Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 2015 Newsletter

GBA Monthly Newsletter
Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman, Editors

Julia Mahood took this photo and wrote: I caught a swarm on Sunday--my favorite way to spend a beautiful spring afternoon. The bees were so kind and calm. They were patient as we drove to their new home and patient as they were poured into their new digs. I slid the cover over most of the top, but left an inch or two open so that the still-flying girls could find their way in. I was so relieved to see this line of workers on the edge, tipping their abdomens up high and fanning their wings to distribute the scent from their nasanov glands, telling their sisters “Head this way, our Queen is in here!”

The President's MessageLet’s all join the Bee Team!  

Illustrated above is a hexagon just as our wonderful Honey Bees would construct. They figured out that the six sides are necessary to create a strong voluminous cell to protect their young and store their very valuable food supplies. My illustration shows that we beekeepers need to be concerned about all six sides as well. Many beekeepers start with local club involvement, finding a mentor, and gaining personal education about bees. Just those three facets of learning can help one become somewhat successful as a beekeeper who endeavors to keep and manage honey bees.

              But to create a stronger “knowledge” cell, you need both to continue on to education toward certification levels as well as involvement in state and national organizations. The UGA Young Harris program provides classes to allow you to move through levels of certification. In the past, when our grandfathers kept bees, life was so much simpler. Farming chemicals did not exist as they do now; hive beetles and varroa mites weren’t any problem at all; and we were not worried about Africanized bees and all the other stuff that is on our plates today. So going to Young Harris and listening to Jennifer Berry, et al. discuss the current treatment methods and biology of the bees we love so much is what may save you from losing everything you have invested. Whether you keep bees naturally or use treatment chemicals occasionally, at Young Harris you can learn both sides of success. The Young Harris program has also had many naturalists, like Master Beekeepers Linda Tillman and Keith Fielder, speaking on the environment necessary for bees and honey production.

              Being involved with the Georgia Beekeepers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation is important as well. At the state level, we have almost 3,000 beekeepers and through the state organization, you have a chance to meet others who know what problems you are experiencing and who may have already found a solution. Our state gatherings in the spring and fall bring in nationally known speakers, make available various equipment vendors, and give you a chance to compete in the state honey competition.  The American Beekeeping Federation provides much of the same, but multiplies it by 50! They bring speakers from all over the world of beekeeping and their equipment shows are the best in the business. Each of the state and national organizations keeps us apprised of the progress of the Africanized bee movement, the spreading of diseases and status of chemical use that harms bees in our environment. You certainly leave those meetings feeling a bit overwhelmed with new information about the bee world.

              In summary, the six sided cell is necessary to give you strength and provide you with a voluminous education.  So, I want to encourage you to expand your education and knowledge by getting involved in all aspects of the Bee Team!

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Association


Jennifer Leavey’s students captured a swarm.  She writes: Here is a swarm we captured from the trunk of a cherry laurel (?) right outside the Starbucks in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons at Georgia Tech.  The process drew a lot of attention!
For club speaker ideas, GBA maintains a speaker list. If you would like to speak to clubs, click here to be added to the list. As a speaker, plan to know what your honorarium request will be if you are asked to speak. If you have invited speakers for your club, click here to read an article first published in Bee Culture about how to treat your speakers well. 
UpcomingClubActivitiesMay2015 _1_.pdf by Linda Tillman

We request club meeting information from all Georgia clubs each month.  If you don’t see your club here, we did not get a response to our request.  Consider volunteering to be the person who sends in program information for your club.


Club News and Notes

Lake Country Beekeepers

At the March and April meetings, the Lake Country Beekeepers Association in Sparta, Georgia hosted two popular Georgia beekeepers: Mr. Slade Jarrett of Jarrett Bees, and Mrs. Virginia Webb of Mtn Honey. Mr Jarrett presented a program on Spring Buildup and Management. In early spring, the bees consume a lot of honey as they build up the number of worker bees. This is the time of year when bees will starve and it is very common to find dead bees. It is important to feed sugar water (1:1 ratio) and to keep feeders filled until the nectar flow starts. He discussed checking the hives for brood, pollen and potential swarming. It’s a good practice to split hives but make sure the hive is good and strong. Bees are stronger and more effective in number. To be a successful beekeeper “think and plan ahead on bee time.”

Members who attended the April meeting were treated to a two for one talk as Mrs. Webb shared her enthusiasm for both Apimondia, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Association and Talking to Kids about Honey Bees. The Apimondia Congress is a world wide beekeeping group that gathers once every other year.  Last time Apimondia met in the USA was 1967. The USA is making an Olympics type bid against Canada and possibly Brazil for the location for August 2019 with a proposed meeting site in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference is five full days, like our state meeting on steroids, with 600 programs, hands-on opportunities with 5000 hives, scientific presentations, lectures, the World Honey Show, the Honey Queen and 300-400 trade companies in attendance. Check out Apimondia on Facebook.

