Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 2013 Newsletter

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Is this what our winter will look like?  Does starting out so cold in Georgia predict a hard winter?

Photo credits upper left going clockwise:  Linda Tillman, Gina Gallucci, Bruce Morgan, Linda Tillman

Message from our President:

Season’s Greetings to all our members! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that most of your traditional recipes were splattered with local honey instead of all that processed sugar. Now that Turkey day is over with, it’s time to say Merry Christmas! Natural Honey products make the best darn gifts and certainly sweeten up the season.

As we prepare for the New Year, let’s reflect on 2013. The year opened with a wonderful spring meeting down at the Lake Blackshear Resort in February. Then everyone went to work waking their bees and getting them used to working hard as the weather warmed up. A lot of nucs and package bees were sold by our local distributors and placed in their new homes. The programs at Young Harris were in full swing in May with new Honey Judges getting their cap and gowns, and newly Certified, Journeymen and Master Beekeepers were sent off to work. Our fall meeting in September had a change of association officers with new ideas and hopes that we can keep this wonderful organization together by generating new interests, membership and rewarding meetings. The fall Honey Show recognized Cindy Hodges and many others for their work in producing a fine product with very high standards. October saw the first ever Honey Show sponsored by the GA Beekeepers Association at the Georgia National Fair in Perry. Cindy Hodges once again reigned as her entry earned “Best in Show”. 

The first part of November brought us the following mess that was bound to happen and one for which perhaps we as an association should be better prepared. 

GBA Members Swarm to Assist When Semi of Honeybees Overturn

Early on the morning of November 3, 2013, a semi-truck loaded with honeybees overturned at exit #185 on I-75 in the City of Forsyth, GA. Several hundred colonies of honeybees came off the truck and were strewn for hundreds of feet along the southbound lanes of I-75. As many as three southbound lanes of traffic had to be shut down as hundreds of thousands of unhappy and confused bees clouded the sky. Local fire and police were ill-equipped to handle this type of situation.

GBA Northern District Director, Brutz English, of nearby Barnesville, GA, was among the first beekeepers contacted by the Forsyth Police Department for assistance. English got the call for assistance out to a number of local beekeepers in the area, and responders from the GBA and the Henry County Beekeepers Club were soon on the scene helping to sort out and clean up the mess. The salvage and clean-up took over 14 hours.

As I said, maybe we should have a state wide plan similar to any “Hazmat” plan anywhere. With I-20, I-85, I-16, I-95, and I-75 crisscrossing our state, this was bound to happen. We are considering this issue at board meetings. Our local clubs and individuals must cooperate in the face of such an event.  So Presidents, this may be something you want to add to your agenda for the coming year.  I want to say “Kudos” to the folks who stopped what they were doing and responded to this accident. Your heart was in saving the orphaned bees and giving them a chance. The fire department was seen “hosing” them down so that the traffic could resume and public safety was restored.

I understand about 200 colonies were saved out of about 350 hives that were on the truck. Thank you Georgia Beekeepers….Job well done! 

So that brings us to December and time to settle back and prepare for next year. I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a sa-weet, honey-filled New Year. 

Bear Kelley
GBA President


More from Bear:

I want everyone who hasn't seen the new Facebook page to check it out. Brutz English has worked hard on it and it looks wonderful.  Thanks Brutz for all your hard labor.  In addition, the Ga Beekeepers web site is also lookin good these days thanks to Bill Owens. Bill has been working hard to keep it up dated with all the changes we keep throwing at him. Thanks Bill and Brutz for keeping us in this new century of technology. 


Beekeepers are educators for the public.  Here's a tribute for one of our members who educated some Atlanta students:

Mr. Tom Bonnell (Former President of the Henry County Beekeepers Association) gave an EXCELLENT presentation for National Honey Month to ninety-four gifted/enrichment students at DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts in Atlanta. He demonstrated beekeeping equipment, showed slides, and answered the questions: “Why honeybees are becoming extinct?”  “Why are honey and cinnamon a powerful combination?,” and he shared his stories of bees.  

The students were able to:
*Describe the lifecycle and lifestyle of honeybees.
*Participate in a variety of activities that demonstrated, utilized, and helped to construct their knowledge of honeybees.
*Recognize honeybees as organisms that serve an important purpose in the environment that is helpful and necessary to man.
*Increase their vocabulary and celebrate the efforts of America’s beekeepers.

Why teach about honeybees?
A) Bees make honey.
B) Honey is the only food consumed by humans made by an insect.
C) Bees help pollinate over 80% of fruits, vegetables and other crops.

Thank you Mr. Bonnell, for taking the time to help us celebrate the extraordinary HONEYBEES! 

