Monday, January 27, 2014

February 2014 Newsletter

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

This gorgeous photo was taken by Annora Ayer, a relative of Gina's.  Certainly makes a beekeeper wish for spring!  Annora lives in the state of Washington.

Message from the President      

             I recently attended the American Beekeeping Federation annual conference at Baton Rouge, LA and was quite pleased to see the work being done around the United States to aid in the “Plight of the Honey Bee”.  Our legislative team positioned in Washington DC reported that all the ABF interests were tucked snugly into the latest Farm Bill.  The president of ABF was happy with the results of that work. Of course the speakers were some of the best in the business giving us up to date research information on CCD, and all the “bugs” we can have in our colonies. 

A spokesperson from Bayer Corporation described the new Bee Team and research lab in North Carolina that they have created to help us figure out some of the bee problems.  We look forward to seeing the results of their work. I also learned that there is a Honey Transshipping* Class Action litigation regarding the illegal influx of transshipped Chinese honey into the United States. Through that litigation, they are actively seeking to recover damages on our behalf from the perpetrators of those crimes. As I gather more info about the details, I’ll keep you posted. 

The conference was 4 days long and there was too much on the agenda to list everything, but some other topics were:  Flight and Foraging Dynamics of the Honey Bee; True source Honey update; Honey Bees and Soybeans; Pollinator Habitat; National Honey Board Marketing and Research Update; A wonderful Kids and Bees program; Bee Nutrition; Factors affecting Colony Mortality; Honey bee Plants; Bee Keeping Business Practices and getting Younger Beekeepers involved. 

One of the most interesting aspects of this conference was the American Honey Queen Program.  Many of you know that we have on several occasions hosted the queens from other states in the past few years and these young women have been very impressive. There are about 12 states that actively support the program and actually produce their own queen. 

Why don’t we have a Honey Queen program in Georgia?  What better way to spread the word throughout the state about bees and honey than to have this kind of ambassador speaking on our behalf to schools, civic groups, and public forums and possible representing us on the national level? So in light of that, I have asked one of our members to do a feasibility study and report on it at the fall meeting. If anyone out there would like to help, it would be much appreciated. Call me.  By the way, the Florida Queen won the title of American Honey Queen this year and I intend to try to schedule her for our fall meeting.  

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Association

*Editor’s note:  I had no idea what transship meant, so I looked it up on Merriam Webster.  Here’s the definition:  to transfer for further transportation from one ship or conveyance to another.  Here’s a link to an article about the bill.


From a distance, it will looks like a big painting you might see in a museum, but museums can’t capture the sound.  Fifty feet away, and you will hear it, a humming that sounds like it came from another planet....Your head will say don’t go further, but your heart will be swallowed by it.  You will stand there and think, I am in the center of the universe, where everything is sung to life.”    Sue Monk Kidd- The Secret Life of Bees

An April Fool - My First Swarm 
by Steve Esau, MABA Member 

April 3, 2013 - Atlanta Georgia: A nice spring day with temperatures hovering close to 70 degrees. I was working from home that day and had just shut down the computer when my phone rang. The red phone on my desk, you know: the swarm phone! Doesn't everyone have a swarm phone? This was it: the call I had dreamed of; the call that would catapult me into the ranks of a true beekeeper or so I thought.

6:19 pm: I answered the phone and heard those wonderful words, "We just got a swarm call. Are you interested?" With as much calm as I could muster in my voice and in an effort to not disclose my swarm virginity, I responded "YES" and promptly wrote down the address and phone number of the surely terrified homeowner. I quickly ran to the basement to grab a ladder and my swarm gear and went out to the pickup with all in tow. I tied the ladder down, placed the gear in back, and off I went.

6:34 pm: The clouds were starting to roll in and there was definitely a chill in the air.
Uggh, rush hour traffic in Atlanta! Seriously, raindrops?

