Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May 2014 Newsletter - The Swarm Issue

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

   Swarm captured by Vince West, secretary of Cherokee Bee Club
The President's Message

       Let’s appreciate what we have!

       When I say “let’s appreciate what we have,” I’m referring to the freedom of beekeeping the way we think it should be. We, in Georgia, enjoy setting up a bee hive, purchasing a nuc, or catching a swarm and reaping the benefits of a having little extra honey for ourselves or selling honey if there is an over abundance. Isn’t it wonderful?
       That is not necessarily true in every state in America. Since I’m on the Education Committee for the American Bee Federation, I have learned that some states, like Washington, require you to be a certified beekeeper in many of their cities, just to be able to have beehives in your own back yard.
       It’s great to be certified, but really not necessary. I will wager that more than ½ of the commercial beekeepers in America are not certified in any way other than experience and the education passed down from generation to generation. Georgia has a wonderful bee institute at Young Harris every year that produces certified and master beekeepers; but the program is not mandatory.  Florida and many other states, as we know, require one to register one’s beehives to be legal beekeepers. It seems to me that since the bees are free to forage and roam about, we as beekeepers should be allowed to let them without fear of Big Brother coming down hard on us for not painting the boxes the right color or something. I’m not trying to get all political here and cause problems. I’m just thinking that there have been many GBA leaders before us doing the right thing to keep our little freedom intact.
       I asked the Florida State Bee Inspector a couple of years ago why they required registration of hives. His response was so that “we can help.” Well isn’t that the responsibility of the state association? We as an organization can solve more problems up and down the ladder than any agency sent to “help” us.
       Sure, it’s good to have high tech bee labs at our universities and large corporations helping us look into high tech problems, but the day to day problems can be solved here in house and discussed without going to committee.
       My point is this: We attend bee clubs at the local level; we work together there and help each other with local problems; we help new folks get started and teach each other about labeling, extracting, bottling, etc. At the state level, we work with some state government agencies, the Farm Bureua, the 4-H and the University Bee Lab. We represent some 2000 + beekeepers at the state and national gatherings and work hard to disseminate the important information to the individual beekeeper. We can do this as an association without another government agency collecting fees and such from us.
       We should keep the Georgia Beekeepers Association strong.  Numbers and education are what make us strong.  As I visit local clubs, I’m impressed with the number of active members each club has. The number of state clubs is growing every year. Since last year, we have had 7 new start-up clubs. It isn’t the money we need at the state level, it’s the numbers. That is why our dues are only $15 per year.
       So club presidents get the word out that we need the same strength at the state level that you enjoy at your local level. Together we can continue to be, educational, helpful and strong.

Bear Kelley,                                                     
President, Georgia Beekeepers Association

Swarm captured in Virginia Highlands in Atlanta by Linda Tillman, MABA member

Swarm caught by Joshua Lachmann, new member of MABA

What happened when the bee phoned home? 
She got a buzzy signal.

Swarm captured by Mike Schaaphok, MABA member.  Photo contributed by Jackie Egland

Getting the Facts on the GBA's Organizational Options 

       As many of you know, the Board of Directors has been exploring whether or not the GBA would be better served if we were organized under a different corporate (business) structure.  The GBA is currently organized a standard corporation, but there has been an ongoing debate as to whether we could have more flexibility and/or security under one of several non-profit structures, or perhaps under some other organizational structure recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. 

There are many questions and concerns our members have over the consequences of any potential change, or moreover, the potential consequences of doing nothing.  We need sound answers to questions involving past and future tax liability, possible restrictions on the right to lobby, and the potential to accept donations and to give charitably as an organization.  At the Spring meeting it was decided we needed to seek the advice of one or more professionals on these matters.  

To that end I am in the process of lining up an accountant and/or an attorney who specializes in this field to come speak to the Board of Directors at our Fall meeting in Milledgeville.  Hopefully they will be able to address our questions and concerns, and give us some sound advice as to our options as an organization.  I have already spoken with several firms, and I hope to have the speaker(s) committed by our next newsletter.  This Fall meeting is going to be one of the GBA's most important in many years.  Please come be a part of this very important event.  I hope to see you all there!

Brutz English
Northern District Director for GBA


Jerry Hayes Speaks in Atlanta!
by Gina Gallucci

photo by cindy hodges

Jerry Hayes was the special guest speaker for Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association in April.  Jerry now works for Monsanto-owned Beelogics as Commercial Lead.  He talked about the newly convened Honey Bee Advisory Council, Honey Bee Health Summit (hosted by Monsanto),  the Clinton Global Initiative, and Monsanto’s commitment of money to PAm.  

His talk was primarily about what his employer, Monsanto Company is doing with regards to honey bee research.  Much of his explanation focused on RNA interference (RNAi) – a naturally occurring gene silencing phenomenon to develop products that would improve honey bee health without GMO or pesticides.  He was asked about Monsanto's commitment of money and personnel.  Jerry said that the budget is currently 5 million dollars, with 6 direct employees and as much equipment as they need.

Jerry took a few beekeeping questions from our members:

What do you think about using nematodes for Small Hive Beetle control?  "I don't think much of it.  Small Hive Beetle larvae can crawl 100 yards or more away if soil moisture and temperatures are not to their liking under the hive. You are potentially just wasting your money.  It's important to know that the Small Hive Beetle is drawn to the stress hormone produced by a declining colony and they are attracted to the brood to use as food to raise their babies on. It's really not worth it.  In Florida we could trap 500 beetles nightly."

