Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2014 Newsletter

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Stained Glass Art of Bee on Honey Comb by Vince West of the Cherokee Beekeepers

The President's Message

Well, another month has gone by, confirming that winter is truly over. Everyone should be busy looking after their girls and getting ready for some honey harvesting. The program at Young Harris is done and a lot of new, highly educated beekeepers have returned home. We, on the Board of Directors, have been busy hammering out and approving the new Junior Beekeeping program. 

We all know that the Junior Beekeeping and 4-H programs have been stagnant for a few years, and we have been voting “not to fund” them because of various reasons.  We took this on and merged both programs into one new Junior Beekeeping Policy. You will find it here in this newsletter.   

The new 4-H Program rewards three different 4-Hers, instead of just one, and is less expensive than the old program. We have already written the checks for the winners of the 2014 National Essay Contest.  
The winners are: 
1st Place:  Madeline Hillebrand, Coweta County   (Read her essay on page 8) 
2ndPlace:  Keaton Williams, Habersham County

3rdPlace:  Lynsey Buckindail, Habersham County
The second part of the new program is the Junior Beekeeping program.  This was written to give the local clubs flexibility in creating the kind of program their individual community needs.  GBA can then support each club and give the youth throughout the state an opportunity to learn beekeeping, rather than limit the Junior Beekeeping program to one geographical area as in the past.  As you will see in the policy, we ask (as a minimum) that the officers (president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer) in the local club be members of GBA. (Of course, it would be great if everyone in the club could be members.) Essentially, your club is investing $60 for a $200 return.  We are an education association dedicated to supporting our members, and we appreciate the support we receive from all our membership.  

Presidents please study this policy, and discuss it with your members. I challenge you to create a junior beekeeping program in your community. Let’s get the Georgia youth involved in something worthwhile.  

As I said, the Board of Directors voted on this. The Board consists of the Executive Committee, the four Directors, the Editors, and the qualified club presidents. When I say qualified, I mean those who are members of GBA. There are about ten clubs that did not have a voice in this matter because the President of that club is not a GBA member. Presidents, please join GBA so that you can represent your club at the state level and have a vote on issues that affect you and your membership. 

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Assn

Magnificent swarm - photo sent in by Scott Brandies of Wayne County, Georgia.  Scott has his Apprentice Beekeeper through the University of Florida program.
Ricky Moore (member of Heart of Georgia) sent us this link to a site about toxic chemicals and bees.  As I live near a pecan grove, I am concerned about my bees and whatever is sprayed on the pecan trees. I found this article CLICK HERE from North Carolina State University from 2008 called Bees and Trees. It has a list of chemicals that are Highly Toxic, Moderately Toxic and Relatively Toxic to bees.

Ricky says, "As a new beekeeper I'm always looking and reading for more information."
Bees Are Our Heritage
By Mary Hawkins, Appalachian Beekeepers Association

On May 16, I participated in Heritage Day at an elementary school in Jasper.   A friend had agreed to present a unit on honey bees but needed a sub at the last minute.   So I leapt past any trepidation and agreed.   I thought I was offering some community service, but I actually was signing on for a full day of fun and learning for myself. My friend provided his observation hive.  I added my bee suit, hive tool, smoker, some small pieces of drawn comb for passing around, blocks of beeswax and my bee brush.  We absolutely had to have North Georgia honey  and pretzel sticks for tasting.   It was all so clean and organized at 8 a.m.  Can you imagine what it was like by afternoon?  A different classroom full of kids rotated through every fifteen minutes!  There should have been a prize at the end of the day for the person who could correctly guess the number of honey drips I cleaned up.

Heritage Day included presentations on old fashioned skills such as weaving and knitting;  yummy ones like biscuit and butter making; modules held outside on various livestock; learning about and singing with pioneer instruments; a herpetologist with lots of live snakes…… and, of course the bees.

