Monday, March 3, 2014

March Newsletter

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

So many generous beekeepers sent us photos of their hives in the snow.  Many thanks to Steve Altom, Julie Civitts, Greg Cowling, Christine Fahrnbauer, Rodney Garner, and John Wingfield.

The President's Message

Here we are really about to move into spring, and hopefully all this ice and snow will go back up north.  Our spring meeting in Columbus was a tremendous success. I have received so many great comments and appreciate hearing from all of you. There were some areas for improvement, and you can bet we are going to give it our best effort. Remember that all of the GBA staff are volunteers and want to do a good job. 

I sincerely want to thank the Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers Association led by Paul Berry for setting the bar very high on how to be a host club. They were organized, motivated and very helpful. Thanks Paul; ya’ll can take a deep breath now and get back to your daily activities. To everyone else who worked behind the scenes and the podium, the speakers, cooks, and facility personnel: thanks to you as well.  And finally, a big thank you to Mary Cahill-Roberts for stepping up when I couldn’t be there. I’m glad we can count on you.  

Our fall meeting will be held in Milledgeville on 19 and 20 September 2014. Please plan to attend as we are planning more great speakers, vendors and activities for you. For those of you who attended the President’s Council breakout session at the spring meeting, we are planning to continue that and hopefully have more club Presidents participate. It is our way to share issues with each other and support you and the work you are doing at the ground floor of this organization. 

If you will look at the new calendar we have posted on the web site under the Events section, you will see all the classes and activities being conducted throughout the state. I can’t believe how many public courses on beekeeping are being presented. If all those folks become beekeepers, there won’t be many flowers untouched by our sweet little girls. It is also heart-warming that there are that many local volunteers willing to step up and share their knowledge and experience.   If your club’s events and meetings are not listed and you want them to be, contact the webmaster or the newsletter editors and they will be happy to post your club’s activities there.

Young Harris Beekeeping Institute is just around the corner.  Registration opens on the 5th of March. Go on line and get your seat while you can.  They do limit the number of attendees. The program this year begins on 15 May, 2014.  Clubs, if you are wondering how to thank your hardest workers, consider paying the tuition for someone at Young Harris Beekeeping Institute. 

Now, let’s get on with the business of getting our bees ready for the busy season ahead of us. 

Bear Kelley
President Georgia Beekeepers Assn. 

Club of the Month
Chattahoochee Beekeepers Association

Paul Berry, president of the Chattahoochee Beekeepers Association, said he felt honored when he was asked about hosting the 2014 Spring membership meeting of the Georgia Beekeepers Association.

“When Mary (Cahill-Roberts, vice-president of the GBA) asked about our club hosting the meeting I was proud that we were being considered.  Then it hit me, I was going to be the meeting chairman,” he said. “One of our biggest challenges was finding the proper venue,” he said. 

Working closely with GBA president Clay “Bear” Kelley, the Oxbow Environmental Learning Center, just outside Fort Benning and next to the National Infantry Museum, was chosen as the ideal location. A Marriott Hotel was just across the street and the Oxbow learning center had space for large meetings, break out rooms, vendors, a lunch area, as well as the necessary audio-visual support.

“Once we picked the site we had to resolve the nitty-gritty issues.  These included the budget, the number of people to expect, the number of lunches to order.  Fortunately I had a crew of dedicated volunteers who helped make sure we were able to pull it off without a hitch.

Paul praised his wife, Delores for getting all the snacks and drinks, and for her logistical genius.  “I couldn’t have done it without her.” He also singled out Katie Roberts for her website work and Kerry Britt for hand making custom bookmarkers for everyone who came.  Dan Barbaree donated the ice and some drinks for the reception.  Jim Ellis was there for anything Paul needed while also serving as a “tour guide” to the Observation Hive.  Lots of our local members volunteered to stand by to jump in and help wherever needed. 

Paul said he’s proud of the CVBA which has shown a significant increase in membership over the past couple of years.  “We’re right around a 115 members and still growing.” He attributes the increase to an uptick in the number of people interested in raising bees and the chapter’s ability to cater to them.  “We now have two short courses a year, one in the fall and one in the spring.  We arrange for the new beekeepers to get bees, either in nucs or packages, and we’ve gone from meeting bi-monthly to monthly.”
“We’ll alternate between formal presentations from expert beekeepers to informal discussions aimed at the new beekeepers.  These meetings give them an opportunity to ask the veterans questions.  Of course I always remind them that if you ask 10 beekeepers a question, you’ll get 11 answers,” he laughs.

