Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Apis Newsletter, August 18, 2010

Dear Subscribers,

This month's Apis newsletter is delayed as I am just back from a swing out west where I addressed the Denver Beekeepers Association . Thanks to Marygael Meister and her crew for some great hospitality.  I presented a discussion on honey standards . At the conclusion of my trip I was hosted by Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk of Bee Alert Technology
who is at the moment conducting a demonstration of landmine detection for both military and civilian observers at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Let's wish him luck on this intriguing technology.

The hot summer continues here in Gainesville, FL; we had a spate of 40 days with the mercury over 90 degrees F., a record heat wave.  I guess we shouldn't complain too much considering the fires in Russia and the recent flooding of the Indus River in Pakistan. Fortunately, we have not had a full blown hurricane yet, although conditions appear to remain ripe, as we enter the most active season of the year.

September is National Honey Month.  It is a great time to promote the sweet and get the word out about one of nature's  most exquisite foods.  It also will coincide with the release of Storey's Guide to Keeping Honey Bees, my updating of two books long in print by Dick Bonney, Practical Beekeeping and Hive Management.  So far, I am scheduled to market the volume at the Decatur, GA Book Festival Sept. 2-6, 2010  and the Mother Earth News Fair, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Seven Springs, PA. Sept. 25-26, 2010 .

I was taken to task by my remarks last month concerning an “Apitrack newsletter.” The newsletter I referred to is published by Apinews. Apitrack is a commercial sponsor.  Also remarks about small hive beetle being introduced in Zacatecas State, Mexico were in error; it has yet to show up there, but does exist in the states of Coahuila y Tamaulipas.  I mistakenly stated this came from a report in Espacio Apícola   from Argentina.  Read the  full report here. wrote about my discussion of brood nest management to control  Varroa last month: “...sometimes making splits, producing a break in the brood cycle, and introducing a new queen can be a good way to keep the Varroa population to tolerable levels.  This could also provide the wherewithal for a colony to produce the critical winter bees so important to survive the following winter.”

He notes, “I don't understand how a break in the brood cycle leads to lower mite population, or how introducing a new queen does, either.  And, it seems to me that making a split this time of year would hinder the winter population.  Obviously I must be thinking of things backwards, but it seems that a hive that is well established now would have a better chance of making it through the winter??”

Ross Conrad writes in his book Natural Beekeeping, “ was realized early on that newly made splits from a previous year had much higher survival rate than the older, stronger hives that had already overwintered a season or two.”  Thus, he recommends “...regular production of nucleus colonies.”  Three factors he believes are at work: 1. Removing brood to make a nucleus also removes many mites; 2. Larger nests not only have more brood (and mites), but more foragers in the field, which also can infest the home colony with those brought in from other colonies (a process known as “phoresis.”); and 3. young queens seem to produce more vigorous colonies that are simply more resistant to mites.  This situation to my knowledge hasn't been the focus of much rigorous research, but has been suggested by a number of practicing beekeepers based on their observations.

Check out the study concerning Serbian beekeeping
: Abstract: "The study researched the costs and returns on typical small beekeeping farms from five districts in Serbia. On the basis of the field research, data on the number of beehives, type of product, volume of production per beehive and values per measurement unit were collected. In order to demonstrate the competitiveness of various apicultural products, analysis of the available data was performed using analytical calculations. According to the analysis, the labour costs comprise about 49.65%to 64.15%of the variable costs on beekeeping farms in the Raška and Šumadija districts, respectively. Production ismost economical on the bee farmin the district of Srem, where every dinar spent in production creates a value of 2.22 dinars, while the farm from the district of Raška is the least economical (1.32 din). Bee farms must reduce labour costs and re-direct their business orientation to other bee products, besides honey, such as pollen, whi ch could be significantly more profitable."   My guess is these conclusions would be the same in most areas of the world where commercial pollination has yet to take off.

The Vanishing of the Bees Documentary is about to be heavily marketed to the beekeeping community and others.  “After three long years we are delighted to announce that Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page, is finally complete!!!! We now have a solid and provocative film and we need your help to reach our next goal – getting folks to see the film."

“New rules passed by the USDA now offer financial incentives for the establishment of pollinator habitat through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The limited time program sign-up, which opens today to new enrollments, provides one of the largest pollinator conservation opportunities ever in the United States.

 “The CRP program, first established in 1985, is the largest private landowner conservation effort in the United States with up to 32 million acres eligible for enrollment through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Program participants take highly erodible land out of crop production, and establish permanent vegetation to protect topsoil and provide wildlife cover. Contracts which run 10 to 15 years provide annual rental payments on enrolled land, and cost-share assistance for establishing vegetative cover.”

“I recently discovered your blog, and I have become a frequent reader. My name is Alan with. and we recently published an article “10 Valuable Life & Business Lessons You Can Learn from Bees” that dovetails well with your audience. Perhaps you would be interested in sharing with them? Here's the link to the article if you would like to take a quick look for yourself.”  There's quite a bit of anthropomorphism here, but the advice is sound.

A reminder to always check what's new at the Bee Health site.

Check out links I have put up on the blog  and  These include a new fact sheet on small hive beetle, subsidies for European beekeepers, using mellitin in human medicine, among others.

