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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! GBA Newsletter January 2015

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Will we see this in January or February like this hive in December of 2013?         (photo by Linda Tillman)

President’s Message

Yes, it’s 2015 already!  Lordy, where does time go?  I hope that everyone survived the holidays in good health and that your Christmas was happy and that your new year is starting out merry.  Our newsletter editors have once again worked through the holidays putting together another fantastic “Spilling the Honey” for us to enjoy. 

Speaking of honey, Marybeth and I journeyed down to the Caribbean, and sailed throughout the Leeward Islands last month. As we stopped to visit the various islands, I made it a point to acquire (either pay for or get a free sample of) local honey.  I was lucky enough to score some from Nevis, Guadeloupe, Antigua, St Bart’s, Puerto Rico, France, and even found some from Russia at an international store on one of the islands. Now, since I graduated from the Young Harris School as a Welsh honey judge, I know that most honeys have different tastes depending on the flowers, etc, but these are as different as the local cultures of these islands. In one sample I could actually taste the hibiscus nectar. Fantastic! I really wish that I was able to get enough to share with everyone.

On a local note back here in Georgia, the Heart of Georgia Beekeepers held a People’s Choice Honey Contest (black jar) in September and had 28 entries. Now you would think that most of the flavors would be close to the same since the honey was gathered in and around the heart of Georgia, but they really were not.  Twenty-eight entries produced twenty-eight different flavors.  I know that many of our clubs also have honey shows and you have probably experienced the same thing with yours.

Since Georgia Beekeepers Association members have bee hives spread throughout the state, let’s start a Honey Exchange Program.  Our next state meeting is in February at the Lake Blackshear Resort.  Please bring a 1 pound jar with your label affixed and swap it for another member’s honey. Bring several if you wish, but the exchange will be one for one. It will be informal, so just ask someone there if they have a jar to swap. I think that will be a great way of experiencing the many varieties we have to offer in Georgia. And, of course, if you come from another state we want to try yours as well. Actually I think that we should have been doing this all along. What a wonderful way to interact with each other and meet new friends!  I hope to see you all at the Spring Conference. Happy New Year!

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Assn. 

“It is a commonly held belief that when bees are dead head-first in the cells, they are starved.  All dead hives over winter will have many bees with their heads in cells.  That’s how they cluster tightly for warmth.  I would read more into whether or not they are in contact with stores.”   THE PRACTICAL BEEKEEPER by Michael Bush

Virginia Webb, well-known Georgia beekeeper and a representative to Apimondia, submitted the article below so we in Georgia might choose to help the effort to host Apimondia in the United States.

USA Beekeepers to Bid for Hosting 2019 Apimondia     

We, here in the USA, have the unparalleled opportunity to bring the worldwide beekeeping community to our country. Winning the bid for the Apimondia Worldwide Beekeeping Congress in 2019 is the perfect way to showcase the USA’s beekeeping industry as never before.  Representatives from our chosen host city, Minneapolis, MN will be joining us next September in Daejeon, South Korea to support us in our efforts to acquaint the world with the many advantages of the United States hosting Apimondia 2019.

The Apimondia is the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association and related organizations working together for the benefit of apiculture.  Beginning in 1949, the Apimondia works to promote scientific, technical, ecological, social and economic apicultural development in all countries.  Every two years they organize an International Apimondia Congress where beekeepers, scientist, educators, industry representatives and government representatives come together to learn and share ideas from one another.

The bid process, which includes site inspection by Apimondia representatives, meetings with the local organizing committee and scientific and beekeeping representatives, and review of technical tours that may be available, is outlined in the official guidelines for hosting an Apimondia Congress.  Canada and South Africa have already announced their intentions to vie for the 2019 Apimondia bid.

Along with the international program of science and technology, there will be the ApiExpo, the largest Beekeeping Tradeshow in North America, the World Honey Show competition and a World Honey Queen contest.

Every club and organization is important and every donation is needed for us to meet our goal.  We ask that you go to our Support Us page and help us achieve our goal of bringing the worldwide beekeeping community to the USA for Apimondia XLVI in 2019.  Donating is as easy as visiting our website  

If you prefer you can send a check to:
Apimondia USA Bid For 2019, LLC
40 South 7th Street Suite 212 #211
Minneapolis MN 55402
Attn: Michael North
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Debbie Seib, Chairman

Apimondia USA Bid for 2019
A 501(c)(3) Corporation


Lots of  Street Cred:

The National Honey Show has taken some very professional videos of their speakers.  You can view them from the National Honey Show web page.  Some of the speakers include Jamie Ellie, Ann Harman, Michael Palmer, and many other venerable beekeepers.  To see their video collection click here.


