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