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ABF E-Buzz: April 2014
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ABF E-Buzz — April 2014

In This Issue:








Welcome to ABF E-Buzz

by Tim Tucker, ABF President and ABF E-Buzz Editor 

"When the clouds shake their hyssops, and the rain
Like holy water falls upon the plain,
'Tis sweet to gaze upon the springing grain
And see your harvest born.
And sweet the little breeze of melody
The blackbird puffs upon the budding tree, 
While the wild poppy lights upon the lea
And blazes 'mid the corn."

-  Francis Ledwidge, "A Rainy Day in April"

Welcome back!

Since we last met, much water has flowed under the bridge. We have had reports of large numbers of bee colonies affected in the almonds with combination sprays of fungicides and Insect Growth Regulators. Our vice president, Gene Brandi, and brother, Bob Brandi, met with members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Los Banos, California two weeks ago to discuss the deaths and the number of colonies affected. Almost 40 beekeepers attended the meeting and there were many more on a later conference call. In excess of 80,000 colonies appeared impacted once a list was completed. George Hansen had 1,300 colonies weakened to the point they could not be rented after almonds for other pollination contracts. More economic losses are carried by our industry and we have no way of recovering. Many beekeepers will have a difficult time making splits that they had planned on making coming out of almonds and building their numbers. There were reports of several beekeepers who have said they won't be returning for another trip due to the high cost of exposure to pesticides. The sad thing is that there are better management practices that could prevent these issues and Paramount Farms, one of the largest almond producers, does not treat while they have bees in their groves. What a simple solution to help minimize issues with pesticide applications! 

There is even good science that at the end of the bloom when spraying is done that no fruit will set after that point and it does no good to spray whilst the bees are still in the groves. We will be working hard with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the EPA to educate growers on the issues with tank mixing different pesticides and the need to let beekeepers exit the almonds prior to treating. It is also a good idea to split these treatments apart due to the fact that the synergistic effects are far greater than doing individual treatments. Yes, that may be more expensive but it is less risky for the bees and our livelihood. Let's hope we can make some progress in returning to better pest management practices in the future. 

While reading one of my back issues of the Illinois State Beekeepers Bulletin recently, I came upon an article by Steve Petrilli which was quite interesting. It was an informative article about a website called Free Map Tools (freemaptools.com) and it is very useful so I am relaying the information to you. If you visit the site, you can find any location by address or navigational specs of longitude and latitude. You can find areas defined from an apiary location in a circle of any size you choose. I put my home address in and three mile radius as the parameters for seeing just where my bees could go in my neck of the woods. It was quite interesting to see just how far they could go and how they could overlap the next address I put in, which was my next closest apiary. There was a large overlap that I hadn't thought about before. 

Once you are on the site homepage, you can click on the "Radius around a Point" feature and then scroll down the page to "Options" where you can put in the radius of the circle in miles or kilometers from your starting address and it will bring up a map of the area. You can then look at the table below where it says "Output" and there is a table that tells the square kilometers or acres enclosed by the circle. A circle with a three mile radius includes 18,110.2 acres. That is absolutely amazing! This is a nifty little site with lots of other options but it's very useful for beekeepers to see where our bee yards might overlap and where we may need to look for other apiary sites that don't offer double coverage from the next door neighbor's bees or our own. I hope you find it a useful tool.

We have some great news items for you to view this month as well as another edition of Science Buzz from Peter Teal. In addition, Anna Kettlewell has a great report on what our Honey Queen and Princess have been up to the past month.  Another great recipe and of course, there's another hint for our riddle as no one came up with the answer last month. So, thanks again for stopping by and we hope you find it time well spent. Have a great spring with your bees and we hope you have things supered up for lots of honey production!   

 Hope you find your time here well spent and if there's anything you have to add to the ABF E-Buzz in the future, e-mail me at: tuckerb@hit.net.   


Legislative Buzz: Bee A Giver

By this time you are well into your 2014 beekeeping year. The American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) is well into its year, too, and is focusing on the legislative goals that were set during the Baton Rouge conference.

ABF President Tim Tucker, and ABF Vice President Gene Brandi are working hard to make sure ABF has their focus on the 2014 legislative priorities which include:

  • Working with EPA and others to reduce the impact of pesticides on our bees
  • Protecting our honey market; increasing funding for vital bee research
  • Promoting and protecting honey bee habitats
  • Working on bee transportation issues
  • Working to improve crop insurance, ELAP, and H-2A labor programs

As a member of ABF, you will be receiving a letter from Gene Brandi soon asking for your commitment and support of this Legislative Fund Campaign. While your contributions are vital, there is something else just as important - maybe more important at times. We need you to keep in contact with your members of Congress, both your Representative and your state's two Senators. They and their staff members need to be aware of your beekeeping activities and of our industry's needs - and they need to hear this from you. Enclosed is a document with tips on how to make these contacts.