Citrus Smoothies from Laurey Masterton’s The fresh Honey Cookbook

1 banana
½ cup strawberries
1 ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest from 1 orange 
1 ½ cup ice
4-6 whole strawberries for garnish

Blend all together until smooth.  Pour into glasses and garnish each with whole strawberry.


Announcement for Committee to Choose Beekeeper of the Year 2015   

 According to the by-laws, the current beekeeper of the year serves as the chair of the committee to choose the beekeeper of the following year.  In addition, our by-laws also declare that the President of GBA cannot serve on the committee for beekeeper of the year.  As a result, Bear Kelley, who is both our Beekeeper of the Year 2014 and the current president of GBA, has recused himself from the committee to choose the beekeeper of the year 2015.  

In his stead, Bear has appointed Julia Mahood to be the chair of the committee to choose the 2015 Beekeeper of the Year.  Bear will appoint a couple of additional beekeepers to help her with this job.  Julia is a Master Beekeeper and has kept bees in Atlanta for over ten years.  She has mentored many beekeepers and has given talks all over the state to bee clubs, garden clubs and children's groups.  She is the co-chair of the upcoming February GBA meeting at Lake Blackshear.  

Julia and her committee will be accepting nominations for the 2015 Beekeeper of the year any time between now and June 30, 2015.  Send nominations to her:   You will be reminded of this in our newsletters between now and the end of June.  


We are hoping to see everyone at the Spring Meeting in Lake Blackshear in Cordele, Ga on February 13 and 14.  On Friday night the GBA board meets, followed by a reception for anyone coming to the conference as well as the board members.  The space at Lake Blackshear is perfect for mingling and talking, and everyone who came had a great time there at the last meeting.  Saturday will be filled with opportunities to hear informed speakers and attend breakouts.

In addition to the keynote speakers listed on the following pages, our breakout speakers include:  Bob Binnie, Jennifer Berry, Julia Mahood, Randy Rolen, Linda Tillman, and James Wilkes

Registration opens on January 1 at this link:  CLICK HERE
To reserve a room at the Lake Blackshear resort at Georgia Beekeeper rates, call 1-800-459-1230 and use the code: 200981

Bring your mead and your beer for the competition and your enthusiasm for our GBA gathering to the meeting in February.  We will love to see you there.


Brochure for GBA Spring Meeting  (If the print is too small, click on Full Screen at top right)

Local Club Beekeepers of the Year for 2014      
Some clubs  in Georgia choose a beekeeper of the year and some do not.  We wanted to celebrate the Beekeepers of the Year 2014 for the clubs who have let us know that they do make this award.

2014 Beekeeper of the Year for the Ogeechee Area Beekeepers is Mr. Bobby Colson.  Here is a photo of Bobby (R) receiving his award from our club president, Dr. Brent Tharp (L) at our Holiday gathering at George L. Smith State Park in Twin City. 

Bobby Colson (R), OAB Beek of the year

Bobby's father kept bees, but he started keeping bees himself in 1989. He owns and operates B&G Honey Farm in Register, GA. Bobby was selected for this award because of his tireless service to the club and promotion of the craft. He's a good friend and mentor to many beekeepers in our area. 

2014 Beekeeper of the Year for the Coweta Beekeepers is Marilynn Parker.  Marilynn Parker began beekeeping as a youth competing in 4-H to the State level.  After marriage, children and college she returned to beekeeping 10 years ago.  She is a Master Gardener and an Alabama Master Beekeeper.  She is secretary of Coweta Beekeepers Association and the president of the newly formed West Georgia Beekeepers Association.  She is Coweta Beekeepers Association Beekeeper of the Year for 2014.

