Monday, 13 July 2009

Apis Newsletter July 14, 2009

Dear Subscribers,

We are getting some “normal” Florida weather for the summer season.  Periodic thunderstorms continue moving in and around Gainesville in North Florida, with a 40 to 60 percent chance each day this week.  This is a welcome break from the drought that had us in its grips for a long time last spring.  It continues hot here as well; outside work must be completed by 10:00 a.m. to keep from being overwhelmed.

Story Project:  Some of you may know that I am working on a book about beginning beekeeping. One of the things I would like to include is a collection of stories from beekeepers about their activities and challenges to show beginners the scope and kind of decisions beekeepers make each and every day.   

I would appreciate it if those reading this newsletter would send me something about their activities in their part of the world, providing some specifics about manipulations based on specific conditions (seasons, plants, kind of bee used).  Other ideas might include effects of mentors (most important thing they taught you) and number of colonies managed (present and future goals in that arena in terms of time and resources) and personal history in beekeeping (first or second—even third!—generation beekeeper).

Finally, I will need your permission to use the material in the book as well, so send me your e-mail address so I can be in touch to clean up any legal aspects that might arise.  If I get enough of these, perhaps I could do an electronic summary and post it somewhere for those who participate so they get some feedback for their efforts.  Thanks for your assistance.

Quoted below is what Troy Fore published in the Summer edition of The Speedy Bee that fits the bill in many ways.  Note it contains information about specific management activities (putting on foundation), specific manipulations (I made nine splits  to slow them down a bit), description of a specified location (all  beekeeping  is local—gallberry bloom in the S.E. United States), and also discusses some history based on his experiences  with  his father as mentor, including effect of the number of colonies(You can do this with two dozen hives; it is more difficult with 2,000) and even identifying a “hot” colony and how that might have come about:

Troy Fore, Editor of The Speedy Bee, second generation beekeeper in Jesup, GA:

“We have had an interesting spring (2009) in the bees.  The windup reminded me of a spring over 40 years ago.  I was working with my daddy trying to produce enough honey to make ends meet.

“Conditions looked very promising as we approached our prime season for making cut comb off gallberry.  I have a clear vision of going to beeyard after beeyard in a cold, steady rain, putting on supers of fresh foundation.  A few weeks later, we went back around removing the supers of foundation; most were empty as when installed.  The rain had continued right through the gallberry bloom.  The only thing I accomplished was catching a near-death of cold.

“This spring was also full of promise.  I had lost just three of my 27 colonies.  The remaining built up quickly -- too fast in some ways.  I made nine splits to slow them down a bit.  Since I had not made any preparations to have queens on hand, I had to leave them to rear their own queens.  Five did so; not bad considering we had a late spell of cold, windy weather just then.  I have since identified one "hot" colony; you get these occasionally when using non-selective breeding practices!

“I put on a round of deep supers of foundation.  I had bought just enough (Daddy, if you are reading this -- we can now buy assembled frames with foundation already installed.  It is a bit pricey, but when you consider paying employees and all that goes with that, the pre-assembled foundation is probably no more expensive than what we did in the old days). 

“The weather and the bloom were just right.  I was beginning to wonder if they would run out of room before the honey flow ran out.  I went around, moving a super here and a few frames there to get the empty ones on more populous colonies.  I also moved some sheets of brood to build up weak colonies and take the pressure off the strong. (You can do this with two dozen hives; it is more difficult with 2,000).

“The rains started a couple of days later.  Over the next 30 days, we must have had  measurable rainfall for at least 20.  The first two weeks of rain washed out the remaining gallberry bloom.  At least I didn't have to buy more foundation.  Even so, it was a good spring in the bees here in Southeast Georgia, especially now that I am not trying to raise a family on my beekeeping income.

“Now I need to set up for extracting somewhere.  For the past several years I have been mostly leaving the honey for wintering and making extra splits in the spring, but I am reaching my limit with 30 hives in my backyard.  Oh, I should have noted at the outset, I am telling you what I did, not what you should do.  You have to make your own mistakes.  Happy beekeeping!”

Florida Honey Standard Adopted:  Coinciding with the 10th stage of the Tour de France and Bastille Day, another revolution is in the making.  The first state honey standard will be adopted by Florida on the 14th of July:

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced that his department has instituted the first regulation in the nation - and perhaps the world - prohibiting any additives, chemicals or adulterants in honey that is produced, processed or sold in Florida.  The regulation, which takes effect July 14, provides the first-ever "Standard of Identity" for honey.

"We want to assure consumers that the product that they are buying is pure," Bronson said.  "Too often in the past, honey has been cut with water or sugar, and sometimes even contaminated with insecticides or antibiotics.  In the future, when you're paying for honey in this state, pure honey is what you will get."

State Rep. Alan Hays, of Umatilla, has been a major advocate of the new regulation, which is supported by Florida's honey industry, and joined Bronson at a press conference here today to unveil the new rule.

New Varroa  Mite:  Check out the situation with a new  “mutant” mite in Papua New Guinea as published by Editor Flottum in his Catch the Buzz  The beekeeping  world certainly does not need this development.

A Native Apis in the Americas: Check out Apis nearctica  :  The first fossil honey bee (Apini: Apis  Linnaeus) from the New World is described and figured, expanding the former native range of the tribe Apini into the Western Hemisphere.  Apis nearctica  sp. nov., is represented by a single female worker preserved in paper shale from the Middle Miocene of Stewart Valley, Nevada.  PCAS 60(May)09-A:Template Proceedings_1.qxd.qxdApis nearctica sp. nov., is represented by a single female worker pre- ..... A. nearctica closer to the Micrapis + Megapis + Apis s.str. clade and have ...http://res

Apis UK and The  Beekeepers Quarterly:  Take a look at the latest out of the UK  Also the publisher has put up a digital version of The Beekeepers Quarterly for general viewing at

National Pollinator Week:  The event is history, but as part of the 2009 National Pollinator Week celebration, a short video, “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone!” has been released also available on the Pollinator Partnership’s web site at

CCD Report: The Colony Collapse Disorder Progress Report (2007-2008), that was mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill [Section 7204 (h) (4)] is published.  This first annual report on Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) represents the work of a large number of scientists from 8 Federal agencies, 2 state departments of agriculture, 22 universities, and several private research efforts. .

