Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 2015 Newsletter

GBA Monthly Newsletter
Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman, Editors

Julia Mahood took this photo and wrote: I caught a swarm on Sunday--my favorite way to spend a beautiful spring afternoon. The bees were so kind and calm. They were patient as we drove to their new home and patient as they were poured into their new digs. I slid the cover over most of the top, but left an inch or two open so that the still-flying girls could find their way in. I was so relieved to see this line of workers on the edge, tipping their abdomens up high and fanning their wings to distribute the scent from their nasanov glands, telling their sisters “Head this way, our Queen is in here!”

The President's MessageLet’s all join the Bee Team!  

Illustrated above is a hexagon just as our wonderful Honey Bees would construct. They figured out that the six sides are necessary to create a strong voluminous cell to protect their young and store their very valuable food supplies. My illustration shows that we beekeepers need to be concerned about all six sides as well. Many beekeepers start with local club involvement, finding a mentor, and gaining personal education about bees. Just those three facets of learning can help one become somewhat successful as a beekeeper who endeavors to keep and manage honey bees.

              But to create a stronger “knowledge” cell, you need both to continue on to education toward certification levels as well as involvement in state and national organizations. The UGA Young Harris program provides classes to allow you to move through levels of certification. In the past, when our grandfathers kept bees, life was so much simpler. Farming chemicals did not exist as they do now; hive beetles and varroa mites weren’t any problem at all; and we were not worried about Africanized bees and all the other stuff that is on our plates today. So going to Young Harris and listening to Jennifer Berry, et al. discuss the current treatment methods and biology of the bees we love so much is what may save you from losing everything you have invested. Whether you keep bees naturally or use treatment chemicals occasionally, at Young Harris you can learn both sides of success. The Young Harris program has also had many naturalists, like Master Beekeepers Linda Tillman and Keith Fielder, speaking on the environment necessary for bees and honey production.

              Being involved with the Georgia Beekeepers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation is important as well. At the state level, we have almost 3,000 beekeepers and through the state organization, you have a chance to meet others who know what problems you are experiencing and who may have already found a solution. Our state gatherings in the spring and fall bring in nationally known speakers, make available various equipment vendors, and give you a chance to compete in the state honey competition.  The American Beekeeping Federation provides much of the same, but multiplies it by 50! They bring speakers from all over the world of beekeeping and their equipment shows are the best in the business. Each of the state and national organizations keeps us apprised of the progress of the Africanized bee movement, the spreading of diseases and status of chemical use that harms bees in our environment. You certainly leave those meetings feeling a bit overwhelmed with new information about the bee world.

              In summary, the six sided cell is necessary to give you strength and provide you with a voluminous education.  So, I want to encourage you to expand your education and knowledge by getting involved in all aspects of the Bee Team!

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Association


Jennifer Leavey’s students captured a swarm.  She writes: Here is a swarm we captured from the trunk of a cherry laurel (?) right outside the Starbucks in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons at Georgia Tech.  The process drew a lot of attention!
For club speaker ideas, GBA maintains a speaker list. If you would like to speak to clubs, click here to be added to the list. As a speaker, plan to know what your honorarium request will be if you are asked to speak. If you have invited speakers for your club, click here to read an article first published in Bee Culture about how to treat your speakers well. 
UpcomingClubActivitiesMay2015 _1_.pdf by Linda Tillman

We request club meeting information from all Georgia clubs each month.  If you don’t see your club here, we did not get a response to our request.  Consider volunteering to be the person who sends in program information for your club.


Club News and Notes

Lake Country Beekeepers

At the March and April meetings, the Lake Country Beekeepers Association in Sparta, Georgia hosted two popular Georgia beekeepers: Mr. Slade Jarrett of Jarrett Bees, and Mrs. Virginia Webb of Mtn Honey. Mr Jarrett presented a program on Spring Buildup and Management. In early spring, the bees consume a lot of honey as they build up the number of worker bees. This is the time of year when bees will starve and it is very common to find dead bees. It is important to feed sugar water (1:1 ratio) and to keep feeders filled until the nectar flow starts. He discussed checking the hives for brood, pollen and potential swarming. It’s a good practice to split hives but make sure the hive is good and strong. Bees are stronger and more effective in number. To be a successful beekeeper “think and plan ahead on bee time.”

Members who attended the April meeting were treated to a two for one talk as Mrs. Webb shared her enthusiasm for both Apimondia, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association and Talking to Kids about Honey Bees. The Apimondia Congress is a world wide beekeeping group that gathers once every other year.  Last time Apimondia met in the USA was 1967. The USA is making an Olympics type bid against Canada and possibly Brazil for the location for August 2019 with a proposed meeting site in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference is five full days, like our state meeting on steroids, with 600 programs, hands-on opportunities with 5000 hives, scientific presentations, lectures, the World Honey Show, the Honey Queen and 300-400 trade companies in attendance. Check out Apimondia on Facebook.

Virginia Webb is a third generation beekeeper and an ambassador for the beekeeping world.  She and her husband, Carl, operate Mtn Honey in Habersham GA. She has visited countless schools and similar organizations to share her knowledge of the bee world.  Her teaching philosophy is all about hands-on and involving the audience. She advises not giving honey samples or honey straws in classroom settings due to potential mess honey can create on floors and on the bus. Virginia enjoys sharing the life and important of bees in our world, and encourages every beekeeper to speak to local groups, especially young audiences.
 Lake Country Beekeepers Association Members - The Courson Family: Raymond & Maryleen and their sons, Raymond III and Brent

The Lake Country Beekeepers Association is a 60 member club.  Beekeepers and folks interested in learning how to keep bees gather monthly to learn and share ideas.  The club meets the 3rd Monday of each month at the Hancock County Extension. Visit us on Facebook or contact Bruce Morgan of Morgan Apiaries at 478.357.4029 for further information. Come join us on May 18th at 7:00 p.m. when our guest speaker will be Steve Page of Coweta Honey.

The Chattooga Beekeepers 

participated in the Ag Day sponsored by the Chattooga Young Farmers.  The event hosted approximately 300 students attending from each of the schools in the county.   The beekeepers for this day were Randy and Carolyn Rolen and Sophia Price.

Lake Hartwell Beekeepers

Sweet Afternoon:

Got a call from a local farmer, he began to explain he heard what he thought was a plane coming over. As it turns out, it was their first experience with a swarm. The bees landed near their house in a small peach tree.
They told us that the swarm was about 6 ft. off the ground but by the time we got there the small branch was hanging so low from the weight of the bees they were touching the ground.
We proceeded to lift the limb enough to get a sheet under them, sat our brood box up close and with a little encouragement they slowly checked out their potential new home. A beautiful swarm, we saw the queen when she went in and man, the march of the bees really kicked into high gear to get in there with her.