Mr. Bonnell’s presentation was written about in The Champion News. Most importantly, the students, teachers, parents, and administrators enjoyed the presentation and in the process I became popular at my new school as the Bee Guardian and Honey Enthusiast! Thank you again, again, and again, Mr. Bonnell. Another invitation will be extended to you in 2014!!

Rozalyn M.Todd
Discovery/Gifted Teacher
Certified Master Gardener
Certified Welsh Honey Judge


Hope for Spring!
a photo from Christine Fahrnbauer

Call me a Fermenting Fool

by Dan Harris
Booger Hill Bee Company

I’ve been making meads for a number of years. I don’t like meads. Yet I keep trying, convinced that one day I’ll find the secret. I’ve sampled blue ribbon meads. I’ve tried commercial meads. I just don’t like ‘em. I don’t make bad meads. Any number of mead lovers have tried my various meads and given most of them high marks. It is just that my palate isn’t tuned to meads. I’ve got 5 plus year old meads. I’ve made dry meads. I’ve made sweet meads.  I’ve fermented fruits with honey. I’ve fermented honey, then added fruits. I’ve stopped the fermentation of honey then added fruits. I have an apple cider mead in mid brew. I have a gallon plus of sourwood honey from my NC hives that is earmarked for a mead as soon as one of the fermenters gets freed up. At age 62….I’m running out of time. But I keep trying.

A friend from South Africa had always given onions pickled in malt vinegar for Christmas gifts. But…in the US she couldn’t find malt vinegar by the gallon. Knowing I did some fermenting and knowing that vinegar was a product of fermentation, she asked me if I could make her a batch. After a bit of research, I decided that I could and undertook the task. About the same time I came across a manuscript on gutenberg.org written by an Englishman in 1905. The author stated for table use, for sauces and salads, where delicacy of flavor is appreciated and for medicinal purposes where pureness and wholesomeness are essential, I venture to say that no vinegar can be compared to that produced from Honey. Having read this….I realized….I knew how to make vinegar….and I had honey….and the rest is history.

I like my honey vinegar! I have my basic ‘original’. I have blueberry honey vinegar. I have strawberry honey vinegar. I have honey vinegars in all stages of fermentation. I’ve started an apple cider honey vinegar alongside my apple cider mead. There’ll be about thirty gallons of it come late spring 2014 (vinegars take about a year to complete). I’ve never tried an apple cider honey vinegar….but if it tastes good I’ll bottle and sell it and if it doesn’t,  I’ll have thirty gallons of a smelly household cleaner. We shall see. 

Go ahead…call me a fermenting fool….see if I care.

Dan Harris' recipe for honey vinegar

How I make my honey vinegar.

I use honey, water, champagne yeast (I use a high alcohol tolerant yeast to assure complete fermentation) and yeast nutrient. The yeast and yeast nutrient I buy from winemaking supply outfits. To make a batch I decide how much I want to make. I‘ll add an appropriate amount of water a fermenting vessel (plastic bucket w/provision for airlock, or glass carboy). I begin adding honey, stirring it in well and taking measurements periodically using a winemaker’s hydrometer. When the mix reaches about 1.060, I stop adding honey. I then mix in yeast and yeast nutrient, cover and install an airlock. After about 6 weeks the initial fermentation should be complete. I check again with my hydrometer and it should read close to 1.000.

I rack the honey alcohol…I suppose I could call it a low alcohol content, raw mead…. into another carboy. I inoculate it with a living acetobacter ….in my case I use a couple of quarts of vinegar from another completed batch of
 vinegar…but if you don’t have that, you can buy a bottle of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and use that (You can't simply go buy ordinary vinegar as most have been heated and the acetobacters are dead. Braggs isn't pasteurized). I put a cloth over the opening in the carboy and secure it with a strong rubber band. The cloth allows the bacteria to breathe at the same time it keeps bugs and other undesirable stuff out.

I put the carboy in a dark, well ventilated place where it can remain undisturbed for the next 8 or 10 months. I check periodically to make sure that a ‘mother’ forms on the top…and that the mother doesn’t sink. Don't bump or move it...all it takes is the slightest motion to sink the mother...and then you need to rerack the whole batch into another carboy.

After much trial and error, this has proven to be a reliable method. It should produce a honey
 vinegar with an acid content of 6 - 7%....a bit hot on the tongue but pretty good for canning or you can dilute to a lower acid level with water. 
Steve Prince sent in these photos of a hive removal.  

He wrote: 

Last Sunday, Jesse McCurdy, Tim Smith (President of the Heart of Georgia Beekeepers) and I removed an exposed hive from an oak tree. The hive was about  thirty feet up in an oak tree in Tim's yard. It had been there for awhile but was not visible until the leaves started falling. The bees were very gentle and are now located in their new home. If Jessie can keep the hive beetles in check they should be fine and will make an impressive display.