Two members remain from the association’s beginnings in 1971.  Duane Johnson, club secretary, remembers meeting in the basement offices of the Muscogee County Courthouse with the assistance of Dick Collier, Extension Agent of the UGA Cooperative Extension Service who he credits with being the driving force behind the club’s formation.  There were about a dozen members then.

Another of the original members was Betty Beegle.  She said she became interested when her father tried to get a neighbor to put some hives on his property to pollinate his crops.  The neighbor turned them down, so they got their own bees and began looking around for others who were interested in bees so they could learn more about them.

“That’s what our club is all about,” Paul adds, “bringing information about bees to the public.  That’s why we value our association with Columbus State University and its Oxbow Meadows Learning Center.  We work hard to provide those programs typical of bee clubs like school and garden club presentations, but Oxbow is our best exposure.”

CVBA president, Paul Berry, narrates as club members demonstrate honey extraction during the Fall Festival.

“In the fall, we do extracting demonstrations and the honey goes to the Center to sell. Last fall at a Fall Festival which included a honey extraction demonstration, we had 1,200 people come through the Center. We do hand dipped candle making demonstrations and the candles we make go to the center to sell.  All of our efforts at Oxbow give us a feeling of ownership which we prize.”
He said the club is now planning for its spring short course, Mar. 22.



by Steven Page

We must become sustainable beekeepers.  Many experts tell us we need to be sustainable and they have told us how to be sustainable.

Why do we all rely on the nuc, package and queen producers each spring to replace our dead, weak or queenless hives?  We know last minute orders of queens, packages and nucs are not available. 
Dr. Jamie Ellis in Florida and Mike Palmer in Vermont both encourage us to make splits and keep nucs in our bee yards.  We can become sustainable by simply overwintering nucs.  For every two hives keep at least one nuc.

Nucs enable sustainability.  If an inspection reveals a queenless hive, a nuc can be combined and the problem is solved.  A weak hive can be helped by moving a frame or two of capped brood from a nuc to the hive.  A dead hive can be fixed by moving a nuc into the hive.  Nucs enable us to fix many problems we encounter early in the year.  

Splits can be made anytime from spring to fall.  I prefer summer splits just after the nectar flow when there are many workers in the colony.  First year beekeepers should split their brand new hive and overwinter a nuc the first winter. 

If a beekeeper overwinters four hives and four nucs and fifty per cent of the colonies die leaving two hives and two nucs the beekeeper simply moves the two nucs into the two dead hives increasing the hive count to four again. Later the four hives can be split creating four nucs.  

Extra nucs can be sold or you can add supers to the nucs and make honey with a nuc in spring.

Steve Page with his homemade swarm trap at GBA meeting (photo by Linda Tillman)

Two excellent videos on 
sustainable apiaries by Michael Palmer (thanks, Steve Page) :
The Sustainable Apiary by Mike Palmer

Queen Rearing in the Sustainable Apiary

A Cautionary Note from Bear

I was recently contacted by a beekeeper in Tonga (South Pacific) requesting an expert beekeeper to come to assist him with his bees. He stated that he would pay for airfare and help with lodging on the island if someone would come down and help him with his bees for 8 weeks. It sounded too good to be true, so I checked it out and found that he was implicated in a money laundering complaint with the Tongan police and we were warned by the Wellington (NZ) Beekeepers Association to be extremely wary of any dealings with this guy. If anyone gets an email from him, please beware. I have a lot more details if anyone is interested.  This fish really stinks!  


  Street Cred:

Zombie Bees! thanks, Diane Holland
Monsanto Fights Bee Disappearance
Jay Parsons

Spring….Ha!                                      by Mary Cahill-Roberts, VP GBA

I am from right outside of Atlanta, in little town called Mableton, and I tell you it is not spring here.  We went to Columbus for the Spring (Winter) GBA 1 day event and found a ton of welcoming people, and a club that really set the bar for any other club that might want to “Host the GBA” events. 
It all started with the Friday night reception.  The members requested that we have a time when we could stand around to talk bees, politics and the upcoming year’s beehive preparations.  Paul Berry, President of the Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers club and his team set the mood with cheese and fruit, as well as a “donation” cash bar for wine and beer.  It was a fun icebreaker and everyone really enjoyed each other’s company.