The bottom line is that the ABF cannot achieve the goals set by the membership without the financial resources to get the job done and, at this time, we are again behind budget in the ABF Legislative Fund. Do we want to see our goals reached badly enough to commit what it takes?  We can assure you that your contributions to the ABF Legislative Fund are spent carefully and with full consideration of how important this work is for you, the ABF members. Your donations are very much appreciated and are an investment in the future of your business, as well as the beekeeping industry as a whole.  

Please make your donations to the Legislative Fund Campaign.  

Bee Aware: USDA Officially Announces Sign-Up Date for Farmer and Rancher Disaster Assistance Programs

Sign-Up Begins April 15 for Livestock, Honey Bee, Fruit Grower Programs

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that farmers and ranchers can sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill, beginning Tuesday, April 15, 2014.  Quick implementation of the programs has been a top priority for USDA. 

"These programs will provide long-awaited disaster relief for many livestock producers who have endured significant financial hardship from weather-related disasters while the programs were expired and awaiting Congressional action," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama and I prioritized the implementation of these disaster assistance programs now that the Farm Bill has restored and strengthened them."

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. Enrollment also begins on April 15 for producers with losses covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

" LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather.  Eligible livestock includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, swine, horses, and other livestock as determined by the Secretary.

" LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on publicly managed land.  An eligible livestock producer must own, cash lease, or be a contract grower of eligible livestock during the 60 calendar days before the beginning date of the qualifying drought or fire in a county that is rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as D2, D3, or D4.

" ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honey bees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.  

" TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.  

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees have worked exceptionally hard over the past two months to ensure eligible farmers and ranchers would be able to enroll to receive disaster relief on April 15. 

To expedite applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting these losses in preparation for the enrollment in these disaster assistance programs.  Information on the types of records necessary can be provided by local FSA county offices.  Producers also are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center. 


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).


Bee Ready: Save the Date for the 2015 ABF Annual Conference

Mark your calendars and save the date for the 2015 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow.  Anaheim, California is the host city for the 2015 ABF conference and is sure to be a fantastic destination for our January event.  The conference will be held at the Disneyland Hotel, a AAA Four Diamond property, featuring three swimming pools, five dining locations and a quick walk to Downtown Disney.  

Now with improved, luxurious rooms, new pools and waterslides, themed dining and more, the newly transformed Disneyland Hotel is a modern vacation destination in itself. With a modern look of classic Disney; magical Disney in every room; old Disney friends in the lobby; exquisite dining; and new memories every night, the Disneyland® Hotel is the place to be.

The ABF conference committee has already started planning for the 2015 conference and it's sure to be a "magical" event. We hope you can join us in the place where "dreams come true" for an experience you won't soon forget.  Visit www.abfnet.org for updates!   

Bee Educated: ABF 2014 "Conversation with a Beekeeper" series continues in May  with two new sessions  

The ABF Education Committee has been hard at work developing new ways to keep its members engaged and informed in between ABF annual conferences each year. To this end, the ABF is pleased to offer two more sessions in May.
Keeping Record for Your Beekeeping Business
Thursday, May 15, 2014
8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT / 5:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. AKST / 3:00 p.m. HST
Ari Alvarez, Founder of BeeManiacs
Join Ari Alvarez on how keeping records of the beekeeping operation will help a good beekeeper repeat his/her successes and avoid costly mistakes from year to year. If you are a beginner beekeeper, you need to keep records so you can seek help from a mentor and be able to provide information of the conditions that lead to an issue. Commercial beekeepers need to keep track of many hives and as the quantity of hives increase the harder it gets to remember things on specific hives or even the location of some yards. We will talk about the reasons why you should keep records and cover methods used by different beekeepers. We will show different options available to beekeepers from beginners to commercial level. 
About the presenter: 
One of the founders of BeeManiacs, Ari Alvarez is a Certified Journeyman level beekeeper in WA State. Ari is involved with the ABF education committee and Washington State Master Beekeeper Program committee. He can usually be found teaching or supporting bee classes in associations and schools around the Spokane, Washington area.

