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ABF E-Buzz: April 2017
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ABF E-Buzz — April 2017

In This Issue:






Welcome to ABF E-Buzz

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


April is a busy
Busy time
For all that lives
And breathes
All of life comes
Roaring back
Green covers brown
The birds will sing
And bees will swarm
The days are 
Welcome back. This month has finally ended our winter here in the Midwest. March was a taste of the extreme throughout the country with major snow storms and lots of problems for bees and beekeepers alike. The bees are building fast and furiously and reports are coming in of swarms coming in across the country in some cases weeks before swarming usually occurs.
Here I have seen more hives with the strength to swarm than we have seen for quite several years. Our surviving bees seem healthier in general than at any time in at least the past ten years. I wish I knew exactly what to attribute that to but I really don't have any definite answers. Of course, swarms are preventable and most of our hives have been split back to provide for nuc production for sales to beekeepers across Kansas and Oklahoma. Those hives seldom swarm because we have reduced the number of bees and brood in those overwintering colonies.

One of the things that we have always needed to watch this time of the year is how fast the bees are coming up and reducing the overcrowding that can occur so quickly this time of year. Of course, it's important to add another box early in the spring but sometimes that isn't enough. While supering early can reduce crowding some bees will continue making preps to swarm unless brood is removed and frames of drawn comb are added to give the queen room for laying.  It's so important to build extra comb to have on hand for this use. Beekeepers should always work to have an extra box of drawn comb for each colony they are running and protect them like the greatest asset you have as they do provide room for the queen to continue laying in immediately. Putting in frames of undrawn foundation does not provide for swarm preventing space. It might be some time before the bees will pull the foundation enough to allow for the queen to begin laying on the frame and this time of the year it can be a slow process if the temperatures are cool.
It's also great to have a few frames of drawn comb where brood has been reared to put in a box for swarm collection. I placed a box of drawn comb below a swarm the other day and the bees practically ran into the box. It only took about 15 minutes and I got 99.9 % of the bees. So.....work on building extra drawn comb and you can do that by pulling a box of comb in August after your honey is pulled. We put boxes of foundation on hives that are strong and feed a light syrup of one part sugar to two parts water to simulate a honey flow and the bees pull these frames quickly. So, if you don't have any extra drawn comb, get prepared for making extra this year and get your frames ordered and get ready for pulling some comb after you pull your honey this summer.

Making swarm prevention splits this time of year can help you get ahead of potential losses as well so look to make up a few splits from those healthy hives that can afford to lose a few frames of brood and bees. In April, we make up nucs with two frames of bees and a queen or queen cell. In May, we make them up with three frames or even four to make up for the time loss. Making nucs is a job that can occur up until August or September if you build them strong enough. So, get some nuc boxes built and get to splitting those over-crowded colonies.


This month we have reports from our President Gene Brandi and Vice-President Tim May on their recent visits with EPA. One of the things that the ABF does is to represent the industry to those agencies in Washington who are affecting our ability to make beekeeping viable. This effort goes on almost daily in one respect or another and if we are not there our interests will not be considered. We also have a great report from Anna Kettlewell on the activities of our Honey Queen and Princess who have been buzzing around the country speaking to the wonders of honey. Their schedules are filling up for the year so if you are interested in hosting Queen Maia or Princess Hope for promotions in your area, please contact Anna at honeyqueen99@hotmail.com or 414.545.5514.  We also have a report from Sarah Red-Laird, our Kids and Bees coordinator and the upcoming program at EAS where she may need some help from volunteers to host the program. If you can help give Sarah a call or an email. It's always a lot of fun watching the kids interact with all the information on bees and beekeeping. 

There's also a great recipe for using honey and some new Buzzmakers with tons of information on our bees.  If you have anything you would like to contribute to upcoming issues, please send me an email to tuckerb@hit.net.  Have a great April and we thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us.  

President's Greeting

by Gene Brandi, ABF President

ABF Vice-President Tim May and I both traveled to Washington, DC recently, albeit separately, for meetings with EPA. Tim’s meeting (which he will discuss in this E-Buzz Issue’s Government Relations Report) occurred in late March. My meeting, during the first week in April, coincided with the Crop Life America Regulatory Conference where I participated in a Managed Pollinator Protection Program (MP3) panel.