Have you heard of using lime in the soil around the hive to control Small Hive Beetle?
"No, but you would have to get the pH very low or very high and as a hobbyist it's just too expensive and would take up too much area without confidence of control. Remember if they do not perceive conditions under or around the hive to be conducive to burrowing to pupate they can crawl a great distance to find the right location."

What you do think about using powdered sugar to control the Varroa Mite?         
"The best time to use powdered sugar is in the phoretic stage.  However, when you get some control they actually ramp up their reproduction and you get behind where you were and there are more mites than before you treated."  "Varroa has eliminated about 90% of the feral colonies in the U.S. "  "We can get about 50% control with RNAi, but I want to see it get to 80% control."

Are using mosquito control dunks in the bee water OK to use?  "Yes, that doesn't hurt the honey bee." "Spraying for mosquitos is very harmful during the daylight when bees are flying."

From Gina by email:   What do you think about Neonicotinoids and honey bee health?  

Gina, I have attached two papers that don’t come from “Big Ag” which question the validity that neo-nics are the primary cause of honey bee health issues. Neonicotinoids are used as seed treatments on primarily corn and soybeans to allow the farmer to plant the seed and have it germinate successfully before a bad bug eats it.  It adds value for the farmer and they like it.  If they didn’t they can order untreated seed.   Not that you have to read them cover to cover but the first is from Australia which says that neo-nics, which are widely used in agriculture and for home and garden use in Australia don’t appear to have negative health effects on honey bees.  Remember that Australia does not have Varroa.   As a result Beekeepers are not dumping all sorts of chemical pesticides into honey bee colonies to control Varroa. Varroa and Varroa controls seem to be the culprit here in the US.   The next paper is from the UK.   It says that neo-nics are used widely because they have low, low mammalian toxicity i.e. they don’t hurt us or our food crops, livestock and pets but are used to keep them healthy.   But, if used improperly by the farmer they can kill all sorts of beneficials but this rarely happens.
Of the 94 million acres of corn planted last year and 83 million acres of soybeans there were 3 or 4 reports of the farmer planting seed in dry dusty conditions and honey bees for some reason were sited right next to the fields and there were impacts.  I wonder what the negative impacts were for pesticide use on golf courses, home termite use or for the lawn treatment folks were?

For more reading about the organizations and papers to which Jerry refers:  


Roy Blackwell of Dawsonville, using a swarm trap of two fiber flower pots, has caught two swarms so far.  He found the plans for the swarm trap on Linda's Bees.  He baited the trap with old comb and some lemon grass essential oil

There is still time for you to take the Certified Test:

The Certified test is the first level of the Georgia Master Beekeeper program.  To take it, you need to have opened a hive, have some familiarity with the world of bees, and be able to light a smoker.  The text for the test is Delaplane's First Lessons in Beekeeping.

You can take the test without going to Young Harris. 

Forsyth County Beekeepers Association is offering the Georgia Master Beekeeper Certified testing on Saturday, May 3, 2014.  For more information call  Sue Conlyn, at 770-888-9652, or 770-316-8300, or 770-713-1807,  or Hoyte Rogers  @ 770-479-1731

Other offerings:

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association is offering the Jr. Beekeeping Program

Sunday, June 22, 2014 in Alpharetta, GA   
10am-4pm (approx.)  Cost: $25     Rain or Shine!  Open to children of all ages  
For more details: 

Forsyth County Beekeepers Association is offering a Queen Rearing class.  For information, contact Sue Conlyn:   770-888-9652, or 770-316-8300, or 770-713-1807.


Panna Cotta with Candied Kumquats
from The Fresh Honey Cookbook by Laurey Masterton


for Panna Cotta
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
pinch of salt

for candied kumquats
1/2 cup honey
4 cups slice & seeded kumquats in halves

Here is how:
1. To make the panna cotta, pour the milk into a small bowl & sprinkle the gelatin on it, stirring just until blended.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

2. Pour the mixture into a small heavy saucepan & warm over medium heat, allowing the gelatin to dissolve about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to let the milk boil.

3. All the cream, honey, salt and stir, remove from heat.  Pour into six serving glasses, cups or small bowls.  Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 6 hours.

4. To make the kumquats, combine 1/2cup water and the honey in a small non reactive saucepan. Stir well & bring to boil stirring regularly.  Add the kumquats & return to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer & cook until the kumquats are tender- about 15 to 20 minutes.  Continue to cook until the liquid cooks down to thick syrup, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

5. To serve, spoon kumquats over the panna cotta.

Laurey Masterton, talented honey cookbook author and beekeeper, died in her Asheville, NC home on Feb 18, 2014.

Look Ma, It's Adam!  Adam Lusk, member of MABA, up 36 feet in a tree to capture a swarm near Peachtree Dekalb Airport Airport in Atlanta.

Ask 10 Beekeepers a Question…..

Do you use a Queen Excluder? When, why or why not?  