Honey-Pecan Chicken Thighs
from Southern Living magazine

Crispy, crunchy chicken drizzled with a spicy honey mustard sauce is soon to become a favorite chicken dish. Baking the chicken provides a satisfying crunch without the   added fat from frying.  Yield: 4 servings
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    8 skinned and boned chicken thighs
    3/4 cup honey, divided
    3/4 cup Dijon mustard, divided
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 cup finely chopped pecans
    1/2 teaspoon curry powder
    Garnish: Italian parsley sprigs
Combine first 4 ingredients; sprinkle evenly over chicken in a shallow dish. Stir together 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup mustard, and garlic; pour over chicken. Cover and chill 2 hours.
Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Dredge chicken in pecans; place on a lightly greased rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan.
Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until chicken is done.
Stir together remaining 1/4 cup honey, remaining 1/4 cup mustard, and curry powder; serve sauce with chicken. Garnish if desired. 


Dear Aunt Bee,

I was advised to put an entrance reducer on the front of my hive to help the bees make it through the winter.  I have a devil of a time getting it back out or changing which entrance is open.  When I reach in to move it, I disturb the bees and man, a sting on the fingertip is a real killer.  Do you have any suggestions?

Stung on the tips

Dear Stung on the Tips,

Some people put push pin tacks on the outer facing side of the entrance reducer when they put it in the hive.  This in effect gives you a handle to grab without intruding on the bees.  Try that for less finger pain.

Your Aunt Bee

(contributed by Chris Pahl)


Moment of Zen
What happens to keep the bees alive in winter?:

Tom Seeley says in Honeybee Democracy:

"A colony of honeybees is, then, far more than an aggregation of individuals, it is a composite being that functions as an integrated whole.  Indeed, one can accurately think of a honeybee colony as a single living entity, weighing as much as 5 kilograms (10 pounds) and performing all of the basic physiological processes that support life: ingesting and digesting food, maintaining nutritional balance, circulating resources, exchanging respiratory gases, regulating water content, controlling body temperature, sensing the environment, deciding how to behave, and achieving locomotion.  Consider, for example, the control of body (colony) temperature.  From late winter to early fall, when the workers are rearing brood, a colony's internal temperature is kept between 34 and 36 C (93 and 96 F) - just below the core body temperature of humans - even as the ambient air temperature ranges from -30 to 50C (-20 to 120F).  The colony accomplishes this by adjusting the rate at which it sheds the heat generated by its resting metabolism and, in times of extreme cold, by boosting its metabolism to intensify its heat production.  A colony's metabolism is fueled by the honey it has stored in its hive.  Other indicators of the high functional integration of a honeybee colony include colonial breathing: limiting the buildup of the respiratory gas CO2, inside the hive by increasing its ventilation when the CO2 level reaches 1 - 2 percent; colonial circulation: keeping the heat-producing bees in the central, brood-nest region of the hive properly fueled with honey carried in from peripheral honey combs; and colonial fever response: mounting a disease-fighting elevation of the nest temperature when a colony suffers a dangerous fungal infection of the brood bees.  I suggest, though, that the single best demonstration of the superorganismic nature of a honeybee colony is the ability of a honeybee swarm to function as an intelligent decision-making unit when choosing its new home."

from Seeley, Tom.  Honeybee Democracy, 2010, pp. 26 - 27.

"I rub a mixture of honey and salt all over my body to moisturize and exfoliate.  You wash it off and your skin is gorgeous!"
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Street Cred:

Steve Page, always an eager and helpful contributor to this newsletter, sent us the link to this interesting article on source-certified honey.

Evelyn Williams sent us this link to a wonderful article in the Costco Connection about bees and their current crisis status.  Thanks, Evelyn.

Honeybees Come to the Mountain
by Beth Rothermel

The Yellow Daisies are swarming with honeybees!  Stone Mountain Park is the latest in a series of Georgia parks to introduce honeybee hives into their ecosystem.  

Two years ago, after visiting my sister in Minnesota and being impressed with her new beekeeping hobby, I became interested in becoming a beekeeper myself.  As an environmental educator and naturalist with Stone Mountain Park’s education department, my mission and passion is protecting and managing the park’s natural district, and educating students about the natural areas of the park.  In the past few years, we have provided habitat for pollinators in the form of pollinator gardens and native wildflower meadows throughout the park to attract butterflies, bees and other insects. The obvious next step seemed to be to bring in the pollinators!

In 2012, I made a proposal to the non-profit organization I work for, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association (SMMA), to install one hive.  The SMMA is the authority that manages, maintains, and protects the park, and they gave “the Honeybee Project” an enthusiastic thumbs up!