Each group of children sat on the floor in front of the observation hive for a brief and lively discussion of bee and hive trivia.  The hands on aspects were the biggest hit of course. My perfectly constructed pieces of comb were soon balls of wax so we called them a beehive scent opportunity for the rest of the day!  The bee brush was a favorite to my surprise.  And to no one’s surprise the bee jacket with hat and veil held the most “hands on “ interest.  Almost every child wanted to try it on and did. Some of the smaller ones were covered to the tops of their shoes.  They all agreed it made them feel very safe. I became the fast change artist getting that many children in and out of that suit.
Many had never tasted really flavorful honey, so the tasting table was loved.  My favorite question and answer of the day came from one of the younger classes. One child asked how to tell which bee was the queen.  Before I could answer a classmate yelled out,  “The one with the turquoise dot!”  Ahhh, there are beekeepers out there introducing our working girls to our kids and shaping the next generation of bee keepers.   Maybe next year we’ll have the bees in a room next to the biscuit and butter module so we can drizzle honey on those hot buttery delights.

Dear Aunt Bee,
The other day as I was inspecting my hive, I noticed a peculiar bee with unusual markings.  Can you tell me if someone was in my hives and painted mysterious symbols on my bees or is this some sort of genetic malfunction?  (See photo).
Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed and Confused,
So was I.  I’ve never seen a bee that looked like that so I consulted with Mark Winston, author of Honey Bee Biology, whom I recently met.  Here’s his response:

I don't know for sure, but it's most likely one of two things:

Pollen: That's the most usual thing causing a pattern like this, as bees enter a deep flower, although something this distinctive would likely have been noticed by your beekeepers before.

Foreign substance: Exploring bees might well enter a small cavity and encounter paint or dust (from construction, for example) that could leave an imprint. Since it was only the one bee, that's a possibility.

That's about as good a guess as I can make. If you find out something more definitive, let me know.


So keep an eye on your bees and hopefully you can determine if it’s pollen or paint!

Good luck,

Your Aunt Bee         

Question submitted by Christine Fahrnbauer - 
answer by Linda Tillman and Mark Winston      


Linda Jennings of Coweta Beekeepers with her artistically painted hives for 2014
Recently beekeepers in Georgia had an opportunity to take a writing workshop with Mark Winston, author of The Biology of the Honey Bee and a book coming out in October,  Bee TimeIn the class, Mark encouraged the writers to submit their writings to our GBA Newsletter.  Here are the ones we received.  If anyone else would like to submit their creations, we'll be glad to put them in upcoming issues.         

With the Wings of a Honeybee
     By: Mother Hyponja

With the eyes seeking the light,
With the ears feeling the vibes;
With the tongue the sweet flavor;
And the nose heaven’s savor;
With the arms for warm embrace; 
With the heart a holy place;
T’discover the perfect space,
Simply share the cup of grace.

In the Wilds of Rhododendron
     By: Honey Kittin

On an old jagged peak,
Upon a blanket o’green,
Pale Clover on the lawn,
Pops a’gentle morning yawn,
As Appalachian Rose,
Strikes a lavender pose,
To celebrate all day,
And give the heart away.
In the cave o’shiny leaves,
Brown Thrasher will please,
Gifting song to the breeze,
Above the hum of honey bees.

Oh Daisy!
     By: Honey Kittin

Fleetest little bumblers,
Humming around the hive,
Carrying a message,
To ev’rything alive;
The zip of golden wings –
Fuzzy, buzzy, bizzy –
The humming thorax sings,
‘N Little Daisy’s dizzy!

Talking about Beekeepers
by Keith Fletcher, Ga Master Beekeeper from Alabama.

Many of us beekeepers love to talk about bees; each other, new beekeepers, school children.  We talk about bees in the morning, we talk about bees in the evening.  We talk about bees to our spouse, yes, our spouses who desperately try to demonstrate they're interested in what we say about bees.  We just love to talk about bees.  But... many of us talk about...  ...beekeepers?   ...AND, talk about them in a particularly loving way?  How many of us take a short moment to thank a beekeeper?  Not for their honey or their knowledge, but to thank perhaps, a new beekeeper--to thank someone else for simply and only trying to start beekeeping?  Everyone has value, everyone has worth, not just a veteran expert beekeeper, but the "newbie" beekeeper, too!

