Monday, June 3, 2013

June 2013 Newsletter

GBA Monthly Newsletter

June 2013

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Queen on newly drawn wax in foundationless frame
photo by Linda Tillman, March 16, 2013

Message from our President,  Jerry Edwards

This month has been a busy one in the world of GBA!  I am pleased to announce that Paul Vonk, an attorney and electrical engineer, has accepted the chairmanship of the GBA Legislative Committee.  Two of the issues he plans to address are researching regional zoning codes concerning honey bees and encouraging the state legislature to develop a legal definition for honey.  If you have other suggestions, his email is

According to our by-laws, only members of GBA have voting privileges at the general state meeting.  State officers and local club presidents or club representatives can vote in Board of Directors meeting.  However, some of our local presidents are not members of GBA and thus, would not have voting privileges at a state meeting.  We encourage all of you to join for obvious reasons.  Please contact Roseanne Dorn, Treasurer, if you are a local club president and have not paid your state dues.

If you are interested in serving on the Nominating Committee for officers, please contact any GBA officer by email.

It is now necessary for GBA to maintain a list of all Georgia Certified Welsh Honey Judges.  If you have these credentials, please contact Bear Kelley.  He is putting together the list.  Criteria for continued honey judge certification is changing, and Robert Brewer and Keith Fielder have this information.

Jerry Edwards, President GA Beekeepers

Saving the World, one bee at a time


Bee*Con 2013: A worker bee’s perspective of the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute

by Julia Mahood, Master Beekeeper, Atlanta

This was my fourth year attending the Beekeeping Institute and like previous years, I went home inspired to be a better beekeeper. The keynote speakers were Tom Seeley, PhD, from Cornell University and David Tarpy, PhD, from North Carolina State University.   It's always captivating to hear about honeybee research—not just what they are studying, but also how they collect their data.

Dr. Seeley's persona is very Zen. He speaks calmly and candidly. He presents his knowledge in a way that interesting and matter-of-fact. Great photography and humorous stories embellished his lectures. Dr. Seeley is known for research regarding how bees make decisions. His book Honeybee Democracy is a fascinating read.

Dr. Tarpy has an energetic and entertaining lecture style. He had some great Power Point skills and was gracious enough to answer questions during his talk, not just afterward. His field of expertise is honeybee genetics and queen quality.

Here are some highlights from their lectures:

• Queen quality matters, so when you allow your bees to make a new queen as needed, the workers will make queen cells from larvae that is three, four, or five days old.  The best queens will be made from three day old larvae, newly hatched from eggs and fed only royal jelly.  The queens made from five day old larvae will hatch out first and will be inferior to the queens made from younger larvae, but they'll go rip open the younger queens’ cells, kill the potentially better queens, and step up to the throne. Dr. Tarpy suggested that when you give a queenless colony a frame of brood and eggs, you open the colony after five days and cut out any queen cells that have been capped—these cells were made from older larvae and won't make the healthiest queens. Brilliant!

• We work hard to promote ventilation in our hives in the South, but there are advantages to mimicking the hollow tree cavity that bees prefer when given the choice. In winter months, condensation that occurs in tightly sealed hives can provide a much needed source of water to the bees.

• Along the same lines, bees in the wild prefer one small entrance to their home, making it very dark inside. When we put swarms in hives with screened bottom boards, the added light may be a deal breaker and incite them to seek another home. So when installing a caught swarm, slide a board under the screened bottom board to keep it dark until the bees have settled in.

• Dr. Seeley recommended a book called The Bee Hunter by George Edgell. He has used Edgell’s method to find feral bee colonies. He first located eleven wild colonies living in a forest in Ithaca, NY in the 1970’s. A follow up study in recent years shows that there has been no significant change in bee populations in the same forest—great news for those of us concerned about bee loss.    I ordered the book and can’t wait to spend days wandering the forest this summer, in search of bee trees!