Philip Quinn, Master Beekeeper:  I find the queen excluder to be a very useful tool when, after a couple of search passes through a multi-storied brood chamber, I still haven't found the queen. I just separate the boxes using one or more excluders and return after 3 days. When I come back, I first find the box with eggs. Then, I can often reduce (focus) my next search for the queen to just 10 frames (instead of the original 20 or 30 frames).

Sophia Price, Chattooga County Beekeeper:  Yes, I use an excluder and  I prefer a metal one with wooden trim.    I do not use one year round though.  I prefer to pull them off after the last honey is removed for the year to allow total access to the winter food stores.  The excluders are returned to the hive in the Spring when supers are added.  If I have a good strong colony and I need some spare frames of drawn comb, I will leave one on that particular hive until the extra frames are ready and pull it and the frames before it gets too cold to open the hive. 

Dear Aunt Bee,

I am leaving for a late spring two week vacation.  How do I know if I should I put a super on my hives before I go?

Georgia Peach Headed for Hiawaiian Pineapple

Dear Georgia Peach,

It’s important to know what flower informs the nectar flow where you live.  In much of Georgia, the tulip poplar is the flower whose bloom designates the significant nectar flow.  

In late spring, the tulip poplar is probably blooming where you are in Georgia.  In that case, leave your hives well-supered before you go so that you don’t miss the opportunity to allow your bees to collect a lot of nectar for tulip poplar honey.

Your envious,

Aunt Bee    

(question contributed by Gina Gallucci)

I Caught a Swarm!  
by Chris Pahl, MABA Member

I caught a swarm!  For the first time it wasn’t my own bees trying to escape!  I felt fairly confident that I retrieved the queen bee, but a week after installing the bees into a new hive, there was no sign of egg laying.  The colony appears strong and very active, and I observe the worker bees bringing in loads of pollen.  But why no eggs?  This question spurred me to do a little research and understand more of what happens when honeybees swarm.

According to my trusted source, Honey in the Comb by Killion, “[w]hen the old queen is involved in [the] swarming process, it is called a ‘prime’ swarm.  “Afterswarms” are the swarms involving unmated queens that occur after a prime swarm.  When catching a swarm, it is possible to get a mated queen, virgin queen or no queen at all." 

It is always important and helpful to be able to identify the queen bee, but not always possible to locate her.  I was not able to locate a queen in the frenzied activity of gingerly installing a fairly large swarm into a Langstroth hive.  I did observe the straggler bees orderly marching into the hive entrance, hopefully following the scent of the queen.  

In subsequent inspections I tried to not to disturb the bees too much.  But, a week later I had no sign of egg laying and couldn’t find the queen.  According to Dr. Delaplane, a virgin queen will take mating flights for up to the first two weeks of her life.  Maybe she was on a mating flight during my hive inspection?  The changeable weather has not been any help, but I am optimistic that I hived a virgin queen, hopefully mated by now.
Swarm captured by Tom and Jean Rearick on April 21 in Metro Atlanta.  Photo by Tom Rearick

Street Cred - two current articles of relevance to beekeepers:

1.  Research from Friends of the Earth found that bee friendly plants sold in big box stores may be contaminated by neonicotinoids.

2.  FDA: Honey with any added sweeteners isn't honey
By Mary Clare Jalonick
Associated Press – published Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to ensure that shoppers who buy honey are getting the real deal.
New guidance issued Tuesday would prevent food companies from adding sugar or other sweeteners to pure honey and still calling it "honey."
The agency said enforcement action is possible against U.S. food businesses or importers if companies try to cut those sweeteners into real honey and do not label the product correctly. If those sweeteners are added, the label should read "blend of sugar and honey" or "blend of honey and corn syrup."
The FDA regularly detains honey imports and tests them after finding drug residues and unlabeled added sweeteners.


Swarm photo  contributed by Jackie Egland


Letters to the Editors:

Expand the importance and influence of GBA
from Bob Grant, 4/14/2014

I am glad to see Bear Kelley has picked up the challenge I posed in the March newsletter.  Further, to be fair, Bear and I have had several calls to discuss some of these ideas. Having developed a number of strategic plans for my clients over the last 30 years, I think what I am seeing is a window into GBA planning -- setting the objective which is to increase membership.  I think increasing membership will help GBA influence state legislation on policy impacting our bees.  Beyond that, I am concerned that there is not an objective addressing apiary management, yet the two could be linked, meaning that the lack of membership growth over the last few years could be due to former members not getting the value that they expected. Beekeepers, like farmers, are always looking for answers to problems and winter die-off is a big one in parts of Georgia.  
The membership issue as Bear points out has been around for some time.  This has been a continuing issue over recent years and Bear should be praised for taking it head on.
To be fair, I have not seen all of Bear's strategies or objectives, but I do think helping beekeepers keep their bees alive is a paramount effort and likely to drive membership up. After all, people flock to those who have the knowledge and answers they seek.
Currently, Georgia beekeepers have been facing significant annual losses, especially at the end of winter.  While we can buy more bees and queens, this model is not sustainable for the hobbyist, sideliner, or commercial beekeeper.  There is nothing worse than losing colonies, depending on your reason for practicing beekeeping, it can go from heart breaking to financially devastating and everywhere in between.
There is a lot of long-term research underway across the country and around the world; by prestigious universities, private labs, and big chemical companies. All with great intentions, but much of this research is years away from practices and tools we can use in our bee yards.  Beekeepers need solutions that can be applied to our apiaries today! My belief, is that the GBA needs a formal strategy to gather this practical information and present it to beekeepers in a timely fashion.  In doing so, GBA will attract both members and former members.
It would be nice to hear from other members on the topic -- as I'm sure there are other factors of equal importance that should be considered in strategy development. I believe member views are critical to guiding the GBA leadership in charting a successful growth course.  Further, I am convinced that the newsletter editors would welcome everyone's opinion.
And another letter to the editors:

