-day Buckfast type bee and the production of these queens for our own use and so that they will be available to UK and beekeepers in other European countries who wish to carry out their beekeeping with this type of bee. Emphasis is on a docile, highly productive bee with a low swarming index. Future selection will be to increase the resistance to Varroa destructor and to increase the hygienic behavior in general.
The project will be supported by the Buckfast breeding programs of Roger White’s Superbee based in Cyprus and Crete, Greece using present instrumental insemination, isolated and island mating stations and Peter Little’s breeding program in Somerset supported by instrumental insemination and isolated natural matings.
The first batch of queens will be available around the end of June 2012.
Further information may be obtained from: http://www.superbee-cy.com/ or http://www.exmoorbeesandbeehives.co.uk/
A Buckfast beekeeper’s group for English speaking Buckfast beekeepers has been formed and their website is: http://www.buckfastbeekeepersgroup.co.uk/ with a discussion forum: http://bbgroup.forum-phpbb.co.uk/ membership is free and open to all.
New California Beekeepers
Our love affair with bees began the day we met Steve Gentry.
A beekeeper for over 30 years, Steve has been selling honey in northern California at the San Ramon Farmer's Market since it opened, as well as the markets in Orinda, Lafayette and Walnut Creek. We were enthralled by his extensive knowledge, his relaxed and jovial nature, and, of course, his heavenly honey.
Brian, who’d recently been laid off from his Internet marketing job in San Francisco, had found himself a mentor and a new path. He began working with Steve and his bees several days a week.
Meanwhile, our 10-year-old son Dylan (then 7) joined the Tassajara chapter of 4-H, and got involved with the Bee Project, led by Douglas Graver. Dylan received a blue ribbon two years in a row at the county fair for the Bee Project entry. He was thrilled when he got his own bee suit for Christmas.
One of the reasons we decided to keep honey bees is to help strengthen their numbers, at least here in our own community. We established our first hive with bees that Brian and Dylan rescued from several abandoned, broken down hives near Berkeley.
Since we began our bee venture, some of our friends expressed interest in hosting bees on their property. Brian and Dylan maintain the hives, and our friends get to enjoy watching their gardens flourish, knowing they are helping boost the honeybee population. And, of course, come summer, they get to share in the delights of local honey – right in their own backyards.
In 2011, Brian served as President of the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association (MDBA is one of the largest beekeeping clubs in northern California, with almost 400 members). This year marks our fourth as members. Brian has been re-elected to serve in 2012, but even more exciting is the fact that Dylan has been elected Vice President for 2012 – the club’s first 10-year-old officer!
Dylan got involved by first serving as assistant librarian and helping out with the raffle. He felt comfortable using a microphone and enjoyed calling out the winning numbers. MDBA members seemed impressed with his maturity and charisma.
January 12 was the first MDBA meeting of the new year, and Dylan’s duties as vice president will began. He is responsible for ordering raffle items and running the raffle itself, and is delighted to have this opportunity. Proceeds from the raffle fund member and community education programs, including school visits, garden club talks, local county and state fair entries, etc.
Brian and Amy Wort
Beekeeping has become a passion for me; however, I will readily admit that in two years of experience, I've done many foolish things, most of them unintentional…
But to deliberately kiss a cluster of bees? Most people would no doubt shake their heads. Yet I imagine that some beekeepers have done the same, and others at least contemplated doing so. Isn't the relationship with honey bees a love affair for many of us, after all?
That first kiss is always a memorable experience, and kissing bees for the first time is special in it's own way. It took a bit of nerve, but, just like any first kiss, it was awesome!
This swarm was, for our region, a very late one (early September) and I was not sure how long they had been clustered there. As opposed to most swarms in my experience so far, they seemed very reluctant to leave the branch. Once I finally brushed most of the cluster into a hive box, the reason became obvious — they had been there long enough to accept the tree (only 50 feet from the parent colony) as a new home and start building a comb on that branch.
It took a few hours for all the bees to leave their chosen nest site, even with the queen already in the box below. Given those circumstances, it was surprising that I didn't get stung.
This swarm-kissing self-portrait was done by a trusting bee-lover who may not know any better, and generally doesn't wear any protective clothing. Should you disregard the potential 'danger' -- keep in mind that kissing a cluster of bees really tickles the lips, so bee prepared… and DON'T sneeze!
Tell Me Honeybees
A poem by Dick Marron
photos by Ian London
Tick-tock the mortal clock
Just time to gather stock
Of the flower-bounty
Tell me honeybee,
Did you ever stop to see
Or ever stop to think
That you live upon the brink;
That there will be a final measure
Of summers golden treasure?
When you woke, you cleaned the cell
That had housed and kept you well;
Then began a life so loyal
To your mother oh so royal.
When you fed your sisters
The magic in your mixtures;
When you lacquered up the wall
Did you ever think: … “Is this all?”
Did you guard the gate with pride
Keeping warm and safe inside
Replacements of the corps
Of bee sisters, evermore?
At last you use your wings
And know so many things
… the ecstasy it brings.
And when your wings are tattered
Will you wonder if you mattered?
Did you ever take a break
Or think, for heaven’s sake
Of what’s beyond the gate?
As you drag your mortal coil
To join it with the soil
Will you answer what I’m asking
And end my stupefaction?
She answered with surprise
And laughter in her eyes:
“It’s dumb to look for meaning!
It’s a great distraction.”
“All of life is action.”
My Favorite Bee Poem
Reading Dick Marron’s poem reminded me of a “blast from the past.”
When Mary Toynbee sent this poem to me in 1986, I liked it so well that I featured it on the cover of the March 1988 American Bee Journal.
The sun was shining brightly,
Though winter’scarcely past,
The bees were out in jolly force,
From cluster free at last.
All tumbling round the doorway,
More myriads in the air;
One landed on my eyebrow,
Another in my hair —
But off they went rejoicing
That spring had finally come.
Reluctantly I turned away,
With duties to be done.
“Twas later in the afternoon
Again I climbed that hill
To see how fared my little friends
As evening’s early chill
Was spreading ‘cross the shadowed land,
The sun behind a cloud.
I wondered what had happened
To that wildly wanton crowd.
The beehive, it stood silent
Beneath the slate-gray sky,
And not one darting figure
To catch my searching eye.
But there upon the landing board
In sorrowful array:
Sixteen little bodies
All curled and crumpled lay.
Caught too quick by springtime’s prank
— Too eager and too bold —
They’d dropped just short of sisters’ warmth,
Their body-blood turned cold.
I poked them with my finger;
Quite dead they seemed to be.
But then — one small antenna moved
As if to beckon me.
I quickly scooped them in my hand
And cupped my fingers round
And breathed warm breath upon that heap
So gripped in sleep profound.
At length I felt a tickle
Of tiny little feet,
And wings that started stirring
With short and shivery beat.
I breathed some more and peeked within,
And sure enough — ‘twas true:
That heap of cold-dead bodies
Came alive — like Lazaru!
Some pushed, some crawled, some wriggled,
Struggling to be free
From each other’s cold embrace,
Restored to dignity.
One by one I took them
Upon my finger tip
And placed them to the open door
Of home. Without a slip
Each one in haste and hurry
Responded to the hum
Of sister’s wings and warmth within,
Until at last just one
Remained upon my dampened palm -
Her sisters didn’t wait.
Fifteen made it safely home,
But for one I was too late.
These fifteen bees, I don’t suppose,
When summer comes and nectar flows,
Will add much honey to the pot,
And by their sisters quick forgot —
But never mind—let secrets be
Between these fifteen bees and me.
Mary W. Toynbee
Lotion Bar Primer Article
Many beekeepers have contacted me about purchasing the smallest bee mold shown in photo 2. It is called a 'Bee Applique' Mold product number 10997, available from www.GloryBeeFoods.com. All measurements for ingredients are done by weight except teaspoons or tablespoons. I'm glad everyone is enjoying themselves this winter making lotion bars!
Letters to the Editor - February 2012
Concerned About Monsanto in the Bee Business
I am writing in response to a letter from Nitzan Paldi of Beeologics. Yes, as you mentioned I am concerned about Monsanto getting into the bee business. This is a company whose past and present history is not a good one. For you to mention that they have a commitment to sustainable agriculture could not be further from the truth. They have the same old commitment to chemical agriculture which is the total opposite of sustainable agriculture.
Chemical farming damages the land and the environment whereas sustainable does the opposite. Is it not ironic Monsanto has chosen to enter the bee business claiming to work to improve the health of the bee? Many beekeepers have the opinion (which I agree with) that they contributed to the decline of the bee's health through the products they market. Not an uncommon business plan selling a product which you make a profit off of while creating another problem which you sell another product to make more profit.
Considering Monsanto's history, (pcb's, agent orange, GMO's, toxic dump sites, revolving door with government/Monsanto, etc.) I definitely will pass while looking over my shoulder. My guess they would try to patent the bee and sue me when I captured a swarm. I believe a Trojan horse has arrived.
New Drug for American Foulbrood
On November 16, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the availability of a Public Master File (PMF) containing safety and effectiveness data to support a new animal drug application (NADA) or supplemental NADA for use of lincomycin hydrochloride water soluble powder for the control of American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae) in honey bees.
These data have been reviewed by FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of this product. Sponsors need to supply the additional manufacturing, labeling, and other required information to constitute a complete NADA. Today’s announcement is not for the approval of this product - only that data are available to support a pharmaceutical sponsor’s new animal drug application.
The data, contained in Public Master File (PMF) 5988, were compiled by the USDA’s Minor Use Animal Drug Program (formerly, the National Research Support Project 7 (NRSP-7), a national research program that facilitates generation of data to support FDA approval of new drugs for minor uses and minor species of agricultural importance. Pfizer will be submitting the rest of the information needed to obtain approval for this indication on the current product label.
Source: Stephen F. Sutherland DVM, Senior Director of U.S. Regulatory Affairs at Pfizer Animal Health’s Veterinary Medicine Research and Development organization. (courtesy SE Michigan Beekeepers Association)
Michael G. Hansen
Regional Supervisor/State Apiarist
Michigan Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Development
Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division
St. Joseph, MI 49085
In New England we had "The Perfect Storm" and now we have had "The Perfect Swarm". My friend Stanford Brown has kept bees since he was 12 years old. In this photo he is 91. Swarms do not come more perfect than this. I had to set down the camera to snip off the branch, we tied up the bag and brought the swarm to an existing hive that was weak. The landowner was happy to have the bees removed and we thought we had a once in a life time swarm catch because they do not come more perfect than this.
Letters to the Editor - January 2012
Pushing The Adoption of State Honey Standards
In a letter from the FDA dated Oct. 14, 2011, the agency has once again denied the major industry groups petition for a national standard. Was anyone surprised by the news? No. Since 2006 when the Petition was submitted, the FDA has been courteous, almost to a fault, always sending hints that “this year” beekeepers and honey packers would get their standard, and every year, the answer was the same; no…
Dedicated beekeepers across the U.S. gave up on the FDA in 2007 and decided to do for themselves what their government would not do for them; they started campaigning for state-adopted honey standards. Florida was the first, followed soon after by California. Since that time Wisconsin, Utah, and the most recent state, Nebraska, now have standards of identity for honey (North Carolina recently adopted an impressive state association standard).
What’s even more impressive are the number of states which have the issue before their legislature or departments of agriculture: Texas, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Missouri, New York, Montana, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Tennessee. Beekeepers in Georgia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are working to begin discussions in their state associations or farm bureaus.
As every state legislative session convenes, more and more of these states will get a honey standard. Do these dedicated men and women believe their state honey standard will assure that never again will a consumer end up purchasing a jar of adulterated honey? No. The mantra of the FDR years, “The government is your friend; the government will protect you” is no more. We live in a global economy where neither the federal nor state governments will ever again, or at least not for a long time, be able to protect their citizenry from those who put our food supply at risk or sell our consumers deceptive products, or in the case of honey, adulterated junk.
Beekeepers who lick their wounds in private and say “things will be better next year” will end up with next year no better than the first. Fortunately, staunch supporters of honey standards have refused to be defeated. Sue Daly in Ohio, Pat Bono in New York, Byron Rice in Maryland and many other hard-working, good ole stubborn beekeepers know that having a state honey standard is better than having nothing at all.
With so many states working on standards, it has been hard maintaining an accurate list of what states are involved in the initiative and who is spearheading the project. The more information I have about what is happening in a state, the better I can lend support and make sure all beekeepers in a state are aware of each other’s work. I would appreciate it very much if you could both contact me by email, and let me know how goes the fight. The only hope left for the preservation of honey lies in the adoption of state standards of identity for honey.
Spokesperson for state adoption of honey standards
Nebraska Adopts Honey Standard
Upon the request of the Nebraska Beekeepers Association http://nebraskabeekeepers.org/ and following the lead of Florida and other States in an effort to spur the USDA into taking action, in 2011 the Nebraska Unicameral considered and adopted honey standard legislation, LB 114.
Senator Annette Dubas, representing District 34, http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist34/ introduced LB 114 to provide for a honey standard. http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/bill/view_bill.php?DocumentID=11934
The adopted slip law copy of the adopted bill reads as follows. www.nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/Slip/LB114.pdf LB 114 has been codified as statutory section 81-2,181. http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=81-2,181
In LB 114 the legislature instructed the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to promptly adopt regulations to implement LB 114. The NebDoA has proposed
such new regulations for Title 19, Chapter 3, sections 001 through 005. http://www.sos.ne.gov/rules-and-regs/regtrack/proposals/0000000000001030.pdf
The Nebraska Secretary of State is responsible for tracking the process of the adoption of the such regulations, and its website provides up to date information on that process. http://www.sos.ne.gov/rules-and-regs/regtrack/index.cgi
Prof. Michael J. O’Hara, J.D., Ph.D.
Finance, Banking & Law Department
College of Business Administration
Mammel Hall 228
University of Nebraska at Omaha
6708 Pine Street
Omaha, NE 68182-0048
There’s More to the Story
Dr. Conner’s July 2011 Traveling Beekeeper article mentions data from “beekeepers in the Mid-Atlantic region” that showed a three-to-one advantage in survival from nucleus colonies to package bees and then makes the linkage to examining queen stock. The data was a result of the project "Promoting Sustainable Beekeeping Practices through local production of nucs (nucleus colonies) and local queen honeybees" run by the Prince William Regional Beekeepers Association in Northern Virginia and funded by Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).
I offer ABJ readers a chance to view this bit of citizen science in the full report and appendices found here: http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewRept&pn=FS08-223&y=2011&t=1 and subsequent SARE article found here: http://www.southernsare.org/Newsand
Randy Oliver’s “The Rules Redux” . . . A Classic!
Randy Oliver’s defense (The Rules Redux, ABJ October 2011) of an earlier ABJ article is no doubt a classic must read for anyone new to beekeeping … or those tired of the old harangues issued by those individuals who believe they have a right to govern without regard for any valid observations. Trouble is, those setting out THEIR rules for beekeeping, either vocally in beekeeper meetings, privately, or in internet beekeeping sites are too set in their ways to realize their errors. In his hard hitting writing style he referred to those misguided people as “taliban.” Perhaps that word unsettles many in this post 9/11 era, but it is valid as he demonstrates to the reader the importance of studying the bee FIRST and what its PRIMARY needs are before the beekeeper dictates his misguided thoughts about bee hive management.
Mr. Oliver’s premier credential is being a successful full time beekeeper. He produces much honey in his yards and operates a pollination business along with producing many queens and nucs every year. He must get great satisfaction when he sells bees to those who will not follow his very simple beekeeping lessons which center on providing bees with (1) good food, (2) a warm and dry cavity, (3) low parasite counts, and (4) minimum toxins. Those four “cornerstones” are the bases for his Beekeeping classes that he teaches in colleges close to his California home.
He is particularly annoyed with those who make up rules about beekeeping and alarms his readers with the observation that nature has no rules and only the strong survive after enduring the cruel punishments provided by the errant mistress we sometimes call “mother.” He illustrates this by means of the queen excluder. He mentions that it is used by many successful beekeepers who have bumper crops of comb honey free of any brood. He points out there are many who refuse to admit such.
In his primary thesis or point of view, whichever you wish to call it, Mr. Oliver uses the main accomplishment of the Rev. L.L. Langstroth … that being the bee space, a simple linear measurement somewhere between three-eighths and half an inch long.
(Before I go any further let me diverge …. To be an ordained Minister Rev. Langstroth was educated in Philosophy and Theology. Philosophy taught him to think and how to think. Theology honed his ability to communicate, either verbally or in print. His Sunday Sermons and private meetings with members of his flock lead many to a deeper understanding of God.)
That very religious man/beekeeper saw a problem in honey production … the honey frames in those hives of the early 1800s were hopelessly stuck together in their helter-skelter arrangement. He also saw clear spaces. His observations lead him to believe this as a bee problem and not that of management. In other words, the Reverend thought for the bee FIRST. As with many problems in science he simply tried different spacings and eventually discovered what the bees knew all along AND WHAT IS BEST FOR BEES. Generally, they would not propolize a space known as the “bee space.” From his central observation and hypothesis that bees would not fill up certain holes and spaces lead to a revolution in beekeeping and is still unsurpassed.
Randy Oliver proposes the same basic and simple thinking of Rev. Langstroth. In other words, THINK for the bees FIRST and not about your own ill-conceived plans already proven worthless by someone not fully equipped. His observations about those talking with a religious fervor about beekeeping is particularly poignant. He pleads with his readers NOT to give human characteristics to bees (anthropomorphize), but to see the bees as insects first that can be controlled under some conditions favorable to bees and beekeepers.
Mr. Oliver’s writing style can be biting and “to the point.” He copied the following directly from a critic’s email: “The fate of bees does not rely on man; the fate of man relies on honeybees.” His response: Native North Americans had thriving agricultural societies long before honey bees were introduced to the continent and lived well in the absence of honey. He observes that many of today’s bee problems are the result of habitat destruction, monocropping, environmental pollution, overstocking, and pathogen transportation.
Another critic was quoted, “It sounds like you’re down on natural beekeeping.” His quick response, “… I support ‘natural beekeeping’. What I have a problem with is when it becomes a religion …”
Randy’s article will not change those with “captain concrete” minds (thoroughly mixed and well set) who would plant wheat by moon signs if given the opportunity. He has woken the awareness of beekeeping newcomers and veterans alike to search and develop better methods of beekeeping that are best for the bees.
Letters to the Editor - December 2011
"Honey Sells Everything But Honey"
I am relatively new in the honey business. Fifteen years ago I began buying USA bulk honey from a few honey processors and reselling it to food processors, mainly meat and poultry processors. To my customers, honey was a commodity; they required only that honey be Grade A to insure that the moisture level was low, maximum 19%; that deliveries were dependable; that price was relatively low.
My customers made and sold foods that were improved in flavor and in marketing by the addition of honey. They made sausages and roasted chicken and smoked turkey breast and chicken breast that had "honey" in their formulas. They labeled their products "HONEY-cured SAUSAGE", "HONEY-Cured Roast CHICKEN", "HONEY Cured Smoked TURKEY BREAST", "HONEY CURED HAM".
I saw other food products that also featured "HONEY" on their labels: HONEY Cereals, HONEY Cough Drops, HONEY Candies, HONEY cookies, HONEY Sweet Rolls, HONEY Sugar Buns. Obviously, "honey" performed a function in processed foods formulas and in their products' marketing.
I once asked a food ingredient buyer why his ingredient formulas called for honey instead of cheaper cane sugar. He replied, "honey sells everything but honey".
I knew his claim was an exaggeration, but he made a good point. Shoppers apparently prefer processed foods that are sweetened with honey over foods sweetened with other sweeteners. And since sales of honey-sweetened processed foods far exceeded sales of bottled honey, my buyer could claim "honey sells everything but honey".
At that time, processed food formulators had to comply with FDA regulations that defended two natural syrups, honey and maple syrup. FDA required that processed foods whose label stated 'honey' or 'honey flavor' must contain a minimum 10% honey. Similarly, processed foods whose label stated 'maple syrup' or 'maple flavor' had to contain minimum 10% real maple syrup.
But in the years since, FDA has apparently abandoned the requirement for a minimum honey content in processed foods that portend to contain honey. Not so for "maple" on a label; stating "maple' or 'maple flavor' on the label apparently still requires 10% real maple syrup in the formula.
Today we see many processed foods that feature the word 'HONEY' on the front label, but contain little or no honey! "Honey" is on the label, but barely exists in the ingredients. Or, in extreme cases, "HONEY" is prominent on the front label but doesn't appear at all in the ingredient list!
Somewhere, somehow, the FDA requirement for a minimum honey content in processed foods that claim 'honey' on their label, disappeared. In its place, the current FDA regulation states that FDA "may" require a specific minimum honey content in such processed foods. I didn't know that the declining content of honey in processed foods was studied in depth, product by product, by a concerned, diligent beekeeper, Jim Fisher. Jim Fisher's 'Wall of Shame' (http:bee-quick.com/wall/shame2.html) identifies many popular processed foods that violate what consumers naturally believe: that the product label accurately describes the product. ("Maple" flavored products carry labels that accurately identify the sweetener as real maple syrup. That is why so few pancake syrups show "maple" on their front label: to state "maple" or "maple flavor" on the label, FDA demands the product contain minimum 10% real maple syrup! Why not require the same honesty in 'honey' flavored foods?)
But it is insufficient to identify a problem without proposing a viable remedy. What's the remedy? What actions can be taken by beekeepers, honey dealers, honey importers and the concerned public to require that processed foods that claim to contain 'honey' actually contain a significant honey content?