Checkout the Global Beekeeping Calendar of events in your area.  E-mail events  to the calendar master. .

Finally check out the links for July 2009 on .


Gleanings from the July 2009 Bee Culture:

Mathew Higdon, Halsville, MO gives the Science of Bee Culture an A+  and Ralph Blackwood, Conneaut, OH looks forward to receiving each issue of Bee Culture.  Willie Rogers, Kennewick, WA asks about using a galvanized extractor.  Jim Cowan says he hasn’t seen bee decline in his area and tries to simplify his observations, especially when it comes to cell phones and bees.  William Dickinson, E.C.I. 290682, 30420 Revells Neck Road, Westover, MD 21890 writes from a prison on Maryland’s eastern shore about Anise Hyssop and begs any nearby beekeeper to implement an apiculture class at the prison.  C.C. Smith, Glendale, CA asks for help about dying bees (the editor thinks its pesticide).  Bob Helmacy, Hop Bottom, PA likes Walt Wright’s contributions.  Bill Bartlett, Leonardtown, MD complains nectar flows are drying up in his neck of the woods.  Finally, Dadant and Sons were not pleased with Bee Culture publishing  a letter in the June issue about woodenware quality.

Editor Flottum writes he has trouble with queens.  Read his trials and tribulations when it comes  to marking queens, and also how he has  been accused of providing queen bee paté to his cat.

Good summer reading includes Queen Bee: Biology, Rearing and Breeding by David Woodward, The Beeman by Laurie Krebs (children’s book) and Dr. Sara’s Honey Potions by Sara Robb.  More summer reading is The Honey Spinner by Grace Pundyk, Murdoch Books.  And yet another small hive beetle trap is featured

Honey prices are stabilizing and rising (see  full report) and  Clarence Collison takes a closer look at drone sperm.  Read about its remarkable longevity and why its so difficult to recreate the drone storage environment of the spermatheca.

Tammy Horn describes how everything has changed in the Aloha state with the coming of Varroa.  Read about the strategies suggested to keep it from spreading and possible long-term research and extension projects.

Kirk Webster discusses his beekeeping mentors.  Read how they influenced him, especially that lion of beekeeping Charles Mraz who wrote the column called “Siftings” in Bee Culture for many years.

John Phipps, editor of The Beekeepers Quarterly, describes how the U.K. is getting serious about bees.  Read how Professor Frances Ratnieks, Britian’s only professor of apiculture, plans to ramp up research in four areas: breeding and disease resistance, decoding bee dances, employing methods developed  in other countries, monitoring hives for pathogens and pests.

Neil Shelton takes on ticks.  Read how he explodes many myths of these eight-legged critters and provides  down-to-earth advice on reducing their impact.  He wonders at how untrusting people are when he mentions that most women can reduce tick  impact by wearing nothing.  I don’t.

Larry Connor complains that beekeeping is getting so expensive.  Read his list of common-sense approaches to cutting costs for labor, comb renovation, purchasing packages and queens and insurance.

Jim Tew discusses his front and back lawn.  Read why they look differently and are or are not bee friendly.  He asks how the turf business got so big (see his turf statistics and estimations for amazing statistics—does a half hour of lead blowing really produce as much carbon as driving a car across the country twice?) and what that means for urban areas.  Finally, check out his new blog at .

Kathy Birt writes that the Canadian Maritimes are looking to expand beekeeping.  Read what’s driving this movement and how the blueberry industry fits in.

Gwen Rosenberg compares taking up beekeeping to making a cherry pie.  Read how this relates to Carl Sagan’s statement, “In order to make an apple pie from scratch, first you must create the universe.”  Finally, see how these topics affect teaching new beekeepers.

Connie Krochmal takes on black-eyed Susans, otherwise known as rudbeckias or coneflowers.  Read why they are a welcome sight to beekeepers and how to go about growing many of the thirty species that can be found in all kinds of environments.

Ann Harman spreads the word about mailing out newsletters.  Read how valuable a mailing list is and why staples are to be avoided at all costs by editors.  Finally, learn about the variables that the U.S. Postal Service might throw into the works and how perhaps an e-letter might be in an association’s future.

Peter Seiling makes a beehive spice rack.  Read how a shallow super design makes a heck of a Christmas present.

Wayne Anderson reports on efforts by a New Zealand beekeeper to run 90 clean hives in  the island country of Vanuatu.  The goal is to raise queens for sale around the world on an island called Erromango.  Expect to read about this project as it goes forward.

In all the news that fits read about Swedish beekeepers and “problem bears.”  The Co-operative group LTD is giving $15,000 to the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association of the UK to seek out and map locations of the native black honey bee and its hybrids.  Spraying alfalfa fields is implicated in  killing $15,000 worth  of bees in Colorado.  

Ed Colby converts Rambo bees to pussycats in the Bottom Board.  Read how he did this and solved some problems at home.


Malcolm T. Sanford

Bee sure to Catch The Buzz, Bee Culture's latest releases important to beekeepers at <>.  Also access the Apis Information Resource Center <>, which contains Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford's archived Bee Culture articles at <> and check out his blog <>.  Finally, take a look at the Global Bee Breeders Association’s efforts to increase honey bee diversity with minimal risk <>