• Queen bees are “curiously promiscuous.” By mating with an average of 13.2 drones, genetic diversity enables colonies to have workers who are strong in differing areas of healthy behavior, all contributing to a colony’s survival. Sounds kind of obvious, but the experiment to prove this was interesting. Queens were inseminated with just one drone’s sperm in one apiary, and with multiple drones in another. They were monitored for honey collection, diseases, population buildup, and other things, proving that the colonies with more daddies were more superior in every way. For example, one drone may pass on genetics that promote uncapping unhealthy brood, and another may pass on genetics to pull out the unhealthy brood. Working together, the differing strengths contribute to overall colony health.

This is just a small sampling of the many things I learned at the Beekeeping Institute this year. In addition to these two scholars, there were many other brilliant and accomplished beekeepers, all with much to teach.  We are fortunate to have such an amazing program available in our state, where beekeepers can get together for education and inspiration.

Dr. Dave Tarpy and Dr. Tom Seeley in planetarium at Young Harris
photo by Linda Tillman


Since the queen bee was quite the subject of talks at Young Harris, we wanted to share with you this wonderful poem about the queen bee by E.B. White.  White wrote the poem in reference to the stock improvement work of Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr, known as the father of honey bee genetics.  E. B. White's poem appeared in a 1945 edition of the New Yorker Magazine.   Dr. Tom Seeley had several quotes from this poem in his YH talks.

"Song of the Queen Bee"

"The breeding of the bee," says a United States Department of Agriculture bulletin on artificial insemination, "has always been handicapped by the fact that the queen mates in the air with whatever drone she encounters."  
When the air is wine and the wind is free

and the morning sits on the lovely lea

and sunlight ripples on every tree

Then love-in-air is the thing for me

I'm a bee,

I'm a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,

That's me.
I wish to state that I think it's great,
Oh, it's simply rare in the upper air,
It's the place to pair
With a bee. 

Let old geneticists plot and plan,

They're stuffy people, to a man;

Let gossips whisper behind their fan.

(Oh, she does?

Buzz, buzz, buzz!)

My nuptial flight is sheer delight;

I'm a giddy girl who likes to swirl,
To fly and soar
And fly some more,
I'm a bee.
And I wish to state that I'll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter. 

There's a kind of a wild and glad elation

In the natural way of insemination;

Who thinks that love is a handicap

Is a fuddydud and a common sap,

For I am a queen and I am a bee,

I'm devil-may-care and I'm fancy-free,

The test tube doesn't appeal to me,
Not me,
I'm a bee.
And I'm here to state that I'll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter. 

Mares and cows. by calculating,

Improve themselves with loveless mating,

Let groundlings breed in the modern fashion,

I'll stick to the air and the grand old passion;

I may be small and I'm just a bee

But I won't have science improving me,

Not me,
I'm a bee.
On a day that's fair with a wind that's free,
Any old drone is a lad for me. 

I've no flair for love moderne,

It's far too studied, far too stern,

I'm just a bee---I'm wild, I'm free,

That's me.

I can't afford to be too choosy;

In every queen there's a touch of floozy,

And it's simply rare
In the upper air
And I wish to state
That I'll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter. 

Man is a fool for the latest movement,

He broods and broods on race improvement;

What boots it to improve a bee

If it means the end of ecstasy?

(He ought to be there

On a day that's fair,

Oh, it's simply rare.
For a bee. 

Man's so wise he is growing foolish,

Some of his schemes are downright ghoulish;

He owns a bomb that'll end creation

And he wants to change the sex relation,

He thinks that love is a handicap,

He's a fuddydud, he's a simple sap;

Man is a meddler, man's a boob,
He looks for love in the depths of a tube,
His restless mind is forever ranging,
He thinks he's advancing as long as he's changing,
He cracks the atom, he racks his skull,
Man is meddlesome, man is dull,
Man is busy instead of idle,
Man is alarmingly suicidal,
Me, I am a bee. 

I am a bee and I simply love it,

I am a bee and I'm darn glad of it,

I am a bee, I know about love:

You go upstairs, you go above,

You do not pause to dine or sup,

The sky won't wait ---it's a long trip up;

You rise, you soar, you take the blue,
It's you and me, kid, me and you,
It's everything, it's the nearest drone,
It's never a thing that you find alone.
I'm a bee,
I'm free. 