After reading and studying about everything honeybee, I attended the Metropolitan Atlanta Beekeepers Association short course in January and ordered my equipment and supplies.  I installed our first hive in April of 2012 in the Education Annex, an area of the park not accessible to the public.  

    The bee yard is positioned in a wildflower         meadow  - we call it “The Bee Field” – in full sun, and adjacent to a beaver pond for water.  The bees thrived in this location, feeding on nectar from the many native trees and wildflowers throughout the park.  In 2013, we added two more hives.  With three hives, it was time to give them names so we wouldn’t confuse them.  Our first hive became Diamorpha; two and three became Yellow Daisy and Snorklewort - all three endemic wildflowers to granite outcrop ecosystems like Stone Mountain.

We had decided not to harvest any honey the first year, so the bees would have plenty of stores for overwintering.  We harvested our first honey at the end of June this year from the Diamorpha hive, ending up with 8.5 gallons.  Stone Mountain Honey will not be for sale, but will be given as gifts to our volunteer naturalists who lead programs for our annual Naturalist Rally in September and to park friends and employees.

My first experience with a swarm came last July when I returned from a 2-week vacation to find Diamorpha greatly diminished.  I discovered a swarm of my Diamorpha bees fully established in a swarm trap I had installed nearby – exactly where I had hoped they would go!  Not knowing how to recover them, I called my beekeeping mentor, Larry White, a longtime beekeeper, fellow church member, and member of the East Metro Beekeepers group.  After much consultation, I was able to extract the bees and reintroduce them into the Diamorpha hive.  Larry has been a tremendous help every time I have questions as a new-bee.

Unfortunately, I also had my first loss this year.  Wax moths infested my weakest hive, Snorklewort, and it had to be dismantled.  There are new lessons to learn every day, and I never get tired of watching these hard working, fascinating creatures.  

Club of the Month:
Henry County Beekeepers

Henry county is somewhat of a misnomer as we have members far and wide across the south Metro area and well into central Georgia but we had to call ourselves something and we do meet in Henry County. Our membership of over 100 includes beekeepers from Palmetto to Stone Mountain east to west and Smyrna to Byron north to south. We are equally broad in what we have to offer our members in experience and breadth of knowledge, with beekeepers as young as five (my own Serah) to oldsters who can still get around a bee yard.

We meet once a month on the second Tuesday of each month at 7pm at the Public Safety Building at 116 Zack Hinton Pkwy in McDonough, GA. We hold a quick business meeting then go straight into a featured presentation on various beekeeping topics.

We also hold twice annually a beekeeping short course held in March and October for aspiring beekeepers to learn as much as they can in an eight hour session that covers everything from acquiring and installing bees (swarms, nucs and packages),basic equipment needs, how to use assemble a hive, how to inspect and manipulate, harvesting honey plus as much else as we can reasonably squeeze into the day. 

We do not meet in May when we have our AnnualPicnic at the home of our past President Tom Bonnell and in December when we hold our Annual Christmas Party at a local church. Both of these events are our big social events of the year,  with food, fellowship and a host of activities.

In addition to these regular scheduled events the Henry County Beekeepers Association has been a regular attendee at Inman Farm Days each September in Inman, GA where we have a booth, complete with observation hive. Several of our members volunteer as well at many other local events and support observation hives in many other areas such as Panola Mountain State Park and Grant Farms.

Other volunteers have participated in community outreach and school programs and it is fairly common for our local newspapers to have a write up each month on one of our distinguished members.  Several of our members were involved in the clean up of a semi truck load of bees that crashed in Forsyth.  Many of our members are active in the state organization.

I’d like to extend an open invitationto all to please come join us for a meeting and feel free to drop in on one of our special events like the picnic or upcoming Christmas party. (Please contact us to RSVP for those two events). All of our scheduled events and meetings can be found on the web at www.henrycountybeekeepers.org 

David R McLeod
President, Henry County Beekeepers

The Board of Directors has established a new designation for the GBA.  We're going to call it the "Ambassador's Club". The purpose of this is to recognize folks who have worked so hard with the Georgia Beekeepers Association, either as an officer, administrator or public representative.  To be selected for this honor, you must have dedicated much time and personal sacrifice to the public education of the importance of Honey Bees and mentored beekeepers throughout Georgia. There are no official duties with this position, just continue to be the "Ambassador" you have always been by representing Georgia Beekeepers with professionalism, pride and enthusiasm.

Congratulations to the Following Plank Holders:

Fred Rossman
Keith Fielder
Bob Binnie
Jesse McCurdy
Evelyn Williams
P.N. Williams
Parks in Georgia with Beekeeping Programs

“Up and Buzzing”

Georgia Veterans State Park
The Parks at Chehaw
President Carter’s Farm
Reed Bingham State Park
Fort Yargo State Park
Panola Mountain State Park
Stone Mountain Park

Last month we asked you about crystallized honey.  Only a few of you (17) answered the survey.  Most of you heat up crystallized honey by setting the jar in hot water.  A few of you cook with it and a few of you make mead or lip balm/lotion with it.  