Sweet Afternoon!
Randall & Shairon Kerlin
Lavonia, GA

Lake Hartwell Junior Beekeeping Class is offered on Thursday, May 7 at 7 PM at First Baptist Church of Lavonia with Chad and Michele Whitworth

Heart of Georgia Beekeepers

receiving a trailer load of nucs on an early April night.

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers 

hive inspection at Blue Heron Nature Preserve. We added a super and checked brood patterns and Queens cells.


Swarm Photos

Nice 4 hour old swarm, very docile. They were thrilled to cover drawn honeycomb. Weird they were on the ground.  by Sam Alston

These three photos (above) were taken by Rick Moore.  This swarm was captured near Hawkinsville, GA in early April, 2015. It was large enough to fill a ten frame hive. By using a bee vac, the entire swarm was gently moved from the tree into a brood box in six minutes.

A Few Good Uses for the Queen Excluder

by Linda Tillman

In a tree there is no queen excluder. In the wild, the queen is free to wander in the comb and lay where she’d like. The queen excluder was developed for the convenience of the beekeeper. During honey harvest, the queen excluder ensures the beekeeper that he/she could remove the honey supers without taking the queen. For the commercial beekeeper, this creates an efficient honey harvest.

With less hives than a commercial outfit, you can employ an unlimited broodnest for the better functioning of the hives.  When you remove frames for harvest, shake or brush the bees off. 

The beginner kits I bought when I started beekeeping each came with a queen excluder so I own two queen excluders. Although I don’t use the queen excluder in my hive, I have found several good uses for it in beekeeping.

1. Swarm includer  
When hiving a swarm, putting a queen “includer” under the bottom box of the hive, just above the hive entrance, will keep a swarm from leaving because the queen can’t go with them.  Remove the “includer” after a night or two (in case the queen in your swarm is a virgin queen and needs to get out to mate).  This suggestion came from Julia Mahood while I was panicking about possibly losing a swarm.

2. Prove that a hive contains two laying queens 
Once I thought I had two queens laying in my hive at the same time. Eggs and brood were in the bottom box, the second box was solid capped honey, and the third box held another box of eggs and brood.

I posted about it on Beemaster Forum. The forum members suggested that I put a queen excluder between the two boxes and leave them for a week. At the end of that time, if there were new eggs in both the top box and the lower box, then I had two laying queens. I did, and there were indeed two laying queens in the hive.  

3.  Ensure that you don't take the queen by accident when making a split. 
Take the frames you want for the split out of the hive and shake or brush every single bee off of them.  Including a couple of frames of brood and eggs provides resources for a new queen. 

Put the queen excluder on top of the brood box.

Above the queen excluder, put an empty hive box. Fill it with the five bee-free frames you have pulled. Don't put any other frames in that box. On top of that box put the inner cover, the top cover, and  leave the hive for the night.

The next day, the brood frames should be covered with nurse bees who have come up to keep the brood and eggs warm. You can move these five frames into their own box with no fear that you have accidentally taken the queen. Simple nuc, simply made.

4.  The perfect drain rack for cut comb honey
The spaces between the queen excluder wires are small and close together to keep the queen from pushing her enlarged abdomen through. If you put cut comb honey sections on a cake cooling rack with wires far apart, indentations are made in the honeycomb. If you want your cut comb honey to be show quality, it should not have wire marks in it. Your queen excluder will solve this potential problem!

The applicable physical principle is Pressure = Force/Area.  The force is the weight of the honeycomb.  More wires in the queen excluder increases the area.  Thus the pressure is less with the queen excluder and does not mark the comb.

So these are four ways to use the queen excluder.  

How do you repurpose this device?

Street Cred: 

Science Daily article about bees being hooked on pesticide nectar


  • Near Unadilla, GA are hundreds of beeyards filled with many overwintered hives and nucs. Here the hives are being inspected, nucs are being created and getting ready to ship. Photos by Ricky Moore.
Dianna Tribble’s Honey Lavender No-Bake Cheesecake

This award winning cheesecake requires no baking!

1/4 cup boiling water
5 tablespoons dried lavender flowers, divided
8 Shortbread Cookies (see recipe), finely crumbled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Mint, for garnish

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over 3 tablespoons lavender flowers. Cover and steep 15 minutes. Strain water and discard lavender. Set water aside.

Crush and finely chop remaining 2 tablespoons lavender flowers. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon chopped lavender, cookie crumbs and butter. Press mixture into bottom of a greased
9-inch springform pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Combine remaining tablespoon chopped lavender with granulated sugar. If you like, use food coloring to tint the sugar purple. Cover and set aside.

When ready to fill the pie, in the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and honey until smooth.

Whip cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese filling. Spoon over prepared crust, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the springform pan to loosen. Remove sides from pan and put pie on a serving plate. Sprinkle with reserved lavender sugar and garnish with mint, if desired. Serves: 12

— Adapted from a recipe in “Tribble Farms Cookbook” by Dianna Tribble
Gardening for you and your Bees
by Gina Gallucci

You will enjoy watching your bees work by having their favorites plants nearby. Bees love native wildflowers, flowering herbs, berries and many flowering fruits and vegetables.  Here in Georgia, a few you should consider include varieties of  mint, basil, sage, thyme, borage, oregano, lavender, chives,  buckwheat,  strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cucumbers, tomato, squash, pumpkins, melons, crocus, snowdrops, jonquils, tulips, sunflowers, asters, dandelions, clovers, lilacs, wisteria, cosmos, black-eyed susans, gaillardia, goldenrod, bachelor’s buttons, anise hyssop, bee balm, sedum, peony and honeysuckle.  If you have the space, planting any type of fruit tree is perfect and trees such as maple, willow, black locust and sumac are also good food sources for bees. 

For a guide to SouthEast plantings for pollinators, click here.
Dear Aunt Bee,

Is it okay to add food coloring to the sugar water on my top feeder so I can more easily see when it needs to be refilled? And how long should I feed a nuc that I just made from an established hive?

Inquisitive but learning

Dear Inquisitive, 

Adding food coloring to sugar water being fed to bees is a great idea. First, as you noted, you can more easily see when it needs to be refilled.  More importantly, if you color the sugar water and that syrup ends up in your honey, the food color will show up as well so use colors like blue or green or purple so that if your honey is tinted blue, green or purple, you will know there is sugar syrup in it.

Feeding your bees during nectar collection pretty much guarantees that your honey will contain sugar syrup.  You should mark the boxes that are on the hive when/if you are feeding so that you will not take honey from those boxes. That still does not guarantee that sugar syrup will not be in your honey because the bees move stuff around in the hive all the time.