We can petition FDA to require 10% real honey content in processed foods that display the word 'honey' on the front label. No new legislation is required to give FDA such authority. Current Federal Regulations state that FDA "may" establish a minimum honey content in processed foods that claim honey as an ingredient. Jim Fisher's market studies reveal that FDA does not now require a minimum honey content.
The word "Honey" on a food label should guarantee a significant honey content in the product. And my old customer's axiom will then be revised to "honey sells more than honey".
President, Great Foods Inc
National Honey Bee Day 2012
National Honey Bee Day 2012 has been scheduled for August 18, 2012 We ask that previous participating groups, as well as new interested groups and individuals make plans for this event. Now is the time for beekeepers and associations to get this event on the schedule for the upcoming year.
This is the fourth National Honey Bee Day event. The program involves beekeeping associations, individual programs, as well as public venues, simultaneously scheduled for one day to reach out to the public in a collective voice. This event is based on promoting and educating the public to honey bees, beekeeping, and how the environment impacts the industry.
Information, guidance, and details for participation can be found at www.national
honeybeeday.org. If your local bee association is not yet involved, please consider approaching your officers. This is a great program to expand the association with new beekeepers, as well as promote the local bee industry. If you do not have a local beekeeping association, or one willing to get
involved, we encourage individual participation. Even one beekeeper can make a huge impact in the local community.
If you have any questions, please email at mailto:email@example.com or call 717-938-0444
Honey Bee Collecting Pollen
The photo you are looking at is a honey bee collecting flower pollen, as I observed up close and personal. I now understand more about what it really takes for these honey bees as they are collecting pollen. I have a new respect for the honey bee.
Beekeeping Rap poems Help Educate
I write (and perform) educational rap poems. I live in Brooklyn where for sometime it was against the law to maintain honey bee hives. There was a big hubbub in the news when the ban was lifted. That's when I got the idea to write bee raps. Each rap is 36 lines, and each line is ten syllables or less. The rap can be used as a primer or as a review.
Letters to the Editor - November 2011
Canadian Barrier to U.S. Honey
As a 35 year commercial beekeeper and retail seller of honey a situation has arisen that I felt should be brought to the attention of other beekeepers.
As a beekeeper who lives 2 miles from the border with Canada, access to this market is important to me and important to our Canadian customers who come down to purchase our honey. The "door" has been effectively shut! For the last 25 years we have taken honey up and sold it and now Canadian regulations have cut that off as now the honey needs to be in approved metric sizes, French and English labels, approval by CFIA, all of which have created a barrier that's just too high for us to comply, so we no longer take it up and we’re forced to take it off grocery shelves in Rossland, B.C.
Now to add insult to injury, a Canadian customer who had come down and purchased a 5 gallon container, was turned back by Canadian Customs as the 5 gallon container is no longer allowed!
As I know much Canadian [honey] comes down to the U.S. by the semi-load duty free, this is just a little upsetting to me and also to my many loyal Canadian customers. I've contacted CFIA, USDA, Dept. of Commerce, and now you to complain about this unfair trade practice. I don't have much hope that any federal agency, either American or
Canadian, will do anything to remedy this situation, but I do believe that you giving it the light of day will have a much bigger effect.
If you would like to find out more,
please let me know, either by e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 509-732-6246.
Thoughts on Treating and Sampling for Varroa Mites
The problem I have with many of the articles on treating and sampling for Varroa mites is that there seems to be an underlying assumption that a Varroa mite is a constant in its ability to damage bee hives. Anyone that has kept bees for over 25 years, as I have, has seen the huge variability in individual colonies. This variability exists in the Varroa mites as well.
A Varroa mite is a parasite. In the realm of parasites, a Varroa mite is NOT a successful parasite because, at least initially, it killed its hosts, the bees. A parasite that kills its host cannot survive! Essentially if a hive dies from an infestation of Varroa mites then the Varroa mites die also.
As of today there are too many stories of people successfully keeping bees without any treatments for Varroa mites to dismiss. For people to keep bees without treatments for Varroa mites a couple of things must have occurred:
1.Bees must have evolved or adapted in some way to deal with a Varroa mite infestastion.
2.The Varroa mite must have evolved or adapted to become less virulent in order to let its host survive so it too could survive.
Most likely a combination of the two has occurred. We have seen the Varroa mite adapt to both Fluvalinate and Coumaphos in order to survive. To me it seems highly likely that the Varroa mites have also evolved to become less virulent to the bees in order to survive.
Getting back to my problem with many of the articles is that we can do ether rolls or whatever other complicated, time-consuming sampling technique for Varroa mites we choose, but however number of Varroa mites we come up with in our counts, we don’t know whether those mites are particularly virulent or whether they are transmitting viruses. In my opinion it does no good to sample or treat for Varroa if we don’t know how virulent the strain of Varroa is or what viruses it is carrying.
Maybe it makes more sense to look at the big picture. If a bee hive can survive the winter and produce a good honey crop, regardless of whether it has Varroa mites or not may be the only test that matters.
Russian Honey Bees
I am a Russian honey bee breeder and certified member of the Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association.
Today I received a copy of the August issue of Bee Craft which is the official journal of the British Beekeepers Association.
In it I find an interesting article from proceedings of the (IBRA) International Bee Research Association. Dr. Doran Pritchard’s presentation titled: Varroa Tolerance or Intolerance
The article begins and I quote: “Examining student reports has taught me that precision in language is a good indicator of the other qualities of any work reported. So does anyone really want Varroa-tolerant bees? If there were such things those hives would act as strongholds for the mites, from which they would harass the neighborhood. What we all should be working toward is Varroa intolerant bees.”
I felt a sense of vindication to hear this language clarification for I always considered my Russian bees to be mite intolerant in that they will tolerate only a limited number of varroa and resist others to the extent that they are unable to damage the colony. Dr. Pritchard then goes on to discuss progress and lack of progress in achieving mite resistance and refers to the Russian bees as an example of mite-resistant bees. Russian bees are resistant to mites and very intolerant of them in the hive or else they could not be managed without mite treatments. I too believe that the use of correct language is important.
An Early Summer Test of Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS)
Randy Oliver in ABJ September issue wrote:
Formic acid is an effective and well-proven Miticide, but with devilish problems in handling safety and in controlling the vaporization rate such that it will efficiently kill the mites without excessively harming the bees.
MAQS is the most user –friendly formic application method that I have seen to date.”
Randy I admire you for the amount of work you do and how you explain complicated issues in layman's beekeeper language...
The July “Rules for Successful Beekeeping” is a great example of the good work you do.
Unfortunately, the above MAQS article is damaging your credibility.
1- A few years ago you gave the same high appraisal to MITE AWAY II.
2- There is no “Devilish problems in handling safety” of formic acid if the beekeeper is careful and uses MITEGONE ready to fill kits and has common sense.
3- The method that will control “the vaporization rate such that it will efficiently kill the mites without excessively harming the bees” was developed in 1994 and patented in 2000. Refer to the MiteGone website at: http://www.mitegone.com. The problem in the USA is that liquid formic acid is not registered as a pesticide in the USA. Beekeepers can use it in their own hive, but no one can sell it for use on bees. Many who use it, keep quiet about it.
4- Your whole trial is SCIENTIFICALLY and STATISTICALLY incorrect. YOU forgot to do to your controls the same as was done to treatment colonies.
A- If you remove all capped brood and kill it in mid July when 90 % mites are in capped cells, you will have instant 90% efficacy and you will save the open brood in the colony.
B- If you caged the queens preventing them from laying, you will have the same reduction in mites by breaking the mite/bee brood cycle and you will not lose any queens.
C- If you did all of that manipulation on your control hives, you probably would have found that your control would have had the same efficacy as the MAQS treatment. The controls only lost capped brood while the treatment hive would have lost capped brood, open brood, and some queens; therefore to get the same or better results you do not need to use any acid at all.
Bill’s Honey Farm
Home of MiteGone Formic Acid Treatment
Kelowna, British Columbia
Randy Oliver Responds
Thanks for the comments, Bill. I am testing MAQS for my own information as a beekeeper, and sharing the results—good, bad, or indifferent—with my readership. Re: test and control groups, I am testing simply to compare the effect of MAQS treatment vs. no treatment upon the resulting mite levels.
I was not trying to compare treatment vs. any brood removal or queen caging methods.
Rattlesnakes in Almond Orchards
This year (2011) a rattlesnake was found in an almond orchard in the California Central Valley. No rattlesnakes had been reported in the area for over 60 years. There are an infinite number of ways that the rattlesnake could have arrived there. One possibility for the reader to consider is inside or under a bee hive. Bee alert! It is a rare occurence, but it does happen.
Portola Valley, California
Beekeeping in Oman
I read the article Beekeeping in the Sultanate of Oman, very interesting indeed. I allow myself to draw your attention to the right figure on page 878, the plant pictured is not Ziziphus spina Christi as mentioned, but one of the acacias. Both are in Israel and are very attractive to honey bees, mainly Ziziphus, which supplies pollen and nectar.
Dan Eisikowitch Ph. D.
Dept. of Plant Sciences
Tel Aviv University
Mxing Sugar Syrup
In my September 2011 article, “Feeding Basics”, I referred to mixing large quantities of syrup in clean or new metal garbage cans. Since then, readers have informed me that many garbage cans nowadays are not watertight and will leak. Therefore, if a beekeeper wants to use them for mixing syrup, he wIll need to solder the bottoms to make them watertight.
In addition, if plastic trash receptacles are used, try to avoid those with deep side grooves since they will make thorough sugar mixing more difficult. They have a tendency to hold in unmixed sugar.
Letters to the Editor - October 2011
Indian honey ban
Your August editorial urging the USA to immediately ban all imports of Indian honey because some shipments may include transshipped China honey is a bad idea. If Washington bans the import of Indian honey, what next? Do we then ban honey from all Asian countries if we suspect that their honey exports to USA may include honey of Chinese origin? And will the countries whose imports we ban simply accept our actions and not retaliate by banning our exports to them?
We have experience with banning imports. In 1930, with the Great Depression raging in USA, we banned the imports of products that competed too aggressively in our market. The Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930 banned the imports of 20,000 such goods. Countries with products on the USA ‘Denied Entry’ list retaliated by banning an equal number of USA goods.
The United States is the world’s biggest exporter. We must not jeopardize this achievement by acting irresponsibly against other countries’ exports to the USA.
USA laws banning the import of trans-shipped and false ‘country-of-origin’ goods are important to protect the USA consumer, as well as USA domestic producers of such goods, beekeepers and honey processors included. USA Customs is working hard to enforce these laws. With more time and a bigger budget, Customs will do a better job of identifiying and rejecting honey imports that violate our laws. The great majority of USA importers respect our laws and want USA Customs to enforce all laws on imported goods, including honey.
Bill Kentor, President
Great Foods Inc.
Letters to the Editor - September 2011
Restructive Laws which force the Cutting of Wildflowers Inspire Poem
The attached poem by me should be appropriate to publish in the ABJ. This poem is inspired by jurisdictions all over our nation who in ignorance are passing restrictive laws on cutting weeds (wildflowers) which the honey bees in my area depend on for fall pollen and nectar to overwinter.
38 year Beekeeper,
Maywood L. Wilson
Ode To A Honeybee
A field of weeds to a honeybee,
Is paradise to see,
Blooming wildflowers nectar sweet,
She gathers fore the Winters sleet.
No other creature supplies for man,
The honey that we eat,
To stay healthy and strong,
Thru Winter's cold and Summer's heat.
But foolish people set on boards,
And demand we mow them down,
With no knowledge of the ecosystem,
The honeybee is bound.
In Fall from weeds she gathers,
Pollen and nectar store,
To keep her brood thru Winters storms,
Till Spring will bring her more.
So cut the weeds and kill the bees,
Your ignorance will seal our doom,
Two-thirds of all the food we eat,
Depends on flowers bloom.
Maywood L. Wilson
Veteran Worker Bee
During our springtime honey flow this veteran worker, with time-worn wings, was photographed collecting nectar from a blackberry blossom - adding it's floral fragrance and taste to the ever-changing, always delectable honey crop produced here in East Tennessee.
Buzzy Bee Apiary
Oak Ridge, TN
In Defense of Warre Hives
Jerry Hayes writes that Warré hives look like a pain in the neck (ABJ 150(12), Dec 2010, p. 1113). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 'Warréors' love their hives. Warré's 'People's Hive' is almost as aesthetically pleasing as a WBC hive.
How do we administer pest, parasite and disease control in Warrés? Such control is far less necessary in the extensive beekeeping that Warré beekeepers practice. Contrast this with intensive beekeeping that has shown its spectacular failure in recent years. When required individual Warré combs are inspected after simply freeing them from the walls with a comb knife and resting them on a holder for close examination. Some Warré beekeepers do treat their colonies for Varroa, but as far as I know most don't, as they find it unnecessary. Their bees do fine without pesticides.
Hayes says that horizontally expanded (Kenyan) top-bar hives (hTBH) are better for comb manipulation than Warré's vertically expanded top-bar hive. In truth, both require a comb cutter to free the comb from the sides, whereas the smaller comb format of the Warré makes it easier to handle than hTBH combs. Furthermore, having kept Warrés for five seasons, I have never found the few connections of the combs to the top-bars of the box below to be a problem. Boxes so connected are easily freed with a slight rotation. Rarely is a cheesewire needed to separate them. Adhesion is almost eliminated by using smooth top-bars treated on the top surface with raw linseed oil.
Hayes says 'under supering is a pain'. Warré beekeepers rarely use supers, i.e. boxes placed on top of the nest. Instead, they allow the colony to extend naturally downwards by nadiring new boxes under the brood nest and harvesting from the top the boxes that have filled with honey as the brood hatches. This has a huge health benefit for colonies because old comb, which may harbor disease, as Hayes acknowledges, is automatically removed and rendered as the colony expands. If there's no assistance available for nadiring, we use a Gatineau lift. Mine cost $30 and will pick up five Warré broods without difficulty.
Hayes statement, 'you kill a lot of bees', may reflect his own experience with Warrés, but I don't kill bees with mine. I have not come across any Warréors who do. I and many others have also noticed that Warré bees are generally more docile than those in frame hives.
We concur with Hayes: Warrés are not honey factories. Those who use them are not primarily seeking honey money. Instead they want as bee-friendly a habitation for their bees as they can find, and yet still get some honey while complying with state bee disease inspection regimes.
Hayes writes: " 'bee space' ... allowed beekeeping to become easier, more efficient and enjoyable. It is the basis of all successful beekeeping. Are you sure you want to go back over 150 years into beekeeping history and re-invent the wheel?" We answer 'yes' and for sound scientific reasons detailed elsewhere. Bee space was invented to suit beekeepers. It is not present in a natural bee nest, nor is the pile of sticks that is needed to maintain it. Bees build holes through and round combs but know of no 'bee space'.
Towards the end of his comments on Warrés, Hayes implies that ugly words come out of his mouth when working with the hive. Let's face it: some personalities are just not suited to slow, sustainable, near-natural beekeeping. So let's have diversity of hive type and management as part of efforts to reduce the massive losses of honey bees that we in the UK often hear about from the USA.
In his 1887 book, British Beekeepers' Association co-founder Frank Cheshire classified hives for bees and hives for beekeepers. The Warré hive is a hive for bees par excellence.
For more on the Warré hive itself see www.warre.biobees.com, and on the scientific basis of bee-friendly beekeeping see www.bee-friendly.co.uk .
The recent article [July 2011, "Rules" for Successful Beekeeping] by Randy Oliver is a recap of the talk Randy gave to our club recently. Randy has his pulpit and gets to say whatever he wants.
Randy chooses to embrace chemical treatments of his bees. That's his prerogative. He very fervently justifies this to himself and to others through his talks and writings. If you don't agree he brands you a Taliban? I'm very suspicious of this zeal to righteousness.
In the 25 plus years of my beekeeping life there have been many changes in the way bees are kept.
We are organic farmers. We have never used any chemical treatments on our certified organic farm and the farm is very successful with few if any pest problems. We do this by building the soil. Healthy soil builds strong plants. Strong plants don't get sick. This is the organic method.
We observed a similar system applied to beekeeping at the apiary of John Kefuss north of Toulouse, France in 2009. John is arguably the godfather of non-chemical treatment beekeeping. His credentials are impeccable. An article that appeared in the ABJ about John can be found at:
We searched one of his apiaries for mites and after an hour of opening up hives and pulling out pupae, we never found one mite. He offers one Euro cent for every mite anyone finds in his apiary.
John advertises throughout Europe to purchase mite-infested capped brood so he can keep up resistance to mites in his apiaries. He believes that mites will one day become extinct because their hosts will be naturally resistant.
I really don't need someone to lecture me about how good chemicals are for my bees. If someone wants to keep their bees that way, then good for them. I will not be labeling them the Taliban of all beekeepers for their choice.
We are making progress with our bees this year. We have a plan and it's all about breeding bees that are naturally resistant to mites.
Randy Oliver Responds
Jerry, I feel that you may have completely missed the point of both my presentation to your club, as well as that of my article. My point was to free beginning beekeepers from some of the dogmatic exhortations by proponents of some methods. For example, I'm also a long-time organic gardener and orchardist, but I don't try to force my personal preferences upon others.
Far from "embracing" chemical treatments, the reality is that I have a clear history of promoting the breeding of naturally resistant bees as the first choice in fighting varroa, using biotechnical methods as the second, and resorting to the use of natural treatment with organic acids or botanicals only if necessary (for hobbyists). I don't support the use of any synthetic miticides.
As with you, in my own operation I breed for resistant stock, with considerable success, and also use the excellent USDA Russian and VSH lines. In addition, I offered your club assistance in breeding locally-adapted stock (as I have already done for two of your neighboring clubs).
Jerry, I am very sorry if I offended you-the point of my article was simply to point out that beekeeping should be free of rigid dogma. This must have struck a chord with beekeepers, as I received more positive feedback from beekeepers and researchers than for all my previous articles combined!
Slovenian Beekeeping Association Initiates Save the Bees Campaign
Apiculture is a traditional agricultural activity in Slovenia. Anton Janša (1734-1773), the first apiculture teacher in imperial Vienna, brought the knowledge of the Slovenian rural beekeeper to the world more than 230 years ago. One hundred years later the region became renowned for its bee, Apis mellifera carnica, which soon became famous throughout the world.
Bees have remained uniformly populated throughout the territory of Slovenia, thereby contributing to maintaining the balance of nature. By pollinating indigenous and cultivated plants, bees contribute the most to food production by far. International experts assess pollination as having a 10- to 20-times greater economic significance than the direct economic significance of apiculture products.
Bees are not only important as pollinators in agriculture, for through pollination they also significantly contribute to the extraordinary biological diversity in our country, which Slovenian experts rank as one of the most naturally rich regions in Europe. Today the conditions for apiculture have changed: presence of varroa mites in bee colonies, intensive agriculture and the use of phyto-pharmaceutical preparations, climatic changes and environmental pollution, all of which have resulted in apiculture becoming an increasingly endangered industry. To avoid the catastrophic effects of the deterioration of bee colonies, the Beekeeping Association of Slovenia has launched the large Save the Bees campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to declare bees as an endangered animal species, inform the public of the importance of bees, emphasize the need for educating and training young beekeepers, increase bee pastures through the planting of bee plants and trees, increase the number of studies on bee maintenance, eliminate and decrease the detrimental effects of using phyto-pharmaceutical substances, increase the concern for a clean environment and clean water, and encourage a nature-friendly economy, etc.
We collected 30,000 signatures in 2010 with the Save the Bees Petition, asking the competent institutions to adopt suitable legal solutions in line with the specified demands.
The Beekeeping Association of Slovenia carries out numerous activities within the scope of the Save the Bees project. We call on Slovenian municipalities to only plant indigenous medicinal plants in public spaces such as parks and lawns, inform people of the importance of bees through educational and promotional materials, proclaim municipalities and companies whose activities are environmentally-friendly as bee-friendly, cooperate with the association Eco Slovenia and collect donations within the fund for preserving Carniolian honey bees in order to build didactical apiaries in the adjacent surroundings of Slovenian elementary schools. We also established the Save the Bees website in a number of languages.
Our mission and objective are to inform as wide a circle of people of the significance of bees for our environment and lives. Therefore, we have also prepared promotional shirts bearing the slogan: "No bees, no life", "Keep healthy through bees" and "Plant a flower for a bee".
Next year at the end of March Slovenia will be the host of the Second International Conference of Beekeeping Organizations. This Conference will be dedicated to the preservation and planting of indigenous, melliferous, bee plants across European countries. The Beekeeping Association of Slovenia is also calling on apiculturists from other countries to join in the campaign, for we should all have the same goal, namely to SAVE THE BEES.
Additional information and promotional activities are available at the website www.ohranimo-cebele.si.
Pres. of the Beekeeping Association of Sloveni
Letters to the Editor - August 2011
Controlling small hive beetles?
My wife and I started beekeeping just one year ago. We have five acres in a rural area about half way between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. Our yard backs up to a two-acre pond. Nearby is farmland and a lake surrounded by a forest.
The site we chose for our apiary is near the pond with a line of arbor vitae in between for a proper windbreak. I decided to use concrete pavers, left over from having sidewalks installed around our house, for the foundation of our apiary.
First, I laid thick black plastic sheets on the ground and then placed the pavers on top. The plastic sheets were to prevent grass from growing up between the pavers. Since the ground is on a slight incline, I leveled the hives using concrete slabs that were once used for A/C units. These slabs provided excellent stabilization.
Because skunks are prevalent in our area and we occasionally have horses passing through our yard, I installed a fence with a gate around the apiary.
