Monday, August 4, 2014

August 2014 Newsletter

Photo taken by Josh Strickland, Waverly, GA, of a drone with yellow eyes - consequence of being haploid and only having one set of chromosomes.

President’s Message 

As the year draws to an end and we approach the annual meeting of the membership, a lot is being done to make this meeting a great success.  Most of you know that the Lake County Beekeepers led by Bruce Morgan is hosting the meeting in Milledgeville, Ga.  And since it is in their neighborhood, Keith and RoseAnne Fielder are kicking in a lot of effort as well. Mary Cahill-Roberts has arranged some great speakers from all over the United States and Georgia to wow and educate us. We will also have an actual bee yard set up for our youth to explore and enjoy.  You will be able to view the agenda on our web site, and right now you can sign up using our new registration program.  I’m confident that we will have many positive comments from you about this meeting, and look forward to your input. 

As a matter of business for this meeting, we will be discussing and voting on a couple of by-law changes that should help us function a bit more efficiently in the coming.  In case you did not know, our by-laws are posted on the GBA web site under the section called “Site Map”. The tab is on the top right of the home page.  Please take time to review these as you consider the following: 

First, our Association is growing rapidly with our club numbers approaching 30 affiliated clubs scattered throughout the state. To reach and represent those clubs we have our normal officers consisting of your President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer and three Directors.  At the beginning of my term of office, I appointed one additional Director (Slade Jarrett) to help cover the northeast side of Georgia.  Slade has done a remarkable job being there when we have needed him.  Now I believe that we need to change the by-laws in Article VII, paragraph A from 3 to 4 Directors with two year terms staggered instead of 3 year terms. (That is two directors overlapping for two years).  This last year has proven that this change is essential. 

The next area of interest is the new Junior Beekeeping policy that we just passed and for which we have already written some checks. Some of you may have been wondering how we were going to fund this program. Well, “Old Bear” has been working that issue already.  Article VIII of our by-laws outlines the standing committees.  Paragraph E is for the Research and Education Fund. In that section, two gentlemen, Troy Fore and Reg Wilbanks, have been charged with managing a chunk of money granted to us from American Beekeeping Federation that was earmarked as education funds back in 1982. That money has been in “lock down” for a number of years as we were only allowed to use ½ of the interest gained while the other half was rolled back over into it. In real numbers, we were getting 1.25% annually (or about $10) and only using $5.00. I have obtained the approval of release of the these funds from both of these gentlemen in writing to have it placed in the general fund for use in support of our new Junior Beekeeping policy.  It is currently more than $16K.  That along with reinstating the $1.00 per membership dues to go to the Junior Beekeeping program should keep this program going for quite some time.  

So, it will be recommended that we eliminate that section (Paragraph E, Article VIII) as it is simply not necessary any longer.  The paragraph will be rewritten to reflect the new status of the Research and Education Fund.  The fund will be managed by the President and the Treasurer, and the money in the fund will go to educational projects which benefit Georgia beekeepers, such as Junior Beekeepers.
I am sending this information out more than 30 days in advance of our annual meeting to all of our members for your consideration in accordance with our by-laws.  We want to give you an opportunity to discuss this at our meeting of the members at the fall meeting.  Please bring your questions and concerns to the meeting. 

Bear Kelley,

President, Georgia Beekeepers Association

True Confessions
Lessons Learned that Might Help Others

Honeyhouse Chaos
by Christine Farhnbauer

I love my little honey has progressed into a myriad of wonderful things as I have filled it with both necessary and decorative (also necessary): items that all beekeepers really do not need, but which make our hobby pleasant and more organized.

One of these things for me is a back door. Which provides a nice shortcut to the water spigot when feeding in the fall and in the spring allows the cool breeze to waft its way through as I paint supers, scrape propolis and prepare for nectar flow. And in the summer..... well, I’m not actually sure what good a back door is for, except maybe for a stray bee to find its way in......and tell ALL its co-workers!!! Which is exactly what happened to me not too long ago.

