Vol. 11 No. 2 December 2000
Editor: Jennifer Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator
Georgia Beekeepers Fall Meeting
The fall GBA meeting was a huge success. The meeting took place in the north Georgia mountains in the small town of Dillard. Just a quick re-cap of the speaker lineup for those of you who were unable to attend. One speaker, Steve Taber, taught us all about hygienic queens and breeding bees. His lectures were informative and entertaining. Dr. Delaplane and his staff caught us up on the many research projects being conducted at the University of Georgia (blueberry pollination, small hive beetle, chalkbrood and Kenya top-bar hive). BJ Weeks, Virginia and Carl Webb, gave afternoon workshops on a variety of interesting topics. Evelyn Williams won the beekeeper of the year award and the new executive committee was decided. The votes were tallied and fortunately no recounts were required. Here are the newest GBA officers.
President: Carl Webb
Vice President: Ed Thornton
Treasurer: Evelyn Williams
Secretary: Jennifer Berry
Also, a farewell to the last GBA officers and many thanks for all the time and hard work. Other important issues were discussed and voted on during the GBA business meeting. (Please see the GBA newsletter for more details). The bylaws were changed by the following items.
The spring meeting is being planned right now and it looks like it will occur in Savannah. This would be an excellent opportunity for those of you in the south to attend.
EPA makes draft guidance on bee precautionary labeling
On November 22, 2000, EPA published in the Federal Register a Notice of Availability of its draft Pesticide Registration Notice (PRN) on bee precautionary labeling for public comment. Comments on the PRN must be received on or before January 22, 2001. The PR Notice contains EPAâ€™s proposed new guidance regarding appropriate standard label language to protect bees from exposure to pesticides used on crops. In particular, it would require specific language regarding the length of time that a pesticide would pose a threat to bees, based on scientific studies. In the absence of scientific studies, the label would state 24 hours as the length of time the pesticide would pose a threat to bees. The rule would also provide exceptions where no exposure to bees would occur from labeled use or when applicators meet state bee-protection guidelines. EPA believes that these revisions will make the labeling clearer and more easily understood by pesticide users and by regulatory officials who enforce label provisions, thereby helping to ensure that pesticide products used outdoors can be used without posing unnecessary risks of bee mortality.
The Agency believes that label precautions should be supplemented by additional efforts to protect bees from unintended pesticide exposure, and that state programs should have the lead in evaluating such efforts. The PR Notice recommends that state pesticide regulatory agencies consider a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory measures to include in bee-protection efforts. EPA believes that state agencies are in the best position to understand the localized crop-pesticide combinations and other factors that pose the greatest risks to bees, and can implement appropriate measure to mitigate those risks under varying local and geographic conditions. EPA does not intend to set specific criteria or approve state bee protection programs. To obtain a copy of the Federal Register notice and the PRN, visit the EPA web site at www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/. The PRN is also available at www.epa.gov/pesticides/. For more information, call James Roelofs at 703-308-2964.
Management Calendar: December in Georgia
Winter is not officially here yet, but the cold weather has arrived. All floral resources are absent, and temperatures have dipped below the freezing mark in most areas of the state. The honey bee colonies have formed their winter cluster and are now set to endure a period where they must survive on the honey and pollen supplies stored in the hive. There are three basic causes of winterkill, starvation, disease, and queenlessness; however if proper fall management strategies were followed (strong viable queen, adequate supply of honey and pollen, colonies maintained in a disease-free condition, and well constructed hives protected from extreme climatic conditions) then colonies should have no problem surviving the winter period. Langstroth wrote: "If the colonies are strong in numbers and stores, have upward ventilation, easy communication from comb to comb, water when needed, and all the hive entrances are sheltered from piercing winds, they have all the conditions essential to wintering successfully in the open air" (Langstroth, 1859).
Despite a beekeeper's most careful winter preparations, it may be necessary to make a midwinter inspection of the colonies to determine if they are alive or in need of food, especially if fall flows were weak. During the wintertime here in the south, fortunately we frequently have warm days, with temperatures reaching in the 50s-70s depending on the region. Those are the best days to inspect your colony's condition. Now keep in mind that the bees are still quite capable of stinging even if it is too cold outside for the bees to fly. Lifting colonies from the rear is a quick method for determining quantities of honey stores. If the colony is light mix a heavy 2:1 (sugar:water) syrup and feed them with internal division board feeders, inverted plastic pails atop cluster, or top feeders. Do not rely on Boardman entrance feeders in cold weather since the bees are unable to leave the cluster in order to feed.
Hive protection is another consideration. During times of colder weather, mice love the warm accommodations provided by honey bee colonies. To keep out these unwanted guests, it is suggested to use an entrance reducer or mouse guard. Usually guards made of metal provide the best protection since mice can't chew through them. These entrance reducers also provide protection from cold drafts.
Honey bees will maintain a cluster throughout most of the year. In the warmer months, the cluster is loose and mainly occurs around the brood area. During the winter months the cluster begins to tighten as temperatures outside begin to fall at or below 57°F. At these temperatures, the center of the cluster begins to generate heat, while those on the surface serve as insulators. Because the bees are so tightly confined, serious problems can arise during the long winter. Large amounts of bee feces spotted on the front of the hive, which can be a sign of dysentery, may be one problem you will face this winter. Bees will make cleansing flights on warm days and may stain the front of the hive. So little feces spotted on the hive is fine. However, if you see lots of dysentery it may be from several causes:
Industry Roundtable to be held December 12-13, 2000
The national Honey Board is sponsoring an industry roundtable to be held December 12-13, 2000 in Washington D.C. The roundtable will bring together prominent industry associations to discuss industry issues of mutual concern including U.S. vs. generic promotion of honey, how various industry groups can work together and with government agencies to further promote honey, increase demand and improve communication within the honey industry. Representatives from the American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, Mid-U.S. Honey Producers, National Honey Packers and Dealers Association, Sioux Honey Association, US Beekeepers, Western States Honey Packers and Dealers Association to attend the meeting. The National Honey Board Executive Committee as well as three National Honey Board staff members will also attend.
How to Get Georgia Bee Letter
Ask your county Extension agent to put you on the mail list. Paid-up members of the Georgia Beekeepers Association automatically receive GBL. If you receive multiple copies, please tell your county Extension agent.
Resource People for Georgia Beekeeping