In reading articles about small hive beetles, I learned that they are capable of flying several miles. The females lay eggs in the cracks and crevices of the hives, and sometimes on brood comb. The larvae enter the soil within a few feet of a hive and dig down several inches. They create underground chambers where the larvae change into pupae and then into adults. The new adult small hive beetle will dig its way out of the soil. In about one week, the adult female will start laying eggs in the hives.
By using the leftover pavers and plastic sheets, could I have accidently prevented the small hive beetles from infesting our hives by denying them access to the soil? Maybe this was unknowingly a proactive prevention mechanism. The bottom line is, we have no small hive beetles.
Beekeeper Bio: My wife and I started with two colonies in 2010, and now have four colonies including one top-bar hive. We are members of the Howard County Beekeepers Association.
American Bee Journal, Vol. 151, No. 6, "Honey Bee Biology" by Dr. Wyatt A. Mangum
ABC & ZYZ of Bee Culture, Forty-first edition
Ross L. Englehart
Letters to the Editor - July 2011
The Extraordinary "Honey Man" of Florida
I'm lucky to call him my mentor, he's George Waldoch "the Honey man", 91 years young and still helping teach novice beekeepers and keeping 100 + hives himself in Northeast Florida.
One day a couple of years ago George invited me to accompany him to check one of his apiaries and that began a year's adventure for me traveling with him from time to time to help and learn.
George began beekeeping as a child in Minnesota on the family farm and came with his father to Florida to bring hives for the winter. After military service, George settled in Florida with his family. He sold and serviced sewing machines and made many friends in the area. This hard working father of four is known fondly by one local resident I spoke with recently as "the dear man who was determined to help my mother provide sewing machines for her daughters and the wonderful source of our local honey too." There are many such stories.
And these days he is still busy attending our local association meetings, often bringing a spray of whatever wildflower is blooming to help teach. He is held in such high regard that members stand in line to greet him and ask for his advice. Always modest, George enjoys the questions and provides straightforward solutions to beekeeping issues.
Decorated Hive Donated to Michigan Garden Club
We donated this decorated hive to our local Master Gardeners Club to be displayed and used as an educational hive. The windows actually open up on the side and back to reveal the bees. We are also going to be doing another demonstration with a hive give away at our "Wild Lapeer Day" on May 21st. We will be giving out 8-frame supers to be painted and decorated. They will then return the supers 30 days later at the Master Showcase Gardens for judging. We will then give away another modified hive (It will either look like a log cabin or a barn) to the winner we think painted/decorated the nicest super. People always think hives have to be a boring white - we are trying to educate people that they don't have to be that way. We have received such a good response from the hive so far - more people are thinking about getting into bees!
Eric Kramer was the beekeeper who made the hive. I'm the beehaver (the bees are on my property because his wife doesn't like bees, but she's learning to. They live across the road from me and they help me on the farm)
New Bee Article Site Available
I work on the Digital Media team at Discovery Communications and wanted to inform you of a content feature we're launching today. We've developed and compiled nearly 50 articles related to issues and challenges facing bees and will be featuring this collection of content across our network of sites today. Based on the work your organization does, we wanted to make you aware of this collection of content in case you find it useful. Please feel free to share this link with others interested in creating awareness around the many issues facing bees. http://news.discovery.com/earth/bees-colony-collapse-honey.html
I write this to all beekeepers; veterans and new alike. Both groups need to appreciate the other and be willing to help the other. Not everyone will have a lot of time to help another beekeeper. The veteran may be able to answer emails and phone questions, but not have the time to spend a day in another apiary. That's understandable; however, if you could put that new beekeeper in contact with someone who has the time for onsite visits it would be greatly appreciated.
Both groups can potentially learn something new or see something old in a new light. I have heard veteran beekeepers tell new beekeepers that something shouldn't be done that way, it will not work like that, or it needs to be done like this. Also, I have heard veterans say that you have to have at least a certain number of hives to be successful. I ask veterans to keep in mind that they may have a different goal in mind than the new beekeeper who may be seeking advice. The new beekeeper may only want just a few hives. Please be careful not to push a certain technique of the way things should be done just because it works for you. Take the time to discuss the alternatives and the reason you chose the method used by yourself. Without the right encouragement and support, new beekeepers can feel like they don't fit in with other beekeepers, that their ideas are "wrong" and that the methods they want to try are stupid ideas. Eventually, they may feel stupid and discouraged. If the beekeepers feel stupid and become discouraged, they may pull away from beekeeping without even giving themselves a chance.
All of us have been to bee schools and club meetings and seen the number of different people who attend. How many of those different people do we see who continue to come to meetings and bee schools? If we look at the ages of current beekeepers, we will notice many are in older age classes. We all need to try and encourage younger beekeepers so our experience and way of life continue for future generations. Everyone needs a little encouragement; whether it is veteran who lost 50% of his hives over the winter or the new beekeeper who is struggling to keep one hive going. Remember that what is common knowledge to a veteran may be like a foreign language to a new beekeeper.
As we enjoy our interest, it is important to note beekeeping has changed in recent years and will continue to change as we face the changing environment. What beekeepers know and the management styles we use will need to continue to change to stay successful. New beekeepers need to be made aware of the everyday challenges of beekeeping as well. Everyone has split hives to prevent swarming, but even though the hive isn't strong enough to swarm, they still swarm. Bees will do what they want if they want to bad enough. Veterans have for the most part learned to accept these things about beekeeping. A new beekeeper may not know that the bees cannot always be controlled; that things don't always work as they were discussed at the meeting, or as written in books.
I can't count the number of times I have heard it said a management style that works for one beekeeper may not work for another. However, beekeepers still tell others that their management idea will not work. For example, some beekeepers treat with chemicals, but others do not. Many beekeepers automatically assume that all beekeepers treat with chemicals. This is just like saying that everyone uses two deep hive bodies, but not everyone does. Each beekeeper will find their own way to keep bees; which should be what the veteran is striving for. Knowing they helped another new beekeeper reach the point that they can run their bee hives by themselves should be a good feeling for a veteran. Every situation is different, every beekeeper's goals and ideas are different. If the veteran and the new beekeeper have similar thoughts and/or goals about beekeeping then the process will go better. Having very different ideas for beekeeping between the two will cause problems and make the experience bad for all those involved.
Bee clubs need to appreciate their new members and help them reach their goals, as well as the goals of the veteran members. Be willing to ask the new beekeepers what would help them or what they are interested in. When preparing bee schools for new beekeepers, the newest members in your club can be a great asset to you. Listen for what they want to learn at a bee school and adapt a method of teaching that will help them learn best. Beekeeping is an art. As such we all start out being able to do the art, albeit maybe not that good, but we can do it. Hopefully, as the seasons progress our skills in the art will improve. Some will start beekeeping and it will be very easy for them and they will have few problems. Others will be able to keep bees, but it will be more difficult for them. Others will keep bees only because of their never ending desire to not be beaten.
We all started out new to beekeeping and I think sometime veterans lose that connection with that time in our beekeeping lives. I know I've been asked questions before and after answering I have wondered whether the answer given, fit that beekeeper and the situation or if the terms I used were understood by the beekeeper. Beekeeping has many terms that apply only to beekeeping, so be sure that new people know the terms. Explain to new beekeepers that just because they are not as successful as you doesn't mean they are a bad beekeeper. Experience helps increase success and so does luck; rain, good queens, etc. Success itself can be determined by different things; honey production, the number of queens produced, keeping your hives alive, or just enjoying beekeeping. Every beekeeper must determine what success to them is. Have goals that are obtainable.
Education, both continued and new education, is the important component to keeping bees today. New diseases and pests have been found in bee hives recently and without continued education we would not know anything about them. Nosema for example, now has two different forms: Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. Without continued education we would know nothing about the newest form of Nosema. Many scientists worldwide are devoted to the study of things involving bees. Much information is available through books, magazines and the Internet. Some sources of information on bees like anything else are not factual. Many states have government employees whose job has to do with bees. These agencies will often have websites with useful and timely information. Many colleges and state bee associations have websites that offer much information. If you will take the time to search, many hours of reading material is available at your fingertips. However, reading and hearing about things involving beekeeping is not the same as doing what you read. Firsthand experience working your hives will teach you many things. Books may talk about different ways to manage your hives, but you still must put those management techniques to use in your hives.
Letters to the Editor - June 2011
Beekeeping Course Suggestions Requested
Help! I am planning to teach a course on bees in the fall of 2011 at our local college. It will be a three-semester hour course offered in the evenings for college credit, but open to anyone who wants to take it. It is not expected to be just a beekeeping course, although I hope to introduce basic beekeeping as part of it. The intent is to explore pollination, bee biology, and bee culture of both native bees and honey bees.
I would welcome any suggestions, activities, topics, curriculum, or methods.
I am a professor of biology, but my training was all done in the field of parasitology. Later I did research in insect pathology, but not specifically bees. I understand biology pretty well, but have never studied bees professionally. I am just a hobby beekeeper myself. But I believe that hobby beekeepers and part-timers may hold the key to better bee health of both native and honey bees by providing a stable environment for bees to evolve. In other words, I would like to contribute to regional pollination through this course. If anyone can help me out in designing such a course I would be very grateful.
Please send suggestions to me at any of the following:
Dr. Gary McCallister
Mesa State College
Grand Junction, CO 81501
"Old Beekeepers Will Do Strange Things for Fun"
As you may know, I am the main volunteer beekeeper at the DuPage County Forest Preserve Kline Creek Farm and am beginning my 28th year taking care of bees.
I thought perhaps you may find my story amusing as to how old beekeepers have fun.
Tuesday night, March 30, one of my volunteers called to discuss a feral colony in an old white oak tree that had been cut down Friday. After four days the colony was still surviving.
I made arrangements to meet him at the site at 0930 this morning. I was reminded that a nuc might not be large enough to hold all the bees and comb. Also, bring a container for a lot of honey.
At the site this morning I discovered that, indeed, this had been an old tree and could have been as old as 150 years - more or less. The tree had been cut in about 2-foot sections. The section with the bees was about three feet in diameter and the cavity section, which was filled with old comb, was a little more than one foot in diameter.
Mostly, the cavity was filled with old comb, but we did find ten or twelve square inches of capped and uncapped brood which I tied in an empty frame. We did not see the queen, but assumed she had entered the nuc with, maybe half a pound of bees.
I then took the nuc back to Kline Creek Farm, gave them a quart of sugar water - using a Boardman Feeder and wished them well. I am interested in seeing how these bees behave - under my supervision after living more than one year in the wild.
As for honey, I believe there was enough for my two pancakes which I usually eat Saturday morning.
As I said before, we old beekeepers will do strange things for fun. But I do have the satisfaction of knowing I did save a feral colony from certain death and some day they may build up to a whole pound of bees.
Lawrence A. DuBose
Carol Stream, IL
Article About Beeswax
Concerning the article on "Beeswax" by Dr. Larry Connor in your March 2011 issue, p. 245, Dr. Connor states, "Once the scale is large enough the workers remove it with a spine on their hind leg and transfer it to their mouthparts." While studying in the Master Beekeeping Program at NC State University, I read in one of the suggested references about honey bee anatomy that, "the middle pair of legs have a stout spine which is used to spear wax scales from abdominal wax glands and pass them to the mouthparts." This reference is Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping, by Dr. Dewey M. Caron. This discrepency - while certainly not making any difference to my bees - may be important to some of us who are studying to pass the exams and become Master Beekeepers.
Thank you for the wonderful job that you and others do with the "American Bee Journal." I look very forward to receiving and reading my magazine every month.
Vernell Gillispie, Jr.
Letters to the Editor - May 2011
California Apiary Research Commission Proposed
Go West young man go West. When things got tough in our history as a nation, many looked to the west for a fresh start. Many found that fresh start. Today the almond industry brings many beekeepers from all over our great nation to the state of California to pick up that extra income that almond pollination provides. With that tremendous opportunity comes some problems. The main problem is the rapid distribution of diseases and pests. Any disease or pest that has entered the United States in the past year is probably going to be brought to California for almond pollination. Diseases or pests are then shared with all the neighboring beekeepers in adjoining almond fields here in California. Then they are taken back and distributed across the United States.
In some ways you could say we are responsible for this. But we are also looking for some solutions to these problems. The government has been good on promises of money to research CCD, Varroa, Viruses, Nosema, Trachael mites, and others. However most of the money promised just never seems to arrive.
The California State Beekeepers Association (CSBA) has consistently raised over $50,000 dollars annually and donated this money to research around the country. Our requests for donations, which involves encouraging people to attend benefit auctions, has been stretched to the limit. We are simply unable to raise enough money from the generous people who donate and go home with over priced items they really do not need, not to mention the generous people who hunted up or hand-made those items to donate to the auctions. Research does not come for free; people have to be hired to do it. The first step in solving a problem is to understand it, and that takes information, which is acquired through research.
The CSBA has taken the first steps necessary to create a "California Apiary Research Commission". The purpose of this commission is to raise funds to use in the beekeeping industry for education and research. If established, the Commission would assess all bee colonies in California on March 1st of the year being assessed. Beekeepers with 50 colonies or less would be exempt. While none of us like to pay additional fees, this assessment would allow us to be less dependent on the government for our research dollars. It would be an investment in our future. This assessment will provide a stable, dependable source of research dollars for our whole industry. The commission will be in control of the rate of assessment, and where those funds are spent. The proposed commission would be run by beekeepers (including at least one from outside of California) who are elected by the bee industry.
Finally, our Board of Directors would like you to know some important facts about our industry-sponsored legislation AB 1912 which sets up the Commission:
1) The law AB 1912 now exists, but the Commission will not exist until approved in a referendum conducted among the eligible producers (those of us with 50+ colonies in CA on March 1st).
2) The Commission's members will be beekeepers, chosen by the industry. Its purpose will be to fund research and educational programs to benefit beekeepers.
3) The Commission will be allowed to annually assess beekeepers with 50+ colonies at a per colony rate as low as one cent but never to exceed one dollar.
4) This Commission, if established, would be in control of collection and expenditures of the assessments as spelled out in the law.
5) The State of California is prohibited by law from ever taking any of the funds collected by these assessments.
6) The commission will have six beekeepers and one public member. Three of the beekeepers will be residents of California, one will reside out-of-state, and the other two will be elected regardless of residence.
7) The CDFA (CA Dept. of Food & Ag.) will compile the list of producers who will vote on the referendum and be assessed if the referendum passes. While CDFA is looking for names electronically, they will gladly accept signups. There is a signup form on the CDFA website. The referendum is open to out-of-state and California-based beekeepers, subject to the restriction on colony numbers. To vote, out-of-state beekeepers must have brought 50+ colonies to California and been in California on March 1, 2011.
If this commission does not fulfill our needs, we only have to go to our fellow beekeepers who serve on the commission. If they do not listen, we can elect other beekeepers or vote to end the commission. This commission is the best solution that has been proposed to help solve our own problems and spread that cost out over the entire industry in the fairest manner possible.
Thank you for your time,
President, California State
(see ad page 426)
Bee Diseases and Varroa Mites
All of the sophisticated work done on colony collapse disorder and the virus problems that may be associated with it that has been published in the ABJ is very very impressive. It would appear that the varroa mite has been implicated as a source of many, if not all of the problems. This is just a suggestion coming from a dumb hobbyist beekeeper, but why don't they subject the varroa mites to the same analytical techniques they have used on the bees to determine if the varroa mite is a carrier for all of these viruses. If it is, that would emphasize an even greater need for varroa mite control.
Douglas S. Doremus
Baton Rouge, LA
Screened Open Bottom Board Rebuttal
Roy Hendrickson's paper, titled "Waxing Frames", was published in the February 2008 issue of Bee Culture. The procedure looked logical so I tried it. It worked! Thank you Roy for sharing that information.
However, in his paper titled "Managing Varroa (Part 1) IPM Realities" published in the March 2011 Issue of American Bee Journal he states: "In reality, after 10 or 12 years of continued use it should be obvious to all concerned that screened bottom boards have very little to offer in the way of Varroa control." I do not agree with that statement.
I have been using the "Screened Bottom Board/Dead Air Space Configuration" since May 2005 with great success. (Ref. Bee Culture September 2008, Page 44, J. Hoffman, "DEAD AIR SPACE - A Hive Configuration For All Seasons"). For six years, that system has proven quite capable of keeping the mite population at a comfortable low level. What makes my system better than all other "Run of the Mill" Screened Open Bottom Boards?
#1: I use 1/2" x 1/2" mesh wire screen - nothing bigger and nothing smaller. Larger mesh, mice will enter. Smaller mesh, sufficient hive debris cannot pass through. The hive debris, with mites, drops down and accumulates on either the standard wood bottom board or the popular 1/8" X 1/8" mesh screen. The mites cannot survive much more than 24 hours without feeding on a host bee. The mite cannot walk very far nor fly so she will wait on the hive debris for the inevitable "Housekeeping" bee to stop by to clean up the debris. When the bee is close enough, the mite attaches itself to its new host for a free meal and transportation back up into the brood chamber. The cycle continues unabated.
The 1/2" x 1/2" wire mesh screen allows sufficient debris, including live mites, to pass through and dumped outside of the hive. The housekeeping bees do not go outside to clean up the debris so the cycle is broken. The live mites die outside the hive within 24 to 48 hours. Without hive debris to clean up, the housekeeping crew can then concentrate on keeping the brood chamber in top condition.
#2: Expose the sticky board to the debris drop (24 hours maximum). Keep the sticky board at room temperature and complete the live mite count within the following 24 hours. Count only live mites on the sticky board. Dead mite and empty shell counts are just random confounding factors.
#3: Very inexpensive! I have refined the device to its simplest form. One empty super (shallow or medium/old or new) and one piece of 1/2" x 1/2" mesh galvanized wire screen 16" x l9 1/2". Staple the screen to cover the top of the super. Place the screened super on your hive stand (screened side up) and place the open bottom of the brood chamber directly on top of the screen. (Note: The old super must be sound enough to support the weight of the hive.)
#4: I use the "Dead Air Space Configuration" which prohibits any opening or vent above the screen level. That eliminates what I call the "Chimney Effect". The screen remains completely open through all seasons, but must be protected from the East, West and (in the winter) North winds. Snow must not be allowed to block the screen opening.
John G. Hoffman
718 Sandbank Road
Mount Holly Springs, PA 17065
Dave Cushman Website
Dave Cushman passed away in the hospital on Feb 22, 2011 after a long period of ill health. He was probably best known for his website http://www.dave-cushman.net/ that is a tremendous resource for beekeepers worldwide and considered by many to be the best.
Several weeks before he died Dave asked me to take over his website, which I couldn't do immediately due to his declining health. I want beekeepers worldwide to know that I will do the best I can to make sure this valuable facility will continue to be available for future generations of beekeepers.
I am unaware of the size of the task ahead of me and there may be interruptions in service which I hope will be understood.
Letters to the Editor - April 2011
On Saturday, February 12, I proudly presented 18 books and 1 CD about beekeeping to Connie Whitt, head librarian, Eden Branch of the Rockingham County Public Library. Also present were Dr. David Tarpy, associate professor of Entomology at North Carolina State University, and extension apiculturist; and Jerry M. Isley, Piedmont regional director, North Carolina State Beekeepers Association. Dr. Tarpy and Mr. Isley offered their congratulations, and Dr. Tarpy added, "This activity of yours typifies the Master Beekeeper Program. It is exactly the type of good works and active citizenry that we want to foster in the NCSBA, and the Master Beekeeper Program, and Cooperative Extension."
After inquiring at the Eden Library for the books necessary to study for the Master Beekeeper Program (sponsored by the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association, along with the NC Department of Agriculture, and the Apiculture and Cooperative Extension programs at NC State University), and finding only one, I decided to contribute books about beekeeping to the library as a part of the community service necessary to attain the Journeyman level. I contacted Dr. David Tarpy, NC Master Beekeeper Program chairman, for approval to do this; and Project "Bee Educated" was born.
My project poster brandishes the theme of "Bee Educated: My Honey - My Sweat - Your Money." I explained to anyone willing to listen that I wanted to purchase and donate "bee books" to the Eden Library, fulfilling a need of the community for knowledge about honey bees. So many people had asked me questions about bees, and I wanted much of this knowledge to be readily available to them - as well as to other local beekeepers and those interested in the Master Beekeeper Program. Once you read something, it sticks with you better than just word of mouth. Also, we need to be able to obtain scientific answers to our questions, get rid of the "witchcraft" and old wives tales, and come out of the Dark Ages. Beekeeping has changed - we now face Varroa and tracheal mites, small hive beetles, viruses, pesticide poisoning, and other problems. One of the latest is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), where all the bees in a hive just disappear.
Project "Bee Educated" is providing books for all ages and levels of interest - from hobbyist beekeepers to members of the general public who have an interest in the welfare of the honey bee. Educating children about bees is especially important. Children's books being donated include The Magic School Bus, A Taste of Honey, and The Life and Times of the Honey Bee.
To raise funds, I sold honey from my hives; people donated money for me to purchase books; and several bee supply companies donated books. Special thanks go to Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Dadant & Sons, Miller Bee Supply, and the Rockingham County Cooperative Extension Service for donating books. I express deep appreciation to the concerned citizens of my community for donations and support, enabling the Eden Library to have the following books:
Honeybee Biology & Beekeeping - Dewey M. Caron
Contemporary Queen Rearing - Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr.
Backyard Beekeeping - Kim Flottum
First Lessons in Beekeeping - Keith S. Delaplane
A Taste of Honey - Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Hive Management - Richard E. Bonney
Honey Handbook - Kim Flottom
The Backyard Beekeeper - Kim Flottum
The Hive and the Honeybee - Dadant & Sons, Inc.