Virginia Webb is a third generation beekeeper and an ambassador for the beekeeping world.  She and her husband, Carl, operate Mtn Honey in Habersham GA. She has visited countless schools and similar organizations to share her knowledge of the bee world.  Her teaching philosophy is all about hands-on and involving the audience. She advises not giving honey samples or honey straws in classroom settings due to potential mess honey can create on floors and on the bus. Virginia enjoys sharing the life and important of bees in our world, and encourages every beekeeper to speak to local groups, especially young audiences.
 Lake Country Beekeepers Association Members - The Courson Family: Raymond & Maryleen and their sons, Raymond III and Brent

The Lake Country Beekeepers Association is a 60 member club.  Beekeepers and folks interested in learning how to keep bees gather monthly to learn and share ideas.  The club meets the 3rd Monday of each month at the Hancock County Extension. Visit us on Facebook or contact Bruce Morgan of Morgan Apiaries at 478.357.4029 for further information. Come join us on May 18th at 7:00 p.m. when our guest speaker will be Steve Page of Coweta Honey.

The Chattooga Beekeepers 

participated in the Ag Day sponsored by the Chattooga Young Farmers.  The event hosted approximately 300 students attending from each of the schools in the county.   The beekeepers for this day were Randy and Carolyn Rolen and Sophia Price.

Lake Hartwell Beekeepers

Sweet Afternoon:

Got a call from a local farmer, he began to explain he heard what he thought was a plane coming over. As it turns out, it was their first experience with a swarm. The bees landed near their house in a small peach tree.
They told us that the swarm was about 6 ft. off the ground but by the time we got there the small branch was hanging so low from the weight of the bees they were touching the ground.
We proceeded to lift the limb enough to get a sheet under them, sat our brood box up close and with a little encouragement they slowly checked out their potential new home. A beautiful swarm, we saw the queen when she went in and man, the march of the bees really kicked into high gear to get in there with her.

Sweet Afternoon!
Randall & Shairon Kerlin
Lavonia, GA

Lake Hartwell Junior Beekeeping Class is offered on Thursday, May 7 at 7 PM at First Baptist Church of Lavonia with Chad and Michele Whitworth

Heart of Georgia Beekeepers

receiving a trailer load of nucs on an early April night.

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers 

hive inspection at Blue Heron Nature Preserve. We added a super and checked brood patterns and Queens cells.


Swarm Photos

Nice 4 hour old swarm, very docile. They were thrilled to cover drawn honeycomb. Weird they were on the ground.  by Sam Alston

These three photos (above) were taken by Rick Moore.  This swarm was captured near Hawkinsville, GA in early April, 2015. It was large enough to fill a ten frame hive. By using a bee vac, the entire swarm was gently moved from the tree into a brood box in six minutes.

A Few Good Uses for the Queen Excluder

by Linda Tillman

In a tree there is no queen excluder. In the wild, the queen is free to wander in the comb and lay where she’d like. The queen excluder was developed for the convenience of the beekeeper. During honey harvest, the queen excluder ensures the beekeeper that he/she could remove the honey supers without taking the queen. For the commercial beekeeper, this creates an efficient honey harvest.

With less hives than a commercial outfit, you can employ an unlimited broodnest for the better functioning of the hives.  When you remove frames for harvest, shake or brush the bees off. 

The beginner kits I bought when I started beekeeping each came with a queen excluder so I own two queen excluders. Although I don’t use the queen excluder in my hive, I have found several good uses for it in beekeeping.

1. Swarm includer  
When hiving a swarm, putting a queen “includer” under the bottom box of the hive, just above the hive entrance, will keep a swarm from leaving because the queen can’t go with them.  Remove the “includer” after a night or two (in case the queen in your swarm is a virgin queen and needs to get out to mate).  This suggestion came from Julia Mahood while I was panicking about possibly losing a swarm.

2. Prove that a hive contains two laying queens 
Once I thought I had two queens laying in my hive at the same time. Eggs and brood were in the bottom box, the second box was solid capped honey, and the third box held another box of eggs and brood.

I posted about it on Beemaster Forum. The forum members suggested that I put a queen excluder between the two boxes and leave them for a week. At the end of that time, if there were new eggs in both the top box and the lower box, then I had two laying queens. I did, and there were indeed two laying queens in the hive.  

3.  Ensure that you don't take the queen by accident when making a split. 
Take the frames you want for the split out of the hive and shake or brush every single bee off of them.  Including a couple of frames of brood and eggs provides resources for a new queen. 

Put the queen excluder on top of the brood box.

Above the queen excluder, put an empty hive box. Fill it with the five bee-free frames you have pulled. Don't put any other frames in that box. On top of that box put the inner cover, the top cover, and  leave the hive for the night.

The next day, the brood frames should be covered with nurse bees who have come up to keep the brood and eggs warm. You can move these five frames into their own box with no fear that you have accidentally taken the queen. Simple nuc, simply made.

4.  The perfect drain rack for cut comb honey
The spaces between the queen excluder wires are small and close together to keep the queen from pushing her enlarged abdomen through. If you put cut comb honey sections on a cake cooling rack with wires far apart, indentations are made in the honeycomb. If you want your cut comb honey to be show quality, it should not have wire marks in it. Your queen excluder will solve this potential problem!