This month the survey is REALLY IMPORTANT.  Please participate.  The topic came out of a board meeting.  Your participation really matters.  To participate in the survey, click here.  The title of this month's survey is:  Location of Spring and Fall Meetings.  The board is making a real effort to make GBA meet the needs of its membership.  This survey concerns where we hold our meetings in the spring and fall.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Upcoming Bee Events:

January 18, 2014
Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Short Course, Atlanta Botanical Garden.  8:30 - 4:30  $95  If you know someone who'd like a good start in beekeeping, suggest our short course.  Information, click here.  Or give it to someone you love for a holiday present!

February 7-8, 2014

GBA Spring Meeting at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, 3535 South Lumpkin Road, Columbus, GA 31903  The hotel is the Hampton Inn on Lumpkin Road in Columbus.  The room rate for the meeting is $83 a night.  Make your reservations now.
The Final Buzz

This issue is filled with items sent to us by YOU, our readers, the beekeepers of the Georgia Beekeepers Association.  Our deadline each month is the 25th of the month.  Please send us the holiday gift of your article, photo, bee joke, recipe, beauty secret, favorite bee poem or quote - we love it all.

Your editors,

Gina and Linda

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 2013 Newsletter

Co-Editors: Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Ribbons at GBA Honey Show:  Photo by John Wingfield

Message from the President:

Show Me the “Honey”

Once again, our wonderful newsletter hits the streets, airwaves and desktops all over Georgia. I can’t begin to tell you what a great experience it is working with “Glinda”.  That is Gina and Linda.  Since they took over the ‘Spilling the Honey” Newsletter, we have been communicating much, much better with our membership. 

This month, I want to highlight the Honey Shows we sponsor. For the most part, Honey is the reason we mess around with bees. I know, a lot of you will say, No Bear; we appreciate watching nature and learning about the wonderful way our bees pollinate plant to plant, flower to flower. The education I have received since I started keeping (or try to keep) bees has been better than any college program. 
But in the end it’s the honey that is the ultimate payoff to all of our work.  We know how proud we are on extraction day when we see the golden flow filling our buckets and our honey jars. Whether you are Bob Bennie filling 55 gallon drums or a new beekeeper filling some of her first jars, seeing the sweet golden sticky stuff is a wonderful feeling. In jarring honey, beekeepers learn the high standards of packaging a food product. Done right, you can feel pride that your customers are receiving the best product you can give them. 

Every fall, the GBA Honey Show is hosted at the GBA member meeting.  Cindy Hodges took home “best in Show” for 2013.  Congratulations to Cindy for all her hard work. There were a lot of good entrants in a lot of categories, and we encourage even more participation next year. 

The newest Honey Show that GBA sponsored this year was the Georgia National Fair Honey Show in Perry, GA this past October.  This was the first that Honey was judged. I challenged all to participate. Since it was the first year, we limited the categories to extracted honey. We had 13 entrants, 3 judges and 1 steward participating. The contest was organized by Steve Prince and Brutz English with some help from Jessie and Hazel McCurdy. Thank you to the Heart of Georgia Beekeepers Association for hosting the show.  In the future, the GBA Directors will have the responsibility of organizing and putting on this show. 

The winners were: 
Light Extraction:
1st Place: M. Bondurant    
2nd Place: Slade Jarrett
3rd Place: Jay Parsons
Amber Extraction:
1st Place: Cindy Hodges    
2nd Place: RoseAnne Fielder
3rd Place: Brutz English
Dark Extraction:
1st Place: Marcy Cornell    
2nd Place:  Cindy Hodges
Black Jar:
1st Place:  Slade Jarrett    
2nd Place:  Q. Plemmons-Wilke
3rd Place: Brutz English

And a little drum roll please.  The Best in Show winner was Cindy Hodges again.

I want to thank all of the participants, workers, judges and stewards who helped out with both shows this year.  Going forward, we are posting all the known honey shows in Georgia on our web site now so that you can participate. In addition, we have started listing all the certified judges and their contact info on the web site. If you need judges, you can contact them directly. If you are a judge or are having a honey show and are not listed, send us the info and we will make sure your info gets out there.  
As you know we don’t usually have a honey show at the Spring GBA meeting, but we are going to start having the Mead and Beer show at the gathering this spring. So if you are bottling this winter, set some aside for the show. The rules will be posted soon. Again, thank you all for your support on these programs and I hope to hear from you throughout the year. 