My meeting with Acting Director, Rick Keigwin, and other staff from the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs focused upon some of the pesticide issues which continue to plague the beekeeping industry. Bee kills from toxic products as well as bee/brood kills from “bee friendly” products such as fungicides and insect growth regulators are still causing major losses to many beekeepers throughout the country. I provided photos of colonies loaded with dead bees from acutely toxic products as well as dead bees/brood from colonies sprayed during almond bloom with “nontoxic” products. As I have mentioned in previous writings, bloom sprays in almonds are still a serious issue as not all growers and applicators have adopted the Best Management Practices recommended by the Almond Board of California. When asked if there was a possibility that any fungicides or IGR’s might be required to have bee hazard warnings added to their labels, EPA representatives assured me that this will NOT occur in time for next season’s almond bloom.

EPA plans to look at some of the popular tank mixes later this year to ascertain the patterns of use which coincide with bee and brood losses in honey bee colonies. For this to occur, however, beekeepers must report their losses to EPA. Since the March ABF E-Buzz was sent out a few weeks ago, I have received reports from several beekeepers indicating that indeed bee/brood losses from bloom sprays in almonds have been severe in many parts of the valley again this year. In some cases, these losses occurred where only fungicides with adjuvants were applied. Others occurred in areas where tank mixes of fungicide and IGR was applied. If you encountered damage to your colonies while pollinating almonds, please report it to beekill@epa.gov as well as the local county agricultural commissioner’s office, and to me at: gbrandi@abcglobal.net. Loss of bees or brood anywhere in the country on any crop should be reported to EPA as well. Any information that can be provided which includes the products applied, if known, will be helpful to EPA.

 During the meeting, we also discussed some of the new EPA pesticide policies which are  suggesting less restrictions on pesticide labels. In the new policy, announced earlier this year,  EPA suggests the removal of long standing pesticide label language on bee toxic products  which states “Do not apply to blooming crops or weeds if bees are visiting (or actively visiting)  the treatment area.” EPA claims this language is unenforceable! When I questioned whether  removal of this language will increase the possibility that bees will be more protected from  pesticide exposure, one EPA staffer responded, “We hope so.”

 Other policy concerns I expressed to EPA included the differentiation of bees under contract f  for pollination services vs. bees not under contract. ABF continues to stress that all bees need the same protection from pesticides throughout the year, not only when they are under contract to pollinate a particular crop. I related to them my own experience where, since I began keeping bees in the mid 1970’s, there have been more incidents of pesticide damage to my bees when pesticides are applied to other nearby crops, rather than to a crop they may have been under contract to pollinate.

My opinions on MP3’s (as detailed in the July/August 2016 ABF News President’s Message) were expressed to EPA, as well as to the attendees of the panel discussion at the Crop Life America Conference. For my presentation at Crop Life, I was asked to relate my experiences with the California beekeeper notification program which I have used for more than 40 years. The California program contains the basic elements of an MP3 program in that beekeepers register with the local agricultural commissioner office and can receive advance notification of toxic pesticide applications within one mile of registered apiary locations. I assured EPA representatives and Crop Life attendees that our bees still encounter serious pesticide issues every year despite the beekeeper notification program in California, and I predict that the same will hold true wherever MP3’s are adopted. There are some who believe that beekeepers can simply remove all their hives from an area within 48 hours of notification, and I assured them that rarely occurs in California, and will likely not occur under an MP3 program either. While the increased communication between pesticide applicators and beekeepers can be of some benefit, in my opinion MP3’s is not the answer to reducing bee/pesticide incidents in and of themselves. Thorough, comprehensive risk assessment of formulated products and popular tank mixes, along with clear, enforceable label language that keeps offending products away from blooming plants is foundation of true pollinator protection.

I appreciated the invitation to the Crop Life America Conference as well as the opportunity to once again meet with EPA staff. Both were great opportunities to remind and educate folks about the various pesticide related issues our bees continue to face in most agricultural areas throughout the country.

Government Relations Buzz

by Tim May, ABF Vice President

ABF President Gene Brandi and I made separate trips to Washington, D.C. over the past few weeks. Gene reported on his trip in the President’s Address of this month’s E-Buzz.