7:15ish pm: I arrived at the location of the swarm. A steady drizzle was setting in and the temperature had dropped to 45 degrees. I knocked on the front door, which was promptly answered. I introduced myself and let the homeowner know I was responding to her swarm call. The homeowner calmly gave me a detailed account of how she and her neighbor were working in their yards planting flowers when a swarm came over the top of the trees and circled three times before settling into a tree in her back yard. She told me that for 18 years while living in California she would get on average a swarm every third year. (18 ÷ 3 = 6) Are you kidding me? Six swarms? I wasn't about to tell her this was my first. She took me back and showed me the swarm. It was beautiful. Picture perfect. The swarm was bigger than a basketball and positioned into a V crotch of a small maple tree about 25 feet in the air.

Steve Esau with his swarm catcher - taken by himself!

7:30 pm: I backed into the driveway and got
everything ready. Catch bucket attached to a
telescoping fiberglass pole. Deep brood box complete
with used brood comb set up to accept my new prize.
Now all I needed to do was capture the swarm. The
cold rain was coming down steadily now and I was in
a hurry, as it was getting darker by the minute. The
homeowner decided this was going to be worth
watching and took up residence on her screened
porch for a front row view, with her little dog in her
lap and a cigarette in her hand. The backyard was
heavily wooded yet nicely landscaped so I carried the
ladder and placed it in position, careful not to step on
any newly planted flowers. I was representing MABA and on "official" business. I donned my veil and headed back towards my ladder with catch bucket in hand. Wow, it was dark out. I looked up and could barely see that beautifully shaped oblong mass 
silhouetted against the cloudy nighttime sky. I climbed the ladder and carefully positioned my catch bucket under the swarm and just off to the side of the branches which were supporting my prize. Was this the best angle to go at the swarm? Steady! Steady! I was really struggling to see due to the darkness so I lifted up my veil just to make sure I was positioned absolutely perfect.

Ready - One - Two - SQUIRREL!

Yes a squirrel. Just as I was about to bucket the swarm a squirrel jumped out of what appeared to be the center of the swarm landing on the rung of the ladder directly across from my face. In my panic as the squirrel decided to exit the situation, I must have hit the swarm with the bucket knocking a good fistful of bees directly onto my unveiled face and down the inside of my shirt. I thought of my audience watching from the safety of her screened porch. With as much professionalism as I could gather, I slowly climbed down the ladder trying not to spill any bees from my bucket. I hoped to salvage some gain from the pain that was being inflicted upon me due to my rude interruption of a planned and choreographed natural occurrence. I walked around the house to the driveway where I performed a beekeepers rendition of the Gangnam Style Dance in an effort to get the situation under control (also known as strip a down to get the wet, angry, and defensive bees off of my body).

{Some of you have figured it out but others may be asking, "Why in the world was a squirrel in the middle of a swarm?" Upon closer observation, the swarm had settled on an occupied squirrel's nest taking on the appearance of a much larger swarm.}

After I gained my composure, I hived the bees in my bucket into the waiting brood box. I went back to the scene of the crime and found a softball size cluster of bees on the ground. I scooped up the wet ball of bees and placed them into the brood box. I grabbed my bucket and pole and again went up the ladder. I jammed the bucket up against the squirrel's nest three or four times in hopes of getting any stragglers into my bucket - bee stragglers that is, not squirrels. I put all of the proceeds into the hive box and closed it up. By then it was pitch black and raining hard and about 40 degrees. I walked to the door of the screened porch where I told the homeowner that I had done about all the damage I could do for the night. She then asked how much she owed me. I said "Ma'am, this is a service MABA offers the public and we appreciate your calling to report the swarm.” I asked her if she wanted me to remove the brood box that night or if it would be all right to leave it there until the next day. I explained that I would leave the entrance open to try and attract the stragglers but there was the chance that they may leave and be up in her trees the next day or leave altogether. My hope was that if I did by some luck get the queen into the brood box the stragglers that were strung out from the squirrel's nest to the driveway would find their way into the box or at least back to their original hive. Worse case scenario, I would come back the next day to an empty box.