We held our meeting at the Oxbow Learning Center, and our host had a welcome tent outside the entrance with various pamphlets and information about their club and the Columbus area.  Inside Delores Berry lead the refreshment area assuring that we didn't run out of food or drinks.  The building manager made sure the rooms, AV equipment, and chairs were ready.  Our volunteers were coordinating with the speakers and doing liaison duties to make sure all ran smoothly. 

The speakers were great and I learned something even if I wasn't able to stay for the entire presentation.  Dr. Jamie Ellis spoke about the latest and greatest bee knowledge, and talked about “why are we beekeepers?”  Dr. Delaplane spoke about polyandry in beehives and the need for diversity.  A great many good questions came out of that talk. Ray Civitts gave us good ideas about seasonal beekeeping.  Buster Lane gave a great talk on the need for nutrition throughout the season, and Keith Fielder hopefully encouraged a good many people to enter honey shows.  Chuck Hester gave a talk about queens and how to, while Keith Fletcher, one of the first class of Master Alabama beekeepers to graduate last year, discussed using nucs in his apiary.

The lunch was catered by Burt’s Butcher shop, and provided not only delicious barbeque but also a time to chat with other beekeepers sitting at the long tables.

There were quite a few vendors available on site. Rossman apiaries showed up with some new faces and Walter T. Kelley was set up as well.  Sean McBride from Florida came and had natural, untreated, nucs built for us, while Steve Page sold swarm traps.  Chuck Hester had his Queen school sign up and Busters Bees were present to sell honey and share information about nucs for this spring, expanding the waiting list all day.     

We are growing and added a couple of new items to help us:  an improved  evaluation/survey and  forums.  The response from this evaluation worked very well.  Our incentive for those who filled out the evaluation was that they were entered into a drawing for a Queen. 

We held two forums:  a Presidents Council, where presidents of the local clubs got together, talked for about 45 minutes, to find ways we could help each other in our local clubs and the GBA.   And we held a Newsletter Editor forum.  I think this is one of the most challenging jobs for a club that there is.  This job is relentless.  You have to find new pictures, new articles, get people to write and submit things.  It is a thankless job also.  I would like to thank Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman for being dedicated and writing the GBA newsletter.  The Newsletter is really important to our club members.     
We are working diligently at improving GBA with each board and general meeting.  Hopefully, we will be able to offer kids and non-beekeeping partner tracks at the next meeting. 

Overall there were many compliments and some complaints, but we wouldn’t be human or beekeepers if we did not have those.  The GBA officers and directors are excited and hope to be able to offer more information in the fall.  We are holding the next meeting in Milledgeville.  The host club is the new Lake Country Beekeepers.  This is their first year as a club, and they wanted to tackle putting on the GBA meeting.  Kudos.

I would like to thank Rose Anne Fielder, Treasurer for keeping the budget; Andy Bailey who is Secretary and helping to record the meetings;  Arthur "Brutz" English, Director, who always comes up good ideas and to Steve Cobb and Steve Prince, Directors who were ready to lend a hand.  I would like to thank Bear Kelley, GBA President for providing us with direction and strong leadership to move the GBA forward, so that we are a meaningful association and so that we can help meet the needs of all of our Georgia beekeepers.

Honey Baked Chicken
 contributed by Julie Civitts
  • Arrange in a shallow baking dish, one 3 pound fryer cut up or use deboned cubed chicken breast. 
  • Combine and pour over the chicken: 1/3 cup butter or margarine, 1/3 cup honey, 2 Tblsp. prepared mustard, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. curry powder.
  • Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours at 350°. Serve over Jasmine rice.
Click here to see the slideshow of the photos at the GBA Spring Meeting in Columbus.

All photos by Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

European Bee Tours

Mary Blohm is going on this bee tour in Slovenia this year and had an exhibit at the GBA meeting.

Julia Mahood, Noah Macey, and Linda Tillman went on this beekeeping tour of Lithuania in 2013.

If you know or a beekeeping tour in the United States or elsewhere, let us know.  It's fun to travel with your interest in bees as the focal point.