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,

Then any old drone may catch and wife me;

I'm sorry for creatures who cannot pair

On a gorgeous day in the upper air,

I'm sorry for cows that have to boast

Of affairs they've had by parcel post,

I'm sorry for a man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I'll multiply and I'll increase
As I always have---by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I'm devil-may-care and I'm fancy-free,
Love-in-air is the thing for me,
Oh, it's simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I'll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.
--E.B. White 


Queen School

by Bear Kelley, VP, GBA

                  I recently had the privilege of attending the Honey Bee Queen Production School presented by the folks at Georgia Bee Supply in Chula, Ga. Presenting the course was Chuck Hester, the owner of Georgia Bee Supply and H&L Bee Farm, and his very capable assistant Rick Ringo.   There were 18 students hailing from South Carolina, Michigan, Indiana, and Florida and of course Georgia.

                  The class was presented in two days. The subjects on the first day were the 

  • General Scope of Queen Breeding, 
  • Queen Production Tools,  
  • Making a Queen Production Calendar, 
  • Breeder Queens, 
  • Breeder Frames, 
  • Starter Hives, 
  • Grafting, 
  • Cell Cups and Bars, 
  • The Wax Melter, 
  • Making wax cell cups and welding them onto bar frames and finally 
  • Making Queen Cages and the candy that goes into them.   Every student had an opportunity for a hands on experience at six work stations very well laid out with all the necessary equipment on hand.

                  Day two was opened with the presentation on how to remove the Queen larvae from the Breeder frame and install them into the cell cups.  

                 The practical exercise was the scariest part as this is probably the most critical stage. My big Bear paws are not conducive to itty bitty work like that. It will be interesting to know if anything grows out of the bar cells that I grafted. 

                 Afterward we all went to Chuck's Apiary. I must say, that the bee yard was very clean, and well laid out for Queen Production.  Rick had the hives organized so that each step could be easily demonstrated.  Most of the day was spent in the bee yard installing newly grafted bar frames, transferring virgin queens to the mating yard and finally marking the mated queens that were ready to be shipped to the customer.

                 Both days began with a continental breakfast and a prepared lunch that caused all of us in attendance to gain weight.  Chuck offered Queen rearing kits at a reasonable rate and everyone received a DVD on Queen rearing. Certificates were presented upon completion and all in attendance seem to enjoy the course very much. I did and I really appreciate the hands on experience and education.
                June 21 and 22 are tentatively set as the next class date, and they will be posting this on the  website soon, so anyone who wants to sign up can visit the website at or call the office at(229) 386-0123.

below:  Bear trying to weld cell cups

The Finished Product:   Miss Scarlett


Street Cred

Our June street cred is about the promiscuous queen bee!   Please watch and enjoy.


Dear Aunt Bee,

When the colony swarms and the workers march the Queen around to lose weight, what weight is she losing?  Water weight, or is it strength training or is she being kept from food or what?  I know this is silly but inquiring minds want to know.

Perplexed about Pounds

Dear Perplexed,

I've wondered too - it's not like she is going to fly particularly far, but to fly at all, she can't be as cumbersome as she is day to day in the hive.

Dr. Tom Seeley is an authority on swarms and the queen, so I asked him about this at Young Harris.  He said the majority of the queen's weight consists of the eggs waiting to be laid that occupy her abdomen.

In preparation for a swarm, when she is being run around the hive and is not being fed, she stops producing those eggs and that is the "weight" she is losing.  So she isn't losing water weight and although they are not feeding her, the amount of weight lost due to the lack of food is negligible compared to the lack of eggs in her abdomen.

When she arrives at her new home, she is fed again, produces eggs again, and begins laying again, no skinnier than before.

To fat and happy Queens,

Aunt Bee

Joke contributed by Jim Moye of Tara Beekeepers Association:

Did you know that three out of two beekeepers are dyslexic?