2014 Beekeeper of the Year for Heart of Georgia Beekeepers is Jesse McCurdy.   Jesse has always given so much of his time, experience and materials to so many new and experienced beekeepers alike. He was responsible for getting the Heart of Georgia beekeeping club established and, along with his wife Hazel, has worked hard keeping it going. Jesse has also operated the only honey booth at the Perry Fair for the past 25 years that so many of us have enjoyed.  This is a new award for the club and all future recipients will receive the "Jesse McCurdy Beekeeper of the Year Award.”
Jesse McCurdy (R), of Perry GA, receives an award from President Tim Smith (L), Heart of Georgia Beekeepers, for being the club's 2014 Beekeeper of the Year. 

To read more about Jesse's award and beekeeping history, click here.

A few clubs award Lifetime Member status to respected long-time members.  

This year Lifetime Member status was awarded to Henry County Beekeepers members Howard and Judy Emory.  The Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers awarded Lifetime Member status to Jim Harris (a former GBA Beekeeper of the Year) and Betty Beegle (a founding member of the CVBA).  


Dear Aunt Bee,

When mixing sugar water solution for over-wintering, do you recommend adding essential oils like peppermint and lemongrass?

Gourmet Bee Feeder

Dear Gourmet,

If you are going to feed your bees, the ideal way is to leave them enough honey to live through the winter.  If you need to supplement because the bees didn’t make enough honey to get through the winter, then consider the issues around sugar syrup.

First:  Sugar syrup is not the same pH as honey and doesn’t have the same nutritional value.  Feeding bees sugar syrup alters the microbiology of the hive (reference:  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping by Stiglitz)  

Second:  If you do make sugar syrup to feed your bees, be sure only to use white sugar to avoid feeding the bees the indigestible waste in brown sugar.  

Third:  Often beekeepers say that the sugar syrup does not migrate into the honey because the bees simply use it for food.  The beekeeper should mark the boxes that are on a hive when feeding is taking place and not harvest “honey” from those boxes.  Ross Conrad in Natural Beekeeping takes a strong stand about this:
“Whenever the feeding of hives is taking place, no honey supers that will be harvested should be on the hive.  This is simply a matter of integrity.  Pure, natural honey is defined as plant nectar that has been collected and transformed by honey bees.  The beekeeper who offers “honey” produced from sugar syrup, or any other source, has compromised the integrity of the final product, as well as his or her moral character.”

All of that said, essential oils like those you mentioned are used to attract bees - lemongrass oil rubbed on an empty hive can attract a swarm.  I’m not sure that peppermint has any attraction to bees.  Neither of those oils have any function of which I am aware in maintaining bee health. 

Master Beekeeper Jay Parsons says, “Unless there is some evidence citing the benefits to developing polyphenols and "bee fat", then I would forgo the efforts and expense of these additives.”

 Thymol, the oil found in the leaves of the herb thyme, has shown some ability to deter the varroa mite and is found in some of the miticides widely used by beekeepers.  

Hope your bees make it through the winter!

Your Aunt Bee

Thank you to Ricky Moore for providing the question and to Jay Parsons for his quick response


Club News and Notes

Club News and Notes Jan 15.pdf

* The clubs listed here represent less than half of the clubs in Georgia.  If you don’t see information about your club here, encourage your president to send us your meeting information.  You may also find your club information on the GBA Calendar


Submission Guidelines
Your humble editors are looking for at least 12 NEW contributors in 2015.  
Please help us by keeping your articles to 500 words or less and send them as a Word
document attached to your email. Be sure to include your own name, your bee club and
where you are located.  Send PHOTOS (we really need these) as attachments to emails. Include who took the photo, where and when.  Send any of this to
This is your newsletter! We thank you for all your contributions!         YOUR EDITORS


We thank all those who helped us prepare this newsletter with their very timely responses to our questions.  We, Gina and Linda, otherwise known as Glinda, make arrangements around our own businesses to meet for several hours each month and put together all the submissions and features, and we often then realize we need info ASAP.  We really thank RoseAnne Dorn and Jay Parsons who came to our rescue for this edition.  

Calling all Presidents:  Please make sure to send your club meeting dates,  times and meeting places for publication here in the newsletter.  We’d like your information by the 15th of each month and we’ll remind you.  It can only help your club to be listed with your speakers and activities, and it may be of help to other clubs to get ideas about future speakers.

