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ABF E-Buzz: December 2010
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ABF E-Buzz — December 2010

In This Issue:

Welcome Back to E-Buzz

by Tim Tucker, ABF Membership and Marketing Committee Member and ABF E-Buzz Editor

This December issue will introduce you to lots of great information to help you during this upcoming year. It is hard to believe that we are once again getting ready for the annual North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow, but it will be here before you know it and 2010 will be in the record book.

It seems like it was just last week that we were just setting on honey supers and making ready for this year's crop. There were hopes early that it would be a great year, but it fell short in lots of areas and I have heard reports that many were down in yield per hive by over half, and a few were lucky enough to hit averages or even do a little better. Honey prices are holding at high levels and the latest report from the USDA pretty well covers the entire country and the prices for loads moving in the various states. I have heard of several loads moving over the last six weeks at $1.57 up to $1.65 for white honey and that is fairly consistent with the report. You can find the October report on the USDA Web site at www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/fvmhoney.pdf.

Included in the report is a great link to the Protect the Pollinator booklet that was published by the USDA — Risk Management Agency, Community Outreach and Assistance Partnership Program, the Minnesota Honey Producers Association and Minnesota Grown — MDA. You can find the PDF of the booklet at www.minnesotahoneyproducers.org/pdf/protect_pollinator_booklet.pdf. It was made possible by a joint effort of both Dr. Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter from the University of Minnesota.

I would like to thank my good friend, Eugene Makovec, who contributed this month's book review and I hope we can get some of his bee pictures for future editions. He is an accomplished photographer and does a wonderful job editing the Missouri State Beekeepers newsletter, which I always look forward to getting.

Thanks also to those of you who sent many great reviews of the first issue of ABF E-Buzz last month and I hope that you continue to enjoy receiving the newsletter and that you send it on to all of your friends and acquaintances in your address book. You know if all of our 700 ABF members that have e-mail capability  for receiving this newsletter sent it out to just 100 additional people and a few of them would do the same, we might get over 100,000 people joining us each month for the latest updates. So, send it on and tell those who are your contacts to forward it on to their friends as well.    

Again, if you have any information about yourself or other beekeepers who have hit the newswire this month, let us know so we can include them in the next issue and let all of our friends in on the story as well. If you have read a good book lately and would be willing to report on it, please send any stories, information or book reviews to me at tuckerb@hit.net. I would greatly appreciate anything that others might find interesting as well. Thank you for taking the time to explore this issue and I hope to hear from you soon. Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Bee There: 2011 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow Regular Registration Ends Thursday, December 16 !

"Together for a Sweet Future" is the theme of the 2011 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow, January 4-8, 2011, in Galveston, Texas, and represents the joint effort of the American Beekeeping Federation, the American Honey Producers Association and the Canadian Honey Council to produce the largest and most innovative beekeeping conference in North America. 

This is an exciting opportunity to bring together beekeepers at all levels and from all over the country and beyond to share ideas and develop new contacts. Additional information, including the full conference schedule, invited speakers, guest room accommodations and much more, can be found on the conference Web site at www.nabeekeepingconference.com.

The ABF also invites you to enter the 2011 American Honey Show, which will be held during the 2001 conference. This is a prime opportunity to showcase your bees' abilities to produce the purest honey, the best wax and the most goodies. The Honey Show will feature the best examples of honey and beeswax. It includes 12 classes for honey, four for beeswax and the gift basket class.  Also, the Honey Show Committee has announced that the theme for the Honey Gift Basket class this year will be “Mardi Gras.” Click here for the official show rules/regulations and entry form.  NOTE: The entry form and appropriate fees must arrive at the ABF offices by Friday, December 17, 2010.

Bee Issues: Beekeepers Ask EPA to Remove Pesticide Linked to CCD; ABF Signs Letter in Support

In light of new revelations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Nov. 2, 2010, memorandum that a core registration study for the insecticide clothianidin has been downgraded to unacceptable for purposes of registration, the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) has recently signed a letter addressed to the Honorable Lisa Jackson, Administrator, EPA, in support of a request that the agency take urgent action to stop the use of this toxic chemical.  The letter was written as a joint effort of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) and two environmental groups, Beyond Pesticides and the Pesticide Action Network.