Honeybees and Beekeeping: A Year in the Life of an Apiary - Keith S. Delaplane
The Magic School Bus - Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
The Life and Times of the Honey Bee - Charles Micucci
Natural Beekeeping - Ross Conrad
Beekeeping for Dummies - Howard Blackiston
ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture (41st edition) - Dr. Hachiro Shimanuki, Kim Flottum, and Ann Harman
Basic Beekeeping - Starting Your First Hive - Rancher Ron CD
The New Complete Guide to Beekeeping - Roger A. Morse
Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life - Thomas D. Seeley
Honey Bee Pests, Predators, and Diseases (2nd edition) - Roger A. Morse
I received strong support from the citizens of my community, and I believe that Project "Bee Educated" would serve other communities and beekeepers, as well. I am an active member of the Rockingham County Beekeepers' Association, the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association, and the Henry County (VA) Beekeepers' Association.
Acknowledgement: The author thanks Jean Light Kinyon for her comments and help on this manuscript.
R. V. Gillispie
Improved Rules for Beekeeping in Howard County, Maryland
After a nearly three-year-long struggle, on Feb. 7, 2011, the Howard County Council approved relaxed rules for backyard beekeeping.
A zoning-related nuisance complaint filed in 2008 by an opponent of backyard beekeeping was the impetus to this struggle. The original complaint was lodged against a beekeeping couple, Dan and Jeri Hemerlein, members of the Howard County Beekeepers Association. The opponent was an older gentleman who emerged as the point person for a small and disparate group of individuals opposed to beekeeping in the urban and suburban parts of the county. His disdain for stinging insects, honey bees included, was based on a notion that "there are already enough honey bees" and "I don't want bees in my backyard."
At the time of the complaint, Howard County zoning officials chose to interpret the existing Howard County livestock ordinance to include honey bees. The ordinance was designed to apply to chickens, horses, pigs, goats, sheep and cows. It required adherence to restrictive rules that required a 200-foot setback from any neighboring property line. If honey bees were "livestock," then the 200-foot setback would also apply to the keeping of apiaries.
Such a restrictive standard if applied to beekeeping would have effectively outlawed beekeeping in the eastern third of Howard County, an area of thousands of acres in size, making it one of the most restrictive jurisdictions in the county. It would have prevented 75 percent of the beekeepers in Howard County from legally keeping bees.
Fortunate for Howard County beekeepers, wiser arguments and facts won the day. One helpful fact is that New York City officially legalized beekeeping in 2010 (it has always been going on, just done quietly). In addition, favorable publicity for the Obamas having a bee colony on the South Lawn of the White House was another plus.
The improved beekeeping rules could not have been passed without the efforts of many people, the officers and members of the Howard County Beekeepers Association, members of the Maryland State Beekeepers Association, committed citizens and neighbors. Woody Medina, a member of the Howard County Beekeepers Association formed an independent organization called "Don't Squeeze the Bees," whose mission was to educate and inform. Sponsorship of the improved beekeeping ordinance by Council members Mary Kay Sigaty and Greg Fox was critical. Developing consensus for "Beekeeping Best Practices" was critical. The most important feature of the improved beekeeping ordinance would permit bee colonies to be within 10 feet of a neighboring property line, as long as a six-foot high fence or hedge is in place.
The final hurdle came with the adoption of three additional amendments to the proposed legislation. One would require beekeepers to force bees to fly at least six feet above any deck on an adjoining house, primarily through the use of plantings. A second would permit bee colonies in a front yard, if set back at least 50 feet from the street. The third amendment offered by Council member Courtney Watson and taken from the Baltimore City beekeeping code, would require that bees not "unreasonably interfere with the property of others or the comfort of the public."
This story was picked up by newspapers including the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, local television and by ABC news nationally. The ramifications of the case are important because Howard County is a county-level jurisdiction. Across the country, there are towns, cities and smaller municipalities that have significant beekeeping restrictions. If anti-beekeeping forces had won here at the county level, this would have serious implications for other large jurisdictions to conclude that they too, could "ban bees."
Letters to the Editor - March 2011
Clinical Trials to Start for Bee Venom Arthritis Product
Apimeds, Inc. US Chief Operating Officer Robert Brooks PhD announced the company received a clearance letter from the US Food & Drug Administration on December 22nd authorizing the company to proceed with its Phase III clinical trial. Apimeds plans the launch of its Phase III Apitox, a honeybee toxin, for the indication of pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis early in 2011 with clincial sites in India and the United States.
Apimeds is a South Korean pharmaceutical dedicated to biological pharmaceutical products for unmet medical needs. This is the first US Phase III clinical trial for a Korean pharmaceutical company. The company continues to explore its Apitox product for the multiple sclerosis indication, but has not filed its intention to conduct a clinical trial for this indication. A Phase III clinical trial is the last development phase of clinical studies leading to submission of a new drug application in the US leading to marketing.
Robert Brooks PhD
Chief Operating Officer
3418 Big Rd
Zieglerville, PA 19492
Virginia State Farm Policy Dropped Due to Honey Bees on the Property!
I wanted to pass along to you my short story so that beekeepers around the country are aware of an insurance issue I am currently going through. I feel that everyone should know that this can and does happen.
About a month ago I asked my State Farm agent to look into seeing if my renter's policy covers my bees like any other personal property since it is only a hobby at this point and we were looking at increasing my policy anyway due to life changes... they did...
Last week State Farm's Underwriting department sent me a letter canceling my renter's policy (with State Farm it would not have mattered if I had a Homeowners policy) due to an increased risk with honey bee hives on the property!
I called my agent who has been very good through the years to my family. Keep in mind I have ZERO auto or renters claims and a perfect driving record. He began a week long search and battle with the underwriters, their supervisors, and State Farm Corporate.
However, State Farm has an "Underwriting Guideline" specifically against insuring property with honey bees since they cannot be controlled when they swarm and thus is seemingly more risky than a known dangerous dog (which they will insure assuming you have signs and a fence)! So my policy WILL be canceled and not renewed.
I was told that State Farm would HAVE covered a claim if I ever had one, IF they didn't know about the hives, but it would have been a one-time thing and I would then be canceled after they settled
So NEVER mention to your agent you have bees, give them honey, etc.
On a lighter note, Farm Bureau WILL give me a renter's policy at a very similar price, even knowing I HAVE bees, so there are options out there. However, once I sell honey or bees it will be a business and no longer covered even for one claim... so you must have a business policy if you sell honey or bees or you stand to be personally liable.
So the moral of this story and my journey is: DON'T ASK DON'T TELL !!!!
Ban on Australian Bees
It is very disappointing to see that the US has placed a ban on bees from Australia on the most spurious grounds. The Australian government is putting huge resources into controlling the threat of Apis cerana in areas of northern Australia which are not areas which produce queens or package bees anyway. Apis cerana certainly poses no threat to major breeding apiaries over a thousand miles away in the south of the country. I remember many years ago that the USDA similarly stopped Australian bees transiting in Hawaii en route to Canada because of native cerana on the isolated Torres Strait islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The claimed threat of slow paralysis virus is even more bogus given that no evidence of this disease has been reported in Australia. We can only assume that this is a political decision motivated by trade interests rather than genuine disease control concerns. And, of course, it is reminiscent of the erroneous blaming of CCD on Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus from Australian package bees in recent years.
I have been importing queens into Japan from Australia and previously Hawaii for over 30 years. Japanese officials take note of these actions in the US and they have implications in Japan and other countries. Last year Japan reopened queen imports from Australia after another politically motivated ban involving a perceived threat from nosema. Since this trade restarted I have had six successful shipments of queens of the highest quality from Australia. Warren Taylor, who owns Australia's largest queen export company, put in an enormous effort to meet our requirements and the last three shipments were 100% free from nosema. It is unfair practice and also a loss to US beekeepers to have quality suppliers such as this prevented from trading with no real justification.
It is very disheartening when disease control issues become entangled in political motivations. The USA along with Australia, New Zealand and Canada have a high level of knowledge about beekeeping management and techniques that the rest of the world, including Japan can learn from. These countries should be showing leadership to developing countries and working together to improve beekeeping worldwide, but politically motivated actions such as this ban only serve to erode our trust.
Beeline Inc, Japan
IPM for Pest Control
I have been in the landscaping industry for a number of years but am new to beekeeping. I was reading the January 2011 issue of the American Bee Journal and enjoyed the article "Beekeeper Extraordinaire" about Jim Coneybeare and Coneybeare Honey (pg 49). However, I wish to point out that in the discussion regarding his methods to reduce hive loss, IPM is referred to as "implemented pest management", when it actually refers to "integrated pest management."
For those unaware of this practice, this might be a good opportunity to educate the readers on what is involved in the use of Integrated Pest Management to control pests. I recently read well done article by Michael Hood in the Clemson (univ.) cooperative extension bulletin "What Integrated Pest Management means for today's beekeepers" and Cornell also has some well done articles by Nicholas Calderone. Thank your for your interesting and informative articles.
Letters to the Editor - February 2011
Young Illinois Beekeeper
Several of the beekeepers from our bee association said to send this picture to the ABJ. I am doing so - so that I can look these old timers in the eye and tell them - without lying - that I did send it. I don't know if it is appropriate material for a magazine or not.
Our granddaughter, Audrey Grace, has her own bee suit and, in our bee yards, is usually between Grandpa and the hive. She hasn't gotten stung yet, so she is fearless.
I am often called upon by our bee association to do bee presentations at schools and for other groups. My granddaughter usually goes with me and assists in demonstrating how to suit up for the bees, how to work a smoker, how bees pollinate, etc. At four years old, she thinks she knows everything, and, in fact, she does know quite a lot.
Grandpa takes an observation hive to the Illinois State Fair every year and talks all day to the public on behalf of the Illinois State Beekeepers Association. Our granddaughter is often beside him and interrupts, pointing out the marked queen and saying, "There's only one queen per hive. She is an egg-laying machine. She can lay 2,000 eggs a day. That's all she does. The bees around her are her 'tendants. They feed her and clean her." Grandpa tries to get youngsters to hold "a real bee" and then surprises them a 2" foam letter "B". Audrey hands out "real bees" all day long.
Audrey was rejected as a pre-school candidate when she was three because she scored zero needs. The speech pathologist said she articulated better than most second graders. As her babysitter, it is an on-going challenge to keep her challenged!
Her latest conquest is Jim Belli, Illinois State Beekeeping Association president and host of the 2010 ISBA Summer meeting. At that event, she helped with the raffle drawing, calling out raffle numbers and charming all the beekeepers with her personality.
She helps us with all aspects of our honey production and even entered some honey products at the state fair where she won "all different colors of ribbons, but not green." Next year she wants to win a green one! Her favorite entry was a molded beeswax puppy that she named "Queenie". She melted down her beeswax bears to have enough wax for the pup!
Audrey often comes with me when we make a trip to Dadant to pick up orders for the Lincolnland Beekeepers Association. Maybe she will get to meet you on one of our trips.
The photo shows Audrey with her drone "baby bee" after winning a local Halloween costume contest dressed as a beekeeper.
Although Audrey doesn't turn five until January, she is a true ambassador for beekeeping.
Grandma Carolyn Gerberding
The Honey Bee's Sense of Smell
During the last few months we have heard reports about the possibility of training bees to locate drugs and search for disease, etc. This fall I experienced a situation which enforces the possibility of the above.
I have about 12 bee hives and this fall I decided to barrel feed rather than use individual feeders. Usually, I would put the sugar/water mix in a tub and add some straw so the bees would not drown. This year I did not have any straw, so I went to my neighbour's farm and procured a couple of flakes of fresh clover hay.
Early in the morning I mixed the sugar and stuffed in some of the hay to prevent drowning. I left the remainder of the hay about 20 feet from the sugar mixture.
By mid day my neighbor came over and reported she had bees in her barn, a situation she had never encountered before. As the barn is about 1,000 feet away, I thought a swarm had landed on her barn, but upon examination I found no one area where the bees were congregating. They seemed to be going in through cracks of the walls in the barn and I found that a huge number of bees were in the hay mow as well as the horse stable below. Since the stable had a considerable number of horses, needless to say, I was pretty concerned. When I examined my bees at home, I found that part of the flake of clover which I did not put in the syrup was also covered with bees.
Obviously, the bees associated the fresh clover smell with an abundant food source as was the case in the tub. The bees returned home at night and I cleaned up the feeder and removed the loose clover. The next day not a bee was to be found in the barn. Indeed, it may be relatively simple to train the bees to search for many different items.
Letters to the Editor - January 2011
How Often Should You Inspect Hives?
Your series on Sick Bees has been most interesting. Part 3, discussed the bees' use of "propolis to form an antibiotic envelope around the colony." It discussed how effective propolis was against various plagues on the bees.
Some hobbyist beekeepers seem to think "inspecting" their hives every couple weeks during honey flow and less often until winter, is important to determine if there is a problem, so they can correct it immediately. Other beekeepers report only opening their hives 4 +/- times a year.
I would like to see some discussion regarding the consequences of separating the hive bodies and removing, inspecting, replacing brood and honey frames. Each time the hive is "taken apart", bees glue everything together again with propolis. Logically, this seems like it takes a lot of bee effort away from other tasks at hand and before the hive is again sealed, it is more accessible to invaders.
It would be interesting to know if research has developed recommendations for the least disruptive frequency for "inspecting" hives, while still putting the beekeepers' minds at ease over their concerns.
A. Earl Cheal, D.B.A.
Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers Assn.
Memories of Merwin's Apiaries
I was enjoying the article about Mr. G. H. Cale, Sr., in the October issue when I was surprised to read that he had spent a summer working for Mr. J. B. Merwin of Prattsville, NY. My younger sister and I worked one summer for Charles Merwin, J.B. Merwin's son, while we were in high school. We got the job through our grandfather, who had been friends of the Merwins since childhood. The Merwins used to winter in Bradenton, Florida, where my grandfather, my sister and I were all born. We were excited to spend the summer in a place so different from Florida, even if it did mean handling bees (I was stung only twice the whole summer).
By the time we worked for Mr. Merwin, his operation was reduced to two apiaries and about 125 hives. Mr. Merwin was a World War I veteran who survived a poison gas attack; he suffered from emphysema when we knew him. The Merwins specialized in wild thyme honey which grew in several valleys in the area. According to my uncle, who also spent a summer working for the Merwins, they shipped their honey to customers all over the world. If you look up wild thyme honey in Frank Pellett's "North American Honey Plants", the Merwins are cited for the entry about the honey.
The nearby valleys had a lot of dairy farms and the cattle kept the grass short enough for the thyme to grow. According to Dr. Roger Morse, when the area dairy industry dried up, so did the wild thyme honey; I understand it is difficult to obtain these days. I have attached a scan of the Merwin's honey label that I keep on my desk. My one summer with the Merwin's introduced me to beekeeping, and obviously, it stayed with me. Thank you for the unexpected memories.
Observation Hives in School
It's been over a year since you published my article on managing an Observation Hive (November 09 ABJ issue). I regret not having included my e-mail address at the time to find out if there had been any reaction from your readers.
I did hear from Melanie Kirby of Zia Queen Bees, (from whom I happened to acquire a hygienic queen,) that people in Santa Fe, NM were thinking of setting one up in their Children's Museum, as well as from Dyanne M. Tracy, who published an article on Preparing Teacher-Beekeepers which appeared a few months later in the ABJ, and who had read our article (Jenerra and I), but otherwise very little.
At my end, however, there has been some activity. Last November I went to New Orleans to an Educational conference to make a presentation about Observation Hives in the classroom with Jenerra and Amina, the two teachers, who have the hive in their classroom.
Benadette Manning and Michel Goe, from another Boston School, got very enthusiastic about the project and decided that they wanted a hive, too. When they returned, they set about getting permission from the school authorities to proceed. We arranged a meeting in January and with much apprehension we went to the administration headquarters in Boston.
To everyone's surprise, it turned out that they had never heard of hive #1 even though it had been on the site for now almost 10 years. It was one of those moments that everyone dreads when conducting official business: a big surprise. In spite of this, every one joined together coming from different perspectives to find a solution to a difficult problem.
To start with, there was liability. We were immediately sympathetic to their concern. I had run a small contracting business and I knew what it was like to worry about potential accidents even if they never happened. Waking up in the middle of the night and assessing the different risks and their consequences which, because I did not have all the information at hand, never allowed a resolution, and therefore pushed me towards endless obsession. The anxiety ran like an underground stream that would undermine anything built above.
We also live in a litigious society, but in the nine years we had the hive in the Mission Hill School, we had a perfect record: no one had ever been stung. The most important part of the exhibit was it's safety: the fact that the hive could be broken down into its component parts without a bee ever escaping into the room!
So, the teachers and I felt that it was worth making a strong case for an Observation Hive in the classroom. Many questions were raised at the January meeting. Through the slow process of answering each one, both sides benefited. Here are some of the principal ones and how we resolved them:
1.Was there an ordinance prohibiting hives in the city of Boston? There was none.
2. Would the building department view the hive as a fire hazard? (I had visions of having to construct one all in extruded aluminum pieces, that would be time consuming and expensive.) The building department never commented on the hive as a fire hazard-they indicated that it was not in their jurisdiction, and it was ultimately up to the school department to OK it. Presumably, it did not seem to be the kind of danger that would have them override this jurisdiction.
3. We also checked with other departments to find out if they had any special requirements. The Health Department and the State Board of Education had none.
4. In our initial presentation, the one area that I had to admit was a concern was swarming and absconding. In nine years we had had five incidents. I was able to deal with three, but two swarms got away because no one was there on the weekends and during vacations. The solution was so obvious that I am embarrassed to say that I got it only when I spoke to an entomologist, Prof. Heather Mattila, from Wellesley College when I could easily have thought of it myself: Take the hive out of the public space in early May before the swarming season, place it in a private residence where it could be monitored continually, and return the hives in September as school starts. There is still plenty of activity at the beginning and the end of this period for students to watch the functioning of the hive in its entirety.
5. The administration on their side made valuable requests: that we tighten up the information to parents, that a letter be sent out at the beginning of the year informing them of the existence of the hive, finding out which child was allergic, and having them registered with the school nurse.That a teacher must always be present in the room while viewing the hive, and that posters be put up alerting everyone that they were entering a room with a hive.
There was a second meeting in April. We had done our homework and we had answered all the questions; what would happen next? This is where my brilliant colleagues did their thing. They were the ones who could interpret the meaning of what was said and what was not. While the authorities did not say yes, they did not say no either, which they took to mean that we could go ahead. So, we started the complicated process of setting up the hive at the Fenway High School. This involved not only installing the hive itself but also, because the windows were so high off the floor, building a special platform so students could get up close and see what was going on. We notified the administration each step of the way, and on Oct. 7, 2010 at a school assembly we officially inaugurated the hive with the principal and vice principal, the teachers, and especially a group of enthusiastic students. If anyone is interested in setting up a permanent Observation Hive in a classroom or anywhere else, I can be reached at : email@example.com.
Arkansas Beekeeper Recounts How his Interest in Bees Began
I grew up on a farm in northwest Arkansas. Our farm was in Coon Hollow. We farmed the bottom land. The hills on both sides were mostly covered with timber. I knew very little about bees. I knew of neighbors who found bee trees and cut them for the honey. Our closest neighbor, Henry Owenby, hunted bee trees. When he found one, he took his ax and cut a large "X" on the bark of the tree. This was to let anyone else who found it know that someone already had laid claim to it.
One afternoon I saw him standing in the road near our house and he seemed to be watching something. I was curious to find out what he was doing so I walked to where he was. He said he was watching bees getting water. There was a small spring on the hillside and the water ran down into the road making a wet spot. He told me that when a bee got filled with water, it would fly in a straight line back to its home in a tree and by following its line of flight, he would know where to look for the bee tree. He did find the tree and later he asked my father to help him cut it. I watched from a safe distance. As soon as the tree was down, he took a small stick with cloth wrapped around it with sulfur inside it and set it afire with a match. This he inserted into the hole the bees used for an entrance. The burning sulfur killed all the bees. Then, he cut into where the honey was and took it all out. I still did not have much interest in bees.
Several years later, when I was 20 years old in the spring of 1939, I found a tree on the hillside near our barn that had bees going in and out of a hole in the tree. I had found a bee tree. This caused me to become interested in bees.
Water for our household came from a spring some distance up in the hills above our house. It ran through a pipe down to the house and on to the barnyard to supply water for the cattle and horses. It ran into a water trough and we kept it full and running over. This caused a wet spot as it ran into a creek nearby. This made a perfect place for bees to get water. On checking, I found bees getting water there. This brought back memories of what I had learned from Henry, our neighbor. I started watching bees getting water. By following in the direction of their flight, I found three more bee trees on our farm. I was really interested in bees then.
At that time, our Montgomery Ward mail order catalog had a couple of pages devoted to bees and beekeeping supplies; also a book on beekeeping - I ordered the book. It was Productive Beekeeping by Frank Pellett. I learned a lot about bees from it. In July, with the help of my father and sister, Ethel, we cut all four of the trees and transferred the bees into hives. Summertime ended and as the weather cooled off, my interest in beekeeping cooled off too. I was 21 in the fall and in January, 1940, I left the farm to find employment elsewhere. By June 1, 1942, I was married and working in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On June 2, I was inducted into the military, where I spent three and one-half years in the Air Force. I was discharged on December 7, four years from the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.
I bought a farm in central Oklahoma near the small town where my wife's parents lived. We moved into our new home on the farm on Dec. 27, 1945. In the spring of 1948, I purchased one 3-pound package of bees and was into beekeeping again. By 1955 I had four colonies of bees. In the spring of that year I had 20 acres of hairy vetch that would have lots of blooms in June. I ordered four new queen bees and split my four hives, making eight. That summer was very dry; the vetch did not make much seed. When fall came, I failed to check my bees for a winter supply of honey. They had very little and I lost all of them to starvation.