Hi Linda and Gina,

I clicked a link in last month's newsletter, 

["Click here to learn about grocery store honey vs. our own local production. (Thanks, Evelyn Williams)"

and was quite confused and shocked.  It seemed filled with bogus, outrageous and false information.  I was so concerned that I wrote to Sue Bee Honey, which was maligned in the article along with many good honey packagers.

Here is the response that I receive by Sue Bee.  They were also aghast at the many falsehoods.  I hope we can clear up this issue, and use extreme care with what blogs are linked in the newsletter.  In the linking, there is a measure of credibility.

Thanks for looking at this letter from Mr. Bill Huser of Sue Bee Honey.

Kerry Britt

{Note from the EditorsWe check all the links we publish, but because there are many opinions out there, we are not suggesting a link that we publish is a fact.  After all, ask ten beekeepers a question, and you'll get at least 11 answers!  If you, the readers, would like to read the response from Sue Bee Honey, you can find it at this link to our blog for Spilling the Honey.}

Flowers for Bees
by Linda Tillman

Spring has arrived and many of us pull out our garden trowels to ready our gardens for beauty for ourselves and nectar for our bees.  What plants will enhance the nectar collecting efforts of our bees?

Many resources and lists exist to help us make these gardening decisions.  Good flowering plants for the Southeast and for our bees are readily available at your local garden center.  

Perennial plants are better choices for the bees than annuals because they are typically a richer nectar source and bloom year after year.

Many plants in the milkweed family such as butterfly weed are great for bees.  When I planted butterfly weed by my mailbox, the bees tripped over each other in their efforts to get to the flowers.  The butterfly weed has a deep root but if you know where a plant is, it is easy to gather seeds when the bloom is over.

Another plant that the bees love is hyssop.  Anise hyssop, while not a lovely flower is a delight to the bees who bombard the blossoms with nectar seekers.

Anise has a licorice flavor and my daughters swear that they can taste it slightly in the honey!  Although the plant smells like licorice, it is actually a member of the mint family and has a square stem.

Often found in backyard gardens, common native plants which draw bees are echinacea or coneflowers.  Almost every beekeeper with a camera has a photo of a bee on an echinacea bloom.

In the vegetable garden plantings, bees serve an essential purpose as pollinators.  Bees in cucumbers look as if they are standing on their heads to get their goodies from the flowers.

And if you've had bees in your cucumbers, your crop will be straight and beautiful due to even pollination.

Many herbs are good for bees.  Bees are drawn to basil, lavendar, marjoram, rosemary - basic herbs that most gardeners grow.

To get specific lists of bee-friendly flowers and plants, here are some helpful links:

Have fun planting for your bees!


Swarm captured in Garden Hills neighborhood in Atlanta by Linda Tillman on March 30

Upcoming Events

Tara Beekeepers Association is having a Children's Short Course, May 31, 2014 at Reynolds Plantation in Morrow.  If you have anyone that is interested please check our website and give us a shout!

Tara Beekeepers Association is having its annual short course September 6, 2014.   Cost is $65 per person, and there is a family rate.  The course will be held at the Kiwanis Building in Forest Park.  If you would like to attend or know someone who would like to attend please check our website or give us a shout!

Coweta Beekeepers will offer the Certified test in September if you missed the May 3 opportunities and didn't get to Young Harris.


Swarm collected by Jay Parsons, MABA member,  in Adairsville, GA. He brought it back to his Atlanta bee yard.

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


Swarm above and below captured by Mike Schaaphok, MABA member, in Atlanta.  The photo below shows what was on the branch after capturing the swarm!

The Final Buzz

We LOVE your contributions to the newsletter - that's what makes it so much fun for us, the editors.  Have you had a hive that swarmed right in front of you?  Did you drop a frame of bees and brood and get stung from stem to stern?  Have you had a bee in your veil and not been able to get her to leave you sting free?  For our June edition, send us your funny/not so funny stories/experiences with the bees.  We'd love to share them with our readers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

April 2014 Newsletter

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

The President's Message

This month I would like to address the challenge posed by Bob Grant in the last Spilling the Honey newsletter. First, thank you, Bob, for your positive comments about our speakers.  Our keynote guy for the February meeting, Dr Ellis, is in much demand and not as easy to schedule as one might seem. But we are lucky because he has roots here in Georgia. We will continue to seek the best speakers we can. 

I do have a “roadmap” for GBA, which I have been sharing with all of you through this President’s Message.   The first avenue on the roadmap is increasing our membership.   If you go back a few issues, you will see that I came out of the September meeting as your new President, announcing that only about 15% of the Georgia beekeepers are members of GBA.  I spoke with David Williams, the GA Bee Hive inspector, and he said that we have over 2000 beekeepers in GA.  I asked everyone to talk up our GBA organization.
Increasing membership is a goal on which I have been working with the Board of Directors.  I have also developed a Power Point briefing on “why join GBA” that I will be happy to present to any club.  Just ask!