Bear Kelley
GBA President

"The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness And in the taste confounds the appetite."
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) from Romeo and Juliet

Good Beekeepers Make Good Neighbors

If you are friends with one of our few members who doesn't access the computer well, consider printing out the newsletter and sharing it with them!

Scarecrows in the Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association meets monthly at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  Each October one of our members volunteers to create a “scarecrow” to show in the annual Scarecrow in the Garden show.  This year’s entry was created by MABA member, Melissa Bondurant.  She called it “A Beekeeper’s Dream” because it is such a large queen – this queen bee is seven feet long!


Kevin Baker shared with us an interesting comparative chart from the Bee Friendly Farming Initiative.  There are 4,000 species of bee in North America.  This chart provides measurements of a few you might know:

Thanks, Kevin.


Club of the Month: 
The Ogeechee Area Beekeepers Association

When I started keeping bees a few years ago, I was interested in becoming part of a local club. So I logged on to the GBA site and found that in Emanuel County, dead center of the southeastern portion of the State, there were no GBA affiliated clubs. Macon, Savannah and Burke County were all too far away. But today there is a new dot on the GBA map: the Ogeechee Area Beekeepers Association.
Dr. Brent Tharp of Georgia Southern University Museum and others stepped up to the challenge of creating a bee club to fill the need in our area. The first meeting was in February, attended by 14 people.  We officially organized during our July meeting. We are currently at 21 individual and family memberships, with approximately 50 other interested individuals on our email list who have yet to join. Our members come from various backgrounds and levels of experience. A highlight comes at the end of our meetings when we all discuss what's going on in our apiaries, ask each other questions, and listen to various opinions offered.

As we continue to grow, one thing we want to do is be a resource to our community. Individual members have been representing and promoting the club at area events such as Greenfest, the Ogeechee Kiwanis Fair, and at the Georgia Southern University Botanical Garden. We look forward to working with these and other partners in the future to educate the public on bees and beekeeping.

Our website is OABees.com Member John MacDonald serves our webmaster. He set up the site with a vision of building an online community for the OABeeA. One of the unique benefits of membership with the OABeeA is the opportunity to have your own page on the OABeeA site. Members can use it as a blog, a place to post photos, or even build their own webpage dedicated to their apiary. This is a great benefit for members who do not already have a website for their apiary. As more and more members set up their sites, it gives everyone the chance to learn more about each other and the respective apiaries in the OABeeA. 

We're always happy to see new faces, so we invite you to attend one of our meetings if you are in our area. OABeeA meets in Statesboro at Fordham's Farmhouse Restaurant on highway 80 E.  Meetings are held from January through October on the last Thursday evening of each month. We gather casually for a meal and fellowship around 5pm with our meeting beginning at 5:30pm. 

In closing, I would like to express our gratitude in being accepted as a member club in the GBA. This was an important milestone for our group. Special thanks also goes to Greg Stewart of CEBA and Clay "Bear" Kelley for speaking to us and sharing their wisdom and guidance during our formative months.

-Rhett Kelley 
Vice President
Ogeechee Area Beekeepers Assocation

As of November 1, 3999 people have visited our website for this newsletter!  Thank you for visiting and reading us online!
Street Cred:

Steve Page sent us a link to this cool article
about how three beekeepers in Massachusetts have addressed their concerns about the bees.  I really enjoyed this and think you will too.  Thanks, Steve, for sending us this link to such a nice article about three beekeepers.

Jay Parsons sent us this photo.  It shows one of his hives.  The bees have propolized the hive entrance, leaving much smaller entrance way.  

Jay reports that since this discovery in 2010, he has maintained reduced entrances on his hives at all times.   "It doesn't seem to have diminished any surplus honey and it certainly aides the guard bee duties - reducing overall hive stress," writes Jay.


Dear Aunt Bee,

I was recently at the local country fair where I saw an observation hive, which was amazing. But it got me to wondering, and I didn't have time to stay there and watch them all night long, but do bees EVER sleep? Don't they need to rest from all that hard work?

Too sleepy to watch

Dear Too Sleepy,

We work hard at “Spilling the Honey” to research your questions.  This one took us to a similar question posted on BeeSource in 2002.  Michael Bush, a well-known speaker and author from Nebraska,  answered with a quote from the New Observations on the Natural History of Bees by Francoise Huber:

“When the workers penetrate the cells, and remain fifteen or twenty minutes motionless, I have reason to believe, it is to repose from their labours. My observations on the subject seem correct. You know, Sir, that a kind of irregular shaped cells, are frequently constructed on the panes of the hive. These, being glass on one side, are exceedingly convenient to the observe, since all that passes within is exposed. I have often seen bees enter these cells when nothing could attract them. The cells contained neither eggs nor honey, nor did they need further completion. Therefore the workers repaired thither only to enjoy some moments of repose. Indeed, they were fifteen or twenty minutes so perfectly motionless, that had not the dilation of the rings, shewed their respiration, we might have concluded them dead. The queen also sometimes penetrates the cells of the males, and continues very long motionless in them. Her position prevents the bees from paying their full homage to her, yet even then the workers do not fail to form a circle around her and brush the part of her belly that remains exposed.”

