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ABF E-Buzz: January 2011
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ABF E-Buzz — January 2011

In This Issue:

Welcome Back to E-Buzz

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

I just arrived back home from our North American Beekeeping Conference and for those of you who attended I am sure you agree it was the best ever!  The second meeting between the American Beekeeping Federation, the American Honey Producers Association and the Canadian Honey Council was packed with so many important presentations that it was impossible to take it all in.

Congratulations are in order for the epic job that was done by both the Conference Committee and the ABF staff, who did such an exceptional job at managing this event. Unfortunately, a few members of the staff were held up getting home for four days due to the snow in Atlanta.  But, they are now home with their families and attempting to get caught up on all the post-conference work.  

The conference facilities were top notch and as convenient as any I have been to for handling a venue where over 1,100 people converged for the week.   There could be no better view than that of the waves of the Gulf gently rolling upon the beautiful beach just out the large, panoramic windows of the convention center.

Thanks to Raymond Hernandez with Bear Audio Visual, who managed to capture a good percentage of the sessions digitally.  I am working to edit those recordings so they can be posted to the ABF Web site so that you will be able to listen to sessions that you were unable to attend. One of the complaints was in regard to the acoustics in the large general session room.  It was a large room with too much hard surface and the sound was simply reverberating in all directions.  If you were unable to hear the speakers in that room, you will be able to download the recording of those sessions as the recordings are just fine. I hope to be able to finish the editing process and have them posted to the Web site in the next few weeks.  We will alert you as to when they are available. 

The conference evaluation form is now posted on the ABF Web site at http://abfnet.org/associations/10537/files/NABC_2011_AttendeeSurvey.pdf, which will afford conference attendees the opportunity to submit their comments as to how well things went and how we might improve future conferences.

In this issue of ABF E-Buzz, you will find a great new recipe for Red Bee Brownies, our Beekeeper of the Month and, of course, all the news that is the news and a report on the conference hot topics.  I hope you enjoy this edition and once again let us know if you have any information that you would like to add to the next ABF E-Buzz; please e-mail me at tuckerb@hit.net.

Bee There: Beekeeping Industry Gathered to Ensure a "Sweet Future" During the 2011 North American Beekeeping Conference in Galveston

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

Jordan Hackenberg

Our motto for the 2011 joint conference was "Together for a Sweet Future" and nothing could have depicted that better than Davey and Beth Hackenburg's daughter, Jordan, ABF member since 2006, who was present in her bee costume, flying around during the day on Wednesday and again during the banquet on Saturday when she allowed me to snap a picture of her. She was, without a doubt, the cutest little bee that I saw during the week!

The buzz during the week was proteomics and RNAi, newly discovered bee viruses and of course CCD, which is reappearing in operations along the east coast again. Charles Wick was a presenter at the Commercial SIG and explained the process for identifying the different bee viruses they look for in bee samples sent in by beekeepers.  He explained that the testing is so sensitive that they even pick up diseases that the beekeeper had when he was accumulating samples, as they often find skin cells from the beekeeper. The term "proteome" was first used in 1997 to describe this study of proteins and make an analogy with the study of genes or genomics. The proteome is an entire complement of proteins produced by an organism or system. The difficulty in this is that these proteins are under constant modification due to stresses or changes that an organism undergoes.

Charles explained that each virus or organism has unique peptides, as is the the case of Iridescent 6 virus, which is being directly tied to CCD. There are over 18,000 unique peptides to the virus. When you find 10 to 15 of these peptides in a sample, you have identified the subject. The numbers involved in this analysis or mass stack proteomics are staggering, as each of the 35,000 genes in the human genome, for example, can code for at least 10 times as many proteins and in extreme cases for over 1,000 individual proteins.  With the aid of computers, this task is handled in seconds and identification compared to finding a needle in the proverbial haystack is made possible.  The U.S. Army has developed methods and patented the analytical software that makes this all possible. It was originally designed to screen for human pathogens, but is equally effective at detecting viruses and pathogens in honey bees, as well. Charles also explained that both the Iridescent 6 virus and the microsporidian Nosema Ceranae seem to get out of control under cool moist conditions, so that controlling the environmental factors can help in the control of these virus as well. 