All I need to Know About Life   
I Learned from a Honeybee

                               Grooming is important.
                           Home is where your family is.
                         A good buzz is, at times, helpful.
                       There's no such thing as a weed.
                     Don't flap your wings unnecessarily.
                   Drones are important, so is NOT droning.
                 God gave you lots of eyes; use all of them.
               Cleansing flights: good for the body and the soul.
             Take care of the one in charge, but have a back-up cell.
           Stop and smell the roses.  And the daisies, and the marigolds, and… 
            When you figure out your role, do it to the best of your ability.
             Working together yields awesome results.
               Horizontal stripes can make you look fat.
                 Only sting if absolutely necessary.
                   Make a beeline to your work.
                     A plant-based diet is smart.
                       Bee all that you can bee.

copyright, Walter T. Kelley Com.


Jamie Ellis shared his great sense of humor in his third talk at GBA.  He showed us this list that he got from Walter T. Kelley's newsletter in July 2012 and may have been in the Kelley newsletter even earlier than this reprint.  For those of you who weren't there, here's the list (and it's available as a car magnet from Kelley):

Beekeeper Bytes

Rozalyn Todd, first female African American Certified Welsh Honey Judge in Georgia, has been chosen as a judge for the Mead Mixer of the Mazer Cup International Festival on Honey Wines of the World in Boulder, Colorado, in March, 2015.

Dr. Keith Delaplane received royal recognition.  Bill Owens sent us this link which will be available for access for some time.  Congratulations to Dr. Delaplane and thanks to all who wanted to make sure this was noted in the newsletter.

Ask Ten Beekeepers a Question……
(and you'll get at least 11 different answers)

Out on the Technology Edge - A Cost Effective Treatment For Varroa Mites
by Bob Grant
This fall I decided to make some changes to the Varroa Destructor management in my ladies' abodes since I don't want them exposed to any other unnecessary health hazards.  As a responsible and forward thinking keeper of bees, I have always treated my bees with Apiguard twice a year.  I do not like subjecting my ladies to harsh man-made chemicals -- so one treatment in March and then a second treatment in the September-October time frame. Remember each treatment requires a second application two weeks after the first treatment.  My bees are located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, not that far from the Appalachian Trail. 
My reason for changing the ladies health regiment is based on following four factors:
  • First, in nature, most creatures, including mites, learn to adapt to stimulus in their environment;
  • Second, recent reports from another respected beekeeper reported that after applying Apiguard this fall, a number of his hives exhibited a higher than normal brood death;
  • Third, with average annual winter losses in the mid-twenties, its becoming more difficult to sustain a viable financial model; and
  • Fourth,  Apiguard individual treatments per hive can range from $ 3.15 to $6.59.  Moreover, it gets worse...I haven't even included shipping or my time yet!   I love my ladies, but really!

  • I read a number of articles in the American Bee Journal (ABJ)[1] leading me to do some additional research online. So based on these, I decided to try the Oxalic Acid treatment.   As I mentioned earlier, I don't want to expose my ladies to harsh man-made chemicals, especially since we maintain a Certified Naturally Grown rating.  Oxalic Acid is a naturally occurring acid in plants and will not harm the bees, queen or brood if properly applied.
  • There are two types of applications currently in use.  First, is the dribble method using a three percent solution in a normally 1:1 sugar solution.  The main advantages are that it's quick to prepare and apply by simply mixing the solution and dribbling 
    • it between the frames in the hive. The disadvantage, if the solution is too concentrated, is that the ladies can be harmed.  For that reason alone, I chose not to use that method.   
    • The second method is to vaporize a small quantity, typically 1 gram, of Oxalic Acid inside the hive. Exhibit 1 shows the Oxalic Acid used in this application. The main advantage is that the vapor quickly distributes itself throughout the hive getting into all exposed areas.  The disadvantage: it takes longer to apply and I have to be careful not to inhale the vapor or get it into the eyes.   I buy my Oxalic Acid, "Wood Beach[2]", from Ace Hardware at a cost of $ 9.31, tax included. Which choice works out to be less than three cents per hive treatment?  That's a 105 to 219 times reduction in cost over Apiguard.

    Exhibit 1-Off the Shelf Oxalic Acid
    Working with the Oxalic Acid Vaporizer JB200 Electric[3] tool, Exhibit 2, in fact two JB200s tied together.  Exhibit 3 shows that the JB200s are wired with a number 16 lamp cord and then joined together with number 14 outdoor wire that terminates in a trailer hitch connector.  Each lamp cord has its own switch.