This year's crop of certified Welsh Honey Judges at Young Harris in May
In the center are the judging staff:  Robert Brewer, Michael Young, Keith Fielder.  The other five are our new Welsh Honey Judges.  Can you find our VP Bear Kelley in his "cap and gown," as his wife, Marybeth, says?  

Photo by Linda Tillman

And from our Vice-President and Certified Welsh Honey Judge comes the following:

Calling All Honey Judges

If you are a Certified Welsh Honey Judge, please provide the information below to Bear Kelley ( ) with the following items included:

  • Name
  • City and State
  • Telephone number
  • Email Address
  • Class number (year certified by Young Harris Beekeeping Institute)
GBA is in the process of developing a list of Judges that will appear on the GBA web site.  In addition there will be a newly established Judges Group (not a public list, but one managed by the GBA VP) that will receive information, updates, changes in policy, show information, etc.

Please send this information to Bear as soo as you can so that we can get the list up and running.  From this list we will choose Judges and Stewards for the Fall GBA show and the State Show to be held in October.

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Are you Limiting Honey Production with Queen Excluders?
by Steven Page

Queen excluders are one of the most controversial subjects beekeepers debate.  I will not try to convince you one way or the other concerning the use of queen excluders.  I will offer some insight to what I see in my hives with no queen excluders that you can use on hives with queen excluders.

I do not use queen excluders.  This allows me to see how a hive builds up in the late winter without any limit to the size of the brood nest.  I use one deep super and many shallow supers on each hive.  My strong colonies will have a deep and 3 or 4 shallow supers of brood in the hive by March.  If you are inserting a queen excluder too low in the stack of supers you will limit the area the queen can lay in, reducing the population and honey production of the colony. 

If I used a queen excluder I would insert it with a deep and 3 or 4 shallow supers below it.  I would install it in late March or early April and the super above the queen excluder would have already been on the hive with workers building comb and storing nectar.

Right now as we near the end of the main nectar flow.  My strong hives have seven to nine shallow supers and I add more as needed.   The strong hives will produce more than 100 pounds of honey.

Once the honey is harvested the queen excluder can be removed.  Prior to winter you must remove the queen excluder to prevent the queen from being left behind as the colony moves up during the winter.

Bee Club of the Month

Lake Country Beekeepers Association

The Lake Country Beekeepers Association (LCBA) was a vision of a few beekeepers to fill a void in our area for a beekeeping club.  During October and November of 2012, several meetings were conducted to see what kind of interest there was in forming a club.  In January of this year (2013) we officially started our club with election of officers, adopting by-laws, and finding a name for our club.

In March we conducted a Beginners Beekeepers Course with 28 people attending.  Presentations were conducted by member, Mr. Keith Fielder, Master Beekeeper and other club members.

Monthly meetings have covered an array of topics:  honey extraction, marketing your honey, utilizing nucs in your bee operation, swarm control, catching swarms, package bee installation, and general hive maintenance.  Future meetings will include making splits, pest control, and fall management.

LCBA has 31 member families with a total of 62 family members.  members are from the following counties:  Hancock, Putnam, Glascock, Warrenk Jones, Morgan, McDuffie, Jasper, Baldwin, Jefferson, and Johnson.  We continue to bring new members aboard each month.  We have a good number of members of our club who also belong to GBA and attend the spring and fall meetings of that organization.

LCBA meets the third Monday of each month at 7 PM in downtown Sparta, Georgia, at the old Drummers Home next to the Court House.

Bruce Morgan, LCBA President

State Parks with Beekeeping Programs

"Up and Buzzing"
Georgia Veterans State Park
The Parks at Chehaw

President Carter's Farm
Reed Bingham State Park

The Final Buzz
We appreciate all your contributions and hope to have everyone send at least one item each year.  That will make the newsletter more interesting.  Sincere thanks to those of you who have already given a story,  photo or question for Aunt Bee- please continue to do so.   

We are in particular need of your photos showing anything to do with your beekeeping practice.  We would love to do a page showing the huge variety of our apiary settings throughout Georgia.  Happy summer to all and best wishes to your bees!

Gina and Linda