Monday, 10 August 2009

Apis Newsletter August 9, 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 afternoon this week.  This is the time when all of us in the Sunshine state cock our eyes to the tropics.  So far there has been little development of any major weather disturbances, perhaps as a response to the current rather strong “el niño” phenomenon.

Story Project Update:  A  hearty thanks to those who took the time to fill out my latest “structured request for beekeeping stories” that I put out a couple of weeks ago to the Apis newsletter list.  I am still hoping to get others from those receiving this newsletter.  Here is the request in a condensed form.  Just reply to this and open as much space that you need at the end of each question:
When did you begin beekeeping?  What specifically got you interested?  Is there a family history of beekeeping?  
What was your first experience manipulating a beehive like?  What did it teach you?  What is the size of your operation (number of hives)?  Do you plan to expand?  Contract in size? What are your major considerations for this?  
Do you produce honey for sale or just as a gift?  Do you market other bee products? 
Do you engage in commercial pollination? 
Are you a member of an association?  Local? State?  Which?  Do you attend meetings?  Do you have a leadership role? 
What short courses have you attended?  What memorable instructors have you had.  What is the most important thing you learned? 
What publications (printed and electronic) do you routinely read? 
Where do you live? What is the climate like? Temperate? Subtropical? What is the configuration of a hive in the region (all deeps) (a deep and a shallow) 
What are the major plants that bees use in your area?  Have you seen any shift in their nectar production? 
Where do you get replacement bees (packages? Nucs?) and queens (raise your own; purchase). What kind of bee do you use?  (Italian, Carniolan, Buckfast) Do you collect feral (wild) bees and swarms? 
What is your biggest beekeeping challenge now?  Has that changed since you began beekeeping? 
Other remarks about your experience that would encourage/entertain or educate the beginning beekeeper.
I give my permission to Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford to use the above in Electronic and printed media:  Your name here: ________________________

The regional associations are meeting at this time and I would appreciate any reports from those attending EAS, HAS, WAS or others.

CCD Update:  There have been a number of reports in the press that the cause of CCD has been found and there might be a cure in the works.  This appears to be overkill; evidence reveals that the malady is probably caused by a number of things. .  A recent review has also been published .  Always check this site for the latest information, as well as the new Bee Health site: cited elsewhere.  

EPA Issues Registration Review Final Work Plan for Imidacloprid:  EPA has issued a Final Work Plan (FWP) for the registration review of imidacloprid.  A neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid is highly toxic to honeybees on an acute exposure basis; however, potential chronic effects on honeybee colonies are uncertain.  As part of the registration review process, EPA is requiring field-based data on imidacloprid to better understand its potential impact on pollinators.  The Agency also will be working with Federal and State officials, as well as the international community and other stakeholders, to develop data and help us understand the potential impact of the neonicotinoid insecticides on pollinators.  For additional information about the Agency's pollinator
protections, please see  For information about the registration review of imidacloprid, please see

Bee Health:  Editor Flottum discusses the progress of the $4.1 million colony health grant one year later in this month’s Bee Culture.  Part of that is a so-called “community of practice” web site  This resource is worth taking a look at on a routine basis.  Special links are found showing how to test for hygienic behavior and the state-of-the-art  healthy bees course from the University of Minnesota.  See also a review of the American Bee Research  Conference held early this year in Gainesville, FL.  Sustainable Beekeeping: A Best Management Practices Guide; Africanized and Feral Honey Bees; Pollination; Managed Non-Apis Bees (bumble bees, mason bees, etc.); Landscape Health; Unmanaged Beneficial Bees,
and  Bee Identification Guidance.  The site has also been linked  to the Consumer Horticulture Community of Practice Blog

Genetic Diversity Research:  There’s continuing discussion about the extent of genetic diversity in honey bee populations.  The most diverse populations seem much better able to hold their own in a risky, unpredictable world.  Those in the Americas, however, have been affected by many things, but most importantly by Varroa mites and their reduction of the huge wild or feral population of honey bees that built up over time since the honey bee was introduced to the  Americas in the 1600s.  Research conducted at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville on the genetic diversity of feral and managed (hobbyist/sideliner) colonies in the central and south central US shows that of the 432 samples sequenced, a total of 35 mitotypes (mitochondrial DNA, exclusively inherited from the mother) were observed which represent all four A. mellifera lineages known to exist in the United States. Interestingly, there is evidence of the `M' lineage (A. m. mellifera the "Dark Bee") still existing (8% of feral colonies), even though this subspecies has not been preferred by beekeepers for over 100 years. Furthermore, representatives of the 'O' lineage (A. m.
syriaca), (11% of feral colonies) have been found which has not been imported into the US since the 1880's. Surprisingly, analysis of 3 midwest beekeepers have shown that they are keeping these two lineages.