In 1967 I sold the farm and moved to Joplin, Missouri, where I lived and worked. In 1978 I retired and started building a house on the family farm in Coon Hollow. I had already purchased my three brothers' inherited shares in the farm. I purchased my two sisters' shares later. In 1979 We moved into our retirement home on the farm. Also, I purchased two packages of bees and I was back into beekeeping again. I subscribed to two beekeeping magazines and started collecting books on beekeeping. Since I was retired, I had time to spend with the bees and it became my number one interest. The farm was all in pasture and I rented it to neighbors. In 1982 my son, Mark, moved to the farm. He had a good job in a nearby town. He started raising sheep on the farm and later he also got into beekeeping. Now, at age 92 and 70 years in love with the bees, I have five hives of bees. If I should live to be 100 years old, I will still want some bees. I love to stand and watch them going in and out of the hive entrance.
Letters to the Editor - December 2010
Still No Beekeeping Merit Badge, but Beekeeping Will Receive Greater Exposure
The national office of the Boy Scouts of America has recently received a number of requests proposing reinstatement of the Beekeeping merit badge, in part because America's bee populations are declining. After receiving input from youth members and
review by merit badge volunteers and professionals, the BSA has formulated a way to bring greater exposure of beekeeping to youth.
The plan includes the following:
Emphasis of the importance of bees and their symbiotic relationship with humankind will be added to or enhanced in eight existing merit badge pamphlets: Bird Study, Forestry, Gardening, Nature, Plant Science, Pulp and Paper, Environmental Science, and Insect Study. This will be accomplished by the end of 2015.
The first merit badge to receive the addition will be Environmental Science, which is required for all Scouts earning the Eagle rank. Annually, 73,000 youth earn this merit badge.
When fully integrated into the targeted merit badge pamphlets, more than 100,000 Scouts each year will discover the importance of bees and beekeeping as part of a larger environmental picture. The Beekeeping merit badge was first offered in 1915, and from 1980 to 1994, the number of youth earning it ranged from 700 to 1,000 per year.
Beekeeping projects, such as working with a colony or harvesting honey, will be considered for addition to one or more existing merit badges so that highly motivated youth members can earn advancement recognition for their beekeeping activities.
The BSA believes this will increase the awareness of honeybees and their critical impact on our environment, and training America's young people about caring for this important natural resource.
The Boy Scouts of America invites those associations and experts in the beekeeping community who are interested in helping with this project to e-mail us at merit.badge
@scouting.org. Please put "bees" in the subject line. The success of the merit badge program is enhanced by qualified merit badge counselors; if you are interested in serving as a merit badge counselor, contact your BSA local council to initiate the process.
Public Relations Manager
Boy Scouts of America
How I Became a Beekeeper
Here is a short backdrop to our story. I journeyed along as a single mom for almost 13 years. So amazingly blessed in so many ways, dear devoted friends, faithful, loving family, a good providing job and a wonderfully cozy home. My precious son and I have always been tight companions. (Now that he's 14 "tight" has been given a new meaning as his favorite slang, which also applies, as being awesome, "far out" or "rad" depending on your generation.)
However, I lacked and strongly desired a husband and companion in this journey called life. I waited, prayed, made my fair share of mistakes and hoped for all those years. Then, one amazing day, God brought the bees. He was telling me to bee patient, I know your heart and I am working on it because I love you and I have good things in store for you. Just as you will see how carefully and diligently the bees work, I am putting something together for you, something sweet and strong. That day I was deeply encouraged. I was also given something for me, something that I cherish.
Carrying the load of a single mom (though it was an amazing blessing in itself), one tends to lose her focus on herself and she finds that all her own hobbies & interests have somehow fallen by the wayside long ago. Needless to say, my son thought I was a bit crazy when I told him I wanted to keep those bees that looked so intimidating. He has since gotten very comfortable in his bee suit and the grin that spread across his face when we first cracked open that honey gate and watched that golden blessing flow into the honey bucket was priceless. Now, I bee-lieve we're both a bit crazy about bees. My hope is that one day he will continue as an adult and a father/grandfather to carry on this new family passion.
But the story doesn't end there and probably never will. Because since the bee's arrived on the scene, God has added a husband and a father to our small family. My Husband now has a giddy grin for honey as well and I think perhaps the bees will grow on him as time carries on.
The Lord continues to teach me things through these sweet little messengers, like how to work hard together to build your home and care for each other. That hard work brings sweet rewards in many ways, one of which we were able to reap together this season for the first time. That he provides for our needs. These bees are a gift, a blessing.
Letters to the Editor - November 2010
Fire Destroys Hives
On Aug. 28, 2010 I noticed some smoke north of my property. I thought it was odd that they were allowed to have a burn permit. I thought about it for a bit and then it clicked that burn permits were not issued right now, nor is fire allowed out here this time of year. I jumped in the truck and went to investigate. The fire was just starting to get out of control. A road grader was moving very fast trying to make a fire break and I mean this thing was moving! The fire was towering over the road grader and it made it look like a little toy out in the field.
The wind was blowing very hard and just fueling that fire! The ground speed of the fire was moving between 4 and 6 miles per hour, showing no sign of slowing down. I knew it was going to be a bad fire and it was headed to some houses near my property. At that time, I never thought it would reach my property.
I raced back home (I'll admit I was speeding well beyond the speed limit). I had to pull my tractor off some other equipment and hook it up to the plow. I had my two kids (6 year old daughter, and 2 year old son) with me, because my wife was working. We took off cutting through my field to get to the neighbor's houses as fast as I could. I was doing about 15 mph through the field just pushing that tractor for all it was worth! It took about 15 minutes to get over to the houses.
I started plowing around the houses and around some wheat fields creating a fire break about 60 feet wide. By the time I got a second pass done, the fire was bearing down on us. The alternator light then came on and started to beep at me. I was watching these huge flames near me and I had my kids with me. All I could think about was "please don't die, please don't die". I'm only 33 years old, but I have a bad back and no way could I run with two kids.
The fire stopped at the fire break I created. By now several other farmers had joined the battle. In just two hours the fire reached my property. I knew now that it was headed right for my bee hives. They are in several locations.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, police, fire, and fire planes have now shown up. I jumped out of my tractor and told them I have bee hives that I would like to save. They told me "that is the least of the problems right now. We are not going to put people in front of the fire." I did understand though. I was not going to get in front of that fire either.
We were able to keep the fire from reaching two of my apiaries. But my third apiary was directly in the path. I pushed that tractor trying to get up there in time to make a path around my hives. The fire was too fast though. I wasn't even 1/2 way there when it went across the apiary. By the time I reached the hives, the fire was there and gone. I kept hoping on my way that the fire was moving so fast that the hives would not have time to catch fire. I also hoped that the bees would get out in time, but to no avail.
When I arrived to the area my heart just sank. I felt so sick, I just can't describe it. All the brush and trees were gone. All the choke cherry trees were gone and my favorite "lone pine tree", was gone. All my hives, that were stacked so high, even one higher than I, were not in sight. We are talking less that 20 minutes time after the fire went across there. I still have to harvest my honey. I know I'm late, but I have been so busy with harvesting wheat, that I was waiting for a rainy day. This way I would not be able to cut wheat, but I could work with the bees and extract the honey.
I only have 60 hives. The fire burned 20 of my hives. I've attached some pictures of the burnt hives, or what was left. They were still smoldering when I took the picture. You could see the river of honey and wax that flowed from each hive. The honey turning to candy because of the heat. The fire was so hot and intense, that I know the bees didn't have time to get out. It even melted some of the tin on the roofs of the hives. Just amazing! Anyone who owns bees knows the work involved in setting them up and working with them. Talk about a heartbreak to see all of that work go up in smoke!
It was my best apiary out of all of them. My best hive was also in that section. I had already taken 210 lbs. of honey off of that hive and was planning on more! No kidding either! I have never seen or had such a good hive! It had tons of bees, excellent production, and excellent cleanliness.
I had hoped to get my little hobby up to 100 hives by next summer. Now I'm down to 40. I had them in a good cover area to protect them, but I guess it came back to bite me. Just be prepared for a fire, because you never know when it will happen, and if you are like me, you will think it will never happen to you.
This is something that I had never thought of until this happened. Insurance on the hives! I have used the Farm Service Agency and insured the bees, but I never thought of insuring the actual hive. I had the 60 hives and 20 of them burned up. When you add the lost revenue from honey, bees, and all the components of the hives, then it added up to a large amount of honey. My insurance only covered 1/2 of the true value of the honey and hives. The insurance company went to a local company and asked them what they sell the honey for. They quoted them 1.25 per lb for wholesale. So, that is what the insurance company used as a price. I sell (retail) my honey at $4.50 a lb. I don't wholesale any of my honey. This was a huge loss to me!
Next they went online and found some companies to buy bee hives. They found the cheapest most inexpensive hives and parts they could find. These were less than mine again. I've built a lot of my hives. I build the boxes, inner and outer covers, bases, and the entrance reducers. I make nice large handles to hold them when I am packing them full of honey.
So, I argued with the claim's adjuster about the amount he told me he was going to give me. Mostly because I've lost that income for the next two years. Granted it's not a huge amount, but every little bit helps when you are a farmer! He told me that I am lucky that I was even getting a check. "They could have easily denied me," He said. They were not on my insurance policy, so they claimed them as "personal property". The adjuster said that the hives should not even be considered personal property. They feel that "personal property hives" refers to one or two hives in the back yard, not 60 hives out in the field.
Long story made short... Insure your hives! Make sure they are on the policy and that your agent knows what they are worth. Also, plan for a fire! It's not a matter of "if", but "when". I never dreamed that I would have a huge wild fire burn across my property. I have sure had my eyes opened though!
May everyone have a successful year!
Beekeeping in Switzerland
I was in the French-speaking part of Switzerland staying with family at a relative's vacation home in Ollon, Canton of Vaud, for a couple of weeks over the summer and took some pictures of hives next to the railroad tracks and some photos of honey bees on some beautiful flowers which I could not identify.
The round ball composite bluish-purple flowers were on the roadside in Ollon as were the tall spikes of bluish-purple flowers. I suspect the tall spikes of flowers may be some type of Russian Sage...but am unsure.
I traveled to Zermatt for a day trip (on Saturday, July 24, 2010...the day after the fateful derailment of the Glacier Express between Zermatt & St. Moritz which ended in 1 death and 42 injured individuals...apparently the driver was going too fast around a curve...a really rare occurrence with the famous reliable service of the Swiss Rail system). Unfortunately, the Matterhorn was shrouded in clouds during my visit, but I photographed honey bees foraging on the beautiful bluish-purple thistle-like spiky blooms (Russian sage).
My cousin, Simone Roth & her father, Beal, told me when I saw the same flowers blooming in a charming historic mountain village "Grimentz" in Canton "Valais" that these flowers only turn the beautiful bluish-purple color when they are grown above 1200 meters above sea level...and that the blooms are green when grown at lower elevations.
Christopher J. Stalder
Orange Blossom Beekeepers Association
Bad Queen Excluders
This summer I had a queen get above the queen excluder. In carefully inspecting the old excluder, I found there were 2 wires that had broken welds, which allowed the queen room to move up. Later, in inspecting some new excluders purchased from a company, I found about half had either bad welds or improperly spaced wires. The company associate agreed to take them back, and reimburse my return shipping. I told her that I would mark the bad wires so they could see where they were defective. Then, I got an email stating:
"Since we have verifed that the queen excluders are not defective and you have defaced them by marking them with black marker, we will not be crediting the shipping back to us."
I called and said that since I had told the agent I would be marking them, I didn't feel it was fair to not keep their word on reimbursing my shipping cost. Then I did some research and found the proper spacing should be .163'' (4.1 mm.) between wires, and recommended that they measure them before they declare them okay. This didn't get me anywhere.
You may have also been delayed in taking honey off due to brood in a a honey super. Pupal cocoons may also make the comb more likely to be damaged by wax moths.
I suggest beekeepers and suppliers check their metal-bound excluders for accuracy. Could it be that excluders are now made in China and that their technology is not up to our standards?
Charles Frederic Andros
Linden Apiaries since 1973
NH/VT Apiary Inspector 1978-1989
P.O. Box 165
Walpole, NH 03608-0165
What Are These Bees Doing?
Attached are pics of some unusual behavior we had in beehives I help manage at the Sibley Quarry Yard. There was one hive that had these small, consistently sized sticks (we thought they were white pine needles at first) that the bees apparently carried up into the hive and stuck through the frames. The sticks went all the way through about two frames and were in every super at the same location (same corner of the super).
It seemed to be some kind of "ladder" between the frames. The sticks were all the same length and diameter, but we saw that there was some kind of rodent nest of the same material near the cement blocks under the hive, so the rodent must have determined the size of the sticks.
It seems that the sticks where placed at the same time or after the foundation was drawn as there was no damage to the foundation or capped cells (the damage you see was from us pulling out the frame).
It does not seem that a rodent had been up in the supers as everything around the sticks was completely drawn, mostly capped and clean. The sticks were all placed on a slight angle to fit through the center of a cell on both sides and into the center of the cell in the next frame.
Has anyone seen this behavior before - and does anyone have any idea what the bees are trying to accomplish?
Beware of the Bee Club Killers
We who live in the South have seen the headlines screaming in the papers and on our local newscasts: "Beware the Killer Bees, Beware the Killer Bees!!!"
Newscasters and newsprint publishers like sensationalism and get as much coverage as they can to boost their ratings and sell their product. They will search out anyone who has been stung by a bee and try to tie it into the Africanized Bees, referred to as "AHB" by most folks in the bee world and called "Killer Bees" by the public. Sometimes they report AHB stings in areas where there are no AHB. You can go on any search engine and type in, "AHB locations in US," and you will find maps, charts and lots of information on the AHB.
Are they dangerous? Of course, they are just as dangerous as any stinging insect is dangerous if you have a bad encounter with them. The problem with AHB is that they are more aggressive than the European honey bees or Apis mellifera. They don't just chase you away from their nest or hive, but continue to aggressively chase you for a half mile or more.
The AHB have caused some long-time beekeepers to leave the business due to the extra cost of insurance, extra gear needed to work AHB, and of course the cost of hiring people dedicated enough to put up with the extra work needed to make a living with AHB. Since AHB swarm more than the European bees that beekeepers have been keeping for years, it takes much more time and effort to work them, but it can be done and is being done in parts of the world where the AHB have taken over the area.
They are a problem that can be dealt with, but we have a bigger problem facing beekeepers around the world and it may happen in your local area as well, even if you are not in an area where the AHB are located.
What I am referring to are the folks who are not into beekeeping for the right reasons. They seem so eager to get into beekeeping, coming to the meetings of your local bee club, asking a million questions and appearing to be willing to become a great asset to the club.
The problem arises usually after a year or two when they get to the point that they now "know everything" and want to be the person in charge. I call these folks "Bee Killers". They are dangerous and need to be watched for.
Did they put in their time learning under a mentor and working with the bees for years out in the rain, heat, cold, and taking the thousands of stings that happen when a forklift flips over or a truck gets into an accident and the millions of bees are aggravated and in a stinging mood? Have they ever gotten their veil caught on something and had it pulled off just as the bees attacked? Ouch! Have they lost entire outyards to vandals, fire or diseases like foulbrood? Or worse, did they lose hives and equipment to the thieves that are becoming more prevalent now that the price of honey is going up and the demand for pollination goes higher?
Many old-time beekeepers will not join a bee club because of all the problems they have faced over the years with these Bee Killers. I stopped attending meetings myself back in the 1980's because of this very thing. Now after retiring, I am trying to do my part to help our bees and other pollinators by starting new bee clubs and mentoring new beekeepers.
Beekeepers are a kind lot and welcome with open arms anyone who likes honey, wants to learn the correct ways of keeping bees, or just wants to help save the bees from all the harmful chemicals and bee pests in the world today. But who wants to attend a meeting where one side is antagonistic to the others?
State and even national bee organizations need to stress the importance that all organizations should strive to be efficiently run and have some type of support system in place to help the local bee clubs. Many folks ask why they should join a state or national organization: "Why spend money on an organization that is just building up their mailing list so they can ask you for more money constantly?"
A good club should strive for 100% participation.
If you want to be a beekeeper, you should stop and ask yourself the following questions:
Am I trying to learn all I can about bees and the proper way to keep them?
Am I supporting the club leaders and offering my time and talents to make the club better?
Am I willing to make changes in the way I keep my bees if someone shows me a better way?
Am I willing to support someone even if I disagree with what they are doing until a better solution comes along?
Am I willing to step up and do what is best for the club?
Am I willing to ask questions if I don't understand what is being said, instead of just complaining about how the "clique" only cares about itself?
We have folks who hate commercial beekeepers. One told me she hates them because they adulterate their honey, use chemicals that are not good for humans to eat, and keep the small beekeepers down so that they can't make any money. When asked for proof, you get the same answer: "Well, that's what I heard." That is a Bee Killer attitude.
Think about what you are saying. Have you ever been a commercial beekeeper with the unbelievable costs and problems that go with it? If you haven't been there, give it a rest and be thankful for the ones who spend so much time away from family and friends to make sure we have honey in the stores, not to mention all the other products they provide.
What about the commercial beekeepers who won't help the small beekeeper? I have heard commercial beekeepers complain that "hobbyists" (I hate that word) are ruining beekeeping because they don't know what they are doing and they are helping to spread bee diseases, etc.
Wait a minute. Did you start with the 1000 hives you have, or did you work your way up by increasing each year? Did an old timer help you learn what you know now, or did someone loan you the money to buy the equipment you have? Did someone help you along? Don't be a Bee Killer by discouraging the new beekeeper who may replace you some day.
Tornado Strikes Bee Equipment Facility at the Ohio State University
On September 16, 2010, a tornado struck the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), which is the agricultural research campus of The Ohio State University at Wooster, Ohio. In addition to the OSU facility, many private homes were damaged, but there were no deaths and few injuries. However, damage to the Center was extensive and the loss of facilities, equipment, and research projects was significant. The storm directly struck the OSU honey bee equipment storage and maintenance facility. The building, a classic structure built in the 1920's, and all the holdings were declared to be a 100% loss. The destroyed bee hive paraphernalia represents the accumulation of about 80 years of bee hive and related equipment acquisition. The modern equipment, over time, can be replaced, but much of the old and novel equipment is gone forever. Also lost were the archival holdings of the Rothenbuhler Bee Lab. Original data and cataloged publications were either blown away or rain/mud-soaked.
So much as possible, equipment and devices were salvaged but most pieces bear marks of the storm. Several large extractors were broken beyond use. Several remaining extractors are seriously dented, but could possibly be made to run again. A Maxant Series 500 thirty-frame extractor was simply blown away and has never been found but a Maxant Vertical extractor survived but with damage. The wind force was great enough to tip full honey drums (600+ pounds) onto their sides. The drums leaked attracting large numbers of honey bees and yellowjackets to torment cleanup workers. The storage cabinet that held the lab's supplies of bee repellents was crushed so the strong odor of "Bee Go" saturated the area. A day later a 2" rain saturated the chaotic scene and added thick mud to the mix.
As time passed, the triage was performed on remaining holdings and the building along with destroyed equipment has been hauled away. So much as possible, the remaining equipment will be stored in two semi-trailers. Everywhere, parts are missing or are damaged. The marks of this storm will linger for many years and the blank space left in the history of OSU's honey bee program will be permanent. But bee life will go on at the Wooster campus. Only the field lab and storage facility were destroyed. The primary bee lab structure, located about .2 Mile away, was undamaged as was about 50 supered bee colonies in a nearby apiary.
Donations for our recovery fund are absolutely welcomed. We can be contacted at Beelab@osu.edu or at (330)263-3684. Our web page (http://www.honeybeelab.com) also lists a site for contributing to the program's recovery. Photos are posted on the Lab's Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/beelab). Obviously, all expressions of concern and support are deeply appreciated.
Dr. James E. Tew
State Specialist, Beekeeping
Department of Entomology
The Ohio State University
Wooster, OH 44691
Multiflora Rose Provides Only Pollen in His Area
I recently read in your Northeast area reports that multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) produces honey. Well, we have lots of it here in southeast New Hampshire, but it is only a pollen source (see also Ramsey's book). It produces lots of orange-brown pollen, and the pellets are large, as no nectar is carried, and only small weight gains are made during its bloom. Some days this year, the trays were so full that pollen was scooped off the top of the tray on removal, and trays would not go back in all the way due to pollen between tray and front wall of the trap! I collected a 5 gallon bucket full from 48 traps on several days this season, some of them on staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), which is a more golden pollen. It was one of the best years for pollen collection.
Charles Frederic Andros
Linden Apiaries since 1973
NH/VT Apiary Inspector 1978-1989
P.O. Box 165
Walpole, NH 03608-0165
Letters to the Editor - October 2010
New Queen Emergence
As my husband and I (brand new beekeepers this year!) were inspecting one of our colonies, a fascinating thing happened. We saw a new queen emerging, taking her first step on the frame. We had our camera and Ben took a beautiful picture of this unforgettable moment. It happened on June 29, 2010. We were in awe to witness such beauty.
Requeening Laying Worker Colonies
It is generally accepted that a laying worker colony is virtually impossible to requeen. Most of the literature says shake the remaining bees out in front of other colonies and start over. I had good luck for a time of moving the hive off its stand and setting up an identical hive in its place - put a caged queen in the new hive on the old stand, and the returning foragers would accept her. A couple weeks later the original hive could be set back on top and everybody would get together and keep the new queen. I did that for a long time with complete success - then later it would fail sometimes.
