Vol. 16 No. 1                    March 2005

Editor: Jennifer Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator

2005 Young Harris College / UGA Beekeeping Institute

The 2005 YHC / UGA Beekeeping Institute will be held May 19-21 at Young Harris College. The UGA honey bee program offers the annual Beekeeping Institute in cooperation with Young Harris College and the Towns County Extension Service. Since 1992 the Institute has represented the single most comprehensive opportunity in the Southeast for concentrated training in all aspects of practical beekeeping. Held in Young Harris (GA) in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Institute is a three-day event with lectures and workshops by leading authorities on honey bees. There are separate curricula for beginners and more experienced beekeepers, as well as fun optional activities such as a competitive honey show, gadgets display, and Master Beekeeping program. It has become a tradition to include an ice cream social, and cookout complete with performances from a local bluegrass band.

Special guest instructors include Dr. Eric Mussen, extension apiculturist at the University of California, and Dr. Mike Stanghellini, post-doctoral research associate at Rutgers University. In-state instructors include Dr. Paul Arnold, Robert Brewer, Keith and Rose Anne Fielder, Bill Owens, PN and Evelyn Williams and all the old and new members of the UGA honey bee lab. Go to our website (www.ent.uga.edu/bees) and click on "Upcoming Meetings and Workshops" and then "Educational Workshops in Georgia" for complete information and registration form.


UGA PhD Student, Amanda Ellis, To Study Effects of Parasitism on Honey Bee Pollination Efficacy and
Foraging Energetics


Amanda's research will attempt to quantify the secondary effects of parasites on pollination efficacy and foraging energetics of honey bees. Varroa mites and small hive beetles will serve as the model parasites, and canola and blueberry as the study plants. 

Both varroa mites and small hive beetles have been identified as major honey bee pests within the past 20 years. Varroa mites have been found to decrease honey yield (De Jong et al. 1982) and reduce the number of pollen foragers (Janmaat et al. 2000). Concerning individual bees, varroa mites promote weight loss, shortened life span, reduced size of mandibular glands, reduced flight activity, reduced insecticide tolerance, and smaller sperm loads in drones (Schmid-Hempel 1998). Adult small hive beetles also have been found to negatively affect honey bee colonies by lowering bee populations, brood area, and average flight activity (Ellis et al. 2003). 

In these studies, Amanda will determine if direct effects of both parasites on honey bees limit the bees' efficacy as pollinators. Both blueberry and canola require insect pollination (Delaplane and Mayer 2000, Westcott and Nelson 2001). For blueberry, the rabbiteye variety "Climax" that is self-sterile and requires cross-pollination will be used (Delaplane and Mayer 2000). Canola is 70% self-pollinated but many researchers have concluded that insect pollination provides higher seed set and yield, higher numbers of seeds per pod and higher numbers of pods, earlier pod formation, and faster and more uniform seed maturation (Westcott and Nelson 2001). Hence, the two target crops differ in their degree of dependence on insect pollination, thus allowing one to make more general conclusions on parasite/host-pollinator/plant fitness dynamics. 

The effects of parasites on honey bee foraging energetics will also be considered. For example, the equations involved in calculating net energy gain take into account bee mass and nectar ingestion rate, both of which could be affected by parasites. It already has been demonstrated that varroa mites can reduce bee weight, which could, in turn, affect the bee's net energy gain.

Georgia Beekeeping Association 2005 Spring Meeting

This year's Georgia Beekeepers Association spring meeting was held in Perry, Georgia, Saturday, February 19th. Over 60 people were in attendance. Speakers included Dr. John Skinner from Tennessee, Dr. Jamie Ellis and PhD student Amanda Ellis from UGA, Fred Rossman from Rossman Apiaries, Carl Webb, and Bill Owens. We are glad to see that with each passing year the GBA meetings and membership are growing. The fall meeting is planned for late September or early October in Athens depending on the football schedule. Details of the meeting will be posted as soon as they become available.

Management Calendar: March - May in Georgia

Colonies are quickly building up for the upcoming nectar flow. It's an exciting time of year, however, it is also a critical time for your bees. Brood is being reared and stores of honey and pollen being consumed rapidly. It is imperative that you check your colonies this month for honey and pollen supplies. If colonies are in need of food, feed a 1 : 1 sugar syrup solution. This is important and should not be delayed. Here at the UGA honey bee lab we receive numerous calls this time of year about colonies that have died. Upon inspection, it is often simple starvation.