So rest easy, bees do take a break in their busy days!

Your Aunt Bee  

Note: Thanks to Christine Fahrnbauer for the question and indirectly to Michael Bush for the answer!  Michael has Huber's Vol. 1 and 2 translated in full on his website.  Huber wrote and researched in the late 1700s.  


Virginia Webb continues to represent Georgia well all around the world.  At Apimondia this year she won one gold, three silver and one bronze medal at Kiev.  Congratulations.  We could all learn a lot from your ability to present your honey.  


Globs of Goldenrod on bee's leg - photo by Christine Farhnbauer

Computers, Beekeeping and Nectar Management 
by Steven Page
September 2013

When June arrives each year I am already looking forward to and planning on the spring nectar flow arriving in nine months.  This article addresses my observations and the results of nectar management of my hive scale hive.  

My hive scale hive sits on a scale with a temperature sensor in the brood area and a temperature sensor on the outside of the hive. The three readings are recorded every 5 minutes.  The hive scale has been operating since April 2012.  More information is available at http://www.hivetool.org/   my hive scale is GA005. 

My hive scale is located in Coweta County southwest of Atlanta. Our spring was late with cool and rainy weather.  We had snow flurries on March 27.

On March 29 our main nectar flow started and continued until May 31.  With the exception of bad weather days, my hive gained weight every day for two months.  Some days the bees added ten to twelve pounds.  During the main nectar flow the net increase in weight was 220 pounds topping out at 392 pounds. 

I harvested 144 pounds of honey off this one hive.  At $8 per pound, the total retail sales from this one hive is over $1,000.

How did I get this hive to produce so much honey?  Nectar management... 

This hive started the year weak.  In February I added three frames of capped brood and fed the hive to get the population up to a critical mass.  They responded accordingly and started raising brood preparing for the nectar flow.  After the population grew I started nectar management manipulations of the brood and honey frames.  The nectar management manipulations should have been done about February first but the hive was too weak.  Due to the late start I accomplished the manipulations multiple times opening up the honey cap allowing the workers to store nectar and giving the queen unlimited comb for eggs.

The bees responded by growing the colony well past 50,000 workers.  There was brood in the deep and three shallow supers.  After adding multiple supers during the main flow the hive ended up taller than me with one deep, eight shallow supers and one medium super.  The top super was not used for honey storage.  Inspecting this hive was a joy as every super was full of bees.  Forget about finding the queen, she was somewhere in four supers.  If I found eggs I knew she was there and viable.

It is important to stay ahead of the bees.  For each ten pounds of nectar collected the colony produces five pounds of honey.  If the weight increases by ten to twelve pounds each day, they can make a shallow super of honey in as few as five days.  Considering that the nectar flow in the piedmont of Georgia last for six to eight weeks adding supers before the bees run out of storage is important.

I have been working on perfecting nectar management for a few years now.   Based on my climate with apple trees blossoming in early April, the first manipulation should be completed about eight weeks prior or about February first.  The hive will require a deep and three shallow supers for this manipulation.  One of the shallow supers should be full of honey.  All frames must have drawn comb.  The deep super with the cluster is moved to the bottom board.  The next two shallow supers each have five frames of honey and five frames of empty comb.  The frames alternate full and empty both horizontally and vertically.  The last super of empty drawn comb goes on top.  The colony no longer has a honey cap and plenty of empty comb for eggs and nectar.  No honey was removed from the hive it was just repositioned. 

The colony continues to prepare to swarm but with so much empty comb they should not be able to completely prepare and hopefully abandon the goal of swarming in April.

As spring advances add supers to stay ahead of the colony.

In late April or early May a shallow super of capped brood is moved to the bottom of the hive with the deep just above.  After the brood emerges the colony will store pollen in this bottom super.  The pollen will be used to raise the fall workers resulting in an empty super for the following February. 
Recipe for November:

Glazed Baby Carrots

1 pound young organic carrots
1 T unsalted butter
1 T local honey
1 T squeezed lemon juice

Wash and peel carrots.  Cut into 1/2 inch slices.  Place carrots in nonreactive saucepan. Put water in pan to cover the bottom and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes or less until carrots are tender to your liking.  Drain carrots and return to saucepan.  Add butter and heat enough to melt the butter.  Then add the honey and lemon juice.  Toss carrots to coat, add salt to taste and serve.