The applicable physical principle is Pressure = Force/Area.  The force is the weight of the honeycomb.  More wires in the queen excluder increases the area.  Thus the pressure is less with the queen excluder and does not mark the comb.

So these are four ways to use the queen excluder.  

How do you repurpose this device?

Street Cred: 

Science Daily article about bees being hooked on pesticide nectar


  • Near Unadilla, GA are hundreds of beeyards filled with many overwintered hives and nucs. Here the hives are being inspected, nucs are being created and getting ready to ship. Photos by Ricky Moore.
Dianna Tribble’s Honey Lavender No-Bake Cheesecake

This award winning cheesecake requires no baking!

1/4 cup boiling water
5 tablespoons dried lavender flowers, divided
8 Shortbread Cookies (see recipe), finely crumbled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Mint, for garnish

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over 3 tablespoons lavender flowers. Cover and steep 15 minutes. Strain water and discard lavender. Set water aside.

Crush and finely chop remaining 2 tablespoons lavender flowers. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon chopped lavender, cookie crumbs and butter. Press mixture into bottom of a greased
9-inch springform pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Combine remaining tablespoon chopped lavender with granulated sugar. If you like, use food coloring to tint the sugar purple. Cover and set aside.

When ready to fill the pie, in the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and honey until smooth.

Whip cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese filling. Spoon over prepared crust, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the springform pan to loosen. Remove sides from pan and put pie on a serving plate. Sprinkle with reserved lavender sugar and garnish with mint, if desired. Serves: 12

— Adapted from a recipe in “Tribble Farms Cookbook” by Dianna Tribble
Gardening for you and your Bees
by Gina Gallucci

You will enjoy watching your bees work by having their favorites plants nearby. Bees love native wildflowers, flowering herbs, berries and many flowering fruits and vegetables.  Here in Georgia, a few you should consider include varieties of  mint, basil, sage, thyme, borage, oregano, lavender, chives,  buckwheat,  strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cucumbers, tomato, squash, pumpkins, melons, crocus, snowdrops, jonquils, tulips, sunflowers, asters, dandelions, clovers, lilacs, wisteria, cosmos, black-eyed susans, gaillardia, goldenrod, bachelor’s buttons, anise hyssop, bee balm, sedum, peony and honeysuckle.  If you have the space, planting any type of fruit tree is perfect and trees such as maple, willow, black locust and sumac are also good food sources for bees. 

For a guide to SouthEast plantings for pollinators, click here.
Dear Aunt Bee,

Is it okay to add food coloring to the sugar water on my top feeder so I can more easily see when it needs to be refilled? And how long should I feed a nuc that I just made from an established hive?

Inquisitive but learning

Dear Inquisitive, 

Adding food coloring to sugar water being fed to bees is a great idea. First, as you noted, you can more easily see when it needs to be refilled.  More importantly, if you color the sugar water and that syrup ends up in your honey, the food color will show up as well so use colors like blue or green or purple so that if your honey is tinted blue, green or purple, you will know there is sugar syrup in it.

Feeding your bees during nectar collection pretty much guarantees that your honey will contain sugar syrup.  You should mark the boxes that are on the hive when/if you are feeding so that you will not take honey from those boxes. That still does not guarantee that sugar syrup will not be in your honey because the bees move stuff around in the hive all the time.

If you made a proper nuc from an established hive, you should have given the nuc a couple of frames of brood and eggs, a frame of pollen and a frame of honey. That honey should be enough to give them a start and that nuc should not need feeding here in the early spring.  So I would encourage you to stop feeding now, if you haven’t already. My bees have been bringing in some nectar since the middle of March - maybe even earlier where you are, if you are in a warmer part of the state.

Bees that do need feeding in early spring are package installations. Those bees didn’t know to engorge on honey because they didn’t know they were being shaken into a package. Even those bees only need to be fed a week or two because with the nectar flow, they won’t need the syrup. I got two packages this year and only fed them 1 pint of syrup each because they started bringing in nectar and quit taking the syrup. 

Your Aunt Bee
Yes, it’s been a while since we had a survey.  We would love to get more responses on our one question survey.  Our most recent survey in January asked:  Do you remove wax and propolis from your frames and hive boxes for winter storage?

Of the twenty of you who responded, here’s what we found:

Yes, I scrape them:  13 of you
Yes, I clean them with hot water:  3 of you
No, I take my chances:  3 of you
No, I like to feed my wax moths:  1 of you

Now, wasn’t that a fun question?  We’d love to hear from all over 300 of you to whom this newsletter gets sent….

This month’s question is………….

 Click here to read the question and answer the one question survey.
The Final Buzz

Our newsletter this month is especially colorful because of all your photos!  Don’t be shy about sending whatever you can.  We want to have representation from all around Georgia. 

Please also know we are accepting your info for honeybee related ads for the our  Spilling’ the Honey  newsletter eagerly read throughout the southeast.  If you or your company would like to purchase ad space in the GBA Newsletter, click here.  

Gina and Linda
Your editors