Saturday, 20 February 2010

Apis Newsletter February 20, 2010

Dear Subscribers,

I find myself way behind this February of 2010.  A perfect storm of things has conspired to keep me from delivering this edition of the Apis Newsletter on time. right on the heels of the mega North American Beekeeping Conference in Orlando, I signed up to address the Southeast Organic Beekeepers event in Palm Beach County and the Georgia Beekeepers Association in Moultrie, GA.  Finally, I am in agreement with my friend Dr. Eric Mussen at the U of California, Davis says in his Nov/Dec 2009 newsletter From the  UC Apiaries, "I can't keep up" with all the information.  Now I'm trying to keep up with world  events through the Global Beekeeping Calendar.

On top of this has come the unexpected cold that seems to linger, including snow in Moultrie in south Georgia last weekend.  The maples and willows have  popped as is there habit in early February each year.  How much pollen the bees were able to get to begin population buildup is only a guess at present.  If they are like us humans, they will find themselves behind the eight ball; a lower population level for them, significantly inflated power bills for us.  On the other hand cold weather may shock the maples into secreting nectar and the citrus also.

No doubt this long cold spell and snowy winter adds fuel to global warming skeptics' arguments, but we have always taught in apiculture that averages are more important than local short-term events; thus photoperiod is what the plants and bees go by rather than localized temperature, but although more predictive in the long run, everyone can be caught short during extremes.  And it is the preponderance of extreme weather events that are on the climate change scientists' minds, rather than "global warming." 

The Southeast Organic event  was certainly different, featuring Sam Comfort, large-scale beekeeper turned small-scale advocate of top bar hives .  I have a running dialogue with the organizer of the Southeast event who wants "no scientists, just good beekeepers," the motto of last year's event.  There is something to be said, however, for hands-on activity rather than lecture, which includes offbeat ideas like manipulating honey bees at night and doing a "cut out" on site from a chest of drawers.  Also present was Beekeeper Linda Tillman from Atlanta, who described the event on her blog.This is a popular event; look for the third edition to be organized next year.

The Georgia meeting featured more scientists, including yours truly, Jennifer Berry and South carolina's Dr. Mike Hood.  The resurrection of Patsy cline at Rossman Apiaries during a snow event was surreal, but featured also down-to-earth fried fish and shrimp in classic Georgia style. 

I have a special place in my heart for Rossman Apiaries, where I started my short commercial beekeeping career and went on to write a series for The Speedy Bee on this experience  Linda Tillman was also there as I guessed the correct weight of a couple of set ups.  Don't ask me how.

Hunting for Bees:  We are excited to announce Bee Hunt, an opportunity for you and your group to participate in science research about the natural world.  Many of you already know about our Bee Hunt project, but some of you do not, and we want to get the word out far and wide... help us spread the word!  Bee Hunt is a project of Discover Life  ( Discover Life provides unique online tools for studying natural history and tracking the impacts of ecological problems. We are building a network of study sites across North America and we’d like to invite you to participate!

There has been a great deal of discussion within the Florida State Beekeepers Association about food safety regulations.  Many small-scale bottlers find themselves with what they call an untenable financial burden.  Perhaps the best rundown on this issue is Dennis Riggs discussion on the Southwest Florida Association's web site.

Check out my February 2010 links at  They include:  Apis cerana spread (big discussion on Bee-L about this), colony collapse disorder, bees as biocontrol of crows in Japan, Britian's train the trainer course, bees give warning of  danger, bees more efficient than cars, Phil Chandler The Barefoot Beekeeper and his podcasts, bees recognizing faces, old hive designs, and decline of bees in Europe,

Finally, check out Clint Walker's take on queen rearing and CCD.  This is a unique queen  producer perspective

Also make plans to attend the Brushy Mountain Webinar series.  The last one on urban beekeeping attracted a big buzz.