Your Editors,

Gina and Linda 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 2014 - Last issue of 2014

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Ricky Moore’s bees enjoying the simple syrup in his hummingbird feeder

President’s Message

Merry Christmas, Ho-Ho-Ho, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  As 2014 draws to an end and we prepare for the holidays, let’s reflect on this past year for a minute. The Georgia Beekeepers have been a busy bunch.  We’ve had two wonderful state meetings in Columbus and Milledgeville. I again would like to thank Paul Berry’s Chattahoochee Beekeepers and Bruce Morgan’s Lake Country Beekeepers for being such great hosts.  As a result our membership numbers are growing again and I hope to see them continue to climb next year.  Marybeth and I were able to visit numerous clubs and meet so many wonderful Beeks in our travels.  Thank you all for being so cordial and we look forward to seeing more of you at future club meetings.  Honors go to Jay Parsons for best in Show at the State meeting in September and to David Tolar who won best in Show at the Perry Fair in October. I am still humbled by your selection of me as the Beekeeper of the Year, but very proud to have received such a tribute.

        We already have a full slate scheduled for 2015 as we start the year with the American Bee Federation Conference in California on January 6.  Slade Jarrett and I plan to attend and report back to you on the latest bee stuff happening nationwide.  Our Spring Meeting will be at Lake Blackshear on February 13 and 14, chaired by Julia Mahood and Linda Tillman.  Please plan to attend as they have been working very hard to make this one a goody! 

Many of you plan public beekeeping programs throughout the spring and will stay busy through Young Harris in May.  I want to encourage you all to take advantage of the new Junior Beekeeping program we established.  The winners will be Georgia’s youth.  We need them to feed the pipeline of beekeepers if we want to see our craft survive.  We plan to be at Young Harris representing GBA, so stop by and say hello.  Mary Cahill-Roberts will represent us at EAS in Ontario in August. 

Our fall meeting will once again be at the College in Milledgeville. That was a great facility that RoseAnne and Keith Fielder discovered for us and we want to make the event even better this year. We have a little housekeeping still to do as we discovered at the fall meeting with a minor change to the By-laws that I will discuss in the January newsletter. It simply means changing some wording on the voting procedures, but requires a member vote.

        Thank you all for your continued support, hard work and dedication to the marvelous Honey Bee. Marybeth and I wish you a wonderful Christmas and holiday season and a prosperous, happy, healthy new year.

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Association     

As the newly appointed Southeast Region Director, I want to take a moment and introduce myself. I'm going on my 4th year keeping bees and own a side-line operation we call Kelley Honeybee Farm, near Metter. In addition, I'm now in my 2nd term as vice president of Ogeechee Area Beekeepers (OABeeA) in Statesboro.

If you go to the GBA club locator map and scan the southeast part of the state, you'll see clubs are rather scarce. I remember 4 years ago looking at that map and being very disappointed. I was really eager to meet other beekeepers and learn, but there just weren't any clubs local to us until OABeeA was formed last year in Statesboro. 

My main goal is to help put some other dots on that map. I would like to see an active club within a 30 minute drive for every beekeeper living in southeast Georgia. 

What I'm finding is that in areas without local clubs, beekeepers are very much interested in doing something, but they're not sure how to get going. Right now, we have some exciting prospects in Vidalia and Glennville. I hope by Spring Meeting time, these prospects will be active clubs, ready for GBA affiliation.

So if you're GBA member-at-large in the east or southeastern part of the state and interested in starting a local GBA affiliated club, give me a call. I want to help!

Rhett Kelley

Club News and Notes:  Upcoming Short Courses

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

Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association
WHAT:  FUNdamentals of Beekeeping
WHERE:  Oatland Island Wildlife Center,  711 Sandtown Road, Savannah, Ga  31410
WHEN:  February 28th, 8 AM Registration Begins; Classes Scheduled 9 AM to 4 PM
HOW:    CEBA has a fully operational apiary for hands on training during the weekend event.
More Information:

Coweta Beekeepers Association
WHAT: Introduction to Beekeeping class
WHERE: 255 Pine Road, Newnan, GA 30263
WHEN: One day class, January 24, 2015  8:00 am to 4:00 pm
HOW:  More Information:

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

Lake Country Beekeepers Association
WHAT:  Beekeepers Short Course for beginners
WHERE:  Central GA Technical College Conference Center, 54 Hwy 22 West, Milledgeville, GA 3
WHEN: January 24, 2015  Registration 8 am  Class starts at 8:30am to 5:00pm
HOW:  More information contact Bruce Morgan at 478-357-4029  or