Medications for disease prevention along with varroa and tracheal mite treatments should be completed. If you haven't already treated, now would be the time. However, varroa mite treatments may be unnecessary if your colony mite level is below the economic threshold of 60-190 mites in a 24-hour sticky sheet test. Sticky sheet insertion for twenty-four hours without chemical treatments is an effective way to determine mite levels within your colony. Also, I have heard disturbing reports about colony losses up to 50% in some locations. Samples from these colonies tested positive for tracheal mites. Don't forget to treat with grease patties! These mites pose a serious threat to your colonies. Treatments are chemical free and can be left in the hive even during a nectar flow. Don't delay! Get those patties in today!

On warm days, check your colony for poorly performing queens. Little to no brood or a patchy pattern is a sign of a bad queen. Re-queen her as soon as queens become available. The longer you wait to re-queen the weaker the colony will become.

Swarm season is rapidly approaching. Swarm prevention is easy in theory but difficult in practice. The colonies' urge to swarm is intense this time of year. Besides foraging for nectar, swarming is top on their list for activities during the spring months. However, one of the primary goals of any beekeeper is to keep this from happening. If a colony swarms, the beekeeper loses precious bees within minutes. Cutting out queen cells, re-queening, and equalizing colonies are good ways to reduce swarming.

Hopefully this year, we will have a record breaking spring and summer nectar flow, so get those colonies healthy and strong and ready for production.

California Almond Growers Plead for Bees

The California almond industry requires more than one million colonies to pollinate their 530,000 acres of almonds. The state's $1.189 billion almond crop is entirely dependent on honey bee pollination and California growers are responsible for more than half the world's almond production. It is estimated that half the colonies required for almond pollination come from California and the other half are trucked in from all over the United States with the majority coming from Montana and North Dakota. However, even beekeepers as far south as Florida and east as Pennsylvania truck in their bees for the bloom. Last year's almond pollination season took over half of all the hives in the United States. This year the demand is even greater and will require more bee hives because of the rise in almond acreage which has been steadily increasing since 1984. Due to shortages of honeybees this year, pollination prices have jumped to around $100 per hive. What's the primary reason for the shortage of colonies you ask? Our good old friend, Varroa destructor. Infestations have caused widespread colony death by directly invading the colony and feeding on the brood and adults or indirectly by spreading diseases. Hive losses have reached 50 percent in some states.

If you are thinking about employing your colonies for almond pollination or other crop pollination services make sure you do your homework and understand what you and your bees are getting into. Also, have a written contract with the grower. This will help prevent any misunderstandings in the future. This year's Young Harris Bee Institute will include lectures for beekeepers considering running their bees for almond and other commercial crops.

Georgia Approval for Api-Life Var™ Renewed for 2005

The US Environmental Protection Agency has renewed Georgia's application for the use of Api-Life Var™ to control varroa mites for 2005. This exemption falls under the provisions of section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, as amended, to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. All applicable directions, restrictions, and precautions on the proposed product label submitted by the state must be followed. The national registrant is Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Moravian Falls, NC. Here are the guidelines for using this product as stated by the EPA. 

1.       The unregistered product, Api-Life VAR containing 74.08% thymol, 16.0% eucalyptus oil, and 3.7% L-menthol (currently there is no EPA Registration number), manufactured by Chemicals LAIF, Italy, may be used. Except as stipulated in this authorization, applicable directions, restrictions, and precautions on the proposed product label submitted by the state must be followed.

2.       A maximum of 300,000 Api-Life VAR tablets may be used.

3.       Applications can be made in any season (spring, summer, fall, winter) in which all applicable restrictions, precautions and directions for use can be followed. Do not use when surplus honey supers are in place. Use when average daily temperatures are between 59o F and 69o F. Do not use Api-Life VAR at temperatures above 90o F.

4.       Two treatments per year may be made. A treatment (3 tablets) consists of the following: Take one tablet and break into four equal pieces. Place pieces on the top corners of the hive body. Avoid placing pieces directly above the brood nest. After 7-10 days, replace with a fresh tablet broken into pieces as above. Repeat procedure again, 7-10 days later and leave last tablet for 12 days. After 12 days, remove residuals from the colony. To prevent the bees from gnawing the tablet either enclose each piece of tablet in an envelope of screen wire (8 mesh/inch) or place the uncovered pieces above a sheet of metal screen that prevents bees from contacting it.

5.       Remove Api-Life VAR tablets from hive at least 1 month (30 days) prior to harvesting the honey.

6.       Do not use during honey flows.

7.       Do not harvest honey from brood chambers or colony feed supers.

8.       An exemption from the requirement of tolerance is in place for residues of menthol in honey and beeswax (40 CFR §180.1092).

9.       The EPA Headquarters and Regional office shall be immediately informed of any adverse effects or misuse resulting from the use of this pesticide in connection with this exemption.

10.   The use of Api-Life VAR in bee hives to control varroa mites is not expected to have any adverse effects on the environment since it is considered an indoor use. 