May I offer a gentle reminder to stay humble in the heart -- and, if we forget to stay humble, our bees are always there to remind us how humble we should remain.         

Beekeepers hold Training Session
By Linda Jennings, Coweta Beekeepers Association

            The Coweta Beekeepers Association (CBA) recently held a training session for new beekeepers at the apiary of Tom and Linda Jennings.

            “Talk about perfect timing,” said the day’s instructor, Steve Page. “The Jennings had just received two nucs and one package which the participants were able to see installed. They’d also caught a swarm two days earlier and another hive was about to swarm, so everyone was able to see a swarm trap and a hive division. It was great.”

            As an extra attraction, Linda Jennings displayed some of her painted supers (the boxes in which bees live). “I did it for fun,” she said, “but I also did it to encourage some of the less interested wives into joining their husbands in their beekeeping endeavors. I love to see husbands and wives doing things together.”   
            “Adults are not the only members of CBA,” said Bobby Torbush, the club’s president. “It’s such a thrill to see so many kids learning to become full-fledged beekeepers. They’re smart and they go after it with such gusto. It’s a pure pleasure for our organization to help train them.”

            “Both the kids and adults have a great time raising bees,” adds Page, “but raising bees is serious business. Without bees, this nation has no food. We’re a critical part of keeping this nation fed.”

            CBA meets on the second Monday of each month at the Coweta County Extension Office, which is located near the Fairgrounds at 275 Pine Rd. The Junior (4H) Beekeepers meet at 5 p.m., and the main meeting is from 7 – 9 p.m. Experienced professional beekeepers speak on relevant topics, and for those who have personal questions concerning their own hives, time is provided before and after each meeting.

            The next meeting will be held Monday, May 12. For further information, you may contact Bobby or Karen Torbush at

The Board of Directors of the Georgia Beekeepers Association has voted to change the policy on the 4-Hers and Junior Beekeepers.  The following is the new adopted policy.

GBA Policy for the Support of the Statewide
Junior Beekeeping Program

4-H Beekeeping Essay Contest

The essay contest is an annual event sponsored by the National Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, Inc. and hosted by the State 4-H program and the University of Georgia’s Entomology Department. This is a national competition offered by the Foundation, and in the spring of each year is judged at the state level by the UGA Entomology Department.   The top three essays are selected, and the first ranked winner competes at the national level. The contest is open to active 4-Hers only. Beginning in 2014, GBA will provide the cash prizes to the winners at the State level in the amount of:

$250 for first Place
$100 for second place
$  50 for third place

As soon as possible after being notified by the 4-H Director, these checks will be sent to the winning individuals with a letter of congratulations from the President of the Georgia Beekeepers Association.

Junior Beekeeping Program

In addition to the state 4-H program, the Georgia Beekeepers Association will support Georgia’s junior beekeepers by implementing the following program effective June 1, 2014: 

Any active beekeeping club within the Georgia Beekeepers Association whose officers, President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, are all members of GBA shall be eligible to receive financial support for a junior beekeeping program in the amount not to exceed $200.00 per calendar year.
The funds shall be used to support an education program in basic or advanced beekeeping, sponsored and presented by local club members.  Funds may also be used to rent facilities, educational equipment, education materials, advertising, snacks, etc.

A junior beekeeper is defined as any student less than 18 years of age or who has not yet graduated from high school (twelfth grade).

The program shall be available to all youth throughout the state.