If you made a proper nuc from an established hive, you should have given the nuc a couple of frames of brood and eggs, a frame of pollen and a frame of honey. That honey should be enough to give them a start and that nuc should not need feeding here in the early spring.  So I would encourage you to stop feeding now, if you haven’t already. My bees have been bringing in some nectar since the middle of March - maybe even earlier where you are, if you are in a warmer part of the state.

Bees that do need feeding in early spring are package installations. Those bees didn’t know to engorge on honey because they didn’t know they were being shaken into a package. Even those bees only need to be fed a week or two because with the nectar flow, they won’t need the syrup. I got two packages this year and only fed them 1 pint of syrup each because they started bringing in nectar and quit taking the syrup. 

Your Aunt Bee
Yes, it’s been a while since we had a survey.  We would love to get more responses on our one question survey.  Our most recent survey in January asked:  Do you remove wax and propolis from your frames and hive boxes for winter storage?

Of the twenty of you who responded, here’s what we found:

Yes, I scrape them:  13 of you
Yes, I clean them with hot water:  3 of you
No, I take my chances:  3 of you
No, I like to feed my wax moths:  1 of you

Now, wasn’t that a fun question?  We’d love to hear from all over 300 of you to whom this newsletter gets sent….

This month’s question is………….

 Click here to read the question and answer the one question survey.
The Final Buzz

Our newsletter this month is especially colorful because of all your photos!  Don’t be shy about sending whatever you can.  We want to have representation from all around Georgia. 

Please also know we are accepting your info for honeybee related ads for the our  Spilling’ the Honey  newsletter eagerly read throughout the southeast.  If you or your company would like to purchase ad space in the GBA Newsletter, click here.  

Gina and Linda
Your editors

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 2015 Edition

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Spring Meeting 2015 - It was great and if you didn’t come, you were missed and we hope you come to the fall meeting in Milledgeville.  Photos by Bill Owens, Gina Gallucci, and Linda Tillman.  To see a slide show of these and more photos from the meeting, click here.

The President’s Message

I can’t begin to tell you all how pleased I was at the Lake Blackshear Resort with our Spring Meeting in February. We had a record turnout of members and new members. I believe it was in the neighborhood of 260 people. P.N. Williams said that was the most in 30 years. We were originally planning for around 140, but the writing was on the wall a week before with 153 pre-registered. 

 The high number means we had a heck of a lot of walk ups.   In the future, we plan to keep registration open longer to increase the possibility of preregistration.  Everyone who preregisters helps us ensure that we have enough programs, handouts, and lunches for the attendees.  While we love welcoming those of you who register at the door, planning for the meeting works out better if you take a moment to preregister.  The staff at the Resort handled it well and somehow produced the extra meals at a moment’s notice. I apologize if we had standing room only in some of the breakouts. If you were there, you know we shifted folks around a bit to accommodate the more popular speakers.  

 I reported at the Board meeting that as of two years ago, GBA had less than 180 members with 22 affiliated clubs; and as of the board meeting this year (13 Feb 2015) we had more than 425 memberships and 35 affiliated clubs.  If my count is correct, we actually have 563 members (counting family members) now. That’s tremendous! This is your organization and I am so glad you are coming out to give support. Your participation is the reason we can have good speakers, great facilities and a wonderful event. Thank you from all of your officers and the event committee. We are glad that the work going into these meetings is appreciated.

 At the Board meeting, we presented two new charters to recently established clubs. Those were the Altamaha Beekeepers with Holly Neilsen as president and the Beekeepers of Gilmer County, led by John Tackett.  Andy Bailey, our GBA secretary, actually prepared “Charters” printed on parchment paper. They were quite popular and many of the club presidents there expressed their desire to have one for their club. So, if you know your “Charter date,” send an email to Andy: with the appropriate info and we will prepare them for you and mail them back as we get them.

 We also approved multiple year memberships at the Board meeting. Now when you pay your membership dues, you may pay for one, three or five years at once. There will be no monetary savings (since our dues are so cheap already), but it means that our staff will not have to work as hard in getting everyone to re-up every year, and you will not have to worry about it as well.

 I want to thank the club presidents who attended the Presidential Breakfast. We had a great turnout and I felt that we were able to get to know each other better. Dr. Wimbish discussed the Junior Beekeeping program and Regina Robuck talked up the American Beekeeping Federation. We also discussed how to get bulk sugar, getting bees through the winter stronger and other topics.  The local club presidents went away with a list of potential speakers to help them with their program planning.

 We have already started working on the fall meeting to be held in Milledgeville in September. We were so happy to see so many of you at the spring meeting.  Now all of you come back in the fall, enter the big honey show and bring a beekeeping friend with you.  We want our numbers to keep going up.

Finally I want to say thank you to Linda Tillman and Julia Mahood. Their hard work and professionalism gave us this wonderful event.

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Assn.  


Lake Blackshear Meeting Highlights

Follow our 

To learn more about Gretchen Lebuhn and the Great Sunflower Project, click here.  On that web page, you can register for the project and find out lots about bees of many kinds.  

To learn more about Jennifer Leavey’s work with bees at Georgia Tech, click here.

To find out about Erin Forbes’ SARE grant, click here.  

Web Site Auction

     Every year at the February meeting, we 
    hold an auction for advertising space on the GBA website.  To see how advertising looks on 
the website, click here and look to the right side 
of the page.

This year the winners were:

Bill Owens (Georgia Bee Removal):       $1500
Ray Civitts (Mountain Sweet Honey):  $800
Slade Jarrett (Jarrett Apiaries)               $400
Higgins Apiaries                                         $400

Every year four ads are sold and every year, the winners grow business from contacts made through the GBA website ads.  This year GBA took in $3100 and this benefits all of us as members.

Next year at the February meeting, plan to bid 
     for your business to have one of the four 
      spots.  It pays off - just ask Bill Owens 
          (who wins the top spot every year)!


A few quotes from our speakers:

"Super Sisters are two Queens in one hive which are both offspring of the same Queen and the same drone."   
Cindy Bee

 "Cutting queen cells as a way to prevent swarming is a little like using the rhythm method for human birth control."   Erin Forbes

"The next month is a critical time for your bees in terms of food. Populations are increasing hence food stores are decreasing. Check in on them now to make sure they have enough food until the nectar flow begins which is still over a month away. "   Jennifer Berry

"A good Queen cell is pocked and looks like a morel mushroom on the outside; typically a smooth Queen cell doesn't make a good Queen."   Cindy Bee


GBA President, Bear Kelley, presents a new club charter to Holly Nielson for the Altamaha Beekeepers.  Your club, even well-established, can get a charter (suitable for framing) by sending in your charter date to Andy Bailey, GBA Secretary.