Jerry Bromenshenk explained during the session that there were over six different samplings over several years and all of the CCD samples tested had both Iridescent 6 virus and Nosema Ceranae.  When both factors are present, you have 100 % loss of those colonies.  Either factor alone is not this lethal, but the combination produces a synergistic effect that is perhaps 100 times more lethal than either one by themselves.  So, perhaps with more analysis and some proper prevention and treatment techniques we will find the answer to this malady that is the most serious to challenge us with in many years.  Beekeepers can be monitoring their viral load using the Integrated Virus Detection System (IVDS) just by sending samples to BVS, Inc., in Florence, Montana, and if something unusual shows up in the regular monthly screening then the sample(s) can be further analyzed using proteomics. This is a great example of cooperation between the development of technologies by the U.S. Army and making them available to the public, in this case through BVS, Inc. If you would like to begin a sampling program for monitoring the health of your bees, please contact David Wick at 406.369.4214.  BVS is offering this service to beekeepers at a price that simply covers the cost of the testing currently and is happy to work with us in better managing our bees.

In addition, Beeologics is currently developing a product called Remebee, which utilizes RNA interference, a mechanism that inhibits or hinders gene expression. RNAi is also known as gene silencing and is a relatively new technology affecting all insects and animals. The technology is based on naturally occurring biological agents by which they introduce the factor that prompts the silencing response. They are the first that they are aware of to use this type of technology commercially on bees.  The target virus originally was Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus or IAPV, but RNAi technology  is potentially applicable to all bee viruses.   Remebe is non-toxic and leaves no residues in either honey bees or honey. While its primary focus is Remebee and solving the current CCD crisis, Beeologics' wider focus is developing a full line of products for bee health, starting with RemebeePro, a multi-viral agent, and RemebeePlus, a feeding supplement based on natural ingredients.   The company is currently involved in testing the product and would like to have over 100,000 colonies in the program. If you would like to become involved you can contact them at www.beeologics.com.

Zac Browning

The other important topic was surrounding the newly discovered virus called Iridescent 6, which is being found in all samples of CCD colonies and it is suspected that when combined with Nosema Ceranae there is  a synergistic effect compounding the effects of either individual problem. Dr. Bromenshenk's team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal. You can find this paper, which is very interesting, at www.bvs-inc.us/images/publications/journal.pone.0013181.pdf.

Outside of the outstanding research information that was shared during the conference, two standout highlights occurred during the ABF Annual Banquet, the first of which was the presentation of the 2011 President's Award to both Randy Johnson, of Nampa, Idaho, and Troy Fore, of Jesup, Georgia.  Both Randy and Troy were recognized for their many years of service and dedication to not only the ABF, but also the beekeeping industry.  Due to some health-related issues, Randy was unable to attend the conference, but conference organizers were able to contact Randy via phone and patch him into the annual banquet, such that all of those in attendance could wish him well and congratulate him.

The second occurrence was the sale of the beeswax sculpture that garnered Liz Vanowski a 2011 American Honey Show Best of Show award for Artistic Beeswax during the live auction. While I was spotting for auctioneer Rick Sutton and Zac Browning was bidding for the sculpture, it was sold to someone that I could not see at the other end of the room.  Zac bid all the way to $3,300, but lost the bid the other way on the last and final bid. But, when the sculpture was handed over it was presented to Zac by the other bidder. What a wonderful and generous gift to a great guy! I am going to search out the "rest of the story" and hope that we have that for you in next month's ABF E-Buzz.

Finally, the 2011 Honey Show was a big success, with the entries being really outstanding this year. Congratulations go to my good friends, Jim and Karen Belli, from Illinois, who snagged three first-place entries and the Best of Show honey, which was truly beautiful.  A full list of the 2011 winners can be found at www.nabeekeepingconference.com/honey_show.html.