The funds may not be used for….                                                                                                  
  • Purchasing equipment such as smokers, hive hardware, personal protection suits, gloves or veils.
  • Paying professional speakers’ travel or fees. 
  • The purchase of bees in nucs or packages, or the purchase of queens. 
To obtain the funds, the president of the local club must submit a request to the Vice President of GBA outlining the program, date/time, location, and expected number of students. The GBA Vice President will review the request, grant approval, and send it to the Treasurer for the funds to be disbursed. Upon completion of the program, the local club president will send a summary of the program, showing number of students, etc, to the VP of GBA for review.  This will be sent to the GBA Secretary to be kept as a matter of record.

The Treasurer will account for all funds distributed and make that a part of the treasurer’s report at the meeting of the members. 

The purpose of supporting these programs is to educate our youth and to encourage learning about the importance of honey bees, and hopefully, get youth involved with the beekeeping industry as a hobby or commercially.  This policy supersedes all previous 4-H and junior beekeeping policies.  

How Bees Influenced a Nation

By Madeline Hillebrand

The Apis mell fera L. or honey bee, although not native to the Western Hemisphere and more specifically, North America2 has played a significant part in the United States of America’s beginning, culture, and symbolism. The first colonies of honey bees sailed from England in skeps as that was most advantageous for climate differences and ease of handling.  The skeps were placed in a wooden crate that was fastened  to a seaward facing platform on the ship’s back deck to minimize bees getting in the way of passengers or the ship’s crew,6 and was sent by the Council of the Virginia Company on December 5, 1621 to the Governor of Virginia.1  Little did  Governor know that there would be no successful import of honey bees for another 16 years.1 A quote from a letter addressed to the Governor of Virginia, states: Wee haue by this Shipp and the Discouerie sent you diurs [divers] sortes of seedes, and fruit trees, as also Pidgeons, Connies, Peacockes, Maistiues [Mastiffs], and Beehives, as you shall by the invoice pceiue [perceive]; the preservation & encrease whereof we respond vnto you…”1       

Life for the Colonists, Native Americans, and their ecosystem changed for the good after the arrival of the honey bee. For the Colonists the arrival of honey bees added four new pieces of barter or trade in the Colonies; honey, wax, propolis and honey bees. Honey was used for sweetening foods and medicines and for making mead (an alcoholic drink made out of honey). Wax was used in making candles, for sealing letters, water proofing leather, smooth thread for sewing, to bind wounds, and even wax sculptures. The propolis could be made into a healing or drawing salve or used as an early type of gum.
For the Native Americans, their diet diversified, and as they added honey and other honey bee produced foods to their diets, they began to appreciate the honey bee. The honey bee was referred to as the “White Man’s Fly” by the Indians as there was no Native American word for wax or honey.1 For their ecosystem, the honey bee was essential to the survival of the Colonist’s crops as all of the flower, vegetable, and grain crops were imported from Europe: Crops that the honey bee- not native bees- was acquired to pollinating.1
             Beeswax was a valued item at home and for export. Taxes were allowed to be paid in beeswax in North Carolina in 1740 and Tennessee in 17852. Records of Virginia exports in 1730 show that the total amount of beeswax exported was a whopping 343,900 pounds!1   A list of exports from the British Continental Colonies in 1770 reported that 128,500 pounds of wax was exported valued at 6,426 pounds sterling2. There is no doubt, beeswax was in high demand.   
One final way honey bees majorly influenced the Colonies is through the Revolutionary War, the Revolution was full of bee allegories,  such as the British being lazy drones living off the sweat of hardworking Colonists3.  A bee skep with 13 rings was used on official currency approved by the Continental Congress, and to throw off British counterfeits, a red beeswax seal was used3.  As a result the honey bee was chosen as the state insect for 17 states4; a reward for all they contributed to our nation.
In the progress of my research I decided to compile a survey to learn the views of beekeepers in my local area. My survey consisted of five questions, and to get as many opinions as possible, the survey was circulated to members of the Coweta Beekeepers Association and other beekeepers I knew. The purpose of my survey was to learn how beekeepers felt about the changes and differences in beekeeping from the colonial times until now.
Five out of six of the beekeepers surveyed replied that honey bees were essential to the colonist’s survival.  The beekeepers unanimously pointed out the positive improvements since the colonial times in the beekeeping industry such as it is safer, modern equipment is more beneficial to the bees and their handlers, and because of removable frames, the bees did not have to be killed to collect the honey.  
 In colonial times in order to harvest the honey all the bees had to be killed (usually by burning sulfur at the hive entrance2), made to swarm, or smoked out. The improvement to the modern hive has made a lasting mark on the beekeeping industry.   
It was agreed that beekeeping husbandry has improved.  In the words of Timothy M. Copeland, “We have advanced in the ways we keep bees and treat them. We keep more hives and do not have to depend on wild honey bees.” The general agreement of those surveyed was that Lorenzo Langstroth is the father of the modern hive. Langstroth’s design, which came from Francis Huber who invented the Leaf Hive in Switzerland in 17985, is now the standard for all hives produced throughout the United States. Thomas Jefferson was influential by promoting the honey bee in colonial America and thus increasing their popularity.
Honey bees are creatures of an intricate and complex nature, they are involved in a society that closely resembles that of human beings. The bee's behavior reflects American virtues and values3  such as fidelity, loyalty, and comradeship.   The honey bee has been used as a symbol of responsibility, industry, and stability from the time of the Romans3, and is found often in the American colonies. The foresight of those that first brought the honey bee to the colonies can now be fully realized.
(Word Count: 932)
1 Honey Bees Across America, By Brenda Kellar 2004 Web.
2History of Beekeeping in the United States, By Everett Oertel October 1980 Web
3Carlson, Laurie. Our National Insect: The Honey Bee as America’s Cultural Symbol.
H-Net Reviews. February 2007.  Web 

