Sunday, 12 September 2010

Apis Newsletter, September 13, 2010

Dear Subscribers,

I am just back for the Decatur, GA book festival, where I gave a presentation and signed copies of my book that has just been released.  Thanks to the Georgia beekeepers that showed up to support the cause from the state association, which will have its meeting next weekend in Callaway Gardens.  The audience included my good friends, the Webbs, from Clarkesville in the northeast Georgia mountains. What a treat to have in the audience a person who has won The Best Honey In the World twice!   At the end of this month, I will be in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania at the Mother Earth News Fair, also promoting the book.

We still have our eye cocked to the tropics as yet another storm, Igor, takes aim at the U.S. Last weekend, we had phenomenally good weather and today it is storming with a tropical shower perched overhead.  This is the time in the South that beekeepers should be looking to control the Varroa mite to ensure a lower mite load going into winter so there is a bumper population of winter bees.  Again, I reiterate what I published last month concerning brood nest management and mites:

Ross Conrad writes in his book on 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 ovewintered 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 mites 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. 

For other ideas check out Jennifer Berry's musings on Fall Fundamentals in this  month's Bee Culture.

My good friend Dr. Daniel Pesante wrote an opion piece on the FAO Caribbean discussion list attempting to put into perspective a recent study by Garibaldi et al., 2009. Communicative and Integrative Biology 2:1, 1-3. I am reprinting some  of it here, since it will have limited exposure (if any) in other bee publications.

"To suggest that the present demise of honeybee populations is being directly caused by global economics of (exotic) food items is somewhat misleading, albeit not all that farfetched.  I have no problem relating global economics, greed and ignorance to the fact that it has increased the likelihood of honey bee diseases and pests being transported from one geographical area to another.  If these areas were free of the disease or the pest, it usually translates into, higher honey bee mortality for a number of years as well as increased operational costs. Add to that, that these “importations” have happened more than once over the last couple of decades. These continued exposures of honey bee populations to new diseases and or parasites have affected the bee’s biology at a rate and magnitude, faster than what is possible for the bee to adequately adapt.  

"Add to that the increasing number of chemicals and agrochemicals being placed into the environment, included I may say, those being used by beekeepers, and the possibility of the bee’s physiology being further compromised (especially with such a low number of genes) is more than a mere possibility. And yes, there is evidence of yields of honey bee pollinated product being on the decline. Just look at the information which points to the fact that less acreage of cucumber, pickles and cranberries are being planted because there are not enough colonies available to rent for pollination.   This is just a “small fraction”, of all produce but it points to the real effect being experienced, and it makes sense given the significant number of colonies that are simply no longer available for pollination and honey production. If we look more and deeper into the possible effects of reduced pollinators on agriculture (and nature), I am sure more evidence will come to light.

"The tropics are experiencing less drastic overall mortalities, but they are also occurring and significantly impacting the beekeeper, just not as much as those in temperate areas.  The tropical environment, exhibiting less marked seasonal changes, may be providing a buffering effect to part of the stress being experienced by bees in areas with more marked seasonal changes.  There is information which points to the fact that transporting colonies (pollination, migratory beekeeping) further increases the mortality rate as a consequence of inducing higher stress levels in the population.  In an already compromised physiology by pollution, agrochemicals, pest and diseases, it is not farfetched to expect the immunology of the bee to be further impacted by transportation or other management induced stress.
Nonetheless, beekeeping continues to be a major joy and experience; yesterday I caught a nice sized swarm and my eyes still sparkled as I hived it!"

The next annual meeting of the American Apitherapy Society is in Los Angeles, November 12-14. This organization continues to become an ever greater force in human medicine  "Today, an increasing number of people are turning to complementary forms of health care, such as Apitherapy, as growing scientific evidence suggests that various bee products promote healing by improving circulation, decreasing inflammation, and stimulating a healthy immune response."

Apimondia Presentations Available to  All:  The presentations made at Apimondia 2009 in Montpellier, France have been made available via the World Wide Web.  This provides a deeper look into the activities of the International Federation of Beekeepers' Associations . It will meet again in Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 21-25.  Those wishing to present at the Congress should ensure they get their presentations into the  organizers by February 2011.
Beekeeping Surveys:  Check out the full survey in this month's issue of Bee Culture. Here is an excerpt: "...we find the average beekeeper is a 52 year old male who has been keeping bees for 9 years and maintains 4 hives. He used no treatments to fight mites last year but is comfortable using essential oils, powdered sugar, or drone trapping to control Varroa mites.  He is also comfortable with not treating for mites at all. Politically, he is a moderate; religiously, he believes in God and practices a religion semi-regularly. He conserves energy and recycles. He likes animals in general.  He has a stable personality, is a conscientious introvert, and tends to be agreeable and open to new ideas. The "typical" however often describes no one particular person."