I returned the next day in a cold rain to gather and claim my prize. I again knocked on the front door of the house to deliver a pound of honey as a thank you gesture for calling to report the swarm and to let the homeowner know I was retrieving the hive box. The backyard would again be safe for her little dog to re-claim as its domain. I was a little apprehensive though as it was no longer dark and it was very evident I had been stung multiple times on my face - twelve to be exact and that was just my face. As I closed up the front door to the hive body and strapped the lid down tight, my little friend, the squirrel came out of its nest long enough to check me out. 

Photo by Tony Northrup    

I learned a lot that rainy spring day in April.

1.) Always wear a veil.
2.) Bees in a swarm will sting.
3.) Swarms do smell like lemon pledge. 

4.) Squirrels actually live in squirrel nests. 
5.) I love bees. 


Mary Lou Blohm, Cherokee Beekeepers member, wrote:

In 2013 my husband and I traveled to Slovenia and discovered an incredible little country where one in every 250 people is a beekeeper. Beekeeping is deeply embedded in their history and culture.

This is an AZ hive, the type which is used by Slovenian beekeepers. Access to the inside of the hive is through a back entrance, and frames pulled toward you.

If anyone is interested in seeing the hive and learning a little about the gray bees and beekeepers, I will have it on display at the GBA Spring Meeting in Columbus, Georgia on February 7th and 8th. 


Dear Aunt Bee,

After all this bitter cold, finally we had a warm day and my bees were flying. I was so first. Then I realized that they were carrying out TONS of dead bees. At first there were only a few scattered beside the hive but by the end of the day, there was a big pile of dead bodies. Does this mean my hive won't make it through the winter?

Frozen Stiff

Dear Frozen Stiff,

The bees can't fly when the temperatures are as low as they have been. While the bees are generally good housekeepers, they can't keep a clean hive while it's too cold to fly. So when the temperature rises, finally they have the opportunity to carry out the dead.

Whether your hive makes it through the winter depends on how strong it was going into winter, how much honey they had stored, and the impact of any diseases they may have, but carrying out the dead when it's above 50 is a normal part of bee housekeeping.

Keep warm,
Your Aunt Bee 


GBA Spring Meeting
Columbus, GA 
Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
February 7 - 8

*****A huge THANK YOU to Paul Berry and the Chattahoochee Beekeepers Club for hosting the Spring Meeting! *****

Hey folks, it is almost time for the Winter/Spring meeting in Columbus, Ga. We have not met in this part of the state as far back as I know, that is going 6 years now, so I for one am very excited about going down and meeting new people.

The Spring Meeting begins with a board meeting and reception on Friday night, February 7. The board meeting and reception will be at the Hampton Inn. 

We will have a good program.  Dr. Jamie Ellis is the main speaker and he is going to have a fabulous discussion on honeybees - what else right? But, he is also going to give us the updates on all the latest and greatest academic research going on with “our girls”.

Keith Fielder, is going to present a seminar on “How to Present your Honey for Competition”. This should be very enlightening for those of you who have never entered the honey show. The idea for a honey show is to help beekeepers learn how to put out the best product that we can present to the public. You can have lots of product to sell, but if it is in a sticky dirty jar, you probably aren’t going to have a lot of repeat customers. Better yet, if you win a ribbon, you can “brag” about your accomplishment to your customers and actually charge a little more. Learn how to put your best honey forward from Keith.

Come to the meeting, hang out with your fellow beekeepers from across the state, and let's all dream about spring together!

See you there!
Mary Cahill Roberts, Vice-President, GBA 


Two special forum opportunities at the February meeting:

**There will be a Club Presidents' Forum to brainstorm ideas about local clubs and increasing member participation

**There will be a Newsletter Editor Forum during the breakout sessions - this is a time for club newsletter editors to meet with Gina and Linda and share reactions to the GBA newsletter and ideas for enhancing local club newsletters. 