Clothianidin is a member of the neonicotinoid family, a systemic pesticide used extensively for seed treatment on corn, canola, cereal grains, soybeans, sugar beets and sunflowers.  It has been banned in Germany, Italy and Slovenia, and France declined to even register it. It is believed to be a major player in losses being described collectively as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). All beekeepers should be paying close attention to the handling of the clothianidin problem.

Click here for a copy of the full press release distributed on December 8, 2010, by Beyond Pesticides and the Pesticide Action Network.  If you have any questions, please contact David Mendes, ABF president and NHBAB member, at davidmendesn@aol.com.

Bee-friend the Honey Bee: ABF Introduces "Friends of the Bee" Fund

Not sure what to get that hard-to-buy-for person on your Christmas list this year?  Why not make a donation in his or her name to the Friends of the Bee fund?

The honey bee today faces it's largest challenge in its long history — its continued survival. Factors fighting against the honey bee include:

  • Parasitic varroa mites that not only affect colony numbers, but vector over a dozen viruses that affect honey bee health.
  • Continued loss of habitat due to urban expansion and the even larger problem of monocultural practices of modern agriculture.
  • Challenging weather extremes that can affect honey bee health due to drought and floral degradation.
  • Increased use of pesticides affecting all beneficial insects.

With your generous donation you can help protect the honey bee habitat, aid in the fight against Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), encourage government-sponsored research, assist in the battle against adulterated honey in the marketplace and help ensure the continued role of the honey bee in pollinating 1/3 of our food supply.

Support the world's most beneficial insect and become a friend of the bee with your donation of $25, $50 or $100. Donate today and receive a stylish Friends of the Bee bumper sticker…and help us tip the balance back in favor of the honey bee.  Click here to download the donation form or contact the ABF at 404.760.2875 for assistance.

Beekeeper of the Month: The May Family

by Tim Tucker, ABF Membership and Marketing Committee Member and ABF E-Buzz Editor

Phil May

The May family operates Sunny Hill Honey and is located in Harvard, Illinois. Phil and Jeannine and their son, Tim, are continuing an operation that began in 1948 in Palatine, Illinois.

That year, George and Phil May started with a couple of hives that were the initial spark of interest that would continue a tradition of beekeeping for the next 60 years and span four generations. It was a fortuitous occasion when George's sister-in-law purchased a piece of property where two hives were located and they were able to purchase them. At this time, George was a book keeper for Borden's Milk, but wasn't exactly sure where his future would be found.
The business grew over the years and now involves the third generation of Tim and his children, Colin and Gina, who love to help with the business as well. Colin works full time and Gina returns from college at the University of Dubuque in Iowa during summer vacation to assist.

Tom May, Phil's other son, is not involved in the business full time, but runs about 50 hives as a sideline to his occupation of professional cellist for the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra where he resides in Florida. Tom does return to the business to help for about eight weeks during the summer months.  

Their current plant near Marengo, which was originally a school house, was purchased by Phil and George in 1963.   Tim says that his mother, Jeannine, is highly allergic to bees and, as such, can't really be around them. Phil continues to help make sales calls and is active six or seven days a week helping with the bottling and deliveries.

Tim May and his son, Colin, in front
of a truckload of nucs 

This family of beekeepers now runs about 1,400 colonies in the northern part of Illinois and, like all beekeepers today, are struggling at times with areas to put their apiaries. Tim says that is one of their greatest challenges today and each year they loose prime locations and have to move farther west to locate new out yards for bee pasture. Tim says he looks for dairy farms that are involved in raising alfalfa and that might have good pastures for the cows that would include clover and wildflowers for good honey bee foraging as well.

It has been difficult, especially the last few years since they have not made their average in production, which they hope will run around 100 pounds per hive. Last year they lost 80 percent of their hives and it was difficult to rebuild and keep the honey deliveries to their stores up. Tim says that it is really necessary to make that 100- pound average for things to work financially and keep the business working.   

"If we can keep winter losses to less than 40 percent as well, we can continue to operate," says Tim. "This year the hives were doing well at the beginning, but lost weight in July very quickly. The bees look good this fall, but you are always concerned about how well they will winter. You are always experimenting with new treatments and management and it is always difficult to know what really worked after a year of trying different things."