 I had been enjoying the fruits of harvest, in the middle of uncapping and extracting two supers of beautiful wildflower honey when I suddenly realized I was going to be late for a meeting. With no time to waste, I hurriedly left, not bothering to cover the uncapping tank, or bucket filter because I knew I would be coming right back in a couple hours to continue working and clean up. I made sure as always to shut the front door tight, as the nectar flow had ended and I knew the bees were looking for food. 

Upon my return, I immediately knew something was wrong the minute I looked towards the honey house, which sits approximately 10 feet from 20 hives, and saw the entire house enveloped in a cloud of bees!! There were bees an inch thick on all the windows and the glass panes in the front door, trying to get in and out. I stepped into total chaos as thousands of bees flew out, honey stomachs full and taking their hard earned spoils back home as hundreds more came in with me. I could barely see through the fog of bees, the back door standing WIDE open and mounds of bees on the previously dripping wax cappings, wet supers and in the over-flowing filter on top of the honey bucket. I was too overwhelmed to stop and take a picture or video, of which I regret to this day, as it was a sight to bee~hold!! There was really no contest at this point, the bees had won, and I ended up taking it all out in the yard and allowing them to finish gathering their sweet reward. I have yet to try to reclaim that lost honey.....but I do have a lock on that back door now.....only to be opened for feeding as the temperatures drop and wintery days loom ahead.

How To Win Friends & Influence People by Making A Propolis Tincture

recipe by Julia Mahood, Master Beekeeper

           Ingredients you will need:
  • frozen propolis
  • mortar & pestle
  • glass container, dark or covered
  • small dark bottles with dropper
 1. break up frozen propolis & remove any debris
 2. return cleaned propolis to freezer
 3. grind frozen propolis with mortar & pestle until its fine crumbles are about the size of sea salt
 4. put in glass container & fill with alcohol, grain or vodka
 5. shake often over at least 2 weeks; the liquid will become darker and thicker as it dissolves the propolis
 6. pour off clear liquid into dart bottles with dropper
 7. save remaining propolis, add more alcohol and repeat 2 or 3 times- stop when it no longer get darker

General Info:  Bee propolis is rich in bioflavonoids and has several proven antibiotic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and was used medicinally as early as 350 B.C. by the Greeks and Egyptians. It's been shown to slow the growth of bacteria which causes staph infections, common colds, ulcers and urinary tract infections.

People ingest a propolis tincture because it can ward off a number of illnesses.  The tincture can also be applied topically as a means to treat cuts acne, and even scars. A few drops of the tincture, usually a only a fraction of a teaspoon can be dissolved into water or juice for drinking.

After returning from collecting nectar, a forager transfers her honey-stomach (crop) contents to a house bee.  This process is called Trophylaxis.  Photo by Clint Ready, Heart of Georgia.

Try this Bee Fun crossword puzzle, created by Linda Tillman.  You can either print out this page and work it with a pencil or you can click this link and work it online.  When you are all done and want to check your answers, email us at and we’ll send you a filled-out puzzle so you can compare it with yours.

As a beekeeper, have you ever been stung?

by Ricky Moore, Heart of Georgia

I am surprised how many times I hear people ask, “Have you ever been stung?" To me that's like asking if the Pope is Catholic, or do bears live in the woods? Of course beekeepers get stung!

When I got my first hive almost two years ago, all I had for protective gear was a veil and gloves. I thought I was invincible. It didn't take too long before the bees showed me otherwise. They are resourceful, tricky little devils who can find the smallest chink in your armor and get into the soft areas. You know what I mean, right? I think my first sting was through my jeans. That hurt! But I'm a beekeeper, I'm tough, that was my badge of courage, right? Happen to you also?