This is a bird feeder being used by Bruce Morgan to feed his bees dry pollen bee pro. Photo by Bruce, taken in December. 


Strange Winter Behavior
By Bob Grant
Bob's Bodacious Bee Bordellos AKA: Turning Creek Artisans

As many of you know, my bee bordellos are located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, not that far from the Appalachian Trail, which, by the way, is a good place for bordellos. Last winter from December through March, we had a particularly cold winter with temperatures that could change from sub-freezing to a balmy 50F to 60F in the course of 24 hours. This radical change in temperatures brought about a strange problem. When I checked my ladies on the warmer days I sometimes found small clusters of bees (6-10) frozen around honey comb, but away from the main cluster. This continued until the weather moderated or the colony died with numerous little clusters of bees on patches of honeycomb even though there was plenty of honey in the double hive-body boxes. I spoke with other mountain beekeepers who also experienced the same phenomenon.

Now I'm seeing this occurrence at several of my field feeders as well, but generally it seems to be limited to only one or two bees. Prevailing wisdom is that the bees should return to the cluster before freezing occurs. In other words, the bees know it's getting colder and can feel their temperature dropping, and head home to the warmth of the cluster. So...what is causing this strange, in-hive, out of character behavior in our ladies?
  • Are the ladies so intent on collecting food that they lose a sense of the rapid temperature change?
  • Are the queen's pheromones weak or weakening during the winter months?
  • Are the temperature changes too rapid and the ladies can't react quickly enough
  • Are there additional stresses within the hive contributing to this strange behavior?
  • Is it some combination of the above?
This is potentially a significant issue for the mountain beekeepers and possibly others as well. I would really like to hear from other beekeepers who may be having this experience, particularly from the Piedmont and mountain areas of the state. More importantly -- how can we prevent it from occurring inside the hive during the winter? There is a lot or research going on at a number of universities, but this topic has not been covered to my knowledge. We need practical solutions to help us reduce the extraordinary losses we face annually.

So far this year, the temperature swings during the sub-freezing nights and warmer days have been limited to 20-30F deltas*, not quite as bad as last year. I have only seen traces of this problem, but the winter is young and February is fast approaching. I am hoping that the elimination of Varroa mites and small hive beetles, from the November oxalic acid vapor treatment, could significantly reduce the overall hive stress levels to the point that the bee behave is not severely impacted and the ladies act in a more normal manner. 

Editor's note:  *Delta T is the change in temperatures over a given time period. The formula for Delta T is the final temperature minus the initial temperature.


Note from your editors: This article and others have inspired us to begin a new section of the newsletter starting with the March Edition: Letters to the editor. If any article or
anything in the newsletter triggers a reaction in you or if you have a comment on any article in the newsletter, send your thoughts and comments to with "Letter to the editor" in the subject line.


Street Cred:
This is a very interesting article about how honeybees, humans and other creatures forage – it is typical to follow what is understood as the Lévy walk. To read the article in full, click here.


Our newsletter website  gets visits from all of you and all over the world. 

Since we started, we've had almost 4,900 hits, 320 this month (January) Yesterday we had visitors from Germany, Greece and Russia (Moscow). 


Christine Fahrnbauer inspecting her bee hives - Christine is vice president of the Cherokee Beekeepers Association 

 This newsletter website gets visits from all of you and all over the world.  Since we started, we've had almost 4,900 hits, 320 this month (January)  Yesterday we had visitors from Germany, Greece and Russia (Moscow).
Club of the Month

Cherokee Beekeepers Association

The Cherokee County Bee Club meets in downtown Canton at 7pm on the 3rd Thursday of the month, except in March for the spring field trip, in June for the summer workshop
and picnic and our annual holiday dinner in November. The club had an earlier presence, but died out in the 80’s. Spring of 1994 the club was re-established 
with emphasis towards practical beekeeping and promoting the education and understanding of bees. Club membership for 2013 was approximately 145 and our monthly attendance ranges from 40-70 people. It has always been the statement of the club that “if members do not go home a better beekeeper, the club is not doing its job.”