Pollination  Grants:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has awarded a matching Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) of $183,954 to the Pollinator Partnership, the Ohio State University, and Grand Valley State University to evaluate and communicate the ecological and economic costs and benefits of incorporating floral resource strips into vegetable production systems.  The project seeks to
demonstrate what pollinator habitat practices will work for vegetable producers, how they will benefit and how pollinator habitat efforts can be integrated into USDA conservation assistance and incentive programs. See other pollinator projects at

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced new rules concerning honey and it’s labeling. The 2008 Farm Bill amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require country of origin labeling (COOL) if it contains official USDA grade marks or statements.  The new rule will bar any honey products from the market if they do not comply with the 2008 Farm Bill and its country of origin labeling requirements. In order for the industry to clear the market of noncompliant labels, the new rule will not take effect until October 6, 2009. .

Florida  Honey Standard:  July 14 is a banner date in French history; this year it was the same for another revolution of sorts, the  adoption by  Florida of the first state honey standard.  It got a lot of press.  Where it goes from here remains an open question.   However, it is clearly a good beginning and several other states are in the process of adopting it as well. Stay tuned: .

Beecraft – American Edition:  A new magazine is attempting to break onto the world scene using the World Wide Web.  This is an outgrowth of the British journal Bee Craft.  Check out the last free electronic edition at  After that one will have to subscribe to get four copies a year at $10.00.

Link Collection Continues:  I still am collecting links using the journalist tool found at  Check out this month’s offering at, which include attacks on  honey bees by so-called “crazy” ants and New Zealand’s Manuka honey scandal.   Previous month’s contributions can  be seen at .  These are also fed to my blog at

National Honey Bee Awareness Day:  Come to Alachua County, Florida to celebrate National Honey Bee Awareness Day, August 22, 2009:  see for events around the nation.

Gleanings from the August 2009 Bee Culture:

John Hoffman, Mount Holly Springs, PA provides some in depth questions and answers about using screened bottom boards.  James Wesson, Summerville, GA sends in a picture of his log cabin hive.  Richard Anderson, Donora, PA asks some provocative questions and then asks what we  might learn if answers were available.  The editor responds  they are, but it will take some digging in various volumes to find  them.  Greg Carey, California, MD says he used last month’s  advice about laying workers and worries less about his  colony.  Dan O’Hanlon, President of the West  Virginia Queen Producers, thanks Bee Culture for saying in print  what many are saying in
private. Harley Crawford, Santa Rosa, CA shows where he hid his bees when entering the Navy in 1943.

Editor Flottum talks about rabbits in his garden.  Read what this has to do with beekeeping; the parallels are surprising.

New for Summer 2009 reading, including suggestions like Honeybee -- Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper; Mead Making & Judging; Wicked Plants, a Book of Botanical Atrocities.  Also in this area, read about Betterbee’s new, improved hive portals (entrances).

As noted earlier, Editor Flottum conducts an in depth one-one-one interview with Dr. Keith Delaplane, University of Georgia, concerning the $4.1 million bee health grant.  See more at:

Current thoughts on the EPA by Thad Box, The Western Farmer Stockman reveals a slow, but more proactive response with reference to imidacloprid and its relatives.  This is noted earlier in this issue about the EPA

Clarence Collison takes a closer look at the impact of mites on queens, workers, and drones.  Read why some things beekeepers put in hives to combat mites may in fact be worse than the mites themselves.

Kathi Petersen publishes a bee lover’s garden calendar.  Read how it can be used to raise awareness and also be used for soliciting research funding, as well as benefitting local beekeeping organizations.

Steve Sheppard reviews new research on the two nosema species.  Read how Nosema ceranae might be changing the time-honored practice of feeding fumaillin to reduce Nosema apis in breeding colonies. 