Early this Spring I was wearing the same gear (before I acquired a complete bee suit), was opening the hives and managed to royally piss off a bunch of guard bees. When they came to have an up close and personal meeting with me, I was not concerned, I had a veil on. Well, this veil was the hood and veil kind that has draw strings that cross over your chest, come around your back and tie in the front. You probably have one just like it. Now I'm not saying I was negligent.  I prefer to think of the bees as educated, resourceful, determined, very intelligent, and persistent... One of the girls found a way inside and wanted to share the interior of the veil with me, but she wasn't happy.

Again, a bee sting hurts, and if it's on your arm or leg, that's one thing, but I really have no desire to get stung on the face, and I told the pretty young bee I meant her no harm and I thought we could peacefully work out our differences. Apparently this Italian girl did not understand English and swearing.

The more she buzzed around inside the veil, the more mental images I had of not being happy at the outcome. Now I ask you, what would you do in a situation like this? Go on, think for a moment and answer to yourself before you read what I did. I'll wait, go on.

OK, if you've been in this situation, what did you do? Or if you have not been wearing this veil yet ( you will...), what would you do?

I decided immediately there was not enough room in the veil for the both of us, so I proceeded to come out of it as fast as humanly possible! Of course the strings were tied tight and did not want to release me. I struggled, which upset my little friend even more, and finally I got the veil off. Problem solved, right? Not even close.

While I was concentrating on my new closest friend, another dozen of her sisters were coming to see what the fuss was all about. Now I didn't have one bee buzzing my veil covered face, but now had a dozen buzzing my naked face. Oh crap.

Instinct took over, not intelligence, just the will to survive. I swatted, and flailed my arms and tried to shoo the bees away. After all I'm a big strong man who could squash them all. But not at the same time. Arms flying and bees zeroing in, I made my next tactical mistake. I ran.

When you quit laughing at me and wipe the tears from your eyes, you know that was not the best thing I could have done. I was being stung. Left leg, right arm, back, right leg, left arm, what was 12 bees felt like a thousand. I could not swat and run fast enough.

Self preservation is a wonderful thing. I remember thinking: I'll run indoors, but soon dismissed that idea knowing they'd only follow me inside and again they'd have the tactical advantage. As I ran around the side of the house, I grabbed the garden hose and drenched myself from head to toe. Water, water, ha ha, the Italian assassins didn't like to swim! After 30 seconds of cool, calming garden hose water shooting all over my body, the bees had made their point and left.

Looking back, the scenario plays out in slow motion and I see my mistakes and what I should have done. And will next time. I was only stung 11 times that day. That's my high score which I hope to never beat.

So the next time someone asks if I've ever been stung, yes, I remember the time...
I keep thinking about all that delicious honey I'm going to get from them.  What goes around comes around.

Ask 10 Beekeepers a Question….

Since preparing honey for a honey contest is best practices training for all honey packaged, what are your top 3 tips for winning ribbons at honey contests.

Jay Parsons:  
Containers should be "Spic and Span" inside and out.
The honey should be clear - devoid of all impurities.
Each jar (x3) should be filled to the fill line equally and consistently for that entry class.

Cindy Hodges:
Never touch the jars with your bare hands.
Always overfill your jars for honey entries.  This way you can skim off the "floaters" and foam and still have a correctly filled jar for entering the contest
Do not extract honey and immediately bottle it.  Let it settle first in the bucket.  Then bottle the center 1/3 for show purposes.

Street Cred

Free Epi Pens, if you have a prescription to purchase Epi Pens at no cost – Click here 

100% natural ways to get rid of ants.  This is slide show and is really interesting.  Click here.

Thanks to Ricky Moore for these links.


The Beekeepers by Pieter the Elder Bruegel circa 1567

It’s hot in Middle Georgia - photo by Ricky Moore

Monthly Survey

Last month’s survey was about how you make your honey labels.  Less than 10% of those who responded purchase labels from catalogs.  About 80% of those who responded design their own labels. 

This month we want to know about water and your bees.  

It’s a one question survey, takes only a moment - please click and answer this question for us.