Youth Programming

The Spring GBA meeting was “buzzing” with news of upcoming youth events across the state!  Tara Beekeepers are planning a half day spring youth event at Reynolds Preserve in Marchth (Contact Buster and Fran Lane).  Coweta beekeepers continue their commitment to youth education through a relationship with local 4-H club members (contact Steve Page). The Oatland Island Wildlife Center and the Coastal Empire Beekeepers (contact Gregory Stewart) are also investing in youth education through workshops and an ongoing commitment to honey bee preservation outreach.

For our older youth, great things are happening in honey bee education statewide at Georgia Tech (Dr. Jennifer Leavey), University of Georgia (Jennifer Berry), Georgia Southern (Statesboro Beekeeping Association), and at Middle Georgia State College (Dr. Gloria Huddleston).

A few tips for planning youth focused educational events:

·       Limit activities to thirty minutes or less (like many of us, children’s attention spans are limited).
·       Alternate lecture and seated activities with activities including movement and play.
·       Provide fun low-cost prizes (
·       Have an alternate-filler activity planned (You never know what can happen and it is best to over plan for youth events).

·       Safety comes first.  Make sure your site and all activities are safe for designated age groups. (Have a basic first aid kit on hand – Band-Aids, even when not needed, make everything feel better!)
·       Have fun!  Remember youth are the future of beekeeping and you are planting the seed for honey bee research and preservation!

GBA offers funds to support youth education programs!  If your club is interested in hosting youth activities and are in need of program ideas, games, activities, or planning support please call or e-mail.  I look forward to presentations at the Tara, Henry County, and Griffin Clubs!

Dr. Margo Wimbish
Cell 678-378-1290

by Ricky Moore

As an experiment I placed granulated sugar on a tissue paper atop the frames in a hive, just to see if the bees would take the granulated sugar. I'd seen it on YouTube as a means of emergency feeding.

Winter was just starting and the bees were slow to acknowledge and accept the sugar, partly because I continued to front feed also. Early in January the bees discovered the sugar and from the photo you can see, are really going to town on it.

In about six weeks, they have consumed over three pounds of granulated sugar. This will not be my first choice for feeding, but I'll always keep it in the back of my mind as another possible way to feed the bees in winter.

Note to club program planners:  we are in the ongoing process of creating a list of speakers all around the state who might be good for programs for your clubs.  You can access the list here.  

UpcomingClubActivities2015March _2_.pdf

Club News and Notes

Chattooga Beekeepers Association       
                Summerville,  GA
 2015 BEEKEEPING SEMINAR participants

Coweta Beekeepers Introduction to Beekeeping class
January 24, 2015

The Coweta Beekeepers had 47 students in attendance at  the annual Introduction to Beekeeping class on January 24, 2015.  Since the class, the students have participated in two workshops.  The first workshop taught equipment assembly and the second workshop taught nectar management. Workshops will continue each month thru June.

Lake Hartwell Beekeepers Go on a Field Trip
by Shairon Kerlin

Lake Hartwell Beekeepers for our February meeting took a field trip to Bob Binnie's new store, Blue Ridge Honey Co. in Lakemont, GA.  Bob, his wife Suzette, and his entire staff were great! The retail portion is beautiful with a great variety of products and bee supplies on display with smiling faces greeting you as you arrive.

Bob took the opportunity to begin our tour in that area with a bit of history including past, present, and even future plans. They are in their nearing final stages of the total operation but we couldn't tell it. It was really impressive.

We continued through his bottling, packaging and labeling area, as well as extracting, and storage. They really dazzled us with their foot work.  For the finale they served us lunch where Bob joined us while sharing even more and a really good Q & A session with the group.

The club members really enjoyed themselves. Give your club a treat and if you are within a reasonable radius of their store, give them a call and set up a tour.  Makes for a great field trip and really a nice day for all.


The Flow Hive: An Interview with Michael Bush
by Linda Tillman

The newly invented Flow Hive has been all over the Internet in recent weeks.  You’ve seen the photos on Facebook pages.  Two Australian developers created a hive box that allows honey to be harvested without opening the hive.  The photos often show a hive with an open tube pouring honey into an open jar.  While it seems convenient for honey harvesting, using this hive box might prevent people from being good keepers of their bees (not taking the time/effort to inspect these hives).

Michael Bush, a nationally known Nebraska beekeeper and author who will be one of our keynote speakers at the Fall GBA Meeting, was one of the beekeepers asked to try this configuration.  He said the inventors sent him some of these frames to try.  I asked Michael some of the honey harvest questions that were bothering me:

The open honey container in Atlanta would draw bees in a second and seems a poor plan.

Michael said:
There is no reason to have an open honey container under the tap.  I have a tube running from mine through a hole just big enough for the tube in a five gallon bucket lid.  I can't imagine why I would do it any other way.  It's no more inconvenient and it assures no bees drowning in the honey. 

In Hotlanta during summer, the hot temperatures would always encourage the honey to flow easily out of the hive.  What would happen in colder places?

Michael’s answer:
 The honey tends to be at least 93 F anytime the weather is not outright cold and it flows very nicely at 93 F.  I don't have heather or other kinds of thixotropic honey, so I don't know how they would work, but these frames might even work better than trying to extract, as often just moving them makes them thinner and the way the device works it shifts half the cell walls a half of a cell down which would stir (move) the honey causing it to flow better.  But with my honey this Flow Hive system drained in just a few minutes (like 3 to 5 minutes).  It's really amazing to watch.

Would honey leak into the hive, making problems for the bees?

Michael said:
The caps are not even broken.  There is no honey flowing into the hive. This is accomplished by having half of the cells’ mouths protruding more. The bees draw out the other half with wax to match the protruding ones and when you break the cells open, virtually all the caps stay intact.

And how could you be sure without a queen excluder that you would not be crushing brood?  My queen sometimes lays up in the honey boxes. 

Michael’s answer:
The cells are too deep for the queen to lay in and they are an odd diameter so she wouldn't like laying in them even if they were shallow enough.  They are too small for drone brood and too large for worker brood and too deep for either.  There is actually no reason at all for anyone to use an excluder with these Flow Hive frames.

I am curious about what made you confident enough to endorse this, if you did.

Michael said: 
The makers sent me a box of them to test.  I've seen the Flow Hive work.  It is mind blowing... really.  They have worked out all of the honey harvest details.  I can only imagine two POSSIBLE issues which I have not encountered.  One is IF the honey crystallized it might be a bit of effort.  With this (flow hive) I would harvest early and often, so it's doubtful it would be crystallized.  The second POSSIBLE issue would be that I can't know how it will hold up over time.  I haven't heard a final price, but I assume it will be pricey.  It will take a few years to know the answer to how well it will age, but it seems well built.


Speaking of the GBA Fall Meeting, mark your calendars 
NOW to be in 
Milledgeville, GA on September 18 - 19, 2015 
for another fabulous GBA meeting, filled with good speakers, good breakouts, good cheer.