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association
WHAT:  Complete Beekeeping Course 2015
WHERE:  Atlanta Botanical Garden
WHEN:  January 17, 2015

Potato Creek Beekeepers Association
WHAT: Beginning Beekeeping Short Course
WHEN: 9:00AM, JANUARY 17, 2014
HOW: Contact Brutz English   (770) 843-2110

Troup County Association of Beekeepers
WHAT:  Beginning beekeepers course, 
WHERE: AG building Lagrange GA, 
WHEN:  Feb 14, 28 Mar 14, 28. 9am to 1pm. 
HOW:  Cost $75. Contact Terry Williamson 706-882-2493

This section of the newsletter is an opportunity for your club to gain visibility, to share events or speakers who are coming to your club and to get ideas from other clubs for activities or speakers.  To send information, please have a club member or an officer email details about your meetings to  We’ll make sure your information is shared with the whole of GBA!

And just below, you’ll find out all about the next state meeting at Lake Blackshear Resort on February 13, 14, 2015.  All you have to do is scroll down to see the next pages…………………….>

No reason to tie a bow around your finger:  
GBA February Meeting registration will open soon.   We will send a reminder and hope that you will forward it to other friends of the bees who may not be in our membership now. 


Peachtree City Student Passes Certified Beekeeper Test

Allison Spinney passed the Georgia Master Beekeeping Program, Certified Beekeeper test in September.  Allison is one of the youngest beekeepers to pass the test in Georgia.  She attended the Coweta 4H beekeeping program for a year learning and preparing for the test. She and her mother Denise Spinney are members of the Coweta Beekeepers Association. 

Allison is eleven years old and in the sixth grade at Georgia Cyber Academy and lives in Peachtree City with her parents.  She has been beekeeping for two years and enjoys nurturing her colony of honey bees and the sweet honey they produce.  The colony increases production of vegetables from the garden. 
Allison and her mother enjoy the time spent together inspecting the colony and learning beekeeping.

The Coweta Beekeepers Association will offer an Introduction to Beekeeping class on January 24, 2015.  More information is available at the association’s web site.

For more information on the Coweta 4H beekeeping 
program contact Megan Bailey at 
the Coweta Extension 


Contributed by Steve Page:

Modified idioms
Don’t put all your bees in one hive
Don’t count your queens until they lay.
A swarm in the hive is worth two in the bush
A fool and his honey are easily parted
Let aggressive hives be

Unmodified idioms
Sweet as honey
You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
The land of milk and honey
Busy as a bee
Bee in one's bonnet
The bee's knees
The birds and the bees
Make a beeline
Beehive of activity
Mind your own beeswax
Buzz off
Like bees to honey
Hive of activity
What’s the buzz
Queen Bee


In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it "Christmas" and went to church; the Jews called it "Hanukka" and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Hanukka!" or (to the atheists) "Look out for the wall!" ~Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping: A Survivor's Guide”

Beekeeping in Ukraine
by Tom Rearick

Few Americans realize the long history Ukrainians have with honey and the honey bee. Out of every 107 Ukrainians, one is a beekeeper. In the US, that ratio is 1 in 1500!  Ukraine is the largest producer of honey among European countries and Russia. On average, a Ukrainian consumes 2.6 lbs of honey annually – double what is consumed in the United States.

Some excerpts from my conversation with a Ukrainian beekeeper:

Tom: How many hives do you keep?
Oleg: I have a couple of hives, but as a hobby, because I have little free time. I do not have time to take them to the apiary in the field. There are acacia trees, a meadow and even gardens not far from my house. There are 90 houses in my street of which four have small apiaries (from 10 to 25 hives). I do not think that is so everywhere. My main occupation is the cooperation with beekeepers and honey export.

Tom: Do you use other products of the hive like wax, propolis, or pollen?
Oleg: Yes, propolis helps perfectly in case of toothache and I also make tinctures with propolis for applications. In winter time I take 1 tablespoon of pollen on an empty stomach in the morning.

Tom: How does the cost of white sugar and corn syrup compare to honey?
Oleg: Corn syrup is not popular in our country and is not used. Retail price for beet sugar is US$2.05/lb and for honey is US$8.53/lb.

