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 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   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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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!

XXXX, XX, 2014

Your beekeeping event here - just send them to us - in Georgia, Alabama, or Tennessee - even N or S Carolina and we'll be glad to post your event - no charge.


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