Swarm Essentials: Biology and Management in Your Hive
Thursday, May 22, 2014
8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT / 5:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. AKST / 3:00 p.m. HST
Stephen Repasky
Swarming in honey bees is a phenomenon that continues to fascinate and puzzle beekeepers from all over.  In this webinar, we will take an indepth look at the mechanisms that trigger swarming, how recognize them in your hive and how to manage those mechanisms to prevent swarming, how to tell if your hive has swarmed and what to do about it and how to manage your colony after it has swarmed and all the issues associated with this process.  A brief discussion on trapping and catching swarms will also be discussed.
About the presenter: 
Stephen Repasky, of Pittsburgh, PA, is an EAS Certified Master Beekeeper and currently serves as the President of Burgh Bees, Second Vice-President of the PA State Beekeepers Association and sits on the Board of Directors for the American Beekeeping Federation. He owns and operates Meadow Sweet Apiaries and mentors new beekeepers, teaches beekeeping  classes, raises local queens, collects swarms and extracts feral honeybee colonies from structures as well as works with local communities to  develope regulatory code to allow the keeping of bees in urban areas. Stephen received a B.Sc. degree in Wildlife Management from Penn State and has recently written a book entitled "Swarm Essentials:  Ecology, Management and Sustainability". 
The sessions will be conducted via the GoToWebinar online meetings platform, which means the presenter will have a visual presentation, as well as an audio presentation. Upon entering the session online, you may choose whether to listen to the presentation through your computer's speakers or through your phone.
Reserve your spot today by going to our ABF website and follow the link. You must log into your ABF membership account to register. Registration will close 48 business hours before the scheduled session. Twenty-four hours before the session the registered participant will receive an e-mail confirming participation, along with the necessary information to join the session. If an e-mail address is not provided, the ABF will call the participant with the information. 
If you are unable to make the session, don't fear! Each session will be recorded and available on the ABF Web site for member-only access.
Have you missed out on any or all of the great webinars we have hosted over the past year?  Good news!  All of the ABF's "Conversation with a Beekeeper" webinars are archived on the ABF website and you can easily access them at your convenience.
You will need to log into your account to access the sessions.  If you don't remember your username or password, please contact Jon Magee, ABF membership coordinator, at jonmagee@abfnet.org

Science Buzz

By Peter Teal, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS

April in North Florida means the bees are swarming, and this year swarms are being reported everywhere. In fact, my son and I caught a swarm in a tree branch in our front yard in Gainesville on Friday! Prior to this, we observed intense foraging of bees on the holly bush flowers in the yard for several weeks. There are no managed hives for miles around our subdivision, so it seems logical that the swarm was a split from another feral hive. This is amazing and hopefully signals resurgence in the feral population of honey bees.  

A few years ago, feral colonies were nowhere to be found in North Florida. We conducted research in which we set out feeders for three years in numerous areas where no managed colonies were present during our studies on small hive beetles, and observed no bees feeding. Similarly, we never saw bees pollinating hog plum, date palm or garden vegetables during this period. In speaking with those "in the know", we learned that the loss of feral hives was due to decimation by the Varroa mite (see Olroid's paper "What's Killing American Honey Bees?" published in 2007 in PLoS Biology 5(6): e168. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050168). I was told that feral colonies in our area had essentially become extinct. This year the situation is dramatically different in these same areas as is evident from the picture I took of bees pollinating hog plum on my family's farm.  

The big question is why is there resurgence? Pesticide use can be ruled out because there has been no change in use either in the urban or agricultural systems. What about weather? Well, we broke a drought last year (to the left is the riverbed in 2012; to the right is the river now). The drought lasted several years and forage for bees was clearly limited. This would definitely limit the number of feral colonies. Over the past year we have received "normal" rains and this winter has been the wettest I can remember in 30 years. This led to a fantastic bloom of both wild and cultivated plants and has definitely helped the bee populations significantly. 

Finally, although feral colonies were decimated by Varroa mite, those that survived may have developed behavioral resistance to the mite. We know Varroa sensitive hygienic behavior can be artificially selected for by humans because our USDA-ARS laboratory in Baton Rouge has successfully developed these lines over a short period of time. So, intense selection, in the wild, for queens that are able to survive Varroa infestation is reasonable. These are all speculative reasons for the increase in my observation of the numbers of feral bees, but they may still be correct. Either way, the numbers are up and this may be good for managed bee hives. 

The reason is that feral drones bring a different set of genes into the mating pool and if they mate with managed queens, they add to the genetic diversity of the offspring from that queen (see Olroid's paper mentioned above). Another intriguing question for which I cannot find a definitive answer is:  Do feral captured colonies perform as well as managed colonies in an apiary? Unfortunately, I have only collected one feral colony this year (but I'm still looking) so a real comparative experiment is not yet possible.  However, my son and I have set up the feral colony along with a new managed colony we obtained the day after we caught the swarm. We will be monitoring both over the year and I'll let you know what happens.