Editor Flottum discusses what’s going on at the White House, including how the new beehive is standing up to helicopter prop wash, the new dog and summer heat.  Read what the White House beekeeper is doing to keep his colony in good health and honey on the Presidential table.

Larry Connor writes about allergies to bee venom.  Read why this ever-present risk demands attention by beekeepers at all times and the real reason one should wear a veil at all times around bee colonies.

Scott Fisher describes Log Chain Apiary, an Iowa  Icon.  Read about the honey war the region is famous for and its unique flavored cremed honey. Check out honey from the heartland at

Kitty Kiefer recommends keeping a second smoker at the ready.  Read how she squished one and couldn’t find a replacement.  It made for a long night of hauling bees.

Kirk Webster continues listing his mentors, folks that have influenced his beekeeping.  Some are well-known like Brother Adam, others more obscure such as Nevin Weaver of the famous queen-rearing Texas family and Bill and Martha Treichler, Hammondsport, N.Y.  Read about the latter couple's relationship to the Haughley Experiment

Kathy  Birt reveals how making mead pays for one Prince Edward Island beekeeper, Daniel Ficza or Canoe Cover.  Read how he keeps his mead local and does not compete with other Canadians.

Dick Marron describes a heart-stopping moment when he cavalierly picked up a queen and thought he damaged her.  Read how he snatched the moment from the jaws of  defeat by blowing on her.

Jim Tew provides current information on wintering beehives as  influenced by past wintering recommendations given in previous issues of  Bee Culture.  He goes all the way back to a 1915 pamphlet on Outdoor Wintering of Bees, a  USDA Farmers’ Bulletin (#695) October 12, authored  by E.F. Phillips.  Albert R. Mann Library 2005. The Hive and the Honeybee: Selections from the E. F. Phillips Beekeeping Collection at Mann Library. Ithaca, NY: Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University.

Tim Celeski explains how to build a honey heater for the hobby beekeeper using a  light bulb and various portable cooler arrangements.  Read in depth analyses of wiring up the apparatus and controlling the temperature.

Gwen Rosenberg says there are flavors of urban beekeeping.  Read how the burgeoning green movement is contributing to beekeeping in a number of ways.

Abbas Edun lists more plants that are good for bees and people.  This includes Annatto, blueberry, and buckwheat.

Ross Conrad  contends that our future, intimately tied to that of the earth, depends on what we choose to do on personal, regional, national, and international levels as a society.  Read why recommends a return to the precautionary principle, making chemical manufacturers responsible for the impacts of their products on the environment, and that beekeepers should immediately reduce and  eliminate use of chemicals in their hives.

Eugene Makovec describes his feelings about assassinating queens and getting replacements. Read how he became a believer and what he discovered about replacing employees and queens.

Ann Harman keeps cool in hot weather with snazzy cool hat and vest.  Read how to tell the difference between heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke and the value of keeping hydrated at all times in the bee yard.  It could save your life.

In all the news that fits, we read how the Florida honey standard came to be, the sweet and  sour of honey with venom added (New Zealand), obituary of Kansas icon R. Waldo  McBurney .  Finally send get well wishes to Box Cox, Category  III Scientist at the Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center, Weslaco, TX, afflicted with brain cancer and undergoing radiation treatment, 914 Kerria St., Weslaco, TX 78596.

Also listed are the obituaries of two giants of beekeeping with very different careers.  Lawrence (Larry) Goltz, previous editor of Gleanings in Bee Culture before its name change.  Mr. Goltz was also a naturalist and photographer.  James Irvin Powers was one of the most influential beekeepers of his age, pioneering apiculture in Hawaii, and a winner of the presidents award of the American Beekeeping Federation.

Read how Brushy Mountain in Moravian Falls, NC accepted the $1 Billion Award for North Carolina’s State Industrial Extension Service and the deadlines for the Northeast SARE project that many have used to fund producer beekeeping research

Bee sure to report you bee kills to the EPA so that a running total of incidents can be maintained.  See: Ed Colby reveals the source of his new, old Chevy truck and use of it to demonstrate retrieving a swarm for an  appreciative audience.  Read how the Chevy truck compares to others he owned and where his bees are now in the great state of Colorado.

Malcolm T. Sanford

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