Tim's view for the future of the industry is challenging at best and he feels that the most important item to settle is the truth in labeling issue. "We need to be able to protect the image of honey so the public knows that they are getting the real thing," Tim notes. "The standard of identity issue is really important to the survival of the industry."

Currently, the May family services around 140 locations in the Chicago area and they promote Sunny Hill Honey above the other store brands due to the "local" production and that marketing strategy has kept them successful.

It's important today for consumers to know that their food is being produced locally by people they know and trust. Tim looks for outlets that are fresh markets that tend to be smaller markets that started as produce outlets. They don't look for shelf space in the bigger chain stores, but the competition in these smaller outlets is intense and sometimes there are over a dozen suppliers of honey vying for consumer dollars. "It's pretty stiff competition out there and you have to deliver," Tim says.

George and Phil May joined the ABF in 1952 and remained supportive of the national efforts of the federation since that time. George was active until his death in 1982 and Phil continues his membership to this day and is one of the longest memberships on the ABF books. Thanks to the May family and Tim May for his help in this endeavor of introducing all of you to the people who have been very important cogs in the wheels of the ABF.

Bee Informed: Book Review of Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley

by Eugene Makovec, Kirckwood, Missouri

Honeybee Democracy is a lesson in good government.

Of all the joys that I have found in beekeeping, easily the greatest is the hiving of a swarm. Not only is this a most fascinating phenomenon — with each humming ball of bees its own unique permutation — but in an urban environment it is also the ultimate teachable moment. Typically as a result of a homeowner's call, I show up at the swarm scene, a group of onlookers gather 'round, and we talk about bees.

In 2006, it was my good fortune to hear Tom Seeley talk about bees at a joint meeting of the Missouri State Beekeepers and Kansas Honey Producers. His primary subject was honeybee swarm communication. Seeley described in great detail how a few hundred scout bees go about the work of finding a new home, while the remainder of the swarm of some ten thousand hangs patiently, practically motionless, and largely disinterested for hours or even days.

As it turns out, that lecture only scratched the surface. Dr. Seeley has just released a book, Honeybee Democracy, in which he delves into all facets of the honeybee swarm phenomenon, from pre-swarm preparations to gathering outside the hive entrance, to bivouacking on a nearby tree branch, to dispatching the above-mentioned house-hunters in search of suitable shelter.

The phrase "honeybee democracy" refers to the process by which the various scout bees lobby each other on behalf of their proposed nesting sites, until the group eventually reaches a decision, almost always unanimous, after which these same scouts proceed to rouse the masses and lead them to their new home.

The honeybee may be the most scrutinized insect on the planet, and this glimpse into just one facet of its behavior is a good illustration of why. A biology professor at Cornell University, the author is describing the subject of his life's work, which he says "is proving ever more extraordinary." And lest we underestimate the importance of the house-hunting process, Dr. Seeley points out that, in nature, fewer than 25 percent of swarms will survive the upcoming winter.

I recently embarked on a house-hunting venture of my own. My criteria, like those of the bees, included cavity size, accessibility and security. But my selection method more closely resembled dictatorship than democracy. Come to think of it, the swarm's decision-making process could perhaps more accurately be described as oligarchy, given that fewer than five percent of the population is involved. (Despite the presence of an all-important Queen, it is certainly no monarchy.) But, as we follow the selfless interactions of the individual scout bees, it quickly becomes clear that these representatives have the entire colony's best interests at heart.

Honeybee Democracy, Thomas D. Seeley, Published by Princeton University Press, 273 pages, $29.95

Buzzmakers: Latest and Greatest Beekeeping Industry News

Bee History: Honey For Health Great Possibilities for Honey by Gradual Spread of This Idea

by Rev. J.R. Stell, Montpelier, Indiana, Reprinted from "Gleanings" in Bee Culture, April 1931

Honey is here listed as an article of trade among the finer and more necessary commodities. But in our day it would appear that the problem of marketing honey, like the poor, is an ever-present reality. Pages have been written on this subject but still honey moves slowly.