Tom: Is it true that Ukrainians are much more knowledgeable and familiar with bees and beekeeping?
Oleg: Beekeeping is much developed in Ukraine, despite the fact that there are no large companies in Ukraine that breed bees and harvest honey. There are many small apiaries. There are about 400,000 beekeepers in Ukraine, with a total population of about 43 million.  These people get about 76,000 tons of honey per year. A variety of honey is produced by bees. Each honey has its own properties, taste and benefits.

Tom: In the USA we struggle with introduced bee diseases: Varroa mite, various viruses and micro-organisms, wax moth and hive beetle. Winter losses have been averaged 30% for the last several years. What pests or predators are of greatest concern in Ukraine? What are your winter losses?
Oleg: Yes, unfortunately, Ukraine has this problem. Our winter losses are up to 10%. Frequent pests are wax moths, ants, death’s head hawkmoths (they got this name because of a "skull" pattern on the top of their thorax), rodents (mice).

Tom: Italian bees are the most popular race of bee in the US. I have been importing Russians because they are said to be more tolerant to Varroa. What race of bees are in Ukraine?
Oleg: Carpathian bees and Ukrainian steppe bees are the most popular races in Ukraine. I have Carpathian bees (called “peaceful” bees).

Tom: In the US, nearly all our honey is in liquid form. The honey in the picture looks like partially crystallized honey. Is most eastern European honey crystallized?
Oleg: Yes, our honey is crystallized or paste like, but acacia honey and linden honey are liquid.

Tom: Ukraine is where the Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred. How do beekeepers or exporters ensure that honey is not radioactive?
Oleg: Radiological control is obligatory during the quality assessment of the Ukrainian honey. The indices of this analysis meet requirements of EU countries and the United States. Beekeepers do not move their bees to the “dangerous” zone.

Tom: Is there anything you would like to say to beekeepers in the United States?
Oleg:  I wish you success in work, favorable weather for good honey collection, success in the fight with bee pests and close communication with beekeepers from other countries for sharing the experience.



2 10oz bags of Mint Chocolate Chips 
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup honey 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Line a 8x8 or 9x9 pan with foil. Lightly butter foil. Melt chips, 
can of milk and honey is a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring
constantly. When melted & smooth, remove from heat and stir 
in vanilla.
Spread into foil lined pan. Cool & cut into squares. Store in cool 
Carol Shaw - Best in Show for Cooking with Honey 
ABF Convention 2010

  • 750 ml zinfandel (or other full-bodied robust red wine that you enjoy drinking)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 3 inches cinnamon sticks (for the wine, more sticks, optional for serving)
  • lemon zest (Thin peels of, for serving) 

Street Cred for December

 Using microscopic bugs to save the bees
(from Steve Page)

Cancer removed by honey bees
(from Dave Tolar)

Sustainable solution for corn belt
(from Gina Gallucci)


Dear Auntie Bee,

We've had a freeze and the flowers have all died, and the pollen and nectar sources have dried up for the winter. I see many, many bees flying , what are they doing? I understand cleansing flights, and orientation flights, but are they still looking for pollen, or what is their winter flight mission?

Warmly in Winter,
Openly Optimistic

Dear Openly,

Most winter flights are for cleansing.  However, the authors of Keeping Bees and Making Honey address the question this way:  “On a cold, sunny day some bees may take a short trip out of the hive to stretch their wings and will take the chance to relieve themselves, since they keep the inside of their home very clean.  They won’t go far and they may even collect some fresh pollen if there is any nearby.  It is not unusual to see bees coming into the hive with pollen on their legs on a warm winter’s day.  This is a good sign, since fresh pollen is an indication that the queen is laying eggs and the larvae are being fed.”

Dean Stiglitz, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping, writes:  “On warm days (in winter) you should see some bees taking cleansing flights.  This is one of those times when having multiple hives is helpful;  if three hives are flying and one isn’t, you know to look for a problem.  You can gently lift the back of the hive to feel for weight.  If it feels light, you can consider a quick inspection and emergency winter feeding.  Sometimes colonies that don’t have sufficient stores will fly in desperation.”

Good luck and I hope your bees make it through the winter.
Happy Holidays,

Your Aunt Bee

Final Buzz:

May your Holiday Season be Merry and Bright!  May your bees come through the winter healthy and you become even a better beekeeper next year.  We look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new bee friends in February at Lake Blackshear.

Happy Holidays,
Gina and Linda