This spring on February 15th the club will host its 20th annual Bee school which typically draws 120+ attendees plus workers. Cost is $45 and includes catered barbecue lunch and a year membership in the club. Morning workshops will be teaching the basics of getting started and the understanding of bees. The afternoon is hands-on with walk-by stations and beehives.
What is unique about our Bee school is that we bring 8-10 working colonies (weather permitting) and in the afternoon, we do several “how to” workshops, and workshops identifying potential problems. We allow the students hands on with each of these workshops and then time at the end of the sessions to go into the hives and experience: pulling frames, looking for/ identifying brood, queen, etc. It is quite amazing to see many first time students going into the hives! The club really tries to promote an atmosphere of helping the students establish a comfort level with the bees. We feel that our Bee school is thoroughly able to equip first time beekeepers with the most pertinent of skills and information necessary to ensure a favorable start. Many attendees have stated there is no comparison to other bee schools they had attended previously:)

Cherokee Bee Club is also very excited to begin a pilot program this spring that will allow small groups to gather into Bee groups and meet for a set period of time to do whatever the group decides they would like to do. These group members will set an agenda, contribute information and get to know bees and each other for a set time period. At the end of the period, the group can open up, accept new or different members and start anew. This is in addition to our monthly meetings to give members, especially new beekeepers, a venue to gather advice and information and even set up possible field trips to each others bee yards to learn and grow in their hobbies.

The Club is also excited to implement the 1st Year Beekeeper Colony Loss Assistance Program. This a very unique idea which pairs first year beekeepers who have suffered a winter bee
loss with an experienced beekeeper to host a doubling of the brood chamber and grow bees to make a spring split. Both beekeepers benefit from the cooperation. We already have several
signed up for this and are looking forward to its implementation.

We welcome anyone to attend our meetings, sign up for Bee school, or join our club. Our website is
Feel free to visit our Facebook page as well :)

Christine Fahrnbauer
VP Cherokee Bee Club 


Honey Raspberry Glazed Salmon 
(Yield: 4 to 6 servings)

1 whole side of salmon, or 4, 6 oz. salmon fillets
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil (for brushing salmon)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
If using a side of salmon, cut about halfway through the flesh about every 2 to 3 inches so there are some spaces for the glaze to sink in.  If using salmon fillets, slice about 8 to 10 sliced angles into flesh, to help flesh more completely soak in the glaze.
In a small bowl or cup mix the salt, pepper and dry mustard.
In a medium glass bowl, heat the honey in the microwave for 30 seconds to liquefy further.  Remove from the microwave and mix in the raspberry balsamic vinegar.
Brush both sides of the salmon with olive oil.  Season the flesh side with the spice mixture.  Brush the flesh generously with the honey-balsamic mixture.
Bake the salmon for 10-15 minutes or until done to taste. 

Honey Raspberry Glazed Salmon 
(Yield: 4 to 6 servings)

1 whole side of salmon, or 4, 6 oz. salmon fillets
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil (for brushing salmon)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
If using a side of salmon, cut about halfway through the flesh about every 2 to 3 inches so there are some spaces for the glaze to sink in.  If using salmon fillets, slice about 8 to 10 sliced angles into flesh, to help flesh more completely soak in the glaze.
In a small bowl or cup mix the salt, pepper and dry mustard.
In a medium glass bowl, heat the honey in the microwave for 30 seconds to liquefy further.  Remove from the microwave and mix in the raspberry balsamic vinegar.
Brush both sides of the salmon with olive oil.  Season the flesh side with the spice mixture.  Brush the flesh generously with the honey-balsamic mixture.
Bake the salmon for 10-15 minutes or until done to taste. 