Adapted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook by Laurey Masterton
God, Friends and Honeybees
By Bruce Morgan
Georgia Beekeeper of the Year 2013

For years  I have tried to plant seeds with fellow beekeepers and customers of my honeybee supply business about starting a club in my area of Georgia.  With the help of fellow beekeeper Mary Lacksen, a meeting was held in October 2012 to see what kind of interest there was about forming a club.  There was enough interest to schedule a meeting for November with Dr. Jamie Ellis, my son-in-law, as our speaker.  This got the club started and we held our next meeting in January.

At the January meeting the requirements for establishing a club were brought forth to those attending. We elected officers, board members, approved by-laws, selected a club name, and set annual dues.  I was elected President of the Lake Country Beekeepers Association. 

Back in June 2012, I injured my shoulder in a bee removal.  I continued in pain for the rest of the year.  In January 2013, I made an appointment with a doctor to look at my shoulder.  He gave me a quick fix with a cortisone shot and some medication. About two weeks later I started having chest pains that eventually resulted in my going to the ER.  While the medical tests did not show a heart problem, the doctor ordered a CT scan to see if I had any blood clots. The CT scan did not show any problems in my chest area but it did show a mass on my right kidney that the doctor said appeared to be cancer.  I was released to go home, not knowing what the future would hold for me.  The pain in my chest was being caused by a side effect of the medication I was given for my shoulder. Word spread pretty fast of my condition through several beekeeping clubs and my previous place of work. I started receiving cards, was placed on prayer lists and got supportive calls from people I did not even know.

So at the January start-up meeting of our new bee club, I told the members about my condition and told them that I did not know what was ahead for me.  We decided that a Beginners Beekeeping Short Course on March 8, 2013, would be a good way to encourage beekeeping in the area and build up club membership, but I was concerned about my ability to participate. I had contacted Mr. Keith Fielder in the neighboring county the previous week, told him of my condition, and asked for his help.  He came to the meeting and was very helpful with the start-up.  He also agreed to help teach the short course with me doing what I could to help.

In early February, my wife and I made the trip to Atlanta to consult with a doctor at Emory.  After the doctor reviewed the CT scan, he said he would just go in and remove the mass and save my kidney.  We left feeling a whole lot better about the situation.  I was scheduled for surgery on March 15, a week after our short course. 

Unexpectedly I received a call that my surgery had been moved up to March 1, 2013.  I immediately contacted Mr. Keith Fielder who assured me that he could handle the whole day.  I also had ordered 24 packages of bees to be picked up on March 7 and be installed.  This health problem was happening at the busiest beekeeping time for me.

I reported to Emory for surgery on March 1.  The doctor removing a small lemon sized mass from my right kidney.  In my follow-up with the doctor on March 7, I heard that while the tumor was cancer,  the margins were clear and no further treatment would be needed. 

I was free to head south to Jackson and pickup the 24 packages of bees. I had already set up the hives for the bees before my surgery. Another good friend, David Bevill, helped me to install the packages.  David did most of the work and drove me around.

The next day was the short course.  With a lot of help from friends, we were able to pull it off.  There were 28 people attending to learn more about beekeeping. I was even able to teach a segment of the course and install a couple of package bees for the host, Elm Street Gardens, and the attendees.  Within a couple of weeks I was back in the bee yard and shop.

God works in ways sometimes we do not understand. Was it hurting my shoulder with the chainsaw to remove the honeybees and having side effects of the medication that caused the chest pain?  Was it the doctor that ordered the CT scan that found my cancer in an early stage?  Was it all the prayers that were sent my way?

As an update, the Lake Country Beekeeping Association is doing well with the best members anyone could ask for.   My checkup at three months did not reveal any problems.

I would like to thank God, my wife, my family, my church and all my friends that have supported me throughout the year.  It is a great honor to be named Beekeeper of the Year and I will continue to promote the art of beekeeping.
Some of the Oldest Beekeepers in Georgia:

Fred Rossman:  Since 1987

Hardeman Apiaries:  For over 30 years

Wilbanks Apiaries:  Since 1948 - 65 years

Amanda Zeiler's Honey:  Since 1935

Let us know about long term operations in your part of Georgia!


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January 18, 2014
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The Final Buzz

We are so thrilled that so many of you responded with ideas and write-ups for our newsletter.  The newsletter belongs to all of you, beekeepers of Georgia.  If something interesting has happened to you in the world of beekeeping, consider sharing it with us - a photo you like of your bees, something you have learned, something the bees have taught you, an idea for a survey, a question for Aunt Bee, a favorite honey recipe, a beekeeping joke/humor.

We want it all!  Thanks for all of you who read this by email or online at our blog site.

Your editors,

Gina and Linda