The discussion about the 501c (3) entity is significant if we want to have major sponsors for some of the following programs…
  • Georgia Honey Queen
  • Fund additional small scale bee yards
  • Fund and support 4H and junior beekeeping programs
  • Other Programs?
We do in fact have a reserve fund, but we don’t want to deplete it too soon as we move down the road. 

We do have to pay for these great speakers, as well as their travel and lodging along with the general operation of the association. 

I have mentioned the Honey Queen program in previous newsletters and we have just completed a feasibility study for that. If we can obtain a major sponsor and find the right person to manage that program, we can implement it. A Honey Queen program will take about $8-10,000 annually. What better ambassador for our youth could we ask for? Other states have successful programs, why can’t Georgia?

To help feed the Honey Queen program, we need to get the 4H support program and junior beekeeping program back on track. Again the Board of Directors has been talking a great deal about how to do that within the parameters of our by-laws. I hope to have a new policy written to you before long. 

A few years ago, I challenged all beekeepers in the state to marry up with their local state parks and start a beekeeping program at that park. The idea is to help educate the public and emphasize the “Plight of the Honeybee” out so that others can help. As I speak with many groups around the state, I always tell them that they don’t have to be beekeepers to join GBA. Their membership goes towards research and education. We keep a tally in the newsletter on what state parks are on board with us. Is yours?  Make it a club project. 

As far as identifying beekeepers successful efforts and such, our Newsletter editors have been putting a survey in every month for a while now asking questions like that. We’re not getting a lot of feedback. Help us out here and send in your responses. With that info, we can compile a manual that we can use to educate our members. 

As you all know GBA works well with the UGA and the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute. Our relationship with Jennifer Berry (UGA Bee Lab) is such that we often share problems and ideas. She and Dr. Delaplane are regular speakers at our meetings. They have provided a wonderful education program for Georgia beekeepers for over 22 years now. 

I have recently started a “President’s Council.” It is an unofficial way of contacting and communicating with our club presidents. At our spring meeting, Mary Cahill-Roberts conducted a breakout session with the Club Presidents who were in attendance and shared problems, successes and general info about conducting the matters of a club. We will continue that at every meeting for the foreseeable future. I also plan to email the club presidents periodically to get them to share problems and successes as well.  Andy Bailey worked hard to develop the list.  So here we need the club officers to review your web sites and ensure that all the contact info is there for any computer illiterate (like me) to locate easily. 

So Bob, we accept your challenges as an Association. To bounce the challenge back, we sincerely need the assistance of all beekeepers out there (Commercial, Sideliners and Hobbyist) to make any of these programs successful. I believe we have a team in place that will help us grow in the right direction. 

By increasing our membership, getting Georgia’s youth involved, we can educate the public, increase honey production, and make a better environment for our bees.                                   

Bear Kelley,                                                                                                                                                    President


Slade and Kristie Jarrett would like to offer a big thank you to our State Senator, John Wilkinson.  Wilkinson presented a resolution to Jarrett Apiaries on March 10, 2014, on the Senate floor at the Georgia State Capital.  The resolution recognized Jarrett Apiaries for their agricultural efforts in Banks County and their award winning honey.  

All 56 Senators received a 1 lb. jar of our own North Georgia Chunk Honey.  Slade was given the opportunity to address the Senators, so he promoted and asked for support on behalf of all local bee clubs and The Georgia Beekeepers Association.  

Slade and Kristie Jarrett are pictured with Senator John Wilkinson and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle.

In an effort to support the pollinator, Bayer is offering a prize to people who are working in this arena.  Nominate and support someone from Georgia for this prize.  The information can be found here.

Dear Aunt Bee,

I got a call about a swarm from my neighbor who knows I'm a beekeeper.  I went over there with a hive box and the swarm was about 10 feet up.  My neighbor lent me a ladder and I climbed up with the hive box.  I tried to balance the hive box in one hand and held the branch with the other.  I tried to shake the bees into the hive box but they went everywhere - some fell into the box but thousands fell on the ground in the grass.  I don't know if I got the queen.  I took the box home and the car was filled with bees.  I need help! I want to do it better if I get another call.

Buzzed and Confused

Dear Buzzed and Confused,

I learned how to get a swarm from Cindy Bee, a well-known Georgia beekeeper who now lives in Maine.  She advised me to make a swarm kit and this is what goes in it:
1.  A spray bottle with sugar syrup
2.  A white bed sheet
3.  A bee brush
4.  A pair of clippers for plants/shrubs
5.  Something to carry the bees in - I use a banker's box made of cardboard and cover the top with a ventilated hive cover.  Sometimes I use a plastic banker's box, but also a ventilated hive cover so the bees don't die in the box from heat and lack of ventilation.  And a way to close the box - like a bungee
6.  Some old comb (put this in the container for bees)
7.  A 1/2 gallon plastic milk jug with the bottom cut off.
8.  A cell phone and a camera (if your phone isn't one)
9.  A ladder, if you are comfortable climbing one

When you arrive at the swarm site, you spread the sheet under the swarm so the bees that miss the box can be easily seen and gathered up.  You spray the swarm with the sugar syrup.  You shake the swarm into your carrier.  The bee brush helps here as well.  You can use the cut off milk carton to scoop up any large piles of bees.  