(The recipe which can be found on Taste of home, garnishes the salmon with fresh oregano - see photo)

 Recipe from Deborah DeLong, speaker at the 2014 American Beekeeping 

Bees work for man, and yet they never bruise Their Master’s flower, but leave it having done,
As fair as ever and as fit to use; So both the flower doth stay and honey run. ~ George Herbert, The Church-Providence


Jennifer Berry has offered us an article she has written for Bee Culture. The article because it was for a magazine is too long to print here, so we are putting it in full on a "page" on our Spilling the Honey website. You can click here to read Jennifer’s article. 


The Beekeeper’s Bucket
By Julie Civitts Mountain Sweet Honey

You’re ready to go out in the bee yard to inspect your hives. You choose the tools you think you may need and then toss them in a cardboard box, an old milk crate or in the back of the pick-up truck, and off you go, hoping you have not forgotten anything.

You arrive at the bee yard, fumble through the box to find your hive tool. After uncovering your first hive, you realize that you forgot the new frame perch that you wanted to try. You cover up the hive to prevent robbing. You go back to the pick-up truck and reach for the frame perch which has now slid to the back of the bed of the truck, because you never put it in the cardboard box or milk crate at the house.

You then walk back to the hive and proceed to inspect. As you start to jot down a note about the condition of that colony, you realize that you don’t have a pen in the pocket of your jacket as you thought you had. You walk back to the truck, go through the box or milk crate that contains all the tools that you thought you had and, not finding a pen, even in the cab of the truck, you say to yourself, “I need to get more organized”.

Have you ever found yourself in that predicament?

Well, a “Beekeeper’s Bucket” may be just what you need, especially for someone just starting beekeeping. One day while in our local hardware store, I spotted a “75 Pocket Bucket Tool Organizer that fits most standard buckets.” With excitement, I showed it to my husband and we decided to give it a try. On the way home, I was thinking of all the neat little gadgets to go in all the neat little pockets and I looked forward to my next bee yard adventure.

The bucket organizer turned out to be a great cheap (around $7.00) investment. It holds so many tools and our smoker even fits inside the center of the bucket. Here is a list
of we usually keep in our bucket: a smoker, cardboard, utility lighter, two hive tools, frame lifter, frame cleaner tool, queen marker, queen marking tool, entrance reducer, frame perch, frame grip, frame spacing tool, bee brush, Gorilla tape, rags, screwdriver, scissors, stapler, staples, pliers, utility knife, wire cutter, three pens, and clipboard with paper.

Having our Beekeeper’s Bucket loaded with tools makes life as a busy beekeeper a little simpler by being a little more organized. We just grab it and go! 


Want to See your Bee Photos on the GBA Web Page? Read This!
I hope everyone is keeping warm this winter! Brrrrrrrr!

After speaking with Bear (well emailing) we have decided to put different pictures on the front page of the website. So instead of just using photos I have taken, I would like to request photos from our members for our website.

I’ll need about 10 pictures and of course I’m looking for a beekeeping theme in all of them. I suspect that I’ll take entries until the end of February and then pick the 10 I need and have them posted around March 1st. I intend to keep all entries for future use on the website so any photos submitted, if not use initially will have the potential to be used in the future on the website. Photos will not be used in any other way unless I/we get the owner’s permission. You can submit as many entries as you wish. This is NOT an awarded contest except for having your photo placed on the GBA website.

What will I be looking for?

Bees, of course but interesting pictures of things that people don’t generally get to see with bees/ beekeeping. Anything with Georgia and bees/ beekeeping is a plus. I’m a fan of nature shots and bees on flowers and various hive activities are always fascinating. I’m not a people person but there’s something about seeing little children working bees that really captures everyone’s attention.

Rules...we’ve got to have rules.
  • Please, please please no business names, logos, web addresses or any type of “free” publicity in the photos! Simply put if I think you are trying to get something out of this other than having your personal photo placed on the site, I’ll not accept them.
  • File format can be just about any type however jpeg is the simplest for everyone. Oh, and for the tech savvy folks no imbedded info please (you know what I’m talking about). I’ll delete it as soon as I see it.
  • Photos should be self-explanatory; I don’t have room for text except for name and location. This last one isn’t really a rule but it helps me...If you are sending multiple photos (more than 2 or 3) placing them in a zip file is much easier for me.
    Entries can be sent to: Title the subject line: GBA photo entry.  Please provide the name of the person who took the photo and location if applicable, i.e: “Bill Owens Atlanta, GA.”

