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


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

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  

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