 4List of U.S state Insects. Wikipedia. Web
5L.L. Langstroth. Wikipedia. Web.
6 Horn,Tammy. Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation.
The University Press of Kentucky, April 21, 2006.


Richard Littleton, Vice President of the Coweta Beekeepers Association 
Bobby Torbush, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Debbie King, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Timothy M. Copeland, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Steven Page, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Darlene Kelley, Beekeeper

About the Author

My name is Madeline Hillebrand.  I am homeschooled and in 9th grade. I have been an active 4-H member in Coweta County for 4 years. My activities in 4-H includes: Horse Quiz Bowl, Dairy Quiz Bowl, Wildlife Judging, and Poultry Judging. And I am an active member in the Jr. Beekeeping Club, Horse and Pony Club, Poultry Club, Livestock Club, Veterinarian Science Student Organization, K-9 Club and Sigma Lambda Chi. This year I joined the County 4-H Dairy Heifer Show Team. I also play the viola and violin in a homeschool orchestra. I have a passion to become a veterinarian and live on a working farm in rural Georgia where I am able to gain hands on experiences with a wide variety of animals. I love to read and learn.


Homemade Strawberry Jam
by Christine Fahrnbauer, Cherokee Beekeepers

Our strawberries started ripening over Memorial Day weekend and I ended up with a surplus and decided to try a new Pectin I purchased online that touts jelly and jam-making with low amounts of ANY sweetener, or NO sweeteners at all (except for concentrated white grape or apple juice). I was intrigued because I do not like commercially or even home made jams because of the excessive amounts of sugar needed (usually 50-85% sugar, yuck!)

So off I go, mashing and cooking and adding the ingredients to my strawberries. The recipes and easy instructions are included in every box, but for a beginner, I do recommend purchasing the easy to follow with simple illustrations paperback that is also sold with the pectin. The pectin uses a separate calcium powder packet that you must first mix with water and then add to the fruit mixture as it cooks. Pamona's pectin is 100% pure low-methoxyl citrus pectin and it is extracted from the peel of citrus fruit. Once this is mixed with the honey and added to the fruit mixture, it is activated by the calcium. I was in awe of how wonderfully delicious my jam was, with a slight hint of honey! My entire family and several friends gave it rave reviews as well. I then went into my freezer and got the remains of last years blueberry crop and made a couple recipes of blueberry jam as well, also successfully delicious:)