I attended a meeting with the EPA that was coordinated by the Pollinator Stewardship Council. There were three beekeepers present Brett Aidee, President of the Pollinator Stewardship Council; Jim Garrison, President of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association; and myself.  We met with Byron Brown, the new EPA Deputy Chief of Policy; Richard Keigwin, acting EPA Director of Pesticide Programs; and Wendy Cleland-Hamnet from the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Also in attendance was Larrissa Walker, Pollinator Program Director, Policy Analyst for the Center for Food Safety.

We started the meeting by once again stressing the importance that honey bees have on American agriculture. Bees pollinate one third of the food we eat and account for over $30B in agricultural service.

The next part of our discussion was about improving pesticide label language. We addressed the “dual labeling” for insecticides and how beekeepers are concerned with the new bee hazard statements on pesticide labels that separate between contracted and non-contracted pollinated crops. Our concern is this separation on pesticide products with an RT25 greater than 8 hours. Neonic products are one example of this, such as the new Admire Pro label.

We also discussed fungicides, insect growth regulators (IGRs), tank mixes and adjuvants and how they are impacting the health of honey bees. None of these products are currently tested as to their impact on pollinators and none of them are labelled as impacting pollinators. We as beekeepers want farmers to have all the information they need to make the right decisions for their crops as well as other agricultural stakeholders near-by.

Brett Aidee described a recent loss of bees in the almonds that was caused by the pesticides applied to a nearby citrus grove where the bees were foraging prior to the almond bloom. I talked about an incident that I experienced when I had a major bee loss in an apple orchard. The orchard’s neighboring farmer was planting coated seeds on a windy day and the dust cloud from the seeds floated over the orchard killing about 90% of the bees.

We told them our stories and asked for their help. We will continue to work with EPA and demand proper labeling and testing of all pesticides, IGRs, and fungicides.

Bee Educated: ABF's Webinar Series "Conversation with a Beekeeper" Continues 

Upcoming Sessions:

Bee Forage Cover Crops in Orchard Systems

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

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 / 2:00 p.m. HST

Billy Synk, Director of Pollination Programs at Project Apis m

Click here to learn more and to register!

 Impacts of Land Use on Habitat Suitability, Forage and Colony Health of Honey Bees in the Northern Great Plains

Wednesday, April 2, 2017

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 / 2:00 p.m. HST

Dr. Matthew Smart, Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

Click here to learn more and to register!

Paying tribute to honey bees and the important pollinator industry, the City of Woodland will host its first-ever California Honey Festival on Saturday, May 6, 2017 on Main Street.


ABF’s President Gene Brandi will also be there manning the ABF Booth and speaking!


“Woodland is an agricultural epicenter and beekeeping is an integral part of our farming success,” said Woodland Mayor Jim Hilliard “Our city is proud to host this festival in honor of the humble honey bee.”


The all-day family festival is co-sponsored by the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, University of California, Davis, and Woodland Hoteliers.  Center director Amina Harris is coordinating the festival’s educational content.


California agriculture accounts for $21.6 billion in economic output, and honey bees are a crucial part of making California crops possible. Honey bees pollinate about one-third of the food eaten, including vegetables, fruits and nuts. During almond pollination season, beginning around Valentine’s Day, California growers require two bee hive colonies per acre to pollinate the state’s one million acres.   Colonies are trucked throughout the country to fill the need, passing through the nexus of Woodland on their way.


“The California Honey Festival will be a great opportunity for guests to experience the full spectrum of honey flavor,” said Harris.  “Not all honey tastes the same!  Like wine, varietals of honey flavors and aromas can be very distinct. We developed our Honey Flavor Wheel in 2014 to help teach people about the nuances of honey flavor.”


Beekeepers and honey packers will offer tastes of California’s golden sweet treat. In addition to tasting honey, festivalgoers will learn about honey bees, their pollination services, and the health benefits of honey. On tap will be samples of specialty meads or “honey wine” in addition to delectable honey-inspired food and honey or bee-themed gifts.


“The festival will run the length of historic downtown Woodland Main Street-- a truly perfect venue for this family friendly festival,” said VisitWoodland.com director Al Eby.  “Celebrating honey with a festival is a natural fit for this town and we invite visitors to come taste some of the best honeys in the world.”


This May 6th 2017 festival will offer a variety of family friendly activities and will include activities such as, a bee-themed play structure for kids, cooking demonstrations featuring honey, and informational sessions on beekeeping basics and bee-friendly gardening.