The Heart of Georgia Beekeepers will present a FREE “Introduction to Beekeeping Class” on March 21, 2015 at the Camp John Hope FFA-FCCLA Center 281 Hope Entrance Rd.  Fort Valley, GA 31030.  This class is designed for people who are interested in starting beekeeping, those who are just interested in beekeeping, or in gardening.  The morning session will be in Classroom from 9:00 AM until 12:00 Noon. Lunch will be at 12:00.The afternoon session will be from 1:00 PM until midafternoon (4:00 PM) at a nearby bee yard where students will open bee hives, identify bees, learn the parts of a hive, and see the bees at work.  We will have protective gloves, veils, and suits for the
students.  The class is open to all ages.

If you are interested in participating in the class, please take a moment to register through this link.

Please make sure you register EVERY person that will be attending the class so we will have a record of EACH person.  We will be having a lunch during the break at the cost of $8.00 per person.  If you are interested in the luncheon, please make sure you select lunch when you register for the class.


At the GBA February meeting in Lake Blackshear, Erin Forbes encouraged us to apply for grants in both her keynote speech and in her breakout.  Here are two opportunities to apply for money to study your bees:

1.  The 2015 USDA/AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has been announced; please see attached.  Application requirements are available on the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s website at
 Project Proposals are due to my office via email by Friday, April 17, at 4:30 p.m.  No late proposals will be accepted.  Please contact me if you have any questions.  Thank you!

Jeanne Maxwell, Esq.
Director of Grants Development & Compliance

2.  3rd Annual Bayer Leadership Award Honors Innovations in the Beekeeping Community
 Bayer CropScience is seeking nominations for its third annual Bayer Bee Care Community Leadership Award. The award provides a $5,000 grant to the winner to be used in support of a community beekeeping project.
To obtain an application, go to The deadline for submission is April 3, 2015.    

The 2014 winner, Herbert Everhart of Kearneysville, WVA, created a beekeeping programs for veterans and youth in his community to introduce and educate on all aspects of beekeeping.


North East Georgia Mountain Beekeepers Association 
is offering a beekeeping short course at the Elachee Nature Center, 2125 Elachee Drive Gainesville, Georgia, on Saturday, March 7th – Full Day Class Room Program.  This class has been rescheduled from Saturday, February 21st.

Some of the speakers include:  Paul Arnold, Bobby Chaisson, Slade Jarrett, Ray Civitts, Carl Webb, Keith Fielder, Bill Owens. 

Registration Includes: Full Day Class Room Program-February 21st, Half Day in the Beeyard-March 14th, Family Membership in NE GA Mtn. Beekeepers Club, First Lessons in Beekeeping Book - One Book Per Family, Door Prizes, & Lunch - Provided.

$45 – Individual
$60 – Couple
$5 Each Additional Person in Same Family (covers cost of lunch)

Class Limited to 100

To Pre-Register:
Call Slade Jarrett – 706-677-2854 email:
**Include: Name(s) of all attending, phone, address, and email Subject Line: Short Course**


Street Cred:

  • "More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce,” according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.  There is a very thorough article HERE​ from Food Safety News, November 2011,  about testing honey for pollen, and as the first sentence of the article states.
  • Steve Page’s Coweta Beekeeping Method
  • Can mushrooms save the honeybee?

Dear Aunt Bee,

If bees do not go to the bathroom in the hive and wait to go on a cleansing flight, what does the queen do? Does she go to the bathroom in the hive or does she slip outside?

Thanks for the help, Aunt Bee.


Potty Breaks

Dear Potty,

The bees who attend the queen take care of her from head to toe.  They comb her hair, brush her mandibles and take out her bodily waste.  None of the bees can fly during the coldest days and they “hold it” until there is a day when they can fly.  Then as quickly as they can, they move the waste out of the hive.

Sometimes in a winter hive, the bees can develop nosema.  You will know this when you see streaks of brown on the exterior of the hive as the bees release in desperation as they exit.  

But in general, the queen’s needs are taken care of by the attendant bees.

Your Aunt Bee


Rustic Canyon's Honeycomb Ice Cream
Honeycomb candy:

5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a small to medium pan, combine the sugar and honey, and cook until the sugar is melted and the mixture has turned a caramel color.  Remove from heat and add the baking soda all at once, quickly stirring to evenly distribute the soda. Be careful, as the soda will cause the sugar mixture to bubble rapidly.

Pour the honeycomb into a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and set aside until cooled and hardened, about 30 minutes.
Break the honeycomb into big and small pieces, and store in an airtight container until needed.

Honeycomb ice cream:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
1 tablespoon vodka
Pinch of salt
Prepared honeycomb

In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Stir in the condensed milk and whip again to soft peaks, then whisk in the vodka and salt.

Gently fold in the honeycomb, careful not to overmix; you want a swirl look to the ice cream. Transfer to a smaller container and
put in the freezer until firmed, 1 to 3 hours. This makes about one-half gallon of ice cream.

Serves 16


As I write this in mid February, winter is raging full blown. It is down into the 30s, 20s and occasionally into the teens here in Middle Georgia. I am a second year wanna-beekeeper and have learned a lot. Much without a choice.

Last year I had a 100% hive loss when what seemed like overnight I went from healthy hives with stores and bees to empty hives. No dead bees, no predators, no reason that I could come up with for 100% healthy-turn dead hives.

I'm faring better this year with three of my five hives surviving, thriving and doing well. I did experience a repeat of last year and lost two hives. It is frustrating, aggravating, and I took it personally, for a long time.

During the cold last winter I would wrap the hives in blankets, seal the entrance and worry nightly about the bees getting too cold.  The smartest beekeeper I've met, my mentor, Jesse McCurdy, kept telling me (and still does) "you do not have a problem with your bees, your bees have a problem with you!"

Having listened to my elders about beekeeping, and having put into practice what they taught, I have learned the most important lesson in my two year wanna-beekeeper experience; are you ready, this is important, so read and reread this slowly, let it soak in. 

"Let nature take its course."

There, I've said it. Remember fellow newbies and wanna-beekeepers, we do not control the bees and the hives. Remember, they are insects. Bugs. They are programmed to do things that we cannot understand. We give them encouragement and nurture them to our abilities, but when the sun sets, they are still bugs doing what bugs do.

Having let go of the fears and over-protectiveness, I am enjoying beekeeping much more. I don't stress when it gets bitterly cold, I just go to the window, look at the hives and say "Girls, it's gonna be cold tonight, bundle up, I'll see you in the morning. Goodnight."

Rick Moore
Heart of Georgia 


Final Buzz

We really had a great time working on this month’s edition.  This was because of all the help we had from all of you sending in contributions.   