Bee Updated: Latest and Greatest News from the National Honey Board 

 In its seventh year of support, the National Honey Board (NHB) is pleased to announce its five sponsored MiLB™ teams for 2014. With honey as the official natural energy booster of each of the teams, the NHB will continue its honey education through in-park promotions and a broadcast media presence.

The 2014 promotion will include electronic and billboard ballpark signage that will be displayed throughout the 2014 MiLB season. In addition, each ballpark will host between-innings honey trivia spots to directly engage fans in the honey messaging efforts. For a broadcast media presence, the NHB's Natural Energy Play of the Game will be featured on each team's live play-by-play radio broadcast. NHB will also sponsor the Kiss You Honey cam in an effort to encourage fan participation. 

"We've really enjoyed working with Minor League Baseball," said Bruce Boynton, CEO of the NHB. "It's a great opportunity to reach out to the fans, showcasing honey's versatility, as well as highlighting it as an all-natural energy booster."

This year's sponsorship of MiLB will continue to incorporate free team cap offers and discounts on team merchandise for baseball fans. All offers are tied to the proof of purchase (with original receipt) of a bottle of pure honey. This program is designed to increase the awareness and consumption of honey while offering baseball fans discounts on official team souvenir merchandise. The honey purchase incentive program will be supported through radio and television promotions, in-park PA announcements, marketing handouts at the fan service desk and team merchandise stores of each ballpark, as well as banner ads on each of the team's website. 

Below is the list of participating teams and specific discount information.

Brooklyn Cyclones, Class A Short Season ®, Brooklyn, New York

Get a free Official Team Cap, with grocery receipt*

OR save 10% off team souvenir merchandise

Clearwater Threshers, Class A Advanced ®, Clearwater, Florida

Get a free Official Team Cap, with grocery receipt*

OR save 20% off team souvenir merchandise

Portland Sea Dogs, Double-A ®, Portland, Maine

Get a free Official Team Cap, with grocery receipt*

OR save 10% off team souvenir merchandise

Savannah Sand Gnats, Class A ®, Savannah, Georgia 

Get a free Official Team Cap, with grocery receipt*

OR save 15% off team souvenir merchandise

Spokane Indians, Class A Short Season ®, Spokane, Washington  

Get a free Official Team Cap, with grocery receipt*

OR save 10% off team souvenir merchandise

*The 2014 Free Team Cap Offer or Merchandise Discount Offer is limited to one redemption per person per game. Free cap quantities may be limited, teams reserve the right to offer a coupon for redemption at a later date. For more details and specific exclusions on discount offers, please visit www.honey.com/baseball.  

The National Honey Board is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs.

Honey Queen Buzz: Honey Queen and Princess Are Buzzing Across America

by Anna Kettlewell, American Honey Queen Program Chair

April brings the buzz of honey bees back home. Queen Susannah and Princess Elena have been buzzing across America to welcome the bees home this month!

Princess Elena visits the Florida Blueberry Festival 
 Queen Susannah on Oregon KEZI morning television. 

Susannah's April travels took her to Oregon for the annual GloryBee Foods Bee Weekend. This educational and promotional event was a great way for the American Honey Queen to promote the industry. Susannah was involved in presentations, media interviews, and meetings with the public to promote

honey and beekeeping. It was a successful second year promotion for the Queen Program. If your beekeeping company has a community event, please consider having the Honey Queen or Princess attend and discuss an aspect of the industry. We'd love to arrange a similar visit in your area!  

Elena traveled to Florida in April to participate in the Florida Blueberry Festival. This was a first time event for the program, and it attracted tens of thousands of guests.  Events like these, those that celebrate the aspects of agriculture supported by the honey bee, are great ways to promote our own activities. Consider having the Queen or Princess visit your local festival or farmers' market to drum up some business for your honey booth or to speak on the stages at your events.  Weekend promotional trips like these are welcome, particularly in the spring as the Queen and Princess are finishing up their college semesters.


April and May will bring the conclusion of the Queen and Princess's college semesters, and they will be ready to promote nearly full-time the rest of the year. I look forward to hearing from you soon about your request for Susannah and Elena to visit your state.

Thank you to everyone who has been contacting me to request your promotional dates. We are busily working on the late spring and early summer calendars and look forward to filling up more spots this year! Please contact me at 414.545.5514 or honeyqueen99@hotmail.com to request promotional visits from the American Honey Queen or Princess. Happy promoting!