The California Honey Festival: Saturday, May 6th, 2017 Downtown Woodland. More information on the California Honey Festival, including sponsorships and vendor details, is available on the festival website,www.CaliforniaHoneyFestival.com

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

National Honey Board Creates New Educational Brochure

Firestone, Colorado, April 3, 2017 – In a continued effort to provide honey industry members with beautiful and inspirational educational materials, the National Honey Board (NHB) has created a new brochure that shares honey’s unique journey from blossom, to bee, to hive and to bottle. Honey’s Sweet Journey: From Bee to Bottle is the newest addition to the NHB’s inventory and features stunning photos, fun facts and even includes simple tips on how the general consumer can help the bees. “We are pleased to offer this new brochure to members of the honey industry,” said Catherine Barry, Director of Marketing at the NHB. “Its beautiful imagery and fun callouts convey just how unique and pure an ingredient honey truly is, and we know that consumers will be impressed and inspired by
honey’s journey from bee to bottle.”

Also available for a limited time is Set Your Tastebuds Abuzz. Created in partnership with Thomas’, this
accordion-style recipe brochure features eight recipes that highlight the perfect breakfast team – honey
and Thomas’ English muffins and bagels. This brochure inspires with beautiful images and simple recipes
that are sure to set your taste buds abuzz! Available in packs of 50, both Honey’s Sweet Journey and Set Your Tastebuds Abuzz are available to honey industry members at little to no cost under the complimentary tab of the NHB’s online catalog,
found at www.nhbcatalog.com.

There is also still time to get your own limited edition honey bear mascot costume. These bears were created for the NHB in 2015 and are the top of the line in mascot design. Ideal for farmer’s markets and
marketing events, each unit includes a battery-operated fan in the head piece, as well as underarm
vents for keeping cool and comfortable in any climate. With only eight left in stock, once they’re gone,
they’re gone.

The catalog will be updated as products sell out and new products become available. For first time
ordering assistance, please contact Andrea Brening, the NHB’s fulfillment coordinator at 303-776-2337.
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. For more information, visit www.honey.com.


For Media Inquiries and Press Information:
Jessica Schindler | jessica@nhb.org | (303) 776-2337


11409 Business Park Circle, Ste. 210
Firestone, CO 80504
Phone: (303) 776-2337

Kids and Bees

An Opportunity for You to Learn and Grow with the Delware School for the Deaf

by Sarah Red-Laird, a.k.a Bee Girl, ABF Kids and Bees Program Director


This summer I will bring our “Kids and Bees” interactive event to the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) Conference. We will be joined, at the University of Delaware, by about 30 elementary school-aged kids from the “Delaware School for the Deaf.”  They will be treated to a brief and entertaining honey bee lesson, followed by hands-on exhibits. The exhibit session will consist of: beeswax candle rolling, honey and pollen tasting, an anatomy and biology station, a beekeeping station, and a “bees and your food” station. The students will be immersed in the world of the bee through touch, smell, feel, sight, and heart.       


There is also an opportunity for you to participate!  Join me for this dual-purpose program, where EAS attendees will have a chance to both volunteer for the program, and get ideas and an outline to take home and develop, or build on, your own Kids and Bees program.


The workshop will go from 1:30 - 3:30. The first 30 minutes will be a briefing for EAS attendees. Then we’ll invite the kids’ group in for an hour, where attendees will observe and participate in the program.  The last 30 minutes will be a debrief and Q&A session for the adult attendees, and you will leave with an education pack full of ideas and resources.    


I have completely loved putting this event together! EAS President Bob Bauer has been a pleasure to work with. I am beyond thankful for his help in bringing deaf students to EAS, and providing us with a sign language interpreter.  I hope you consider attending the Eastern Apicultural Conference, and participating in this program.  It will be special, memorable, and rewarding in so many ways. 




Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions at sarah@beegirl.org or 541-708-1127.

Honey Queen Buzz

by Anna Kettlewell, American Honey Queen Program Chair

2017 honey and beekeeping promotions have officially started!

 April brought a wide variety of promotions to the American Honey Queen Program. Both Queen Maia and Princess Hope spent time in their home states, speaking in local schools and to various civic groups. Maia also spent a good part of April closing out her spring semester at Iowa State University.