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3-JB200s Wiring
Prior to applying the treatment, I waited until there was no more capped brood to ensure the maximum effectiveness of a single treatment, hence the late November period. The procedure is a follows:
  1. 1. Load one scoop of Oxalic Acid into JB200's delivery tray;
  2. 2. Insert a mite count board, "sticky board" or Styrofoam sheet if you have an IPM hive with screen bottom board
  3. 3. Insert the JB200 into the hive through the normal entrance at the bottom board and close off the opening with towels;
  4. 4. Turn on the power for just over one minute.   I found that 70 seconds works best for the 40 degree temperature I was working in.;
  5. 5. Then let the JB200 set for three more minutes to ensure all the vapor is released into the hive and the  - elapsed time 4 minutes 10 seconds;
  6. 6. Remove the JB200 and reclose the entrance for another 7 minutes - elapsed time 11 minutes 10 seconds;
  7. 7. Allow the JB200 to cool down. 
  8. 8. Reload as necessary and repeat the process until all the bordellos have been treated.
In my case, the F150 pick-up requires the engine to be running for the power to flow to the trailer hitch.  This actually adds a safety element into the process for the operator.  I set a stopwatch in the cab, climbed in to turn on the two JB200s and ran them for 70 seconds.  I then turned off the engine and waited three minutes to allow the vaporization to complete -- good time to make notes.  This process kept me away from the vapors, since I do not have a personal problem with mites and do not need to be treated. 

I was able to complete the next set of treatments before removing the towels from the entrances to the previously treated hives.  This allowed me to leap frog through the apiaries and reduce my overall time.  In total, I was able to complete 12 hives in about 40 minutes.

One note of caution:   in about 30 percent of the hives, the JB200 killed one to four bees due to contact with the hot metal.  I believe in those cases there are two possible reasons for that occurrence:
  • The JB200 got positioned right under the cluster; or
  • The bees were more aggressive, and attacked the foreign object, which I saw in two of my hives.
As I said in the beginning, I do not like to hurt my ladies, but if the mite boards show good results I will continue with this practice. 

On December first, I checked the mite count boards, Wow - while most exhibited 20 to 60 female mites killed, one had over 592 female mites.  The males were harder to see, but on close examination, the numbers appear high.  As a bonus, the treatment killed the majority of hive beetles as well! An interesting side note is that you can see where the bees are clustering by the concentration of mites, which apparently follow the cluster between frames.
At this last hive inspection and feeding which occurred the weekend of Thanksgiving, just before I got my new store bought knee, showed that the bees were healthy and very active post this treatment.  My current plan is to alternate the Oxalic Acid Vapor and Apiguard treatments, with Apiguard in the early spring before the Queen starts laying (March timeframe - but before the Red Maple blooms, remember we are in the mountains) to keep the mites off balance.

[1] The latest article appears in the December 2013 ABJ issue.
[2] There are two types of Wood Bleach, make sure you get the Oxalic Acid one.
[3] JB200 is a product of Heilyser technology LTD., in British Columbia, Canada, Phone number 1-250-656-8727- in the USA contact: Bedillion Honey Farm 724-747-4645

  • The 2014 USDA/AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant has been announced, and information is available on our department’s website at
  •  Project Proposals are due in my office via email by Friday, April 18, at 4:30 p.m.  No late proposals will be accepted.
  •  Please contact me if you have any questions.  Thank you!
  • Jeanne Maxwell, Esq.
  • Director of Grants Development & Compliance
  • 404-657-1584

"Because they don’t have a 
            critical mass, nucs can go 
           from “doing fine” to 
    “overcrowded and swarming” or "robbed out and starving” in a 
very short period of time.  Keep a close eye on them."   
     The Complete Idiots’s Guide to      Beekeeping by Dean 
              Stiglitz and Laurie       Herboldsheimer.

Slovenia “The Land of Good Beekeepers”
by Mary Blohm

My husband and I recently visited Slovenia, a small European country which borders Italy. (For you history buffs, it was part of old Yugoslavia.)   

On the first day, we rented a car, picked up our tourist map and set out on our adventure.  Upon opening the road map we noticed it had little honey bees printed all over the country’s highways.    Much to our delight,  we had landed in “The Land of Good Beekeepers,”  as the Slovenians fondly refer to themselves.  In Slovenia, one in every 250 citizens  is a beekeeper.  