    I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has in their photo albums. See you at the Spring Meeting!
Bill Owens



Last month our survey was about smoker fuel. About 28 of you participated. Most of you (79%) use pine straw. Other fuels mentioned were cardboard, wood shavings, wood chips, wood pellets, sumac, and one person used compressed cotton. 

In January and February, many bee clubs offer short courses to help new beekeepers get started. Our survey this month is to find out how many of you got started with a short course. This is a very short survey - just three quick questions.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


Beekeeping in Sri Lanka: a Traveler’s Story
By Chris Pahl, MABA Member

Sri Lankans have two sources for honey– managed honeybees and wild, forest bees. That’s what I learned on a trip last year to Sri Lanka, which is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean. Although the purpose of my trip was unrelated to honeybees, I was able to track down a local beekeeper on my travels and learn a little bit about the customs and practices of beekeeping in Sri Lanka. Since only ten percent of the population speaks English, we communicated through an interpreter. The interpreter received both an education in beekeeping, while also learning some new vocabulary words!

On the drive to the apiary, the temperature inside our minivan peaked at 105, but aside from the persistent heat and humidity, honeybees were on my mind. We eventually pulled into the driveway of a house where beehives sat inconspicuously behind some vegetation in the front yard. From a distance, this looked just like a bee yard one would see in Georgia. When the beekeeper (who was not the owner of the property) arrived from the village, I was able to get a close up look at the hives.

These hives were diminutive in size and had square proportions compared to the larger, rectangular shaped Langstroth type. I also noticed the hive stands, which looked like old
chairs, that seemed to be sitting in liquid filled cans below grade. Through the interpreter I was able to get a few questions answered by the beekeeper.

Q: In the bottom [below the hive] there is a hole with liquid; is that just water to keep the bugs out?
A: The water, ants come...Yes. This is water and engine oil. Many flies come.

Any Georgia beekeeper would understand the problem with ants. However, regarding “flies,” I am unsure whether this is a mistranslation, or perhaps some other insect pest. Perhaps he was referring to some sort of winged beetle? Small hive beetles came to mind. As the hive inspection began, the beekeeper began to remove the rock and some metal scrap atop the hive and suddenly a giant, hearty, fast moving snake slithered out from under the cover. Everyone darted from the hive and had to be coaxed closer again, but the beekeeper promised the snake was harmless and not poisonous. 

Q: The kind of bees that I have, they are called “Italian honeybees.” Do these have a name?
A: Bee honey. Honey Bee [only].
Q: Does it have a special name?

A: This one is big one.
Q: So there is a smaller bee than this?
A: We have another bee. This is the big size. Another bee– no honey.

While shopping, I had noticed lots of insects resembling honeybees which appeared to be foraging for nectar and pollen on the cut flowers being sold in the market. The bees did not seem to be too aggressive, and at about the size of a queen bee, they were noticeably larger than my Italian honeybees back home.

At this point I became perplexed because Apis cerana is known to be a smaller bee when compared to Apis mellifera. These bees did look noticeably smaller than the Apis mellifera, yet the beekeeper was describing his bees as the “big” variety. If these were in fact the large honeybees, what type of bee had I seen in the market? In reviewing my photographs, I noticed that there appeared to be a much smaller, mystery insect foraging alongside the market bees. Perhaps these were the small bees the beekeeper was referring to.

When the beekeeper removed the outer cover, I noticed he was also using an inner cover, similar to what would be found inside a Langstroth hive. And when the top hive box was removed it was clear that the beekeeper was using wooden frames without foundation.