With all of the need to make up winter losses, lots of new queens are coming into our apiaries each year. It seems that a percentage of these queens will become drone layers every year. After that happens, those queens will "run" and be hard to find. I found that having a well established nuc with a good queen in it available, and combining them was the easiest fix - but if the nuc was much smaller than the colony to be requeened, even if you used newspaper between, the bees would often keep the drone layer, perhaps because she was young and has lots of pheromone.
It was when I ran into a large colony (2 deeps and a shallow) filled with bees and eggs in all 3 supers from multiple laying workers, that I thought of a solution to all these messes. I pulled off the outer cover, took a small nuc (3 frames in a deep and well established), and set it over the inner cover of the laying worker colony, being careful to slide it back a bit for an entrance. Then, I put the outer cover on top and left for a couple weeks. I used a small nuc because I feared it would be lost. I left the inner cover hole open for a slow mixing, yet with both colonies able to keep a mass take over from happening. They could treat the hole as sort of a demilitarized zone.
I came back later and the bees from below had slowly abandoned the laying workers for a good first lady upstairs. They had filled the upper super with bees, brood and honey, and the queen had gone down through the hole to start laying below. By then the laying workers were gone and I pulled out the inner cover and traded brood frames to get it back to it's original size. I've done it since on many drone layers and it has worked every time so far. I'm not sure this method would work if the queen below was poor, but laying some worker brood. The bees might not abandon her so readily.
Someone may have used this before, but I've never read anything about it. Perhaps it can help others.
Pesticide Bee Losses
Mr. Randy Oliver's SICK BEES in the August 2010 issue of American Bee Journal joins a host of similar published articles and speeches that mostly avoid the use of the word "pesticide".
For most of the past four years these presentations with some research completed before David Hackenberg reported the November, 2006 losses of many colonies, have effectively helped promote the greatly expanded use of the new neonicotinoid pesticides. Rachael Carson surely must be revolving in her casket!
I am not challenging data these researchers have presented, but there are so many other issues that are consistently ignored. Except for those with their "heads in the sand" there are countless examples that have been documented that show a definite correlation between colony losses and the use of the new (as well as the old) pesticides. Too many of the researchers have failed to conclude that two plus two still equals four, but are happy to report "plausible" causes using George Orwell's 1984 arithmetic. Many examples can be given:
1) When 35,000 colonies were lost in Germany in 2008, Bayer did not deny that clothianidin had caused the problem, but blamed improper use of their pesticide. Cannot this happen again?
2) Three thousand organic beekeepers claim no CCD problem. One explanation of colonies being lost has been reported under questionalbe conditions. Most researchers would agree that one example out of three thousand does not prove a point!
3) Last year, the beekeepers in Paris, France where pesticides are not permitted, averaged over 100 pounds of honey per hive. Last year only Louisiana and Mississippi averaged over 100 pound.
4) Research has been reported that the pesticides (and other chemicals) weaken the bee's immune system and this makes the bee more susceptible to disease, viruses, pathogens, etc. In the United States, researchers are saying the diseases weaken the bee's resistance to pesticides.
5) With large numbers of chemicals being found in brood combs, is it any wonder bees are sick?
Lawrence A. DuBose PhD
Retired Civil Engineer
with almost 40 years beekeeping experience.
Carol Stream, IL
Letters to the Editor - September 2010
Randy Oliver, Yes!
I am a regular reader of the American Bee Journal, and I want you to know that my favorite feature is the monthly article by Randy Oliver. I find other articles enjoyable as well, but if his was the only one I read in the entire magazine, I would subscribe to the journal for that one article alone.
Since I notice he is not listed as a “Column” or a “Department,” I gather he simply sends in monthly articles and you publish them. I hope you will continue to do this, since it gives me a layman’s scientific understanding of bees and beekeeping. He educates me, and shows by his bibliography that there is a large amount of serious research in the world of apiculture. Everything else in your journal is simply frosting on the cake!
Keep up the good work!
Calls for Submissions: Profiles of the American Beekeeper
Like most of you I am a beekeeper. I started last year, and plan on taking the test for my Master Beekeeper’s Certificate. I have a “Bee Sensei” I will be studying with for the next three years. I am also a professional writer and playwright and worked in Municipal Administration most of my adult life.
I am very interested in collecting as many memoirs of beekeeping experiences including getting started, first experiences, tools needed, different hives, disease, fun, pleasurable experiences and not so pleasurable experiences, scientific data, types of bees and why, winterizing, grants, funding, novice and master beekeeping tales, as well as the processes of queen rearing and whatever else you can dream up.
I will need a release to print your story — in return I plan on having a directory in the back of my book for bee farms, bee supply houses, nuc sales, bee sales, queen breeding/sales, equipment, etc. I am happy to include your name and specialty if you are chosen for the book. I will send either a letter of acceptance which will include further instructions — or a letter of rejection wishing you all the best in your ventures in beekeeping. Be assured — you will receive a response from me personally — one way or the other.
A little about me: You might be wary not knowing me personally, but I have written for several different publishers over the years opening with subjects ranging from horse purchases over the Internet, to ruby glass collecting, to antique sword collecting. Some of these publications include Point of View Publications, Blood-Horse Publications, Militaria International Publications, Virgo Publications, Krause Publications, CanPlay of Canada, and Harris Publications. In addition, I have written various newspaper and magazine editorials. My interviewees include a number of remarkable people such as Jim Lehrer of PBS fame, and Canadian playwright David Carley in regards to his staged version of Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman in Canada.
I have also had my play Potato Chips produced by the Catherine Lindsey Actors/Playwrights Workshop in Darien, CT and sponsored by the Darien Arts Center July of 2003. My play Final Copy was performed by the Catherine Lindsey Actors/Playwrights Workshop in Darien, CT June, 2009. My play Body Shop is being produced by the Catherine Lindsey Actors/Playwrights Workshop in Darien, CT this summer, June 13, 2010. My plays Potato Chips, Final Copy, and Body Shop are all being considered for future production at the Palace Theatre, connected with Colgate University, in Hamilton, New York, as well as Slant of Light Theater in Norwalk, CT.
I am currently writing a timely fiction novel entitled Queen Bee, the genre being Eco/Political/Suspense, as well as this compilation of bee-related memoirs entitled Profiles of the American Beekeeper which will both hopefully be picked up quickly and published — while waiting for a job position to open up for me.
In three years I plan to live a self-sustainable existence on our 35 acre farm with honey-bees – so far we have Russian honey bees, Great Pyrenees dogs, Ramboulette Sheep, and Champagne D’Argent Rabbits.
Please email submissions and pictures to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or, even better, mail me your stories and hard copy pictures to me personally at my NJ address:
Mrs. Mary C. Charest-Professional Writer and Playwright
608 Washington Drive
Ramsey, NJ 07446
RE: Profiles of the American Beekeeper Submissions
ABJ regrets that Photo 10 of the J. Freeman 2009 article “Things we need to know about small hive beetles” Am Bee Journal 149 (10) 947-949 was used without permission of or attribution to the original author. The source was http://www.southern
Springtime 2010, in Southwest Idaho brought us lots of cool, rainy days interspersed with occasional breaks of near-normal weather. Our swarm season was "on" one day and then "off" the next, as the bees tried to keep up with the weather. Sometimes swarms could find the right weather window to locate a suitable new home. Other times, when caught by the constantly changing weather, swarms resorted to making the best out of a bad situation. On occasion this meant that the swarms would establish their hive in the oddest of places.
Kevin Duesman, a resident Boise beekeeper, found one such swarm building a nest out in the open sagebrush on the outskirts of Boise. On the Fourth of July, he relocated the hive by transferring them from their exposed home to a temporary hive box. The swarm was not the least bit defensive, as Kevin was able to move them into a temporary hive without a smoker or a veil. The bees were even gentle enough that he could make his own "bee beard" and mug this shot for the camera.
Steve Sweet, Chief Drone
Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club
Letters to the Editor - August 2010
Open-Air Colony in Maryland
I am sending a few pics of an open-air hive. The hive is located in Carrol County, MD. I've heard through the grape vine it may be up to 8 years old.
Honey Bee Stress Syndrome (HBSS) (or redefining what’s been affecting our bees)
For the past several years, the term Colony Collapse Disorder has been so commonly used and bantered about, that it almost seems to describe an identifiable problem that has befallen the honey bee. This perception seems to be particularly true with many of the new beekeepers coming on-line recently, as well as in the mind of the general public. A primary problem with this assumption however, is that it neither accurately describes what has been affecting honey bees, nor has it led to tangible solutions for preventing future losses.
We need to remind ourselves that the current situation with large bee losses is not new. These situations have been occurring with honey bees in about ten (10) year cycles, since accurate historical records on beekeeping have been kept - and which go back to the mid 1800’s at least. What has happened over the past 20 years though, and probably just within the past 10 years for the beekeeping community, has been the rapid development and use of instantaneous and unregulated communications, particularly over the Internet.
In listening to and reading about accounts of CCD one is reminded about descriptions of “Killer Bees”, with all the attendant hype and exaggeration. Such accounts have tended to sensationalize and in some cases, distort the picture of what is actually going on. Some, many perhaps, within the publishing and media industry have unabashedly expressed their belief that the foremost consideration for them is to sell newspapers, magazines and sound bites - not necessarily to provide factual information. Is it any wonder therefore, that the use of the term Colony Collapse Disorder may have become distorted and misunderstood?
There also seems to be an institutionalized mentality that has developed around the use of the CCD terminology. Many, but not all, academics and researcher, as well as many respected figures within the beekeeping community, seem to have adopted an acceptance of the term – as if it were established fact – when in actuality the situation with bee losses seems more complex and enigmatic than when the term was first coined.
Two other situations lend weight to the proposition that perhaps the time has come to retire the general use of the term Colony Collapse Disorder in favor of a less ambiguous and more straight-forward description: 1.) A need for greater objectivity/transparency and 2.) A difference of perspective coming from outside of the U.S.
A continual difficulty with the study of CCD has been an inability to nail-down a specific set of conditions and variables that may be responsible for the overall losses. Viruses, parasitic fungi, pesticides, mites, climatic changes and even beekeeping practices have all been implicated as major causes of CCD at one time or another. It seems possible, if not probable, that a discrete, repeatable list of causes and factors necessary to initiate symptoms of CCD will never be identified - much the same as it has been for the past 150+ years that large bee losses have been reported. The analytical and detection technology we have nowadays (within the past 20 years particularly) are sophisticated indeed. But an accumulation of large amounts of data do not necessarily lead to verifiable and repeatable results, which has been a main drawback with the CCD hypothesis up to now.
It is also noteworthy to mention that the degree of concern and importance that we give to CCD here in the U.S. is not necessarily shared by beekeepers and researchers outside of this country. With the current domestic concerns that we have here nowadays, there is a perception from outside that we tend to be overly preoccupied with issues of security and perhaps plots against us/the government, rather than actually dealing with what is. This then tends to be interpreted by others as a preoccupation with finding culprits and calculated causes for our problems (including bee losses) rather than objectively looking at the variables.
As much as I would like to say that my training in scientific methodology allows me to make informed and objective choices about things affecting honey bees, I have to admit that this is not always the case. I assume that this also happens with many of us at one time or another. The problem seems to be considerably compounded however, when media and anecdotal accounts predominate over a need for statistically significant data.
Therefore, it is my suggestion that the term Honey Bee Stress Syndrome be adopted as a clearer, less ambiguous way to describe what’s been happening with our honey bees for the past several years, particularly in the U.S. Hopefully, by implementation of new terminology, we can free ourselves from many of the self-limiting preconceptions that have been associated with the term CCD, while at the same time gaining a fresh perspective on what is actually involved with this syndrome. Besides that, Honey Bee Stress Syndrome sounds much less ominous and foreboding than CCD – doesn’t it?
Letters to the Editor - July 2010
July Cover Pictures
Dr. Zachary Huang of Michigan State University sent these beautiful buckwheat photos that he took while visiting Terry Klein, a long-time member of the Michigan Beekeepers Association. The buckwheat is grown by the state to attract ducks and the area is later flooded and used for duck hunting, according to Zachary. He helped Terry gain access to the buckwheat acreage for honey production by providing information to the state. Zachary said that in 2006 the State of Michigan had denied Terry access to the region, saying that buckwheat did not need bees.
According to Dr. S.E. McGregor in his monumental book published in 1976, Insect Pollination of Cultivated Crops, "The buckwheat flower is usually unable to self-pollinate. The flower type prevents the pollen from automatically coming in contact with the stigma...The necessity of insect pollination for commercial seed production of buckwheat has been well established by Garber and Quizenberry (1927) and numerous workers in Russia, where this crop is grown so extensively...Unquestionably, the honey bee is the best pollinator of buckwheat because it is highly attracted to the buckwheat flower and efficiently and effectively transfers the pollen from anthers to stigmas, whether collecting pollen or nectar."
"Beekeepers Getting Stung By A Beekeeper"
We have some midnight beekeepers in the area of Wisconsin and Minnesota who are in the business of stealing hives of bees. Another way they work is to offer you a service of wintering your bees in the South. They offer to pick up your bees and bring them back in the spring. You may or may not get all of your bees back. You may only get half of them and they may not be in your equipment. You might end up with a lot of junk.
What drives these people to steal? Is it the price of honey and the demand or is it the glory of being able to have enough hives to go for the Almond Gold of pollination out in California? Will it help to have all your equipment branded or your name painted on everything? I am not sure, but it might help a bit. On the nights of the 26th and 27th of April I lost 33 good one-story hives of honey bees that were ready for the second box. In 2009 I lost a lot more through a shady wintering deal in the South arrangement. Are these two related? This person knew where one of my best beeyards was located.
What can you do to prevent this? Don't fall for a wintering deal without a signed contract of exactly how it will go, have all your equipment with your ID and never show them where your yards are.
Been Stung Bad Twice,
Wolf Honey Farm
Here is a picture of strawberry pollination in Eagle, Nebraska. (Photo courtesy of Robert C. Davis)
What Happened to Bee Etiquette?
Is it because the new beekeeper1 with all his fast ways of doing things and big machinery does not respect the old (long-time) beekeeper.2 "Hurry up and get out of my way." I find that the new beekeepers don't look or scope out an area before dropping a hundred hives, whereas the long-time beekeeper has cleared the area and okayed it with the landowner. Nor does the new beekeeper check to see which beekeepers are in the area where he wants to put hives. "Drop, run and don't get caught by other beekeepers" seems to be the motto.
Also, those beekeepers who have a hundred or more hives in one place don't think about the other humans around there when they pick up the left-behind bees. That would mean they would have to come back and they don't want to do that. Instead, they leave it up to someone else to clean up what was left. The long-time beekeeper has had the same spot or territory for years. The territory for the bees hasn't changed. Yes, some groves are gone, but there are new ones. The same with other areas. There is no cause for any beekeeper to take away someone else's territory or overlap the area with bees, acknowedging there is a respect for the beekeeper who has been there for a long time. Yes, there is a lot of territory and a bee can fly at least a 2-mile radius. So, why are they in such a hurry to take one's spot?
The honey will be just as good in one spot as in another. The most is not always the best. "Quality first then quantity," is the long-time beekeeper's motto.
1 New beekeeper is one who is new to area or new at the beekeeping business
2 Old beekeeper refers to the beekeeper who has been in the area a long time or in the business for a long time.
Lake Wales, FL
I have recently stayed in touch with you.
This is one of my honey labels that I made 10 years ago with my daughter, Angel. She was 9 in this photo. I currently sell my honey to local farmer's markets and health food stores in Lehigh Valley, PA. Everyone seems to enjoy my honey and love my label, it's so unique! I am sending you this photo, hoping you will enjoy it just as much as everyone else does and hoping one day it will buzz in on one of pages in your magazine.
Lehigh Valley, PA
Charity Group Helps Beekeepers in Several Countries
We're buzzin' with news!! Beekeepers for Christ (BFC) has broadened its horizons while consulting on more projects worldwide!
* Mongolia - We are continuing to support the program to provide books for school children. We need someone to foster this ministry, teach beekeeping and financially adopt this ministry.
* Kenya - Consulting with David and his wife Susan about their prospective projects in southern Kenya. David will be teaching beekeeping while Susan develops a yogurt company.
* Sudan - Dan Mayer, the co-founder of BFC, contracted with Mophart and BBLTP to build smokers to send to a project along the Sudanese border along with the manuals sent out by Beekeepers for Christ.
* Ivory Coast - BFC is donating bee suits to send to the Ivory Coast for a beekeeping project there.
* Haiti - An in-depth new project has surfaced. There is a 200 acre established farm without a beekeeping project. We have a gentleman in the U.S. who has stepped up to lead this project. We have a goal in place.
* Uganda - Continuing to work on our project and ministry in Uganda from its meager
beginnings using logs for hives to today's Langstroth hive-making classes, hive contracts and honey manufacturing; our Blessed Bee for Life Trading Post (BBLTP) project is nearly ready to spread its wings! We are just short of the funding needed to purchase the tools to take them to the next level; sustainability.
We are entering our final phase of the Uganda project by helping Blessed Bee for Life purchase a generator, table saw and other small wood-working tools. We will need $23,000 to complete this phase. GloryBee Foods, Inc. will contribute one-half or $11,500 towards this goal, but we are looking for matching gifts for the balance. Demand has surpassed their capability to produce.
We will continue to support their endeavor of becoming an established supply house for the region by the year 2011. By then, BBLTP will be prepared to handle the growing demand. This project is a success as it is now recognized as "the resource place" where people can get equipment for their own beekeeping projects, not only in Uganda, but in Sudan, Congo, Kenya and other countries. The BBLTP has become a major resource for the region by providing this equipment; it will increase their sustainability.
Beekeepers for Christ will continue to look for opportunitites where we can use the same concept as the Uganda project to bring a successful conclusion in other areas of the world. We will continue to work as a consulting resource for people who have projects of their own. We are not able to fund every project that surfaces in the region, but can provide information and expertise. We continue to support the Kei Health Center by providing food for HIV/Aids patients. A fall trip to Uganda is planned as the plans for an April trip were derailed due to the volcano in Iceland.
We will need your help to complete the final stage of this ministry and are only short a small amount to complete the purchase of the generator and woodworking equipment. If anyone's heart has a particular desire to be involved in this worthy ministry, please join us by sending your donations to BFC, P. O. Box 2744, Eugene, Oregon 97402. 100% of your tax deductible contribution goes directly to the project. Your check will be your receipt.
I have enjoyed sharing with you the incremental growth in each phase or project as we work diligently to fulfill God's plan for this ministry. It is with God's guiding hand that we work together to care for our neighbor as we would have him care for us.
GloryBee Foods, Inc.
Letters to the Editor
New York Boy Scout Troop Highlights Former Beekeeping Merit Badge
That's what Boy Scout Troop 16 of Stone Ridge, NY asked when they decided to educate their community about Honey Bees and Beekeeping. The boys needed to come up with an idea to celebrate the Boy Scouts of America's 100th anniversary at the annual Boy Scout show at their local mall where other troops would also be displaying Scout memorabilia, Scouting traditions and games. Troop 16 chose to display the old Beekeeping Merit Badge that was earned by Boy Scouts from 1911 up until 1995.
First, the boys learned about honey bees and beekeeper's equipment from local beekeepers Jim Ayers, John Petit and Teresa Eggers. Then, the boys decided to create a display that would help teach others what they had learned. They made some posters and planned to set up an empty hive for people to examine. They also had jars of honey for people to see and some beekeeping literature.
But it needed to be fun for younger children. That's where the milk came into play. The boys collected 80 half gallon milk and juice cartons, cut away the folded lid area and reshaped them into a six-sided box. Then, by crushing the 4 bottom corners in slightly, they were able to staple them together to created a giant honey comb. This was suspended above a table. Placed throughout the mall were cardboard flowers with "pollen and nectar" balls inside. Children and adults collected the pollen and nectar and brought it to the giant honey comb. Once they came to Troop 16's display with their forage, they were given more information about the role of the honey bee in our food production, pesticides and other threats to the honey bee, and the life cycle of the bees. The children then had the pleasure and challenge of throwing their pollen balls into the giant honey comb. Their reward was a sample of honey in the form of a "honey stix" donated to the troop by Nature's Kick Corporation.
The Scout Show was a great success for Troop 16 with many interested Scouts and non-Scouts passing by and asking multiple questions about the honey bees and beekeeping. Currently, the Beekeeping Merit badge is not offered by the Boy Scouts of America. Perhaps with more interest by other young Scouts, it will be reinstated.
Boy Scout Christopher Stowell Campaigns for
Re-instatement of Beekeeping Badge
My name is Christopher Stowell. I am 13 years old. I am a Boy Scout in Troop 250. I am also a Beekeeper in Skiatook, OK. I am a member of both the North East Oklahoma Beekeepers Association (NEOBA) located in Tulsa, OK, and The Oklahoma State Beekeepers Association.
I have recently learned that the Boy Scouts of America discontinued the Beekeeping merit badge in 1995. I have contacted the National Council and asked why they discontinued the merit badge. They explained that there were not enough beekeepers in America who were able to teach scouts beekeeping. They also informed me that the reinstatement of the merit badge had been brought up several times since to no avail.
It seems to me that it would only make sense to encourage beekeeping if there are not enough beekeepers in our country. I believe that now more than ever before the survival of the honey bee is important to all. If other boys are not encouraged to learn how to become beekeepers, then there will be even fewer beekeepers in the future. The reinstatement of the merit badge will lend validity to the art of beekeeping.