Their beekeeping history runs as deep and rich as their dark forest honey. Slovenian Beekeepers have accomplished a lot in beekeeping.  They have 45 monitoring stations throughout the country, a program which has recorded pertinent data daily since 1901.   They have developed an exceptional Carniolan Gray  queen rearing program, priding themselves in their genetic monitoring program.  Beekeepers, universities and government appear to be collaborating, working together to promote a healthy environment for their precious honey bees. 

At the Georgia Beekeepers Meeting in Feb. we demonstrated the Slovenian “AZ “hive which was developed by one of the most famous Slovenian beekeepers:  Anton Žnideršič (1874-1947). We are hard at work translating it into a functional hive for the USA.  Stay tuned for future notification on our progress.


Bee-themed stained glass by Dwight West (also the photographer)
Dear Aunt Bee,

My first bee hive has made it through the winter! Last weekend when it was warm I opened them up and saw lots of brood, and saw the queen. I also saw lots of bees with pollen in their baskets. There are several frames of capped honey left, and it looks like there’s uncapped honey too - I guess it’s being brought in now? 

My question is: The folks at my bee club say I should be feeding the bees sugar syrup. But if there’s still honey left from winter, and it looks like honey is coming in, do I still feed? I don’t want to harvest sugar water.

Sweeter Than Honey

Dear Sweeter Than Honey,

Fantastic that your first hive survived the winter!  And you saw stored capped honey – which means they had more than enough to make it through the winter.  The uncapped honey means they are finding nectar somewhere.  Our main nectar flow hasn’t started yet but there are sources of nectar here and there.

The nectar flow is nature’s way of telling the bees that it is safe to build up brood numbers and grow the hive.  If they are artificially large in number due to early feeding, or due to constant feeding through the winter, the natural cycle of rearing brood is manipulated - often to the bees’ detriment.

Generally as spring approaches, the only bees that should need to be fed are package bees.  If you start a new package, those bees didn’t know that they were going to be poured into a box and didn’t prepare themselves by gorging honey.  So they need a little boost to get their hive started.  But really, no other bees should need feeding – a nuc arrives with frames of honey already started and nectar will be available for them at their new home since it is spring.  You want to encourage them to forage for the blossoms and not just drink from the front door.   A surviving overwintered hive should have some honey left and will also be finding spring nectar to sustain the bees.

You said you didn’t want to harvest sugar water. If you are feeding the bees as the nectar flow starts, it’s highly likely that the sugar syrup will be a part of your honey (just like the stuff that is coming from China!).  Some beekeepers have suggested that you put blue food coloring into the sugar syrup to see where exactly it appears in the honeycomb. This is a great way to see if any of the syrup you fed ends up in the frames you harvest.

This is one way to think about feeding, but you know if you ask a few more beekeepers, you'll get a few more different answers!
Congratulations on a successful winter and good luck with your bees this year.

Yours truly,
Aunt Bee         

If you do decide to feed your bees, feeding can take many forms.  Two choices are to feed sugar syrup or you can feed bee tea. 

In August, 2010, Bee Culture had an article by Vermont beekeeper Ross Conrad (he writes an article every month) on beekeeping in the northeast.  In the article, he talked about the sugar syrup he feeds his bees called bee tea.  He was getting his bees ready for fall, but you can change the proportions for spring by using 1:1 sugar syrup.

Here's the recipe:
16 cups white cane sugar
6 cups hot tap water
2 cups Chamomile or Thyme tea (already brewed)
1/2 tsp natural sea salt with minerals
To keep the sugar syrup from crystallizing, add a squeeze of lemon juice or a teaspoon of vinegar.

You add the hot tap water to the sugar and salt and stir thoroughly (?).  You do boil the water for the tea and steep it for 10-15 minutes.  Then you mix it all together and store unused amounts in the refrigerator.

This is not Ross' original recipe.  He found it in an 1840 something article by a well-known beekeeper of the time.

Survey - this month on winter losses
Last month we asked if you had taken a short course.  FIFTY of you answered the survey.  Of the 50,

44% took a short course from their local bee club, 
22% took a short course in a different town or city, and 
42% did not take a short course

About 80% of the people who took the survey got their bees the same year as they took a short course.

This month our one-question survey is about hive loss.  Please let us know how your hives fared over the winter.