Some observations that I have made along this line have been of interest to me and may possibly interest others. I doubt if the "Honey for Health" campaign has yet approached the limit of it's possibilities. During the last quarter of a century I have lived in various local communities, and I have observed that in nearly every one of such communities there are from one to a half dozen families who have been sold on the honey for health idea and will use no other sweet. In my judgment this is another step toward that improvement in daily living habits that is increasing the average years of life. Within my memory the average life of a man has increased from 34 years to well above 50. This is partly due to decreased infant mortality.
If a few in nearly every community have learned the value of honey as a health food, I wonder why more could not be given this important information and adequate campaign launched for this very purpose?

Much has already been done by discussions at convention, by the work of the American Honey Institute, by writers on honey as a health food, and by the Kellogg Company of Battle Creek, Michigan, but somehow it seems that we have not yet made contact with that psychological current that becomes epidemic.

Liver as a health meat came on to the market with startling suddenness. Whole wheat bread and such vegetables and mentioned above have all recently come into the spotlight of popular approval and it seems to me that the time is here when honey as a health food should arrive and demand it's place in the sun.

ABF Welcomes New Members — November 2010

  • Andrew Bailey, North Carolina
  • Einar Barenholtz, New Hampshire
  • Mike Buske, Iowa
  • Tim Busse, Ohio
  • Blake Butler, Texas
  • Charles Cook, Tennessee
  • Danielle Dale, Wisconsin
  • Tommy Duggar, Florida
  • Jim Ellis, Georgia
  • Pat Ennis, Iowa
  • Jerry Futrell, New Jersey
  • Craig Gage, Delaware
  • Betty Heacker, Texas
  • Tim Johnson, California
  • Edward Karle, Maine
  • Tiffanie Mickelson, North Dakota
  • Ronald Moore, Arkansas
  • David Moreland, North Dakota
  • Ken Olinger, Minnesota
  • Geroge Philyaw, Mississippi
  • Mike Sperber, Oregon
  • Sainath Suryanarayanan, Wisconsin
  • R.D. Trichel, Louisiana
  • Pam Whitaker, Mississippi
  • Mark Wood, Kansas
  • Bill Zuber, Oregon












Recipe of the Month: Scallops and Sweet Taters

Recipe from Tim Tucker, ABF Membership and Marketing Committee Member and ABF E-Buzz Editor

This month we will venture into the fine art of French cuisine, making a sauce veloute, which is a white creamy sauce that is made separately from your dish and usually uses stock from the meat or fish that you are cooking but I use a mixture of chicken stock and half and half or light cream. You can also use some white wine in the liquid mixture if you like. Honey makes the vegetables shine. This recipe is one I have played with for years and I hope that you use it and vary it with different fish, shrimp or even poultry. It is one of my favorite basic dishes and when served with sweet potato fries it is just heavenly!

To make both dishes you will need the following:


  • to 2 pounds scallops
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini squash
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced in 1-inch squares
  • 6 medium-sized mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces
  •  1 cup light cream or half and half
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 or 4 medium sweet potatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 medium-sized yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1½  cups chicken stock
  • 3-4  tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 cups prepared rice or noodles









Directions for preparing scallops:

Heat a large skillet or wok to a good heat and add olive oil. After 20 to 30 seconds add sliced onions and garlic, sliced mushrooms, red pepper and squash that have been sliced in half and then thinly sliced again into 1-1 ½ slices. Stir frequently and add one teaspoon of salt. Cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently and add scallops and ¼ cup of honey to mixture and cook for another three minutes, stirring frequently. When scallops are just lightly cooked, cover and set aside to prepare the sauce.

To make the veloute, mix the butter and flour together in a medium sauce pan and when well mixed add all of the stock and half of the cream or half and half. Cook over low heat until thickened, whisking often. To finish the veloute, blend the egg yolk and the other half of the cream. This is called a liaison. Take a ¼ cup of the hot sauce and add to the egg and cream mixture to warm the egg and after a quick whisk return to the veloute. Bring the mixture to a boil while whisking and remove from the heat, continuing the whisking for about another 30 seconds or so. Add the veloute to your cooked scallops and vegetables and cover.

Directions for preparing sweet potatoes:

To prepare the sweet potatoes, slice into French fries and deep fry until tender. Remove, drain, pat dry and place on plate and drizzle with some of the remaining honey and sprinkle with pecan pieces and a dash of salt. Add a cup of rice to plate and cover generously with scallops and vegetables. Makes 4 servings.