Gleanings from the February 2010 edition of Bee Culture:

See the current digital copy of Bee Culture at

Allen Dick, swalwell, Alberta, Canada asks how can we evaluate pollen supplements. He looks at consumption rate and other issues. See more on his influential web site.  Maria Concilio, South Orange, NJ says to tell more folks to leave their gardens in a natural state and minimize lawns.  Harold Boretz, East Hampton, CT says enough!  He complains that beekeeping has gone to the dogs; he writes he's going fishing instead.  John Hoffman, Mt. Holly springs, PA answers many questions on open bottom boards.  Colin Taylor, Bury, Manchester, UK also writes  about screened bottom  board issues.  Sheri Kisch, Laurel, MT asks about apitherapy and MS (Multiple Sclerosis).  She is referred to the American Apitherapy Society. Thomas Mani, Yelm, WA argues that beekeepers shouldn't give up on small cell beekeeping in spite of scientific evidence that its falls short.

Ben and Teri Whitney, Ridge Manor, FL watches Bob the real live snake watch his bee hive.  Larry Krengel urges beekeepers to take the survey found at

Editor Flottum writes that producing local queens is not easy but very rewarding. Read his take on the various projects going on around the country.

New books for 2010 include Dr. Larry Connor's new essential volume on queen rearing and Dr. Reese Halters The Incomparable Honeybee and the Economics of Pollination. Finally, Dr.  Roger Hoopingarner's updates his classic The Hive and the Honey Bee Revisited - Annotated.

Clarence Collison takes a closer look at Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus and its relatives.  Read why it's relatively easy to detect IAPV, but not what to do about it.

Katherine Aronstein reports on the Coordinated Apicultural Project (CAP) and the potential for detecting nosema in time.  Read about this "dipstick" technology.

Roger Hoopingarner reviews some of L.L. Langstroth's findings as a bee biologist; he was not just a  "mover of boxes."

Larry connor tries to answer an important question from a reader; what kind of bee do I have?  Read his analysis of the North American honey bee story.

Ross Conrad reviews stress reduction techniques in bee  management.  Surprise! Chemicals (drugs and pesticides) are big culprits.  Read about the best ways to mitigate these stressors.

Joe Traynor writes his notes from the almond conference. Read how what happens in california affects beekeeping elsewhere.

Jim Tew takes a step back and contemplates doing more with less.  Read why being over 50 and doing all the work yourself is a good start.  Read what else he makes up as he goes along.

Kim Flottum profiles queen producer Jennifer Berry. Read how she plans to rear queens using the same principles as she has advocated in her printed column in Bee Culture.

Tom Obrien suggests meeting the Ontario Beekeepers Association's technical transfer team. Read about this innovative program and how it might be a model of things to come.

Jennifer Berry describes how beekeepers might play a significant role as citizen scientists looking at climate change and beekeeping.  Read her take  on Dr. Wayne Esaias' research project.

Abbas Edun writes about natural remedy plants.  Read about the benefits of Algarrobo, Agrimony and Glossy Abelia.

Walt Wright discusses taking the age distribution into account when making splits.  Read about the differences between second-year and established colonies and why he makes a distinction between the verb "split" and noun "nuc."

Mike Hood begins a series on integrated pest management for small hive beetle.  Read about the basics of beetle biology and how beekeepers might use this knowledge to keep beetle levels down.

Ann Harman says new beekeepers can be overwhelmed by all the newest, best items in bee catalogs.  Read about her big three:  tool, veil and smoker, and some surprising others, like  the cappings scratcher and tool container.

Dan Stiles takes on skunks, which he knows a lot about.  Learn about the skunk's most problematic characteristic, its size.  Maybe they should make an action movie about large-size skunks, complete with fumigation of the audience.

In All The News That Fits, my friend Medhat Nasr receives the Distinguished Achievement Award, Alberta Beekeepers Commission, two pioneers have died, beekeeping Milton carlyle Knoefler of California and Dr. E.W. (Bert) Martin, who retired from an academic life to become a U.S.D.A. Program Leader in pollination and bee management.  Read how bees and tractors team up, the spread of more exotic Asian bees  in Australia, and how the exotic asian hornet is spreading in Europe.  Finally, read reports of pesticide-resistant Varroa in New Zealand and the controversy about the Manuka  honey standard.

On the Bottom Board, Peter Seiling reports on his activities as the "bee whisperer," a combination of ancient alchemy and witchcraft that delights audiences and scares  them at the same time.  The bee performance artist emerges "to confront the nihilistic existentialism of Post Modernism's archetypal paradigm." Consider this the next time someone wants  you to do an interview.


Malcolm T. Sanford

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