For those of you who attended the conference, I trust that you had an outstanding time in Galveston.  We would appreciate your feedback on the conference, so please take the time to complete the conference survey, which can be found at http://abfnet.org/associations/10537/files/NABC_2011_AttendeeSurvey.pdf.  And for those of you who were unable to attend, I encourage you to make your plans now for the 2012 North American Beekeeping Conference, which will be held January 10-14, 2012, at the Rio All-Suite Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.  There's no place like it and we know you won't want to miss this opportunity to meet with your fellow beekeepers!  Conference details will be available on the ABF Web site in the coming months.

Bee Issues: Groups Recommend That the Environmental Protection Agency Take Significant Actions to Protect Bees From Pesticides

During the week of January 17, 2011, representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the pesticide industry met with university researchers, conservationists and beekeeping groups in Florida to discuss the way that pesticide risks to bees are evaluated. The conference, which was organized by the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), is considered by U.S. government agencies and industry-watchers to be the first step in evaluating whether current guidelines on measuring pesticide toxicity are effective.

Currently, the EPA only evaluates pesticide toxicity to honey bees, while bumble bees and other crop-pollinating bee species are given no consideration. Beekeeping groups have also questioned the validity of the existing honey bee hazard evaluation process in the U.S., and have pushed the agency to develop stricter standards in the wake of highly publicized bee deaths. Previous SETAC conferences have reviewed the pesticide risk standards to wildlife such as fish and birds, resulting in more stringent requirements on the part of manufacturers. This was the first SETAC conference focused specifically on bees. [read more]

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

Looking for the perfect way to honor a friend or family member while helping to protect and preserve one of nature's finest?  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: Randolph Furbert

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

Randy in teaching mode

I think it was my first ABF conference where I met a gentleman who was handing out jars of honey from Bermuda. I don't often miss an opportunity to pick up free honey and I am glad that I took some time out to talk to this very interesting beekeeper. His name, Randolph Furbert, and his wonderful English accent, piqued my interest immediately. It wasn't much longer than, oh, 10 minutes or so, that we were "brothers from another mother."  I soon found out that he had been coming to conferences for many years and always brought someone with him as his guest. When I attended my second conference, there was one person that I could not miss and that was Randy.    

We soon began a yearly get together for either lunch or a side trip where we would run to visit something we hadn't seen before. The most memorable trip was during the Austin conference, where we drove up to see Clint Walker's honey house and retail store. Randy brought his brother, Loren, and along with another friend, Bob Morton from Kansas, we made the drive up to Rogers that cold, dreary and rainy afternoon. We had a great time and on the road back were deeply immersed in conversations surrounding of all things, beekeeping. I don't believe we think about anything else some times! But, soon I noticed that while I was intent upon our discussion, we had driven almost two hours south on Interstate 35 and I hadn't seen a sign for Austin for quite some time. After another 10 minutes or so of looking for a mileage sign and not finding one, I pulled into a gas station and discovered that we were almost 60 miles past Austin. Four grown men in a car enjoying the time so intently that no one noticed that we were driving right through down town Austin. So, we had the great pleasure of another hour of discussion of the bees and also my new name of "Wrong Way Tucker."   

Truly the greatest and most rewarding part of our gathering together each year is the establishment of these types of relationships with others in our bee family. For this year's annual conference in Galveston, Randy came with a group of five other beekeepers from Bermuda and they were all a real treat to get together with. We went out to the "Healthy Chinese Buffet" on Thursday evening and ate quite healthfully indeed. Jessica Cox was absolutely delightful in her observations about how much food there was and what a wonderful idea it was to have such a selection of available culinary treats. We told jokes and discussed bees some more and, of course, mites and their arrival to Bermuda during the past year. Randy and I also had an opportunity during an afternoon to drive around Galveston and visit the Bishop's house and share some time together again. In addition, Quincy Burgess and Randy were a part of the conference agenda and gave a presentation on beekeeping in Bermuda.  It is good to see that Randy has taken this fine young man under his arm and is assisting in his beekeeping experience.