If you've gotten the queen, you'll see the bees at the box entry, sending a nasonov signal (the queen is here!) by putting their butts up in the air and fanning.  Leave the bees alone until most of them are in the container.  I usually partially cover the container while they move in with the queen.  Then strap on the ventilated hive cover and head for the car.  

You'll have some loose bees in the car, but while the car is moving, they will stay on the rear window.  

Good luck with the next swarm,

Your Aunt Bee 
(contributed by Linda Tillman with information from Cindy Bee)  

Recipe of the month:  

Bee Tea

Equal parts sugar and water (1:1)
4 cups chamomile tea steeped 5 min.
1/2 tsp sea salt
several sprigs of thyme
one good squirt of lemon juice (prevents crystals)

Mix all together and serve the bees

This recipe was published by Ross Conrad in Bee Culture from a recipe used by Rudolf Steiner in 1923 and modified to prevent crystallization by Linda Tillman
Tardy?  Missed the registration for Young Harris?  Wanted to take the Certified Test and now you think you can't?  

Don't worry, bee happy!

The Certified test is the first level of the Georgia Master Beekeeper program.  To take it, you need to have opened a hive, have some familiarity with the world of bees, and be able to light a smoker.  The text for the test is Delaplane's First Lessons in Beekeeping.

You can take the test without going to Young Harris.  Two Georgia bee clubs have been designated by Keith Delaplane to offer the test through their club.

Both clubs are offering the test on May 3, Saturday.

Forsyth County Beekeepers Association is offering the Georgia Master Beekeeper Certified testing on May 3, 2014.  For more information call anyone interested may call Sue Conlyn, at 770-888-9652, or 770-316-8300, or 770-713-1807,  or Hoyte Rogers  @ 770-479-1731

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association is offering the Georgia Master
Beekeeper "Certified" Testing May 3rd, 2014
For more information and to register go to:

Safety in the Apiary!

by Mary Cahill-Roberts, VP GBA

This is my 7th season as a beekeeper.  I have learned a lot.  I have gone through the Master Beekeeper course at Young Harris.  I have worked at the local and state level to try to make things better and educate beekeepers.  

About 4 months ago I was talking to a man in our club who had not used a veil, and had an eye injury.  I was amazed, but those little girls do move fast and if you turn your head just right, wham.  I have heard about the guy on the ladder who fell off trying to catch the swarm.  He will not be lifting boxes.  I have heard about the wax burn, where he needed to get a skin graft , but I have not ever heard about the fire.

On a Sunday I had a new high school student coming over to learn about the bees.  I was really excited, because he wants to get some for his house and he is a potentially new recruit. I am talking all about the fun time that we have and all the cool things bees do.  When the temperature was perfect, it was time to start working the bees.

I brought him over to start the smoker.  I had a smaller one that I rarely use, but was going to light at this time.  The first round was not successful,  nor the second, but on the third…Alas.  I set the yard on fire.  A pine needle fell out when I was puffing and lit the grass, which I could not get out and then the pine straw and then bam.  

The fire started at about 1:28 pm.  We called 911 at 1:31pm.  They arrived at 1:42pm.   The whole back yard was gone and several of my hives.  My hives are on the western side of the yard where the propane tank is…so I got to choose.  I did.  

We are all ok.  My house is still standing.  I have 6 hives in the yard.  

Since then, I have heard 3 other stories about beekeepers and fire and fire trucks.  More importantly I have a new safety talk. 

Good luck, happy inspections and keep your fire extinguisher close!

GMO and our Ladies
        by Bob Grant
I recently re-read the December 2012 edition of the American Beekeeper.  An article by Randy Oliver on "Sick Bees Part 181, Colony Collapse Revisited- Genetically Modified Plants" caught my eye, so I read it.  Generally, I do not read research articles on a regular basis, but Randy's articles on sick bees are particularly noteworthy.  This was a seminal moment for me, even though I prefer articles on practical application which immediately impact my beekeeping. 

Yes, I can be accused of spreading the biodegradable stuff when it comes to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) given my close involvement with organic farmers in our local organic farmer's market.  And perhaps I have a somewhat over-exaggerated view of the issues surrounding GMO. 

Randy discusses GMOs and the potential impact and benefits to our ladies while going out of his way to present a balanced assessment of Monsanto's efforts in this area of research.  While I am not going to rehash this article in detail, I would like to hear others beekeepers' opinions on GMO plants. There is a lot of discussion about GMO -- both true and false -- and we, as beekeepers, may need to replace some "old wives' tales" with accurate information.   I also wonder if we are vilifying companies such as Monsanto when we should be encouraging their research.

From my experience with apiaries in the North Georgia Mountains, GMO seeds are less important here since farming is quite different from what you will find in Georgia's Piedmont and coastal plain regions.  In other words, we do not have extensive farming that would bring our bees into more frequent contact with GMO plants.   In fact, almost three quarters of the land in Rabun County is designated National or State Forest.  My focus here is on the possibility that GMO could target and eliminate a number of the stress vectors affecting the bees.