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

Using the Queen Castle
by Keith Fletcher, Master Beekeeper, certified in both GA and AL
Huntsville, Alabama

If you've been keeping bees for at least a year, you've probably had a situation where you've needed to house a queen temporarily with only a few frames of honey, brood, and pollen until you had more resources to make an additional colony.  Or, while doing an early spring inspection, perhaps you saw many swarm cells in your hive, and realized the lost opportunity of not being able to segregate those swarm cell frames from each other.  Remember, the queen in the colony is like that 1986 Hollywood film, Highlander: "There can be only one."  Normally swarm cells in a hive eventually whittle down to one mated queen. 

Compartmented hive bodies have conventionally been used to place frames with swarm cells, for the purpose of later deriving as many mated queens as you have available compartments.

Brushy Mountain Bee Farm has sold the deep-frame Queen Castle,  a hive body compartmented into four distinct chambers, each able to house a colony of bees with their own queen.  Now they also offer a medium-sized castle.   The medium castle has three compartments to accommodate three medium frames each. Both retail for around $37.  Kelley Beekeeping sells a three compartment deep queen mating box, and Dadant sells a four compartment deep box very similar to BM's queen castle, called the "Queen Rearing Hotel" both retailing around $40-$42.

So why and how can you keep a queen for a season using a "minimum of resources."  As stated before, Brushy Mountain's queen castle holds only 2 deep frames in each compartment, which is very adequate to accommodate a newly mated queen, her stores, her colony and her brood.  One might assume an increased chance for swarming from a two-frame sized compartment, versus a 10 or 20 frame sized space.  Wouldn't the bees get overly congested in a short amount of time in such a small cavity and then swarm?  My experience has shown my bees are far more likely to swarm from full sized colonies than a 2-frame sized one.   

The part I like best about these partitioned boxes, especially if the dividers of each compartment are removable, is the overall versatility.  With a compartmented box like a queen castle, I can make four two-frame nucs or two five-frame nucs.  As the colony outgrows its two-frame compartment, I can move these frames into a separate box with frames of foundation or comb.  Or, if I don't have available woodenware, I can remove a partition between two compartments while de-queening one of the compartments until I'm able to transfer those four frames into a separate box.  Or I can leave those frames and bees in the queen castle.  

Adding to this versatility is the fact that when queen rearing season is over, I can easily transfer the two deep frames per compartment into a regular hive if necessary, taking all eight frames in one queen castle and populating an entire deep hive body with deep drawn comb frames.  If no queen is present, I can easily combine four compartments worth of bees, brood, pollen and honey on deep frames into one open deep eight-frame box, without the bees fighting.  The only condition is open brood should be present, which means most of the the bees on the frames are young, nurse-age bees.  Young nurse bees rarely tend to fight.  It’s freeing to have so many choices.  

But I believe the most popular use of the queen castle, as Brushy Mountain's advertisement suggests, is to utilize swarm cells in other colonies for the production of multiple, additional viable queens.  This may present an alternative to simply cutting our swarm cells and having the colony's queen rearing energy go to waste.  I highly recommend trying one of these compartmented boxes, and adding them to your toolkit of beekeeping.  You'll enjoy the fun of experimenting with new methods of managing your bees.

Dear Aunt Bee,

I'm in a bit of a pickle--my hive is queenless and I don't have another hive to supply it with eggs for a new queen. Fortunately, I know a friendly beekeeper who's willing to provide me with some eggs, but his apiary is kind of far from where I live--how should I transport the frames?

Commuter Beekeeper

Dear Commuter B,

Of course you want to get the eggs and open brood to the queenless hive as quickly as possible, but do be a safe driver!  One way to preserve warmth for the frame is to wrap the frame in a warm, damp towel and put the whole thing in a cooler (no ice, mind you, we are keeping it WARM this way).  