Bee Informed 

Enhancing Honey Bee Foraging Resources in Managed Turf Environments
by Ian Lane, 2014 Foundation Scholarship Recipient

 As urban centers continue to grow along with their associated suburbs, natural areas that provide the flowering resources bees require for good nutrition and honey production are being eliminated from the landscape. Green areas, residential gardens and weedy lots within urban landscapes provide flowering resources for managed and native bees, but the quality and quantity of these habitats can be marginal. Residential and park gardens may be planted with ornamental flower varieties that have little value as nectar and pollen resources.  Most notably, the main feature of urban landscapes is the lawn monoculture comprised of turf grasses. Turf is grown and tended as the largest faction of our urban green spaces, with up to 50 million acres cultivated nationally.

People maintain turf lawns for a variety of reasons. Many do so as durable surface for human activity and as a method to help control erosion. Other owners maintain lawns because of obligatory standards set by neighborhood and city ordinances on the height of vegetation. My project focuses on evaluating plants and management techniques that will allow people to cultivate quality honey bee forage in areas that need to be maintained at a designated vegetative height. This set of techniques will open up new opportunities for owners and lawn managers to improve honey bee health, increase species diversity and beautify our cities.

Bee Thinking

Last month's riddle stumped our ABF membership.

So, here's more of the riddle for you to wrestle with. Think you know the answer? The first to e-mail Tim Tucker at tuckerb@hit.net will lay claim to another fun ABF prize.

I always dependable as a bee. Regular and normal, so have never a fear, The times you don't see me for more than a year. I know you'll not miss me,

And when I return we'll not have a fight, I'll average things out, and the time will be right!

My time is short lived, not more than a day, but together our year is set to make hay.

 So count up your days now, twenty by three, the answer is simple and easy to see. 


Buzzmakers: Latest and Greatest Beekeeping Industry News

  • Beekeepers Search for Answers as Colonies Show up Damaged After Almond Farm Pollination. As many as 80,000 bee colonies have died or been damaged this year after pollinating almond trees in the San Joaquin Valley, and some beekeepers are pointing to pesticides used on almond orchards as a possible cause. Read more 
  • Honeybees in East Africa Resist Deadly Pathogens: Bees in Kenya stay healthy despite parasites and viruses that collapse U.S. and European hives. A surprising finding about East African honeybees lends new hope to the fight against colony collapses in the West. Scientists have discovered that bees in Kenya have strong resistance to the same pathogens responsible for the deaths of billions of bees elsewhere in the world. (See "Gold Dusters" in National Geographic magazine.) Learn More
  • Network of sensor-packed beehives to monitor colony collapse: The mysterious colony collapse disorder has fast been reducing the global honeybee population over the past few years, and scientists are yet to figure out exactly why. Now the Open Source Beehive project is hoping to make citizen scientists of us all by encouraging us to build or purchase open-source beehives that can be used by people to track the health of their colonies in an effort to get to the root of the problem. Read More
  • Perils of Commercial Beekeeping: One of America’s earliest food crops – almonds – is also one of the most important for commercial beekeepers. Almonds depend on bees for pollination, but the explosive growth of this bumper crop taxes the very honeybees the industry needs to thrive. Learn More

ABF Welcomes New Members — March  2014

  •  Jannice Hobart Bell, Oklahoma
  • Penni Blackburn, Georgia
  • Robert Chase, Connecticut
  • David Arthur Hamel, Maine
  • Todd Holland, Texas
  • Franklin Graham Hollis, Mississippi
  • Kathleen Luisa, Virginia
  • William J McArthur, North Carolina
  • Joseph Naughton, New York
  • Giuseppe Pitruzzello, California
  • Mark Popovich, Minnesota
  • Hugh Simpson, Canada
  • SMB Weber, New Jersey


Recipe of the Month: Honey-Quinoa Breakfast Bake

Source: National Honey Board


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 cup - quinoa , (uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon - cinnamon
  • 2 cups - mixed frozen berries
  • ½ cup - coarsely chopped nuts
  • 2 - organic eggs
  • 2 cups - 1% organic milk
  • ¼ cup - honey
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • In a small bowl, stir together uncooked quinoa with cinnamon, making sure it is coated completely.
  • Pour quinoa over bottom of prepared dish. Scatter the berries and nuts on top of quinoa, making sure to spread evenly.
  • In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk and honey and whisk together.
  • Pour egg mixture on top of quinoa and fruit.
  • Bake 1 hour or until the breakfast bake only has a small amount of liquid remaining.
  • Serve warm.


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