Princess Hope ventured to three states in the span of a week and a half – Texas, Washington, and Missouri. In each state, she spent time teaching students in different venues about the beekeeping industry and how it touches on their lives. Hope’s events in Texas and Missouri were in conjunction with the First Lego® League, an organization that inspires the science and technology leaders of tomorrow. At these two-day events, Hope interacted with students from across the country who were leaders in the areas of science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM Education). She had a display in convention centers in Houston and St. Louis, where she taught the students about how their STEM education courses were linked to the beekeeping industry. She also furthered the messages about the importance of reviving honeybee and pollinator habitat by making seed bombs with the students.

The conversations and takeaways from these events were inspiring and we are encouraged by the future leaders in these fields. I extend a special thanks to the Miksa family from Florida who sponsored Hope’s participation in these events and made it possible for her to attend. The Program was honored to participate in such a unique and wide reaching event.

The Queen and Princess have some exciting events coming up in May and June and the summer schedule is filling rapidly. If you are interested in hosting Queen Maia or Princess Hope for promotions in your area, please contact me at honeyqueen99@hotmail.com or 414.545.5514. Happy promoting!

Bee Thinking

No one guessed the March E-Buzz riddle. Don't be shy; send in your answer this time and you might be the next winner! Here's the riddle again: 

An old man wanted to leave all of his money to one of his three sons, but he didn't know which one he should give it to. He gave each of them a few coins and told them to buy something that would be able to fill their living room. The first man bought straw, but there was not enough to fill the room. The second bought some sticks, but they still did not fill the room. The third man bought two things that filled the room, so he obtained his father's fortune. What were the two things that the man bought?


Think you know the answer? The first to email Sherrell Bailey at sbailey@abfnet.org will lay claim to another fun ABF prize. it must be your first time to win. 

Buzzmakers: Latest and Greatest Beekeeping Industry News

  • Humans have been working with bees for longer than initially thought. Read More.
  • Honey Bee Disease Pops Up on the Big Island. Read more.
  • Honey bees inspire crime-fighting algorithm Read More.
  • These are the foods we'd lose if honey bees die offRead More.
  • Scientist Have Some Wild Ideas for Solving Our Big Bee ProblemRead More.

ABF Welcomes New Members - March 2017 


  • Amy Borchardt, Colorado
  • Drew Harvey, Georgia
  • Sarah Harbaugh, Kansas
  • Daniel Smith, New York
  • Wes Blalock, Georgia
  • Holly Reedy, Florida
  • Jana Walters, Florida
  • Luis Fernandez, Hawaii
  • Edward ColbyColorado
  • Marlin AthrearnFlorida
  • Kathleen Riley-BeckIndiana
  • Barbara BloetscherOhio


  • Clayton Dickman, California
  • Chris Proctor, Missouri
  • Lawrence Gross, Missouri
  • Danna Brownlee, Florida
  • David Morris, Georgia
  • David Grimme, Texas
  • Margaret McLaughlin, Maine
  • Ginny SkipperFlorida
  • Sue MogleIllinois
  • Kirk Ohair, Texas
  • Oliseyenum NwoseNew Jersey
  • Lester WetherellTexas
  • James Decker, Texas


Recipe of the Month: Banana Bread Cake


  • 2 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired



  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Generously grease bottom of loaf pan 9 x 5 x 3 inches.
  • In a large bowl, mash bananas and add oil, vanilla, honey, eggs and melted stick of butter or margarine.
  • In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
  • Add banana mixture to dry ingredients, mixing well.
  • Place in baking pan and bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (50 to 60 minutes).
  • Cool for 30 minutes on a wire wrack, removing bread from pan.
  • While cooling, mix frosting from 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, milk.
  • After cooling, cut bread in half. Cover first layer with frosting and add second half frosting the top half as well. When frosted, add a bit of orange zest or candy sprinkles to top of cake for decoration.

Note: I almost always have more than three bananas to use, so I usually make a double or triple batch of this recipe and have enough to do a few small loaves of bread and a pan of muffins that can be wrapped and frozen for later use. Our customers at the farmer's market really love the small loaves of bread.

Recipe By: Tim Tucker, ABF Past President and ABF E-Buzz Editor

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