Specifically, I like to hear your opinion on the following GMO related topics:
  • The potential impact of GMO plantings on bee mortality and honey production per hive.
  • A greater understanding of other beekeepers' concerns with GMO plantings. 
  • The direct application of GMO to our ladies to combat or eliminate Nosema ceranae, Varroa Mites and other stress vectors.
  • We might even ask, "Where should bee GMO research be focused?"
Why is this topic so important? From my humble perspective, we as beekeepers should not be wasting our limited resources shouting at the wind and potentially focusing legislation and research on the wrong areas.  We may be more effective by focusing our support on researchers, politicians and yes big businesses, such as Monsanto, especially on those areas that can help us reduce bee mortality rates and improving life in the apiaries.

Editor's notes:  The complete article to which Bob refers can be found here:  
Please share your thoughts with a letter to the editors:   
Bee Club of the Month
Mountain Beekeepers’ Association
by Glen Henderson

       As mountain folk are wont to do, we are loosely organized.  Our guiding principal is  getting together and having a fun time doing it.  Formed in the spring of 2002 to provide a forum for information exchange relative to beekeeping, the Mountain Beekeepers are dedicated to keeping our members up to date on the ever changing “best practices” for keeping their bees alive.  We are not always successful but we are informed.  

       Our meetings are informal seminars on what is working for each beekeeper.  We nurture each other along, discussing the rhythm of nature and how it is guiding the activities of the beehive.  The bees are always responding to the situations in nature and we need to be knowledgeable and ahead of the honeybees in order to call ourselves “good beekeepers.”

       Located in Young Harris, we are one of the most remote clubs associated with the Georgia Beekeepers Association.  It is difficult for the membership to stay closely involved in the exchange of information and comradery of the state honey business.  So we have developed a process of ambassadorship where-by we have delegates to almost any bee activity statewide.  They bring back the information and disseminate it to the members.  

       With about 30 members covering 7 counties in Northeast Georgia and Western North Carolina we can impact quite a large community.  We actively support our community through educational outreach, presenting seminars on “why keep honeybees,” “how to keep honeybees,” “the problems with honeybees,” “honeybees as pollinators,” and other related subjects.  The recipients of the seminars range from the Master Gardeners, Jr. Garden Clubs, the high school agriculture classes and the public at large.

       During the Mountain Fair (July) in Hiawassee GA, we have a static display of beekeeper equipment.  This is in the middle of sourwood season so it has to be stand alone and unmanned.  It is an excellent way for people to see up close what equipment is involved in beekeeping.

       Our grandest adventure is a live hive demonstration at the Fall Festival (Oct) in Hiawassee, GA, where over 7,000 people pass through our presentation area viewing the inside of a live bee hive (the hive is inside a screened room). We try to answer all their questions for ten consecutive days.  It is a huge hit.

       To support the state beekeepers in general we are the purveyors of the beehives at the UGA/Young Harris bee institute.  Since we are nearby it is a good service project.  As a service to our club members, to keep the cost of replacement bees to a minimum. we do a joint package purchase with the Appalachian Beekeepers in Murphy,  N.C. in the spring.

The club has purchased equipment that is that is shared by all members when they need it.  This cuts down on personal costs for infrequently used items.

The club is working on a “locally grown” queen program, in a attempt to develop a honeybee more specific to the altitude and climate of NE Georgia.  Several of our beekeepers take a very scientific approach to beekeeping, adapting scientific techniques to our region.

We meet at the United Community Bank in Blairsville GA, the first Tuesday of the month at 7 PM.  Our president, Glen Henderson, 706 745 1840,, is the main point of contact and information processor.

It's time to start thinking about the GBA Fall Meeting and Honey Show in Millegeville, GA in September

  A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hampton and Comfort Suites.  Rooms are guaranteed   30 days prior to the meeting.  Reservations made after August 18 will be based on availability.  All GBA sponsored activities will be held at Central GA Technical College.  
Hampton Inn 
2461 N. Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061
$89 + tax /night includes breakfast

Other area hotels:

Fairfield Inn
2631- A N. Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

Days Inn
2551 N Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

Comfort Suites
2621 North Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061
$80.10 + tax /night includes breakfast
Can add additional nights

Super 8
2474 N Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

Holiday Inn Express
1839 N Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

Nominate a GBA Beekeeper for 2014 Beekeeper of the Year

Every year GBA awards Beekeeper of the Year to an outstanding beekeeper in our state.  It’s now time to send in your nominations for this award.  The nomination deadline is June 30, 2014.

Do you know of someone who exhibits qualities that inspire others in beekeeping?  Have they been supportive of our Georgia Beekeepers Association as well as the beekeeping industry?  Honor them by nominating them for this award.

We are looking for a GBA member who:
  • Exemplifies good beekeeping practices
  • Demonstrates leadership
  • Promotes Georgia’s beekeeping industry
  • Creatively solves problems of industry wide concern
  • Actively participates in local, regional, or national beekeeping organizations

Beekeeper of the Year for 2014 will be awarded at our fall GBA meeting to be held on September 19-20, 2014, at the Central Georgia Technical College in Milledgeville, Georgia.  

Please send your nominee’s name, address, and reasons they should earn this honor to: 
Bruce Morgan at: 
Remember the deadline for nominations is June 30, 2014.

Thank you,
Bruce Morgan
GBA 2013 Beekeeper of the Year
Your Swarm Photos Here  
We all love to see swarms in action.  Please send us your swarm photos to use next month.