We have identified a real need for us to have a designated GBA Photographer.  We need this person to concentrate on getting photos at GBA meetings and club meetings of both people and bees for use in Spillin’ the Honey and on our GBA website.

If you’d like to be our photographer, please get in touch with us at: 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

GBA Meeting in Lake Blackshear: Slideshow

The great photos are by Bill Owens. Other photos by Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman. We need a newsletter photographer. Will someone please volunteer for the job? We'll be eagerly anticipating your letting us know your name! (email to:


Saturday, February 7, 2015

February 2015 Newsletter

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Online registration for the spring meeting is no longer available, but you are welcome to come and register at the door!  Come one, come all!

Christine Fahrnbauer’s goats in the snowstorm last February (2014)

February Presidents Message

        Here we are into February and by now you should have signed up for the Spring Meeting being held at the beautiful Lake Blackshear Resort near Cordele on February 13 and 14.  There is still time to pre register. Heck, we will even take you at the door on the day of the event. However, pre-registration helps us in planning meals, seating, programs, etc. It also helps the vendors as they bring so much (or not enough) of their product for you. So immediately after you read the rest of this wonderful newsletter, keep your computer on and shift over to the GBA web site and sign up

        Last month, our Northeast Director, Slade Jarrett, and I flew out to Anaheim, California to attend the American Bee Federation Conference. As I sat in the various workshops and seminars, I realized the enormity of the honey bee situation in our world. Since there are over a quarter million “known” beekeepers in the United States and untold numbers of labs, PhDs and committees studying the plight of the Honey Bee, I know that we must never stop all the efforts that are on going to save the little critter. As a concerned group, we have to put this in high gear and work to the successful survival of our beloved honey bee. 

Most of the clubs in Georgia have beginner’s beekeeping classes about this time of the year. That’s wonderful because your effort introduces more folks to the bee world.  I know that Potato Creek beeks had about 30 and MABA had around 100 in their classes. As the rest of the state clubs present programs, please send me your attendance numbers and I will report on this at the fall meeting. 
We need these kinds of numbers as they do so much for us in the bee world. I realize that not all of these newbees will become beekeepers, but they will have been introduced to the bee world and will help take better bee care for tomorrow. 

In our world, we have hobbyist, sideliners and commercial beeks. Hobbyists turn into sideliners and into commercial beeks over time and continue the work of so many before them. We revised the junior beek program in Georgia last year and I hope that you will consider this as you present programs this year.  Please keep up the good work you are doing in and for your community and especially for the honey bees! In nature, honey bees don’t need humans to survive; but we humans need honey bees to survive! Humans have created most of the problems for bees and humans can fix it.
I also would like to take a minute and welcome the newest club into the Apiary. Thanks to the work of our Southeast Director, Rhett Kelley and the newest Club President, Holly Nielsen for forming the Altamaha Beekeepers Association. They meet in Lyons, Georgia (near Vidalia) and will be presented at the board meeting at Lake Blackshear. Welcome ya’ll!

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Assn.


Online registration is no longer open, but you are welcome to come and register at the door!  Come one, come all!

Have you ever wondered how you could get a grant to help with a beekeeping project?

Would you like to put some new swarm catching tricks up your sleeve before the calls start coming this spring?

Did you know that Georgia Tech isn’t just the home of the yellow jackets, it’s also home to the Urban Beekeeping Project? 
You’ll learn about all these things–and much more–at the GBA Spring Meeting! This conference has something that will inspire everyone–hobbyists to commercial beekeepers–to gear up for spring beekeeping adventures.

GBA Spring Meeting & Beekeeping Conference
February 14 • 8:30 - 5:00
Lake Blackshear Resort in Cordele, GA

Click here  to view the program for the meeting
The GBA Board will be meeting on Friday the 13th from 7 - 8 at the Lake Blackshear conference center.  After that there is a reception for all–not just board members– so plan to come.  The reception includes a cash bar and some goodies to munch on and most importantly, an opportunity to talk and chat with your fellow beekeepers.

To reserve a room at the Lake Blackshear Resort at the special Georgia Beekeepers rate, call 1-800-459-1230 and use the code 200981.  
To register for the conference, click here.

It's Valentine's Day and the hotel has a special Valentine's dinner and dance Saturday night.  If you'd like to stay on and celebrate Valentine's with your honey, the hotel will give you the same discounted rate for Saturday night as they will for Friday night.  You do need to make reservations for dinner at the hotel that night if you want to enjoy their special Valentine’s dinner.

You’ve been busy preparing your equipment for spring, now come and prepare your mind!

Club meetings throughout the state

This is going to be a regular feature at this site.  You can find the list of clubs and meetings here.
GBA is developing a speaker list

We know there are many beekeepers out there with knowledge and skills to share.  We are in the process of creating a list of speakers to help local clubs with ideas for their meetings.  We plan to keep this list on the GBA website so that club meeting organizers can use it easily.

If you are someone who would like to be asked to speak to bee clubs, please click here to provide us with your information so you can be contacted by local clubs.  If you heard a speaker at your own bee meeting and think another club would also enjoy hearing that person, please also fill out this form.

Reminders of upcoming beginning beekeeper courses sent in by club presidents:

Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers  Spring Beekeeping Course  Oxbow Environmental Learning Center six, two hour sessions over six consecutive Saturday afternoons, 3PM to 5PM, beginning February 14, 2015 Call Paul Berry, 706-527-0739

Cherokee Beekeepers Club presents Beeschool 2015 at First Baptist Church Holly Springs, 2632 Holly Springs Parkway, Holly Springs, GA 30142
Visit or email for preregistration

Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association (CEBA) will present a FUNdamentals of Beekeeping at Oatland Island Wildlife Center on Saturday, February 28th from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
 or call (912) 395-1500.Greg 

Forsyth Beekeepers Club WHAT: Beginning Beekeeping Short Course Day 1  Sawnee Mt. Preserve Visitor Center, Cumming GA  March 7th, registration starts @ 8, classes start @ 9:00

Lake Country Beekeepers Association
Successful Short Course

The Lake Country Beekeepers Association conducted a Beekeeping Short Course on Saturday, January 24th at the Central Georgia Technical College in Milledgeville, GA.  Over 40 new and experienced beekeepers and their families attended the day long program. 

The event featured well known beekeeping educators and advocates, Mr. Keith Fielder, Georgia Master Beekeeper from the University of Georgia Putnam County Cooperative Extension  and Mr. Bruce Morgan of Morgan Apiaries. Their extensive presentations covered topics such as bee biology, equipment, diseases, what happens inside a colony throughout the year, how to purchase bees and where to locate your hives. Beekeepers were reminded to choose site location carefully and to feed their bees. 

President Bruce Morgan commented, “The short course is essential for beginning beekeepers and is an event that builds local club membership.” This was the 3rd annual short course sponsored by the Lake County Beekeepers Association, founded in 2013.  