I thoroughly recommend this healthy, low-sweet version of jam, (I only used 3/4 cup honey for 4 cups fruit) especially for those last bits of crystallized honey that need to be 'warmed up' in order to get out of the jar.  I did find the fruit of the strawberry jam floating to the top, so as it jelled and cooled I gently shook and evenly re-distributed it with the liquid.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

4 C. mashed fruit
1/2-1 C. Honey
2 t Pamonas pectin
2 t calcium water
1/4 C. lemon juice (for low acid fruit, such as blueberries)

Photo of Steve Page's swarm trap in action


Survey Results and this month's survey

Last month we asked about what is important to you about being a member of GBA.  
  • 72% of you belong to GBA to learn more about honey bees
  • 41% of you want to be with people with similar interests
  • 34% of you want to support the efforts of the honey bee industry
Among the “other” responses were:
Keeping up with legislative work around bees, accessing vendors at state meetings, and making bee friends.       

This month's survey is about your childhood history with the bees. 
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Links You'll Like!
I'm a new beekeeper in the Heart of GA Club in Perry with 2 - oops, just split one, make that THREE hives! I'm careful most of the time, but I did manage to get stung yesterday necessitating me to look up how to treat a bee sting.  From Ricky Moore
WIKIHOW.COM has a really good article here:

From Sam Alston 
From Philip Dreger
Waggling Bees Give Their Verdict on a Landscape

From Jane Lu, Gwinnett Beekeepers
Chinese man sets terrifying record

From Steve Page
Honeybees abandoning hives and dying due to insecticide use, research finds

From Bee Informed
Preliminary Results: Honey Bee Colony Losses in the United States, 2013-2014 

Note from a beginning beekeeper:

Hello Susie,

Yeap.....the girls were all there tonight. I could not locate the Queen as it was getting quite dark. I will take your wise advice my friend and do this in the daytime. 

I got my Bees from Bill at 7pm and thought I should follow that timing. 

My husband and I suited up, got the material for my smoker and down to the hive we went.  I did not have a lighter :) so back to the house I go.......get back down to the hive....smoke the girls a bit. Take off the top and then........remember I need a hive tool :)......back to the house I go, leaving hubby with the girls (he likes the ladies).......retrieve the hive tool.......back down to the hive I go.....hubby has the smoker. I have the hive tool and we went in to see the girls. It was wonderful. The girls KNEW I was not Bill. I could see it in their behavior. They were good but with Bill they were more calm, peaceful and content. I need to "tell the Bees" how  pleased I am with them and how very valuable and loved they are...girls always like to  hear this :)

From the Hive

Upcoming Events

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!

GBA Fall Meeting Sept 19 -20 at the Hampton Inn in Milledgeville, GA.  Rooms are reserved with a discount at the Hampton and Comfort Suites.  See the GBA website for more information.

Hahira Honeybee Festival, September 29 - October 4 in downtown Hahira.  For more information, visit the website

Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association is hosting the Florida State Beekeepers Association Conference in  West Palm Beach, Florida at the Embassy Suites.  Dates:  Oct. 2, 3, 4, 2014Updated information here.

The Final Buzz

We asked for people outside of the MABA club to respond and you did in droves - we got articles, we got photos, we got essays, we even got poetry!  Thank you for all the contributions - links, suggestions, questions for Aunt Bee, etc.  You are all creative beekeepers out there - send us even more for next month. 

We'll be looking for funny stories, photos, and the ongoing story of your life with bees.  Send them to us and we'll put them in the newsletter.  Also be sure to send us your club's upcoming bee events.

Linda and Gina

Submission Guidelines:  Keep your articles to about 500 words and send them as an attached Word document.  Don't do anything funny to the margins - just makes it difficult for us.  Send photos as attachments to the email.  If they are in the body of the article, we can't use them.  Please tell us who took the photo, where and when.  Use this email address:  Deadline for July Newsletter:   June 25