Gleanings from the August 2010 edition of Bee Culture:

Remember that Bee Culture is now available in a digital edition:
Barbara Hickey, Norfolk,VA says there's a bee ban on.  You can own three dogs, three cats and one pig in your apartment, but no bees.  Editor Flottum advises checking out the No Buzz Zone at the Daily Green:  ; hmmm! All of Florida is considered a No Buzz Zone; don't tell the several hundred members of the Florida State Beekeepers Asssociation:
This dovetails nicely with Steve Bamford writing of his dilemma in the Capitol, Tallahassee, FL who has a “no buzz neighbor” and may be forced to move.

Jeremy Barnes, Seven Valleys, PA asks where all those Australian bees that are imported for pollinating almonds end up.  No one is tracking this; should they?
D.B. Waltrip in Florida wonders about all that oil and its potential impact on honey bees.  Editor Flottum replies “we don't know.”  Eric Nitsch, Westfield, MA writes about the “best smoker fuel” he's used, wood shavings, produced by a chainsaw and cutting with the grain.

Editor Flottum reviews the whole beekeeping year starting in the fall (August).  That is indeed the new paradigm; used to be Spring started the year and determined how successful one  might be. Not anymore; another transformation caused by mites has created a different schedule. Read why he thinks farm markets are the way to go to sell honey, and some tips about ensuring you have a proper audience; bee sure you have a supply of business cards.  He says “tongue in cheek” to Look for an article from Tom Theobald entitled: “Wrong Number – Cell Phones and Honey Bees.”  This  story will not go away.

New from equipment manufacturers is the “Beetle Jail,” yet another trap, and a bottom mounted rear-opening pollen trap.  Also a new children's book for ages 4-10, In the Trees, Honey Bees.  There's a review of the newest Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping, published by the Penguin Group.

Clarence Collison and Audrey Sheridan take a closer look at balling behavior.  This is a way colonies get rid of superfluous queens. Read about the fascinating ways researchers have discovered that pheromones might be involved.

J. Lloyd Harris writes that it pays to know how many bees are in the box.  Read how tis can be done using a computer.  The spreadsheet can be  downloaded  at

Kerry Lynott sends news from the front line. She and others are involved collecting data for the Stationary Monitoring Scheme of the Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agricultural Project or CAP.  Read what it takes to ensure the information is correct and up-to-date by analyzing 5,040 samples in a six-month period.

Lesley Chesson and Brett Tipple believe it is getting easier to find out how local honey really is.  The information is recorded conveniently in the product's hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratios. Soon, interested persons will be able to consult a map to determine exactly where their food comes from based on the local water supply.

Larry Connor examines the possibilities for queen introduction.  Read his analysis of these techniques.  It appears that introducing virgin queens might be more viable than previously thought.

Roger Hoopingarner offers thanks to L.L. Langstroth for his understanding of classical languages, which ultimately allowed him to introduce “improved” stock from other parts  of the world.  Read Dr. Hoopingarner's description of how this came about and why we in the U.S. now have a rich trove of choices in bee types. Check out the Langstroth Bicentennial page and also Dr. Hoopingarner's book Revisiting The Hive and The Honey Bee (1862 edition) 

Jim Tew compares reading frames and reading colonies, “at best an uncertain skill.”
Read specific case studies given by Dr. Tew and how reading them provided clues about what to do.  Like so much in beekeeping, the activity is not foolproof.

Dan Stiles is looking for a come back of the American chestnut.  The root of this could be crossing the American and Chinese chestnut, being promoted by the American Chestnut Foundation.  Read how Mr. Stiles was lucky enough to receive five (5) “Restoration Chestnut” seeds.  He wonders what the honey from these plants might taste like?

Ross Conrad reflects on beekeeping in the northeast region, “nine states, diverse in many ways, and similar, too.”  Read about the use of “bee tea” and the newest growing problem in the region, an animal with four legs and an omnivorous diet,  which includes succulent brood and honey.

Buddy Marterre and Alice Varon describe the certification process for honey developed by certified naturally grown. Read why this exciting initiative should be inspiring to those choosing to use more natural methods in their beekeeping.  This is the only initiative I have seen concerning certifying and marketing organic honey.

K. Rudy Blume takes us on a journey to build and manage a top bar hive.  Read this history of becoming an alternative beekeeper and what it means both the honey bees and beekeeper.

Abbas Edun continues his series on natural remedies.  This month read about southern  prickly ash, alexanders, and alder buckthorn.

Ann Harman takes a trip on a flying carpet around the world to visit some beekeeper operations. She is careful not to identify these folks specifically, especially the one who employs a treatment made with coumaphos powder!  Read a description  of how to build a watering device from an IV drip line and lumber.

Bob Mauer looks forward to the 79th National Honey Show in London, October  28-30
In All the News That Fits, read about the 2010 Philadelpia Honey Festival, obituary of legendary Huck Babcock, training California beekeepers, research on the bee's working day, a “barge over troubled water,” and UK study of pesticides and the bee's  brain.  Finally, see reports on honey bees and MRSA and installing hives atop the Nob Hill, San Francisco (Fairmont Hotel).

Finally, in the bottom board, Ed Colby indeed celebrates life as a “gift.”  Read how he literally came back from the dead as a victim of an Aspen, CO snow avalanche.

Malcolm T. Sanford

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