I have started a campaign to persuade the Boy Scouts of America to reinstate the Beekeeping Merit Badge. I have a goal set to send in my proposal to the Council by July 15, 2010. At that time, I would like your endorsement of my proposal, as well as your help in getting as many beekeepers and people who believe in the importance of youth learning how to keep bees as possible involved in this effort.
This is what I need from you:
1. Please go to the Haagen Dazs web site and sign the petition and write a few words to the Boy Scout Council telling them why YOU believe that teaching the youth about honey bees is important. Click on THE BUZZ and you will find a picture of me there. Haagen Daz has offered to help by making an online petition so everyone can help. Here are the site links for the Haagen Daz Petition: http://www.helpthehoneybees.com/#buzzlove http://www.experienceproject.com/beepetition
2. If you are a beekeeper, please go to www.beesource.com and look under the "Resources." There will be a link to resources for the Beekeeping Merit Badge Project. One of the documents listed there is a form resolution that your local beekeeping club or association could pass in support of this effort. Also, there are form letters and sample petitions that you could sign or take to your friends who keep bees. If you have a beekeeping club, you could pass out copies of those documents to the members. Boy Scouts of America is concerned that there are not enough beekeepers to support the merit badge. We need to prove that there are plenty of beekeepers who would help.
3. Please tell all the other beekeepers or other persons you know about this project and my requests for help. For example, you could copy this letter and send it to your friends and to other beekeepers, gardeners, or business members in your community. If you have friends who you send emails to, please send all of your friends an email asking them to go to the Haagen Daz website and sign my Petition. Also, please tell them that this is not a Boy Scout project. I am doing this on my own. All expenses are paid for by my parents. So, please help get the word out.
If you have any other ideas on how you could help, please feel free to contact me. I would appreciate anything you can do to help. I look forward to hearing from you. There is also a forum devoted to this project on Beesource.com, which you can look at by going to Beesource.com forums
BSA Troop 250, Skiatook, OK
Letters to the Editor - May 2010
Reviving the Boy Scout Beekeeping Merit Badge
Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream announced it is joining forces with 13 year-old Boy Scout Christopher Stowell of Troop 250, Skiatook, OK. Christopher is a beekeeper and is petitioning the Boy Scout Council for reinstatement of the Boy Scout Beekeeping merit badge that was discontinued in 1995. To sign the letter and petition, visit "The Buzz" page at http://www.helpthehoneybees.com/#buzz .
"Christopher is an amazing advocate for honey bees and serves as a great example of learning about a problem and working to find a solution," said Mara Lowry, Häagen-Dazs brand manager. "It's because of people like him that we continue to be encouraged and inspired to work to help both bees and beekeepers, and we urge everyone to do their part. Signing this letter and petition is one small but impactful thing people can do."
"Christopher says, "I believe that now more than ever before, the survival of the honey bee is important to all. If other boys are not encouraged to learn how to become beekeepers, the honey bee will surely die out. Not only do I feel this way, but beekeepers all across America believe in the importance of teaching the younger generations the importance of the honey bee."
He enlisted our help and that of beekeeping organizations across the country for their endorsement and pledge that they will help train the Boy Scouts interested in beekeeping.
We encourage you to send the letter for Christopher. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the designated area. Häagen-Dazs will print and send all of the letters to Christopher at the end of June to support his proposal.
You can also sign a petition at The Experience Project website (www.experienceproject.com/helpthehoneybees) to show your support.
Good luck Christopher! We appreciate your hard work! (From March 2010 The Minnesota Hobby Beekeeper Newsletter)
National Honey Bee Day
August 21, 2010 has been designated as National Honey Bee Day. We are asking for state and county bee associations to participate, promote, and take advantage of this special occasion. The national honey bee day allows individual bee groups to benefit from a national approach by making our voices heard by the combined efforts of all participating.
National honey bee day 2009 consisted of 42 programs, across 16 states, all focused on educating the public and expanding the beekeeping industry. Some of the programs last year consisted of open houses at bee yards, educational programs at environmental centers, booths at county and state fairs, association membership drives, and honey-tasting events.
This past year beekeepers all across the country voted through the national honey bee day website for a national theme. The selected theme for 2010 is "Local Honey - Good for Bees, You, and the Environment!" This year we have a goal to double the number of groups participating. Please consider contacting your local association if they are not participating in this worthwhile program.
National Honey Bee Day is administered through "Pennsylvania Apiculture, Inc." a non-profit 501 (c ) filed with the state of Pennsylvania.
For additional information please visit the website: www.nationalhoneybeeday.org
First World Organic Beekeeping Conference Scheduled for Bulgaria
The First World Conference on Organic Beekeeping is going to take place in Sunny Beach, Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria, from 27 to 29 August 2010.
This unique beekeeping event is organized by the Bulgarian Apimondia member association NBPS (Bulgarian Beekeeping Union) and the Bulgarian Organic Beekeeping Association.
We are pleased to inform you that the conference website is now ready for abstract submission (www.bee-hexagon.net/en/abstract.htm) and registration (www.bee-hexagon.net/en/registration.htm ).
For any further information or assistance in organizing your participation in the congress, please feel free to contact the conference coordinator Dr. Stefan Bogdanov at email@example.com or the Apimondia headquarters in Rome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to welcoming you this summer in Bulgaria!
Visit with a Beekeeper in Shendi, Northern Sudan
Shendi is a town about three hours north of Khartoum in Sudan. Although Sudan gets a lot of bad press for its wars and conflicts in Darfur and the South, as Africa's largest country, most of its vast territory is free of conflict. My husband and I were in Shendi for several weeks in December 2009 for his archaeological excavation at Abu Erteila, about 40 minutes from Shendi town. As beekeepers and Arabic speakers, we naturally began to ask around town if there were any beekeepers in this mid-sized agricultural town next to the Nile river. I had brought some honey from our Rhode Island hives that was highly prized by our hosts in upper Shendi, the family of Abu Talib Osman and his energetic and engaging wife, Maha. Through this tightly knit society, we easily found a local beekeeper, Abdel Karim Sayed, who is a third-generation beekeeper. He has a large area of fertile lands just next to the Nile river where he has kept up to 10 hives over the years, learning the trade from his father and grandfather.
Beekeeping is not easy in this hot, dry climate where summer temperatures can climb to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. The foraging season is short and occurs in the winter months of January and February when the only flowering of natural and cultivated plants and trees occurs resulting in relatively low yields of honey at about 20-30 pounds per hive. He reported that he averages a total of about 200 pounds of honey from his 10 hives. This surprised us as we thought foraging months would be greater than in our temperate climate, but intense heat is a deterrent to natural flowering plants and honey flows. Abdel Karim uses Langstroth hives, although some traditional beekeepers in the Egyptian Nile Valley still use the long, tubular ceramic hives dating from Pharaonic times. He prefers Carniolan queens that he purchases from neighboring Egypt to the north. Beekeeping is no less expensive in Sudan than in the US. A package of bees purchased from Egypt is about 400 Sudanese Pounds (= $200 ), and a single queen sells for 40 Pounds, about $20 US dollars. Mr. Abdel Karim is a local businessman who owns a soap factory, so farming and beekeeping combine to make a diverse economic livelihood for him and his family.
Mr. Abdel Karim has suffered his share of losses like beekeepers around the world. However, his recent loss is unique. In 2007 the Nile River flooded and his 10 hives were destroyed (see picture) by the swirling river in his bee yard near to his farming fields. He reported that all of the bees fled the hives in advance of the rising waters, so they were not drowned. The bees are now are tantalizing him by living in the trees in his fields, he says, but he has failed to capture and regain a single colony or swarm. "I can hear them and they are active in the fields still pollinating my crops, but I have not attracted them back to the hives." He has Mango and Lime trees and grows fodder (birseem) for his livestock.
In January 2010 Abdel Karim plans to start again and slowly rebuild his bee yard. In our pleasant late afternoon conversation we discussed the challenges and rewards of beekeeping. He had not heard of colony collapse disorder and nothing like this has affected beekeeping in the region. He did describe the death of a man in his childhood from multiple bee stings, perhaps from the spread of African bees to the area that historically has more in common with Mediterranean patterns of beekeeping, rather than those of sub-Saharan areas where bees are "kept" in logs and trees, or a variation of the Langstroth box with slats, but without foundation.
The local family with whom we stayed were well aware of the health-promoting properties of honey and welcomed the jar of Rhode Island honey I brought as a gift. Sajda, the youngest daughter, was bitten in her sleep by an insect that caused her eye to swell. Maha, her mother, put the RI honey on her eye and the swelling disappeared overnight. Honey is highly valued, but native honey is scarce, so the Sudanese import honey from Saudi Arabia and China. Maha expressed interest in keeping bees, and indeed a local honey supply could be generated by small entrepreneurs placing their hives in the lush fields that line the river Nile.
Letters to the Editor - April 2010
WHAT ARE BEEKEEPERS LOOKING FOR IN A QUEEN?
For the last three years, we have been producing queens and we have been overwhelmed with orders. We, like all queen producers, work hard to provide a queen that beekeepers rave over. We have found that talking to beekeepers and listening to their positive or negative feedback helps us in providing the type of queen they want.
As beekeepers, we have high expectations for our queens. Even when we have neglected or mismanaged our hives, we blame the problem on the queen. If the hive fails to make a large honey crop, we blame it on a poor queen, even though the weather was the worst in 30 years. If the bees die in the winter, we blame the queen and the queen producer who sold us the queen. We are hoping for a new breed of queens to save the day, but is this false hope?
In my home state of Illinois, we have started the Illinois Queen Initiative with a goal of producing local Midwest queens that are more accustomed to our climate, possess hygienic behavior, are winter hardy and are good honey producers. More and more states have such programs, turning to the queen to conquer all pests and diseases in the hive. This is placing a huge demand on breeders to present a queen that will bring a new sense of hope to beekeeping. But just what are beekeepers looking for in a queen?
I recently placed a survey on our website to find out what beekeepers want in a queen. I was very surprised at the results of this simple survey. Again, this is a simple survey I placed on my blog, but 673 people responded to the question: "When buying a queen, what is the most important queen characteristic you want to see?" Each participant had to pick one of the following six characteristics:
I was certain that the beekeeper's number one characteristic would be gentleness. After all, this seems to be the first trait bekeepers talk about when referring to their hives. And who doesn't talk about how much honey their hive produced? But much to my surprise, the number one characteristic that beekeepers want to see in their queens in disease resistance; 165 beekeepers chose disease resistance to be most important.
The second most important characteristic is gentleness, with 142 beekeepers weighing in. The third most important characteristic, with 131 beekeepers voting, is mite-resistant queens. Coming in fourth was winter-hardy queens, winning the hearts of 115 beekeepers. Fifth place was honey production with 80 votes. Last place was swarm reduction at 40 votes.
In summary, this survey tells us that beekeepers are willing to forgo honey production and gentleness if it means raising queens that can fight off diseases. As much damage that mites have done, the survey shows that beekeepers must be coping with mites to a manageable degree because they would rather have gentle bees than mite resistant bees.
Maybe our expectations for our queens are too high, or are they? As we continue to look for that silver bullet to solve all our beekeeping woes, just maybe the solution to our problem is that single bee in the hive with that little dot on her back. If so, those of us raising and selling queens need to listen to what the beekeepers are saying and continue to work toward queens which are resistant toward diseases, gentle, mite resistant, winter-hardy, produce good honey and do not swarm, in that order.
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
FIRST EARLY SEASON FLIGHT
After many weeks of very cold weather, punctuated by several snowy periods, a short stretch of warm weather is coaxing our bees out of their winter clusters to cleanse their constitutions and collect early season pollen from witch hazel, crocus and dandelions. One of our Cordovan Italian honey bees decided to briefly warm herself on this beekeeper's finger. I've attached a photograph of the brief encounter for the enjoyment of all.
Buzzy Bee Apiary
Oak Ridge, TN
Enclosed is a photo of the posted sign I designed for my beeyard utilizing the Navy Seabee emblem. It gets alot of attention, even from law enforcement. So far, I haven't had any problem with theft or trespassing. I keep my hives on a cattle trailer enclosed with re-bar to keep the bears at bay. The trailer is moved as needed to wherever the nectar and pollen source and brought back to the bee yard in the winter.
W. I. Yerby
DONATIONS REQUESTED FOR PROPOSED NEW MINNESOTA BEE LAB
I want to address you and call you what you are: A "Keeper of Bees" not a "beekeeper". The difference is your willingness to go far beyond what is expected. I am asking that of you today. We need to support the new Bee Research Center at the University of Minnesota. I am not a professional fundraiser, so I don't have a slick presentation for you. I can only tell you from my heart that I passionately believe in this project.
You are a part of a very special group of people. You know as well as I do that those who are most successful with bees are innovative, hard working, creative, and able to visualize results. You like the outdoors, nature, traveling and sunshine during pollination. You can handle the setbacks and put-downs. Most importantly, you are willing to help each other out-even loan equipment or help others to rebuild when disaster strikes.
Once again, it's time to step forward beyond what is expected. We NEED this lab. And, the University of Minnesota NEEDS our help.
I am talking about the Center for Bee Research and Discovery at the University of Minnesota. I've been involved with this project for some time. I believe so passionately in this that I decided to include it in my will. My gift will be in honor of the Keepers of Bees who inspired others-People like my John, Homer Park and Cliff Thomas.
The work being done by the talented scientists at the "U" of "M" has far surpassed the present facilities. It's time to upgrade, rebuild and enlarge. The days of keeping bees in hollow logs has gone. Research has pulled us out of the past and is helping with the current day's problems and I pray for more solutions in the future.
I ask you to consider giving and maybe even more than a one-shot gift. Whether or not you choose to be a part of this, please share this information with others who have the means and heart to support this goal.
Thanks so much. I have always supported Keepers and will continue as long as I am able. This is not lip service on my part, but an appeal from my heart for your help and my continued loyalty to you the Keepers and the Bee Industry.
For questions about donating money for the proposed new Minnesota Bee Laboratory contact the CFANS Development Office at (612) 624-4285 or by email at email@example.com With your help, we can take our solution driven science to the next level.
Vaenoski Honey Farms
12026 S. State Road 140
Clinton, Wisconsin 53525
Letters to the Editor - March 2010
This is what happened when some teenage East Texas beekeepers see snow. We built a snow "apiary" while we were on vacation in Kansas. We built it the day after Christmas.
More On the White House Hive
As regards the skeptical letter in the January issue of the ABJ "Honeygate?" I must respond.
The 130 pounds of surplus honey reported taken from The White House hive is an impressive yield for a single colony in the Chesapeake region.
However, Charlie Brandts, The White House beekeeper, is a member of our bee club. He is the most quiet and unassuming of beekeepers. If he says that 130 pounds of surplus honey were taken from The White House hive, you can take that to the bank.
I was able to take 120 pounds of honey from one of my colonies this summer, a colony I like to refer to as my "super colony". The writer of "Honeygate?" is correct in stating that in the Chesapeake region about one-quarter of that amount or about 30 pounds is the norm.
However, 2009 was no ordinary year in our region. The honey flow that began in May continued throughout June and July. My hive scale colony continued to gain weight until the fourth week of July.
In seven years of beekeeping, this 120 pound colony was a hum-dinger. This was an all-time record for me.
Caucasian Bee Sanctuary
The APISELECT Team and the breeding station Oya were founded on the island of Yeu in 1978. These partners do not only produce high quality Caucasian queens, but also aim at preserving the purity of the species. Accordingly, for the last 20 years, since 1986 to be exact, the center has been pursuing the creation of pure bee stocks of Caucasian queens whose ecotype is adapted to beekeeping countries in Europe and abroad. L'ile d'Yeu has become a unique sanctuary entirely and purely for Caucasian bees.
The island is located in the French high seas, 20 kilometers away from the coasts of Vendee (Atlantic coast). Furthermore, the island presents many features favorable to beekeeping. Consequently, the station benefits from a complete isolation and a natural protection against genetic pollution thanks to its insularity. Moreover, 65% of its surface is situated in a protected zone which allows the bees to gather nectar freely from the 780 different plants that grow on the island's various landscapes. As a consequence, l'ile d'Yeu is one of the most adapted reservoirs for central Europe.
The Caucasian bee presents many qualities, among which is the ability to be crossed successfully with other varieties. Many researchers have demonstrated an interest of such crossings. Mirza and Marcovici (1965) obtained an increase in honey production of 26.99% by crossing Italian/Caucasian bees. In France, Fresnay (1974) obtained a production increase of 40 to 50% with a third crossing with hybrids of the first generation (A. m. mellifica.X A. m. caucasica). He increased his output production by 116% with a triple combination (A. m. ligustica X A. m. caucasica) X A. m. mellifica. In Bulgaria, triple hybrids (local bees x A. m. caucasica x A. m. carnica), gave a surplus of 60 to 70% more honey.
Furthermore, Nicole Russier has supported in her recently published thesis the fundamental role of Caucasian honey bees in high quantity honey production in the Pyrenees (NRA de Montfavet Avignon, Etudes Approfondies de Génétique et Sélection Animale et Végétale). Moreover, she argues for the absolute necessity for a beekeeping center specializing in Caucasian genetic selection in an isolated area in order to maintain this variety of honey bee.
If you would like to correspond regarding our Caucasian bee breeding efforts, contact us at the address below.
Director, M. Vienne
Le marais salé
85350 Ile d'Yeu - France.
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : www.apiselect.free.fr
Egg Transfer Not So New
The December 2009 ABJ report on Apimondia includes Canadian veterinary researcher John Pollard's pioneering work on ways to ship honey bee germplasm-including the transfer of eggs with special forceps. To clarify, it is his device that is new, not the ability to transfer eggs.
To give credit where credit is due, the late Steve Taber published a paper on the subject almost 50 years ago: "Forceps for tranferring honey bee eggs". J. Econ. Entomol. 54 (2): 247-50, 1961. Alfred Dietz, professor emeritus, University of Georgia, published "The Effects of Positions on Hatching of Honey Bee Eggs in the Laboratory". J. Econ. Entomol. 57 (5): 392-395. Thanks to Dr. Dietz for the clarification.
More On "A Contemporary Hive Stand"
I equipped my first hives with Screened Bottom Boards (SBB) that I purchased unassembled and modified for use with 8-frame hive bodies. They were ruggedly built of 2x4'' lumber and strong enough to serve as stands. I often thought it would be interesting to combine the features of a Slatted Rack with those of a Screened Bottom Board in one assembly. However, doing so seemed like it would require the stand to be built from even larger wood, making it impractical in both cost and weight. The only way I could see this working out would be to have the entrance incorporated in the stand itself. By cutting the entrance into the stand, there is no room to install "slats" to provide additional cluster space. The entrance is routed at an angle to shed rain and it leads the bees onto the varroa screen. My 8-frame "SBB-Slatted Rack-Stands" are cut from 2x4's.
My new stands may have an unconventional look, but they offer the following advantages:
- A smaller, more easily guarded entrance (used with upper entrances when desired)
- Slatted rack qualities are part of the SBB assembly
- Rugged construction eliminates the need for stand
- The hives can be placed in a level position
For readers who may not be familiar with Slatted Racks, Dr. Charles C. Miller is considered to be the inventor. Many years later, Carl E. Killion improved on the idea with the addition of the wide "front-board", which extends in, above the hive entrance. The purpose of the slatted rack was to increase ventilation in hives used in the production of comb honey. Air flow and cluster space were both increased with their use. With the current use of screened bottom boards, I do not believe slatted racks do much to improve ventilation. There is still the additional cluster space which they provide, and the front-board may offer an obstacle to robbers and intruders
In place of the front-boards, some of my stands have an 8 mesh screen "mezzanine" which will allow mites to drop through or be covered with propolis to the bees' liking. I will eventually bevel the top edges of the stands to shed the rain and possibly add small landing-boards. I made a few for 5-frame nucs and 8-frame hives, and I am
looking forward to testing them with bees in the spring.
Cos Cob, CT
Some of Our Record 1951 Comb Honey Production
On this table is 55 supers (24 sections each) of comb honey. This represents only a small part of our record 1951 comb honey prodution in Illinois, which we wrote about in the February 2010 Letters to the Editor. We produced an average of 336 sections of comb honey from each of 100 colonies. At $8.00 per section for today's prices, I could have retired long ago! Unfortunately, in 1951 we sold the comb honey for $3.60 per case of 24 sections. That averages out to be only 15 cents per section of comb honey and each section weighed from 15 to 16 ounces apiece. (Eugene Killion, Killion & Sons Apiaries, Paris, IL)
Letters to the Editor - February 2010
I, along with Wendy Schweigert and a team of her students from Bradley, will be conducting research about beekeepers and their characteristics. The results of this research will be used to identify characteristics of those who chose to become beekeepers, to compare various subgroups of beekeepers with each other, and to compare other groups with beekeepers.
If you are 18 years or older and keep bees, you are invited to be a part of this research by completing a short anonymous survey about beekeepers. We are interested in new beekeepers as well as those who are experienced. Hobbyist, sideliners and commercial beekeepers are all invited to participate. The survey can be found at [URL for survey on surveymonkey.com]. The survey will be available online until February 14, 2010.
If you have any questions about this research, please feel free to contact Dr. Wendy Schweigert email@example.com
To access the survey click on the following link, or cut and paste it into your browser. https://www.surveymonkey.com
Florida Honey Standard Exemption Requested
According to the Constitution of the Florida State Beekeepers Association (FSBA), Article IV, "The general management of this Association is vested in a Board of Managers." This Board is composed of one representative from each of the local associations. Members of the Florida State Association who are not affiliated with a local association have no representation; the annual or semi-annual business meetings are the only opportunities when these members can voice their position and vote on issues that pertain to the State Association as a whole and not just the Board of Managers.