Q: How many times per year can you get the honey? 
A: One year, 12 months, two times
Q: Is that in the rainy season?
A: Yes. But we won’t take honey on moon time. Moon time sleeping. Day time, bee go out. That time to take honey.

Apparently neither Western nor Eastern honeybees like to be disturbed at night. Despite their size and geographic location, I learned that there are tremendous similarities between the two bee species. 


Meet the Press

We have been editing this newsletter for GBA since October, 2012 and have now put out seventeen issues.  We realized that we have never actually introduced ourselves.  In the photo, Gina is on the left, Linda on the right.

A little bit about Gina:
I began keeping bees 9 years ago. It seemed so interesting- I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and toyed with the idea for a couple of years before contacting PN Williams.  Once he told me it would be good thing for my neighborhood’s environment, I was hooked.  I joined Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association and learned what I could.  I was scared and in awe every time I looked in on the bees.  After a number of years on the MABA board I accepted the position of President and currently serve as Past President.  I am a Certified Beekeeper.  All 5 of my colonies survived this winter where I keep them at my home in Buckhead, a very green neighborhood in Atlanta.  Most of my honey becomes Christmas gifts - I am truly a hobbyist.  I feel blessed and lucky to have developed the relationships I have with the people at MABA, Tara and the GBA clubs.  My personal life includes my husband, Philip Dreger, and our two dogs, Shamrock and Blarney.  We have a small business consulting in the construction industry. Other hobbies I enjoy are yoga, painting, reading and as much travel as I can. These things continue to fascinate me just as the bees do!

And a little about Linda:
I began beekeeping in 2006 after taking the MABA short course.  I had wanted to keep bees for 20 years and finally took the steps to do it.  My first bee colonies lived on the deck of my house, just outside my sunporch door.  I loved watching them fly in and out all day.  And I love honey - both for eating and for cooking!  When I began beekeeping, I started my blog: so I would have a way to share my experience with my family in Mississippi.  Over time, the blog has gained quite a following and now gets about 1000 hits a day in bee season.  I've felt surprised to find that it is listed on club websites all over the country as a good site for beginning beekeepers to visit. I’ve continued to post about all my experiences: successes and failures.  Along the way I’ve done the training levels at Young Harris and earned my Master Beekeeper in 2010.  I’m a member of MABA, Tara, and GBA.  In real life when I am not a beekeeper, I am a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Midtown, Atlanta.  I live in Virginia Highlands with my two dogs.  I’m also a grandmother to three great kids.  When I'm not working or with the bees, I'm a bread baker, a quilter, and a knitter and passionate about each of those.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Upcoming Bee Events: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.

February 22, 2014

Several Georgia bee clubs are holding short courses.  You'll find information at their websites.  The following clubs are the ones whose information we have:
Cherokee Bee ClubCoastal Empire Beekeepers ClubForsyth County Bee ClubHenry County Bee ClubIf you know budding beekeepers, give them this information.

March 15, 2014

Welshfest Honey Show, Rockmart, GAGBA now has an online calendar.  You can access it from the Events page or the home page. If you have events that you'd like to see in the Newsletter or on the calendar, send them to Final Buzz:  Guidelines for submission to the newsletter

Keep those articles and photos coming.  We love hearing from each and every one of you and try to use everything you send.   If we don't use it in the immediately published newsletter, we are saving it for later, but we love to publish your bee-thoughts, photos, questions for Aunt Bee, and articles.

Please keep your articles to about 500 words.  Send them to us as word documents, attached to an email.  This is a newsletter and we want to keep things short and sweet.
Please attach photos to the email - do not put them in the body of the document - we'll just have to email you to ask you to send them as attachments - so start out by attaching them to your emailed submission. Please tell us who took the photo and who/where it is/when it was taken.Remember:  Letters to the editor about anything in the newsletter or the newsletter itself are welcome - please write us!

Don't be shy - we love what you contribute and will work with you to edit it, if need be.

Thanks,  Your editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

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