The LCBA meets the third Monday of each month at the Hancock County Extension Service , 12534 Augusta Hwy 16 in Sparta, GA.  To join LCBA, call Bruce Morgan at 478.357.4029 or email or visit
Brian and Andy Sewell (Morgan County)

Juayoung Jones
4H Member Hancock County




 Starting March 2015, Beekeepers of Gilmer County Club will begin managing three AZ and four Langstroth bee hives.  The project will be used by BGCC members for membership and community education.

During this past year, BGCC has been consulting with Janko Bozic, an  expert in the management techniques of the AZ hive.  Prof. Bozic, entomologist and professor at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, is 
currently working on translating into English “ AZ Hive Management 
Techniques” and  “Transitioning from Langstroth Hives to AZ Hives”.  At the GBA 2014 Spring Meeting there was an opportunity to view this very interesting European style hive.

The BGCC will again display an AZ hive at this year’s GBA Spring Meeting, Feb. 13th and 14th. Please stop by our table and have a good look at this unique beehive.   In response to the many requests by GBA 
members to obtain AZ hives, production of the hive in the U.S. will hopefully begin in the near future.  

If you or your club is interested in learning more about the AZ hives please contact BGCC President, John Tackett, at 770 530-8997, or Mary Lou Blohm at 706 636-1514.

Want to know what an A Z hive looks like?  Come to the spring meeting to see one in person.  

Alan Hix, charter president of the Chattooga Beekeepers Association, was presented this very special plaque in appreciation for his service from 2012 – 2014.  He brings over ten years of experience in beekeeping to the group and it was through his efforts the Chattooga Beekeepers Association was established.

Queen Markings   
Submitted by Bear Kelley

Now that spring is upon us and we are making splits, getting nucs, packages and generally expanding our apiaries, marking of this year’s queen should be a concern for you.  This year’s color for the queen marking is Blue.  The table below will help you through the years with queen marking.

White……………………… year ending in 1 or 6
Yellow……………………… year ending in 2 or 7
Red……………………………year ending in 3 or 8
Green…………………………year ending in 4 or 9
Blue……………………………year ending in 5 or 0

Marking her highness is essential in tracking her age and discovering if you find a markless queen that she has swarmed and they have replaced her. Most of the bee suppliers offer marking pens at reasonable rates.   You can probably get one from a vendor at the Lake Blackshear meeting.

By Barbara Phillips, MD, MPH and beekeeper

Our beloved honey bee, Apis mellifera, has a tiny charming endangered cousin in the Yucatan, the ‘Mayan Honey Bee’.  The ‘stingless bees’ (Meliponini) inhabit the tropics worldwide and are composed of a diverse group of over 500 species.  Melipona is found only in the tropics of the New World, from Mexico to Argentina, and includes over 50 reported species.

Melipona yucatanica beecheii, the charming little cousins of our own Apis mellifera are about the size of a large red ant and do have rudimentary stingers, but they are ineffectual for defensive purposes, thus they are called the ‘Stingless Mayan Honey Bees’.  They were widely cultured by the Maya for thousands of years, valued for their delicate floral tasting honey and revered as sacred.  Their Mayan name is xunan kab, “royal or noble lady bee.” 

Mayan honey bees nest in hollow logs or trees and build a small wax/propylis tube at the entrance of the log for entry and exit.  They were considered a Mayan family treasure, several log hives were hung around each home and passed down through generations, some hives reported to last over 80 years. Sadly, today these amazing creatures are highly endangered due to massive deforestation, pesticides and new age agricultural practices, specifically the widely adopted practice of mono-crop cultivation.  In addition, they are being replaced as honey producers with Africanized honey bees which can yield upwards of 100kg of honey per year per hive and are much hardier and easier to manage.   Today there are fewer than 70 Melipona beekeepers in the Mayan lowlands, decreased from thousands in the 1980’s. 

I had the unique pleasure of visiting a Mayan honey producer in the Yucatan this December and was thrilled to see, photograph and be visited by these amazing creatures.  Melipona don’t sting, but they like to get into your hair if you approach their hive and can bite producing a small welt smaller than a mosquito bite which fades rapidly.  They also store their honey quite differently than Apis in that the brood is concentrated in the center of the log hive and the honey is stored in vertical ‘pots’ at the periphery of the hive. 

The log hives are ‘capped’ at both ends with wood or stone discs for easy removal of the honey and minimal damage to the hive. The traditional alcoholic Mayan drink, balche', is similar to mead as it is made from fermented honey and the nectar, sap and/or bark of the balche' tree. It was used in medicinal and spiritual practices, and reported to have psychotropic properties.   I haven’t had the pleasure of drinking authentic balche' but look forward to my next visit to the Yucatan.  

For international Meliponini conservation efforts currently underway see: Apimondia and Bee World.

References:   Ramirez, S.R., et al.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 56(2010) 519-525.
Wikipedia, Stingless bees.   2005 Comprehensive Guide – Conservation Efforts

“We need to behave more like a bee society, where each of our small actions can contribute to a grand solution. Let planting flowers be the driver of large-scale change.”…Marla Spivak, TED talk

Local Boy Makes Good!

Bob Binnie checking a hive in 2006
To Bob Binnie’s surprise, he received a phone call from Carl Chesick, head of the Center for Honey Bee Research in Asheville, NC after the judging of the Black Jar Contest put on by the Center.

Carl said, “Bob, you’ve won the Black Jar Contest!”  Bob reports that he was waiting for the punch line when Carl said, “We’re sending you a check for $1000, for real!”

In the Asheville newspaper Bob Binnie’s South Dakota honey was announced as the winner. Bob’s business and reputation are in the state of Georgia.  That year Bob had 442 or so hives in South Dakota.  Since Bob assumed the Black Jar judges were overwhelmed with sourwood and tulip poplar, he decided to enter his South Dakota honey.

When asked what makes that honey a winner, Bob said it is flavored with clover, alfalfa and sunflower.  “A little sunflower goes a long way,” says Bob.  Like many spices if you put a lot in while cooking, it ruins the dish, but a little sunflower makes a slight cinnamon taste to the honey.

What is the Black Jar Contest?
by Carl Chesick, Center for Honey Bee Research

The idea for the Black Jar Contest evolved from a conversation with Bob Binnie during which he mentioned the idea behind Black Jar Tastings. He has been entering every year to support our work - but none of us expected him to win. The jars were all covered in brown paper and given arbitrary four digit numbers indexed in a sealed envelope. We had newspaper reporters and photographers present in the final judging . When the six judge panel's scores were tabulated, I was shocked to hear the grand prize winner's name: Bob Binnie!