An analysis of Florida beekeepers was also sent to me revealing the following breakdown of the Florida's Certified Apiaries  will be useful in analyzing the future of Florida beekeeping industry.  The figures were compiled by Florida State Beekeepers Association member, Kent Wooldridge, from the Division of Plant Industry Florida Certified Apiaries list dated 8-4-2010.  Of the 1,667 apiaries, 1,424 (85.4%) are part time apiaries consisting of 1,068 (64% ) Hobbyist and 356 (21.4%)  Sideliners.  Of the 1,667 apiaries, 216 (13%) are Commercial and 27 (1.6%) are other (Honorary, Exempt, or not classified). Part Time Apiaries (Hobbyist and Sideliners) are scattered across the state, where as 186 of the 216 Commercial Apiaries (86.1%) are primarily located 20 counties.
How many readers are members of the American Beekeeping Federation?  A discussion with the current President, David Mendes, and current Executive Director  Robin Dahlen is instructive.  How to connect the Federation, which seeks to speak to and for all beekeepers in the U.S., with the potential membership?  There is no clear answer at the moment. Only questions remain?  What does the membership want?  How can the  Federation provide it?  You can bet this will be an enduring topic in the future. Expect  it to continue this January as both the Federation and American Honey  Producers  meet in Galveston, Texas (January 4 - 8, 2011), along with the Canadian Honey Council.

Beekeeping Resources:  Thanks to alert reader Terry Ryan for identifying these references: Australian Honey Council Report and a book  on the costs of the Asian honey bee incursion.  Here's another take on what's  available, and finally from the "Shameless Commerce Division," the Apis Information Resource  Center

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

Finally, look at links I have put up on the blog and  These include a study on caste determination and insulin, nicotine and honey bees, climate  change and pollination in Canada and others.

Gleanings from the September 2010 edition of Bee Culture:

Remember that Bee Culture is now available in a digital edition:

J. Michael Haas, Painesville, OH questions sharpening a hive tool, the oft quoted  closing statement of Editor Flottum.  Read his reply. Mary C. Charest, Ramsey, NJ is writing a book on beekeeper profiles.  She seeks sumbmissions of stories and photos at  Bert Clayton, Ladson, SC asks how one can test that honey is pure.  He was directed to look at the Project ApisM site  Josh Sommers, Cincinnatti, IA (that's Iowa!) comments on his experiences falling (he is only 20) as someone over sixty I take exception to his views.  "Formic Acid" Bill Ruzicka, Kelowna, BC provides a two page abstract of three years using Mitegone treatments.  The problem continues in the U.S. that a formal label using formic acid to control mites has yet to exist and so the product remains in legal limbo.

Editor Flottum holds forth on managing gut flora in honey bees. He discusses the role of fungicides in the environment and their potential effect on this as well as other aspects of honey bee nutrition.

New for the beekeeper is a ventilated beetle trap; an essential oil mixture for removing  honey bees from supers and Tom Seeley's new book Honeybee Democracy (swarming biology). 

Clarence Collison and Audrey Sheridan take a closer look at swarms.  They remark that much still needs to be learned about this activity.

Steve Sheppard reviews Honey Bees of Borneo, a big picture approach to honey bee evolution and behavior.

Zachary Wang looks at nutrition as part of the Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP).  Read his analysis of this important area.

Gene Kritsky reveals some of the L.L. Langstroth's  hive designs.  Read how these came about. See Dr. kritsky's book on the subject, Quest for the Perfect Hive. Jim Tew also chimes in on this topic, analysing why the standard hive is the least perfect of previous styles.

Mike Hood takes on the ugly side of IPM when it comes to wax moths, part I.  Read about safe alternatives to controlling this insect without using chemicals.

Larry Connor explains how to find queens and most importantly when it's most important. Sometimes indeed it could be nothing more than an after thought.

Dan O'Hanlon reports on the West Virginia beekeeper immunity law, mainly oriented toward the urban beekeeper. It is based on best management practices, which many are going to as an essential part of beekeeping. These also exist in Florida.
Jennifer Berry lists the fall fundamentals in the South; "ignore them at your peril."  And Ross Contrad urges beekeepers to be ready for mice in the fall and winter by simply installing 1/2 inch hardware cloth, while Dan Stiles confines his remarks to deer mice that are "hard to dislike."  A mouse question.  How often  does a mouse drink water?

David Baumbauer provides tips for talking to kids about bees and Bob Maurer says it's show time at the October National Honey Show in London.  See his picture of the potential awards (cups?).

Daniel Trvatte describes a program, which will incorporate beekeeping in top bar hives into a local corrections center (Little Rock, WA).  Read how this innovative project might be something others could pattern on.

Gwen Rosenberg is surviving IPM in bee colonies in Kent, OH.  Read how she and the kids did it.

Lori Litchman believes rules about bees and beekeeping are changing to the better in urban  areas.  She describes three examples; Minneapolis, Denver, New York, and soon Santa Monica.

Wendy Schweigert and Larry Krengel, as noted previously in this newsletter, provide a comprehensive survey of the beekeeping community.

Ann Harman urges those planning conventions in the future to begin now.  Read her tips on putting on a dynamic show, which provides anyone wanting to give assistance with an important task.

Connie Krochmal lists several sources of bee plants, including web sites and paper publications.  She references my publication still available at the University of Florida  and The Pollinator's  Bible .

In all the news that fits read about bees at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, CO; a 24(C)label for Mite Away Quick Strips, the Eu banning honey from India due to lead contamination; cheap royal jelly imports to New Zealand; and increasing bee pasture in both Utah and California.

Ed Colby in The Bottom Board provides insight into what a bicycle ride can do for a friendship.


Malcolm T. Sanford

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