If you have a nuc hive available to you, another way is a little more involved.  Go to the hive from which you want to take the frame of brood and eggs; shake all the bees off of the frame and remove the frame.  Put that bee-less frame in an empty hive box and place the hive box on the top of a queen excluder on the top of the hive (under the inner cover as if it is a part of the hive).   Leave the hive for about an hour and when you come back, the frame will be covered with nurse bees.  

The nurse bees will keep the eggs and brood warm.  They will rarely be killed by the queenless hive when you transfer the frame.  Put the nurse bee covered frame into a nuc box with four empty frames to keep it from sliding around and drive to the queenless hive.

Good luck,

Your Aunt Bee

Question and answer supplied by Noah Macey; second part of the answer from Mark, aka IndyPartridge on Beemaster forum.  Thanks to both.


Honey Lavender Ice Cream

Makes about 1 qt of ice cream
Great served in homemade profiteroles (also found on

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
2/3 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons dried edible lavender flowers*
2 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt

Special equipment: a candy or instant-read thermometer; an ice cream maker

Bring cream, half-and-half, honey, and lavender just to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, then remove pan from heat. Let steep, covered, 30 minutes.

Pour cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard lavender. Return mixture to cleaned saucepan and heat over moderate heat until hot.

Whisk together eggs and salt in a large bowl, then add 1 cup hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Pour into remaining hot cream mixture in saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 170 to 175°F on thermometer, about 5 minutes (do not let boil).

Pour custard through sieve into cleaned bowl and cool completely, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours.

Freeze custard in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

Editor’s note:  I’ve made this for my daughter’s birthday with homemade profiteroles and for a dinner won by someone at a MABA auction where all items on the menu that I made included honey.  It’s AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!

“We lived for honey. We swallowed a spoonful in the morning to wake us up and one at night to put us to sleep. We took it with every meal to calm the mind, give us stamina, and prevent fatal disease. We swabbed ourselves in it to disinfect cuts or heal chapped lips. It went in our baths, our skin cream, our raspberry tea and biscuits. Nothing was safe from honey...honey was the ambrosia of the gods and the shampoo of the goddesses.” 

David McLeod of Henry County sent us these photos of a trapout in progress.  Here’s what he wrote about the above:

“These are a few photos of a trap out I have in progress in Newnan. If you look close you can see the blue porter bee escape. This is day two and you can see the bulk of the bees locked out of the home. This is a recently established swarm that entered approximately a month ago through a bathroom exhaust fan vent and set up house keeping in the ceiling/floor joist bay.
Since it is a new colony it should not have large enough quantities of honey and comb to require ripping out sheet rock to remove. A trap out will work just fine to vacate the colony then once established in the nuclear I can let them rob out what remains.”

A Thank You
by David McLeod

In June the Henry County Beekeepers held their club picnic.  It was a great success. We had 139 in attendance with several of those being new beekeepers. I was especially pleased many of these new beeks were accompanied by their children, the future of our pursuit.  I would also like to extend a special thank you to our vice president Brutz English of Liberty Hill Honey who gladly allowed us the free use of his property and facilities, including full access to all his hives, to host the picnic.

Upcoming Events

Beginner's Beekeeping Course (Morgan County Extension)
August 7, 2014 
Cost: Free  Held at Morgan County Extension Office, 440 Hancock St., Madison GA 30650    Registration:
RSVP by Monday August 1, 2014 
Call 706-342-2214 to register

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.  To register for the fall meeting, click here.  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.

ABF Conference and Trade Show  Jan 6 - 10, 2015 Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim, CA
The Final Buzz 

We hope everyone has had a good honey harvest.  Thank you for all of your contributions to this newsletter.  In this issue we introduced “True Confessions,” which is a place to write (anonymously, if you’d feel more comfortable) about mistakes you’ve made that others may learn from and not repeat.

It’s so good to hear from people all over the state.  We’ll be looking for you at the fall meeting in Milledgeville and hope to encourage many more of you to send us something - make your reservations NOW!

Thanks for the support and keep your photos, articles, etc, coming - we love them each and every one!

Linda and Gina