Randy is married to Gail, his lovely wife, and together they have three children, Paul, John and Heather. Randy himself is the oldest of 11 children. His father was a stone cutter, so Randy was familiar with hard work as a child. He grew up fishing for rock fish, snapper and lobster, and working with his father. When he was  a young man, he began delivering goods to people all over Bermuda through his company Rafur Services Ltd.  To quote Randy, "He would deliver everything, but babies." In 1972, he began his experience with the bees with a few hives and became hooked when they produced 30 gallons of honey.  At this point, he was past just providing honey for the table and it became necessary to begin marketing his honey. He began working to expand the number of colonies and, with his brother Loren's help, he soon expanded to 50 hives.  This is when Randy says, "I acquired the sickness," and the number of hives expanded to over 100.  The main nectar sources for honey from Randy's bees are fiddlewood and brazilian pepper.  In 2004, Randy was recognized by Queen Elizabeth for his work with the bees in Bermuda. Randy is considered the "Beekeeper of Bermuda" and there is an absolutely wonderful video of him and his love for the bees on YouTube. You can watch this video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VpofAQfmNQ. In the video, you get the wonderful treat of sharing a few minutes of Randy's life with the bees.

In 2010, the varroa mite came to Bermuda and it was devastating, with losses amounting to over 80 percent. It is now a time of learning to deal with this terrible pest and the viruses that they carry.  It is always amazing how these little insects travel from one place to another. I know that Randy and the other beekeepers in Bermuda will learn in time how to rebuild their colonies, but it will be a challenging task. I hope we all gather around them and do our best to offer help and hope for the future of the bees there. With the passion that exists in this family of beekeepers, I am sure they will succeed.

Buzzmakers: Latest and Greatest Beekeeping Industry News

  • The Florida Times Union reports in a story by Brad Burbaugh titled "Narrowing the Causes of Honey Bee Losses" that "bees are the most ubiquitous pollinators of agronomic crops, and the unexplained disappearance of these pollinators has scientists, beekeepers and farmers worried."  A good article again on the current woes of the industry in respect to CCD and what is being done. Read more at http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/home-and-garden/2011-01-15/story/narrowing-causes-honey-bee-losses.
  • ARStechnica.com provides an interesting story on the decline of bumble bees, which is theorizing that a possible contributing agent is Nosema bombi, a fungal parasite found in Europe that was introduced here recently. You can find the entire story by Diana Gitig at http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/01/bumble-bees-done-in-by-a-fungal-parasite-maybe.ars.
  • The Times of India brings us a great story on India's largest beekeeper, Jagjit Singh Kapoor, who has turned his beekeeping operation into a global business. He started with five honey bee colonies in the 1980s and today his Kashmir Apiaries has 50,000 of these across the country, "from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari," as his Web site says.  His daughter Ritu, who has been involved with the business since she was 14, was conferred the Honey Bee Queen at the 41st Apimondia International Beekeeping Conference at Montpellier, France, in October 2009. Read more at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/The-beekeepers/articleshow/7317184.cms.
  • In a story called "Hitting the Roof to Help Honey Bees and the Planet," the Georgetown Dish reports that Jeff Miller started with a few hives on his roof and went on to found DC Honeybees, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of the honey bee to our food supply, as well as educating the public about beekeeping in an urban environment. Learn more at http://www.thegeorgetowndish.com/thedish/hitting-roof-help-honey-bees-and-planet.

ABF Welcomes New Members — December 2010

  • Brock Ashurst, California
  • Steven Cameron, California
  • Leslie Ferguson Jr., California
  • Kathleen Finnerty, New York
  • Carol Gaylord, Texas
  • A.J. Howery, Hawaii
  • Janet Katz, New Jersey
  • Janice Lohman, Oregon
  • Todd Mason, Florida
  • Tracey Middlebrooks, Georgia
  • Karen Peteros, California
  • Colby Sadler, Florida
  • Nell O. Stuard, Louisiana
  • Keith Hendrix, Georgia
  • Mmahmoud Ramazani, Louisiana
  • Marker Ramsey, Wisconsin
  • Roger Simonds, North Carolina
  • Paul Skinner, North Carolina









Recipe of the Month: Red Bee Brownies

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

Red-Velvet-Brownie Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2  cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts







Cream-Cheese Layer Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract





Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan and set aside.

Brownie layer: In a saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the honey, sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. In another bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Stir in the walnuts and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream-cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream-cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream-cheese layer. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream-cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.