There’s a place for your thoughts – if you have an idea about why/how your hive(s) died, tell us in the blank provided.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Thanks for participating - we learn more about each other as we see how other people respond, so take the chance and fill out our single question survey!
Click here to take survey

Thanks to Christine Farhnbauer for suggesting the question
"Last night I lay sleeping.
I dreamt that there was a beehive here inside my heart
and the golden bees were making white comb and sweet 

honey from all my failures "-  Antonio Macado
The East Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Club in Conyers has a new President.  His name is David Shipp.  Congratulations!  If your club has an officer you'd like to recognize, feel free to send it to us to put in the newsletter.
Letters to the Editors:
(This is our FIRST letter to the editors - please join Bob and put in your two cents about something that matters to you!)

A Call to Hive Tools to All Georgia Beekeepers  
from Bob Grant

If you attended the February GBA meeting in beautiful, sunny Columbus, GA, you already know that the quality of presentations was outstanding.  I want to spotlight one speaker, Dr. Jamie Ellis, who gave us three interesting and entertaining presentations.  His final presentation of the day came after an all-day discussion of bee mortality.  Dr. Ellis was concerned about closing with on such a discouraging note, so he created a humorous presentation.  The subtle message:  we've talked enough about bee deaths so let's move the topic to how bees and Lady Gaga are related.  This hilarious presentation got me to thinking about the GBA business meeting I attended the night before. 
On Friday night the GBA officers, club presidents and others met to conduct the business of the Association. One topic discussed was the idea of becoming a 501C entity in order to access research funding.  Folks expressed their support or concerns for change in business status.  What became apparent to me was that we seemed to be chasing new sources of funding without a clear roadmap forward. 

As a micro-honey producer, producing between 1000 and 1500 lbs of honey annually, I have been living with the bee yard issue of 25% to 50% die-off every winter for as long as I can remember.    I find myself lying awake at night, wondering how we might change the outcome and improve the lot of our ladies?  Therefore, with Dr. Ellis, I say enough about bee die-off talk! Let us start talking about what we can do today and tomorrow to improve our apiaries survival rates.  
I'm old enough to remember President Kennedy's inaugural speech 54 years ago, when he challenged our country to put a man on the moon in the 1960s and we did it! I think it's time for Georgia beekeepers, both commercial and backyard, and the GBA to accept the following challenge:    Within five years  let's find a way to reduce apiary losses to less than 18% annually within five years and within 10 years to less that 10%.

Specifically I'm asking the GBA to:
  1. 1. Identify the number of GA beekeepers, large and small and their current losses;
  2. 2. Identify beekeepers' successful efforts to minimize these losses by region;
  3. 3. Assemble a manual of successful practices that can be used now;
  4. 4. Educate our beekeepers on those specific practices;
  5. 5. Fund additional small-scale, practical bee yard research projects to further enhance bee survival in Georgia;
  6. 6. Work more closely with academia to bring this research to the bee yard as quickly as possible to meet the stated challenge; and
  7. 7. Track success in the bee yards by conducting an annual survey of apiaries.
This is no small undertaking, but it will focus the GBA and its members and auxiliary clubs on the most critical issue facing both big and small beekeepers.  This GBA work will bring near-term solutions to the bee yard. Remember, to commercial beekeepers bee loss is financial and to small hobbyist beekeepers it's more emotional.  Both are devastating.

Upcoming BEE Events

March 15, 2014
Welshfest Honey Show, Rockmart, GA

March 22, 2014
Day two of the Northeast Georgia Mountain Beekeepers Association's short course.  Takes place at Carl Webb's bee yard in Clarkesville, GA

Your bee event here.  We can't make these up - if you have a bee event and you want state members to know about it to participate, please send it to us at

GBA 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

The Final Buzz
This month we request that you send beekeeping questions.  There are no questions too remedial or too advanced for us to post. We will research to get answers, (sometimes conflicting) from our experts and Aunt Bee. Keep in mind, if you are asking a question, someone else is likely to be wondering about the same thing but just hasn't written us.  If you are an experienced beekeeper and you have been asked what to do, or what could have happened in a hive,  please share that also.  We are entering into our busiest season of beekeeping and we hope to help as many apiaries as possible. Best wishes to you and the bees!

Gina and Linda   

PS.  We also want the other stuff: photos, questions for Aunt Bee, survey ideas, recipes, beekeeping stories and articles!