Bob Binnie is now inscribed on a brass plaque on the black jar trophy. (Pictures at There's room for ten names altogether and we have plans for an 'Invitational Challenge' of the decade’s winners - kinda like the Masters in golf.

The Center for Honey Bee Research is the logical choice to run such a contest because it's difficult for organizations with changing officers to keep annual events from stumbling.

We started the Black Jar Contest as a way to bring attention to real beekeepers and to educate the buying public that honey is not the generic product they are used to buying. We want them to know that honey is like a snowflake - no two exactly alike - and that diversity is a reflection of the unique plants, climate and soils of the area in which the honey is produced. We stress the difference between pure honey and high-heat, micro-filtered blends of multi-national 'honey' filling the shelves of supermarkets. By staging a high profile event, we are able to publicize the plight of pollinators in a positive and 'feel good' atmosphere that respects the sacrifice and hard work of beekeepers.

The Center's goal in offering lucrative cash awards is to encourage the participation of as many beekeepers as possible - from as many places as possible. Entry fees cover those awards, and we hope to increase the Grand Prize every year. In 2015 it will be $1500! The additional two jars accompanying each entry represent a valuable contribution to the Center's work. We hope entrants who don't win feel good about their participation. Not only does the Contest raise awareness (and the price of honey) but it places their product in new markets. Each jar bears the personalized label of the beekeeper who produced it. If a tourist buys the jar that customer gets the satisfaction of supporting the Center, AND they get a unique and delicious liquid they wouldn't find anyplace else - hopefully resulting in phone calls like "Hi, we bought a jar of your honey, and we're wondering how we can get more?"

Due to the fragile nature of glass jars and the weight of honey, the Center expected the Contest to be local in nature - but it hasn't turned out that way - because beekeepers are proud of their bees the world over. Oddly enough, there isn't another competition like this  anywhere and our Black Jar has filled a vacuum to become the means for determining "The World's Best Tasting Honey.”
We in the Southeast are familiar with varietals like 'Locust' 'Gallberry' 'Tupelo' and 'Sourwood', but folks in Idaho are convinced 'Snowberry' is the dog-diggety. 'Fireweed' is really tasty and I can attest Bob Binnie's 'clover with a hint of sunflower' doesn't taste like Sue Bee to me. What about those cactus honeys from the Southwest? Goldenrod from the Northeast granulates quickly but it makes a wonderful creamed treat. In Turkey, a nation with double the number of colonies found in the US, 'Chestnut' is a category of high refinement. We don't even have that species (Sweet Chestnut) on our side of the Pond. Last year's Grand Prize winner from South Africa keeps Cape honeybees who make honey from plants found nowhere else on the planet. He was able to increase his price five fold and was featured on the cover of his National Beekeeping magazine as a result of his win.

Of course there's no such thing as the best tasting honey. Not only are they all good, but no two tastebuds are the same. In the many blind tastings we've held, every panel of judges brings a different set of criteria. I've been privy to reviewing their scores and it amazes me how one judge's '9' is another's '2' !  One judge (a chef)  on this year's panel made the comparison of cilantro in cooking: pointing out that for everyone who loves it in food, there is another who will disdain to touch it. It no doubt makes a difference what order the samples are presented (arbitrary in our tastings) or even what a particular judge ate earlier. In my mind this makes for a wide open melee where anyone can win.

Honey Tasting Contests are fun and beekeepers are energized by the competition. I think every club should hold their own blind tastings and crown a champion. They can be as creative or formal as they like, and when all is said and done that club can sponsor their entry in the Center's International Black Jar Contest. Pay the fee on behalf of their member and maybe pay them for the two extra jars? A $40 investment?  Think of the bragging rights if they win! I've been discussing the possibilities with many club officers and I think we could have State Winners from Georgia, North and South Carolina, and maybe Tennessee if we get enough participation. I need help promoting this idea, so please talk it up with friends and family.

It takes time to collect and catalog entries - and remember, honey is being harvested in the Southern Hemisphere right now - so we have already begun accepting entries for 2015. We'll take however many entries we have on Oct. 15, 2015 and pick our Winner - but if an entry arrives late it will automatically be entered in the next year's Contest. The Center for Honeybee Research looks forward to your participation and support. Beekeepers in the Southeast can be proud the eyes of the World are watching when we proclaim a Winner.

Dear Aunt Bee,  

My hives have screened bottoms. What is the right height from the ground to place the hives, to keep as much cold out in the winter, and still provide ventilation?

Worried about Warmth

Dear Worried,

In an effort to get expert opinion about your question, we contacted Jennifer Berry of the UGA bee lab.  

Jennifer says, “There is no ‘right’ height to place a colony.  According to Dr. Seeley's work, feral swarms prefer a cavity 3 meters off the ground. But it would be a bit inconvenient for us to work bees at that height. 

Every colony that I have, whether at the lab or at home, is usually around 6-8" off the ground. All colonies are on bottom screens, but by November we have inserted IPM boards (solid sheets of corrugated plastic) to decrease airflow especially during cold, windy days which could wick away the warm air surrounding the cluster. 

Also, here in the south we don't need to worry so much about ventilation since we have periodic warm days that the bees are able to fly/move about, therefore condensation doesn't collect as bad or rapidly on the inner covers.  

One more point:  some folks think that the bees are actually keeping the entire inside of the hive warm. This is a misconception. Actually the external temperature of the cluster is usually around 46 degrees and the internal temperature during broodless times can be as low as 55 but usually in the upper 60s to 70s. When the queen starts building up brood for spring,  minimum temperatures around the brood are in the upper 80s to 90s.”

Have fun setting up your own preference for the height of your screened bottom board with the advice we’ve just gotten from Jennifer Berry.

Hope your bees kept warm this winter,

Aunt Bee  

Honey Cheese Bars Recipe
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. 
Bake: 30 min. + cooling 
YIELD:16 servings

 1 cup all-purpose flour
 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
Additional honey, optional

  • 1. In a small bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Press onto the bottom of an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • 2. For filling, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, honey, milk, lemon juice and vanilla until blended. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour over crust. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle with additional honey if desired. Cut into bars. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 bars.
  • from:

This is a photo of the new officers of the Altamaha Beekeepers Association. 
They formed on 5 Jan 2015 and meet in Lyons, Ga (near Vidalia)
They are  (L to R)
Ron Wilkes Sec/Treasurer; Bear Kelley, GBA Pres; Holly Nielsen, President; Monty Usher, VP; Rhett Kelley, SE GA GBA Director; Seated in Front Johnny Jones

For a good laugh, try this in the park of your choice:

The Final Buzz

We are all getting ready to start the next beekeeping season with a great GBA spring meeting.  Our friends and teachers are what make these meetings so enjoyable.  

Please bring your camera and share your time with all of us in our next  newsletter.  See you soon

Your Editors,

Gina and Linda