Send photo as a photo attachment to an email to  Please let us know who took the photo, where and when


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Thoughts about Entering Honey Shows
by Mary Cahill-Roberts
For the past 2 years I have supported the Welsh Fest Honey show in Rockmart, GA.  Rockmart is in northwest Georgia, about 50 minutes past my house in Mableton.  

I first learned about the honey show last year when Jay Parsons, Welsh Honey Judge and Master Beekeeper, put an article in the newsletter about it.  Welsh Fest is the only Welsh-centered festival in Georgia.

Jay started as the Welsh Honey Judge to support the festival and really display the work of beekeepers and their honey.  Jay gives a lot of time to this festival, as Rockmart is probably close to a 2 hours drive for him.  He probably sells some honey there, and I know he is educating people about honey bees and beekeeping. 

Any time there is a honey show, beekeepers are center stage.  Last year I was the only participant in the Welsh Fest honey show. This year there were 3, a 200% increase.  I hope next year there will be 6 or more people who decide to make the effort.  

Slate was what brought the Welsh to Rockmart to quarry the material.  A large group of Welsh settlers made Rockmart a boom town.  As a result, every year the prize is a really cool Welsh slate medal from Rockmart.  

I entered the show for 2 reasons.  One is to learn how to make my honey more presentable.  The second is to support the judge.  As a honey judge myself, I understand that we need to have product to judge.  I want the judge(s) to have the opportunity to evaluate different products.  I wish that you would think of entering the honey show and help support the judges. 

Ask Ten Beekeepers a Question:

What Signs Should You Look For in your Colonies to Prevent Swarming?

Virginia Webb:  
Overcrowding in the brood nest is one of the main reasons for swarming.  Rapid buildup of brood by the queen will expand faster than the bees may believe they have room for.  Within a few days you can have multiple queen cells produced, as the hive prepares to swarm. 

Jay Parsons: 
I look for a strong buildup - lots of brood with swarm cells along with drones being very prominent before the queen cells are finished. Sometimes it doesn't matter if you cut the cells and give them more space, they just build more swarms cells and get better at hiding them.  ;-)

management software is everywhere:

There are some great TED Talks on honey bees and bee survival.
John Miller:  No Bees, No Food
Marla Spivak:  Why Bees are Disappearing
Dennis vanEnglesdorp:  A Plea for Bees
(thanks, Steve Page)

Click here to learn about honey production in 2013 compared to other years.
(Thanks, Bear)
Click here to learn about grocery store honey vs. our own local production.
(Thanks, Evelyn)


As of April 3, 2014, 


people have visited our newsletter online at
Jennifer Berry, the lab manager at the UGA Bee Lab, has called and asked for help from The Georgia Beekeepers Association.  UGA is in need of feral colonies, ones that have overwintered without support from humans-not fed or treated for anything.  The lab will need the entire colony for research and will return them in the fall.  However, if you want bees for honey production, the lab will exchange your colonies with an equal strength colony now.  For more information or to donate feral bees, please contact Jennifer at
My work as the Swarm Call Lady     
by Gina Gallucci

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association promotes and advertises for bee swarms and has years of experience taking calls from the general public regarding honey bee swarms. We also get calls about other bees, and get a chance to help with understanding the different bees.    

As the Swarm Lady I have taken calls from all over Metro Atlanta and outside the area.  I get the basic information: i.e., the swarm's exact location, in a structure or outside, height off the ground, when it was first recognized, how big it is, etc.   I thank the caller on behalf of all beekeepers for their contribution to honey bee health. 

Then I call one of our dedicated swarm recovery beekeepers to confirm a pickup  I believe person to person contact is always better that just filling out a form.  It can be much faster too.  The last few days have been especially busy, with lots of calls and questions; it's all very exciting and fast paced.   I have been taking and making calls very early and very late.  

Being the Swarm Call Lady also has been especially rewarding because I have been able to do a great deal of outreach and talk bees with people who don't understand the urgency involved or may know almost nothing about what they are seeing.  There is more and more goodwill building for the bees each year.  I can feel it! 

Let's all do all we can to make sure our swarm retrieval programs are well known and easily accessible in our communities.  The real story here is while free bees are great, swarm calls are really a massive, annual opportunity for education and outreach.

Upcoming Events:  (Send your club events in for this section!)
April 19:  Forsyth County Beekeeper’s second day of beekeeping school.  For non members, it’s 20.00, free for club members.  It’s a hands on, open hive class, and participants should bring at least a veil.  They can call me, at 770-888-9652770-316-8300770-713-1807… or Hoyte Rogers  @ 770-479-1731

May 17:  Forsyth County Beekeeper’s queen rearing class at the Sawnee Mt. Preserve.  Interested?  Call Sue Conlyn at 770-888-9652770-316-8300, or 770-713-1807, or Hoyte Rogers  @ 770-479-1731

The Final Buzz:  
We are all busy busy like the bees at this time of year.  Let’s not forget to share with everyone your thoughts about keeping care of the bees, photos from your apiary or swarms, comments or Aunt Bee questions for us to publish.    Also, if you a leader in your club we welcome all your announcements info about special functions happening at your organization, i.e. Short Courses, honey contests etc.  These look great with with photos.  

Gina and Linda