At a Board of Managers conference call, Feb. 26, 2009, Ellyn Hutson, representative for the Apalachee Beekeepers Association, made a motion that the Board endorse the resolution previously submitted by them to allow beekeepers who produce less than 1000 gallons (approximately 20 barrels) of honey annually be exempt from Florida's Food Safety laws requiring a certified food establishment for bottling. The Executive Secretary was directed to ship the resolution to all Board representatives for an endorsement they could present to the state legislature in the upcoming March 2010 session.
In an email, dated March 5th, the Executive Secretary stated that all votes must be received by March 11th. Any representative not voting would be counted as a "yes" vote. The Board of Managers vote was not unanimous. The representative from the Beekeepers of Putnam County abstained; since less than fifteen (15) days had transpired since the call for the vote and the deadline, she had no time to meet with her association to determine its position. The representative also indicated that while the "general management" of the State Association rested with the Board of Managers, it was her opinion, the Board could not endorse a resolution on behalf of the FSBA without first presenting it for vote at the general membership business meetings.
In a recent email, dated November 26, the Executive Secretary stated that although the February 26 motion had been approved by the Board via "e-mail straw vote," it "was never acted on so the matter never really went anywhere." The resolution was not put up for vote to the general membership at the recent November 4th FSBA annual meeting.
At the July 29, 2009, State of Florida Honey Bee Technical Council meeting, a motion was made from the floor asking the Council to endorse the 20 barrel exemption resolution. Council President Merritt tabled the discussion, suggesting that since The State of Florida had just adopted the first honey standard in the nation, the advocates of the resolution should wait "two or three years" before pursuing the endorsement again.
State of Florida Honey Bee Technical Council
Letters to the Editor - January 2010
A Swarm of Bees By Any Other Name. . . .Terms of Venery
We've all heard of a herd of cows, a pod of whales, a swarm of bees, a colony of bees or a hive of bees. I was researching the proper term for a group of otters ("a romp") when I ran across a couple unheard of (to me at least) terms used to describe a group of bees - a bike of bees or a grist of bees (evidently because they look like a pile of grain ready to be milled). Terms of venery (collective nouns for groups of animals) were popular among the aristocracy in Old England separating them from the yeomen; aristocrats were expected to discuss hunting in the proper terms. Many of these terms have been relegated to use in crossword puzzles or by erudite Scrabble players; some are fascinating- e.g. a parliament of owls, an ostentation of peacocks - but my all time favorite is a gallon of petrels. Can anyone come up with more bee terms? My Russian customers to whom I sell package bees are always saying "Steve, we need six families of bees." After a discussion with a Russian friend I found the term for a colony of bees is ??????? ????? which, literally translated, means "bee family".
Beehive Cake Winning Tennessee Photo
I am sending a photo that I entered in the Tennessee State Beekeeping Convention this past week. The judge was Ann Harman, who writes articles for you from time to time. I won a blue ribbon for the photo and was told by Ann to send it in and see if you would be interested in using it. If so, you have my permission to do so. I am a new beekeeper and enjoy your articles every month; they are very helpful.
The published production results for the White House hive seem odd - even suspicious. About 130 pounds of surplus for a colony in D.C.? Questionable, since the annual average surplus in that general area is something like one-quarter of that amount. So, were the results rigged, somehow, and, if so, why? As you know, honey production of a hive can be significantly boosted by adding bees or brood from other hives. Seems to me that the amount of surplus reported is open to question.
Celebrating Honey Bee Science With L.L. Langstroth's 200th Birthday
Two hundred years after his birth in 1810, Rev. Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth, known as the "Father of American Beekeeping," will behonored. Langstroth's discovery of "bee space" and his invention of the movable-frame beehive will be celebrated with a national network of exhibits, workshops and seminars and, with your help, perhaps a commemorative U.S. postage stamp as well.
Langstroth started with "two stocks of bees in common box hives" while serving as a minister in Andover, Mass. in the 1830s. Before long he was studying beekeeping in depth. He observed his bees and sought to understand their ways in order to build hive boxes which would allow him to better combat the destructive wax moths and collect surplus honey without harming the bees or damaging their wonderful honey comb.
This is the essence of the scientific method. Those who might think that Langstroth was an unlikely scientist would be misunderstanding the role of science in our lives. The scientific method involves experiencing the world in which we live, responding to the curiosity that naturally resides inside us, devising a method of observing and recording, testing and confirming our expectations, and evaluating the results we achieve. It is available and important to each and every one of us, just as it was to Langstroth.
Langstroth's efforts gave us a way to raise large quantities of bees, keep them healthy and collect their honey in a truly sustainable way, without destroying their home. We all owe him thanks and, the year 2010, his 200th birthday year is a great time for people across the country to celebrate him in ways that benefit us all.
Our effort to honor Langstroth will include the study and appreciation of his efforts and what they have yielded. Throughout the year 2010, the Down to Earth Program, which I direct for the non-profit Science Friday Initiative (SFI), will be developing and coordinating a national network of workshops, exhibits and gatherings to teach and learn about the considerable science connected with the honey bee. Please visit the Down to Earth section of
the SFI Web site for details. (www.
But there's something we need to do right NOW. We must convince the U.S. Postal Service that America deserves a commemorative postage stamp created in honor of this outstanding under-appreciated American. It is my hope that the beekeeping community, anyone who enjoys honey, and everyone who appreciates the foods we eat which depend on the honey bee, will write a letter encouraging the U.S. Postal Service to honor Langstroth in this way at this special time.
I believe that a flood of letters will help to convince the Postal Service how important Langstroth is to all of us. The U.S. Postal Service Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee will be considering a Langstroth stamp at their January 2010 meeting, so please send them a letter, today. Get everyone you know on board the postage stamp campaign, and have them enlist their friends.
We will also be preparing a mass petition. Please send an email to me at LLL200@scifri.org and include your Zip Code so that we may show the geographic breadth of this support. This is also a great way to coordinate celebrations in your community with ours.
Science Friday Initiative
I have been trying to come up with a way for providing winter protection for my bees in Nebraska. I thought about providing a fence, or using hay bales around the hive and other methods. All these methods cost money and I am trying to do beekeeping as more than just a hobby. So here is an idea I came up with. This provides the bees with a small hay stack protection. The bags of leaves come from others who are just throwing them away. I just pick them up and pile them around the hives, leaving the entrance for the winter sun.
I plan to put black tar paper on the front so the winter sun can warm the hive. Some grass is placed between the hive and the bags for insulation. In the spring the bags can be removed and either spread in the corn field or given to the recycle man. The people who pack the leaves in the bag are happy their efforts are helping the bees, and I am happy they are doing this so I don't have to pack the leaves. And, the bees get protection from the winter winds.
Robert C. Davis
Cedar Grove Apiary
Letters to the Editor - December 2009
Exposed Colony on Tree Limb
I'm an avid and dedicated reader of the American Bee Journal, and have been keeping bees since the spring of 2007. A friend told me about an exposed hive in a tree near her home in Kittery, Maine, so I went to take a look.
I've attached the photos I took-pretty amazing (and mysterious) what bees can do.
Hope you enjoy these.
Bee Tree Saved
Loggers, Scott (left) and Joe Ehrenzeller felled and trimmed out the big white pine without ever knowing it was a "bee tree". After Joe hooked onto the tree and started dragging it, he noticed a huge swarm of honey bees trailing behind the skidder. The bees went back in the tree that night. Early the next morning we trapped the bees inside the "hive" by tacking window screening over the entrance hole, and Joe bucked the tree into a 22' log that contained the bees.
Log truck driver, Charlie Holtry strapped down the logs. Bears are common at the logging site, and would surely have destroyed the bees if the "hive" hadn't been moved. So, Charlie loaded the bee tree onto his truck and hauled it to the Holman property. There he placed it onto a forked cherry tree so it wouldn't fall over. Later that day the screen was removed and the bees were set free.
Mark E. Holman
Forestry & Wildlife Consulting
Letters to the Editor - November 2009
HISTORICAL BEEHIVE MAILBOX THROUGH THREE GENERATIONS
I was seven years old when I watched an uncle build this beehive mail box in 1930. It stood at the Sperry home near Lawrence, KS until around 1980 and now stands near Kindred, ND.
A picture of my father standing beside it appeared on the cover of a 1950 issue of the Journal. Enclosed is a shot of myself beside it and one of my sons, Mark, who now owns Sperry Apiaries.
Ken Sperry Kindred, ND
MOUNTAIN MEN AND THE HONEY BEE
My name is Ronald N. Dolbeck and I am a small business owner in San Diego, Ca. I am also acquainted with Dr. G. Gage Skinner, anthropologist and contributor to your magazine. I cannot adequately put into words my pleasure while reading "Sweet Encounters, Mountain Men and the Honey Bee on the Fur Trade Frontier" in your August issue.
As a small child growing up in the middle of the Adirondack mountains, I became enamored with nature, and history. Since Fort Ticonderoga was a focal point during the French and Indian war and the American Revolution, the area has been the site of many historic and provocative occurrences throughout the past three centuries. Many historical accounts of battles and engagements permeate the history books surrounding those two significant periods in our nation's history and that area of the country.
I felt the need to provide some background for you so that you might fully appreciate the impact of the article I referenced in my first paragraph. Occasionally, I have the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Skinner and share small talk about newsworthy topics (these are short conversations) and philosophical opinions. On one such occasion we were discussing a childhood experience of mine and I was sharing the impact my uncle Merrill, a New York Conservation Officer, had upon me and my siblings through the exposure he provided us to nature and the bountiful treasures provided in the deep woods of the Adirondacks. One of those unforgettable events was the summer sojourn to the fields adjacent to Lake George to "line bees" and discover their natural hives. I remarked to Dr. Skinner that we were able to accomplish our mission through the utilization of a "bee tree locator box" which we utilized to capture and release honey bees in order for them to lead us to their hive in a hollow log, a living tree, etc. We would mark this location and return in he early fall to "smoke" the bees into a relaxed state to enable us to procure the honey. The honey, once obtained would then find its way into "gunny sacks" in the basement of our home where they would be hung above glass jars strategically placed to catch the drippings. As the jars filled, mom would melt paraffin and seal each jar to ensure a ready supply of fresh honey was available throughout the year. Each time that nectar was applied to our toast, pancakes, or french toast, the memory of the days and events leading up to having this delicacy were replayed in my mind.
I wanted to make you aware of the impact that article and your magazine's efforts to keep some of "Americana" alive have not gone unnoticed. In fact, you have provided this individual a trip back through space to a time and events that filled his heart with joy, his head with knowledge, and his soul with peace. I thank you for your efforts to keep the history of our country and its rich heritage out there where future generations "may" be exposed to wonders that only few have encountered.
Dr. Skinner is a unique individual and as exhibited by this article, a man of insight and love for our wonderful country, its history, its promise, and its never ending wonders. I sincerely hope that we will be able to share additional offerings from Dr. Skinner in your publication, as well as others who dedicate themselves to keeping the history of our great nation alive.
R. N. Dolbeck
HONEY BEE ON SUNFLOWER
Hello from two first-year beekeepers in southwest Washington. It was by good luck rather than good management that two sunflowers sprouted directly in from of our three hives last month; we wanted to share this photo of one of our Italian bees enjoying the sunflower opportunity!
Susanne Weil & Peter Glover Onalaska, Washington
It is August and we seem to be still getting those calls about removing bees from someone's property. Last week the call was "I have some bees in a tree by my house and I need to have them removed." Exploring some of the details resulted in the following comments: "I know they are honey bees, they have been there about a week." And then the most revealing comment: "They are going in and out of their house." "What do you mean when you say they're going in and out of their house?" I asked. The man explained, "They have this big house on the branch of the tree." I asked "is it sort of grey and perhaps looks like it is made of paper?" After talking a little more, we agreed that he had a hornet's nest in his tree and I gave him some options for dealing with the situation. This detailed discussion allowed me to avoid a drive of about 30 miles one way.
This week the phone rang. "I have some honey bees on my property. I've called various people without any success, and finally found your name at the Extension office. I put up several squirrel boxes on my pine trees and the bees moved into one of them. I know there is a shortage of honey bees, so I thought someone might want to save them."
My immediate reaction was that the caller must be mistaken about honey bees. Never having seen a squirrel box, I imagined it to be too small for a colony of bees. As seems to always be the case, the initial report of "honey bees" deserved more questioning. A lengthy discussion revealed that "they've been there since last year," "right now they're swarming all over the front of the box," and "Yes, I am positive they are honey bees." Since the caller's residence was only about six miles away, I told him I would stop by and investigate the situation. The next day I drove over to take a look at the "squirrel box full of honey bees." There in his back yard, about 40 feet from his house and up about 25 feet on the side of a large pine tree was the squirrel box.
After some discussion about the alternatives available, the owner agreed to treat this (in the words of Jim Tew) as a survivor colony. It will remain where it is with the hope that it makes it through the winter. If it does, I may transfer the colony to a larger home next spring.
David G. Smith EAS Master Beekeeper Past President, MD State Beekeepers Assoc
QUEEN BEE CELEBRATES FIRST BIRTHDAY
We are blessedly buzzed to celebrate the first birthday of our newest queen bee, Isis Rose Blossom Spitzig! She has brought much love, patience and wonder to us this past year! We hope your first birthday will be honey sweet with many more to follow! Feliz cumpleanos mijita querida! You're the best apprentice! Love, Mommy Melanie and Daddy Mark (Zia Queenbee Co.)
Melanie Kirby Zia Queenbee Co.
P. O. Box 317, Truchas, NM 87578
HOMEMADE OBSERVATION HIVE
I have been providing a honey bee and product display in the kid's tent at the Walworth County Fair here in Wisconsin for the last four years. I fabricated a three-frame observation hive from some oak scraps. For the six day run of the fair over the Labor Day weekend, I put two frames full of capped and developing brood and one full frame of honey. There is plenty of bee activity with the bees tending the young bees, and the honey provides food for the duration. The observation hive is provided with top and bottom venting on the back, and is secured together with two 1/4-20 bolts in the top.
I also built a display case in the same style, and pack it with different honey-related products. This is a hit with the kids. I usually spend time over a few days attending the display, giving out honey stix and honey recipe cards, and explaining the honey bees. The kid's tent is packed from morning to evening with a variety of displays and activities. Next year they will be giving out honey sticks instead of the chips given now. This is a good method of promoting honey bees and beekeeping, and I get a chance to answer all of the honey bee, wasp and hornet questions. I also have pamphlets for the Milwaukee Waukesha Beekeeping Association, with information and website. There are usually a few beekeepers looking for a group, and a few people interested in starting beekeeping.
Andy Hemken Big Bend, Wisconsin
Here is a picture of a coon and calf stealing an entrance feeder. I thought you might like to see this. In four nights the coon learned how to take lids off jars. The cows leave them alone after a few tries. I use top feeders now.
Glenn Gentry Paradise, TX
AFRICANIZED HONEY BEES
I would like to thank Dr. David Fletcher for his article about the Africianized bees.
I congratulate him for putting into print what needed to be said. The history he cites and some notable exceptions to what is supposed to be true to me as a person interested in the truth is truly appreciated.
I am Dr. William Eugene Connella. I live in Alexandria, Louisiana. I have been in love with bees since I was first stung by a bee in my father's beehives at the age of three. I have gotten swarms of bees out of mailboxes,wood duck nest boxes,water meters, houses,armadillo holes, bird houses and even a garbage can with the queen bee in a Budweiser beer can. I am 73 years old and I have spent 40 years teaching science and other courses. I taugh a genetics unit with all of the genetic laws of Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, six times a year for 12 years.
I want to take exception to Dr. Fletcher's remark calling the Africianized bee crosses, the F1 generation, trash bees. The reason I want to take exception to this is because without this occurring in nature and the natural selection process, we would all perish.
In humans we have 46 chromosomes and a science book with a mistake on page 621 reads as follows; 48 chromosomes---(we have 46)--can be separated into 16,777,216 different haploid combinations so for humans that is 281,474,976,710,656 different combinations during fertilization or possible different individuals. The reason I quote the above is to show the almost infinite possibilities in the F1 cross and more in the F2 Generations due to homozygous doubled up traits.
A queen bee has 23 chromosomes, which is roughly half the human chromosomes, so the number of possible gametes would be approximately half of the human 48 (46 remember mistake they originally made in human genetics) which would be 8,388,608 possible gametes for combination with the haploid male bee, which has 13 chromosomes. This would give us half of the gametes that a queen bee has or 4,194,304 possible combinations in a single bee egg for a male gamete. The number would be very large for different combinations for a single bee. If you want to know--go figure --this staggers my mind--the supreme being we call our God is not stupid. He has this all figured out.
The reason I quote the above is to show that we cannot call the F1 generation junk bees--one of these junk bees that toughed it out in the wild-- our so-called feral bees --may be the right combination, -- especially in the F2 generation --- that will save the bee industry in the United States if not the world.
So to Dr. Fletcher - I thank you for a super article on the right subject at the right time. Setting the record straight.
Dr. William Eugene Connella Alexandria, Louisiana
DISAGREES WITH DR. FLETCHER
Thank you for the September Issue. The article on Alaska beekeeping was a highlight! However, I was disappointed by the David Fletcher article on African(ized) Bees. He seems to argue two sides of the same coin when touting the merits of Darwinian natural selection, yet then claims the surviving Africanized bees that made their way into Texas were genetic trash. It sure sounds like these bees were the survival of the fittest. It seems that Dr. Kerr and Dr. Fletcher share the same arrogance in their thinking and strategy to tame this bee.
Michael Davies El Paso, Texas
DR. FLETCHER RESPONDS
Mr. Davies has missed an important point; each time I suggested that the African(ized) bees that entered the United States are "genetic trash," I was very careful to qualify this by emphasizing that this was from a North American beekeeping point of view. Thus, while he is right to conclude that the feral bees are well enough adapted to their new environment, I am sure he would not claim that they are well adapted to the requirements of beekeepers. Perhaps I was at fault in not specifically pointing out that, with docile African stocks in apiaries, the undesirable traits of the feral African(ized) population would, over time, have every chance of being ameliorated, a benefit that history says we cannot reap from the policy of maintaining exclusively European stocks.
Dr. Daivd Fletcher Lewisburg, PA
NATIONAL HONEY BEE DAY
We would like to say thank you to all those who supported National Honey Bee Awareness Day on August 22, 2009. We were supported by many individuals, organizations, and folks at the American Bee Journal. The camaraderie and excitement generated no doubt benefited all who participated in many ways.
There were 15 states and 39 bee associations that took part in the day's events. Presentations and programs were aimed at educating the public, expanding the bee industry by signing up new members, and getting others involved. Local, regional, and national news picked up on the event and it was a day for beekeepers to shine in so many ways.
The day was formally recognized on August 11, 2009 by the United States Department of Agriculture with a proclamation, and signed by the Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas J Vilsack. Tina Bowen and her son Zeph, from Terre Haute, Indiana, were instrumental in getting this accomplished and they are to be commended for their efforts.
Plans are now underway for the next National Honey Bee Day for this coming year. We invite all beekeepers and associations to get involved, and come together in promoting the very industry we all love. A list of this year's participants, details about National Honey Bee Day, as well as other information can be found at www.
Nationalhoneybeeday.com We can not say it enough, Thank you to all who participated. This started as a simple idea and quickly grew. We look forward to many more positive returns for the bee industry as we move forward in the future.
IOWA BEEKEEPING ON THE BRINK
Iowa beekeepers witnessed the second poorest honey crop in the beekeeping history of Iowa beekeeping. In just a few days in June some colonies managed to store some honey in the surplus honey supers. That was followed by weeks of weather and days when the bees didn't bring in enough honey for their own use. The end result of that is devastating.
Under any ordinary circumstances colonies would remove and use the honey that has been stored in the surplus honey supers. NO, NOT THIS TIME! The bees used the honey that was in the brood chambers and as the cells were emptied, the queen expanded her egg laying so as of the middle of September, most colonies have ten or more combs of brood at the time of year when they should have maybe three or four. This has left the brood chambers feather light as far as honey is concerned.
I haven't weighed my colonies yet, but I expect to put at least 30 pounds of honey back into them.
One other year, it may have been in the 1950's, there was an average of 25 pounds of surplus honey on our own few hundred and that was the state's average. All during those years our colonies would produce from 125 to 150 pounds annually. However, that year recovery was much easier since even then the bees had provided themselves fairly well in the brood chambers. So, wintering the colonies was no different than usual.
Keep in mind that two standard brood chambers with empty combs weigh 37 pounds. By having no questionable amount of honey, bees and brood the total weight needs to be 115 pounds without the outer cover. Then, no need to be concerned until next April.
With doing everything possible, I may be a bit pessimistic, but I for see at least 80 percent plus loss of colonies in the months ahead. You will not have honey available to supply the need and to get adequate sugar syrup into them is next to an impossibility.
Iowa State College Bee Research told us years ago that it takes two pounds of sugar to equal one pound of honey. Then, the bees work hard to convert the sugar to invert for their use. So, if 30 pounds bring my colonies up to weight it would require 60 pounds of sugar.
We always say "maybe next year" I hope there is a next year.
Glen L. Stanley Iowa State Apiarist Emeritus Ames, IA
I put out a bait hive in July, as it looked like my bear-shaped hive would swarm. I placed a deep super with foundation and a few drawn combs on a plastic barrel nearby. In walking past one day, I noticed something blocking the entrance. Upon closer examination, I discovered a gray tree frog at the entrance. A few days later I noticed one on each side. Must be a good place to catch bugs to eat. The hive didn't swarm, and the frogs are standing guard every day. Thought it might be interesting. Hope all is well.
Andy Hemken Big Bend, Wisconsin