Electronic Delivery of Georgia Bee Letter 

If you would like to receive Georgia Bee Letter via email, send me your address at jbee@bugs.ent.uga.edu. If you have sent me your address and not received GBL, please send it again. We sometimes experience computer viruses on campus. Also, notify me if there are changes to your club meeting times or contact persons.

How to Get Georgia Bee Letter

Ask your county Extension agent to put you on the mail list. GBL can be received electronically by emailing your request to jbee@bugs.ent.uga.edu . If you receive multiple copies, please tell your county Extension agent.

                                                                            Regular Meetings

Chattahoochee Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm bimonthly, second Monday

Oxbow Meadows Nature Center, Columbus

Cherokee Beekeepers Club

7:00 pm third Thursday

Cherokee County Justice Building, Canton

Coastal Area Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday

Southbridge Tennis Complex, Savannah

Coweta Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday

Coweta County Extension Office

East Central Georgia Bee Club

7:00 pm fourth Monday, (bi-monthly)

Burke Co. Office Park Complex

Eastern Piedmont Beekeepers Association

7:30 pm first Monday

Bishop Community Center
4951 Macon Hwy, Bishop

Foothills Beekeepers Association 7:00 third Monday, February through September Banks Co. Ext Office
413 Evans St., Homer
Forsyth Beekeepers Club 6:30 pm third Monday Forsyth County Library, 585 Dahlonega Hwy, Cumming

Heart of Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday

Georgia Farm Bureau, 1620 Bass Rd., Macon

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Tuesday

Dunwoody Nature Center, Dunwoody

Mountain Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm first Monday

Conference room in Appalachian  Bank, Blairsville

Northeast Mountain Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Thursday

Northeast Georgia Regional Library, Clarksville

Northwest Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday
January through June, and also in September

Walker County Agricultural Center - Rock Spring
For more information, contact the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548

Southeast Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm fourth Tuesday

Wacona School Building, Waycross

Southwest Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:30 pm last Tuesday, even months

Swords Apiaries, Moultrie

Tara Beekeepers Association (Clayton County area)

7:30 pm third Monday

Reynolds Nature Preservation


Beekeeping Subscriptions

American Bee Journal, Hamilton, Illinois 62341 (217) 847-3324
Bee Culture, 623 W. Liberty Street, Medina, Ohio 44256 (330) 725-6677
The Speedy Bee, P.O. Box 998, Jesup, Georgia 31598-0998 (912) 427-4018


Resource People for Georgia Beekeeping

Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers Association
Jim Harris, President
34333 Pontiac Drive
Columbus, GA 31907
(706) 563-4186
Cherokee Beekeepers Association
BJ Weeks, President
(770) 735-3263
Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association
Greg Stewart, President
124 St. Ives Way
Savannah, GA 31419
(912) 232-6734
Coweta Beekeepers Association
Wally Batchelor
P.O. Box 71425
Newnan, Georgia 30271
(770) 328-3472
East Central Georgia Bee Club
Edwin S. Stephens, President
522 Pine Needle Rd.
Waynesboro, GA 30830
Eastern Piedmont Beekeepers Association
Bill Owens, Chairman
(770) 266-6619
Foothills Beekeepers Association
Michael Gailey, President
(706) 776-1843
Forsyth County Beekeepers
Jan Payne
2926 Pruitt Road
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 781-2959
Georgia Dept. of Agriculture
Barry Smith, Manager
Apiary Program
P.O. Box 114
Tifton, GA 31793
(912) 386-3464
Metro Atlanta Beekeepers
Robert Pokowitz, President
Mountain Beekeepers Association
Larry Sams, President
158 Needlemore Drive
Hayesville, NC
Northeast Mountain Beekeepers Association
John Haaseth, President
(706) 865-1085
Northwest Georgia Beekeepers Association
Rick Cline, President
P. O. Box 5
Rock Spring, GA 30739
Southeastern Georgia Beekeepers Association
Bobby Colson
945 Sinkhole Rd.
Register, GA 30452
(912) 852-5124
S.W. Georgia Beekeepers
Sonny Swords
5 - 28th Avenue N.W.
Moultrie, GA 31768
(912) 941-5752
Tara Beekeepers Association
Bill Lynch, President
60 Yates Road
Hampton, GA 30228
(770) 707-2627
Towns County Coordinator
Robert Brewer
Georgia Master Beekeeper Coordinator
PO Box 369
Hiawassee Ga 30546
(706) 896-2024
University of Georgia
Jennifer Berry
Apicultural Research Coordinator
1221 Hog Mountain Rd.
Watkinsville, GA 30677
(706) 769-1736
University of Georgia
Keith S. Delaplane
Professor of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
(706) 542-2816