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ABF E-Buzz: March 2011
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ABF E-Buzz — March 2011

In This Issue:

Welcome Back to E-Buzz

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

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair
The bees are stirring birds are on the wing
And WINTER, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Hello and welcome back to ABF E-Buzz. March is the month for preparation and planning for the upcoming year and there is always too much to do it seems. There are decisions to be made about how many hives we will attempt to care for this year, making increase and what kinds of management methods we will employ this year with our bees. There are few ventures that involve so much change and fluidity as this beekeeping business. We are faced with all the challenges that farmers and ranchers face, but we are managing creatures that change so much faster and are so easily affected by so many variables.

It's very important that we stay on top of our information supply and utilize the information that we are getting wisely. It is those who are able to adapt and utilize new technologies the most effectively that will continue in this venture in the coming years. It is our intention to keep you informed and up to date on the latest information in the industry in the coming issues and with that we would like to introduce a new feature to ABF E-Buzz. "Science Buzz" will be authored by Peter Teal, research leader at the Chemistry Research Unit at the Center for Medical Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS in Gainesville, Florida. So, be sure to check out "Science Buzz." We hope that you find it informative.

Zachary Huang

There is also a new offering in this edition of ABF E-Buzz in that we are announcing the "Moments in Beekeeping" Photo Contest. We would like to encourage you to record some of the great snapshots from your experience with the bees and gain rewards with your efforts. There are four categories to compete in and the judging of the contest is being done by Zachary Huang who has studied bees for over two decades and has many accomplishments in the field of photography. He has had illustration photos in prominent journals such as Science, Nature Reviews-Genetics and Current Biology, and as cover photos in popular bee journals (American Bee Journal and Bee Culture). You can view many of his photos at www.beetography.com. In the introduction to the photo contest in this newsletter you will find the rules for submitting your entries and we hope that you will bee involved!

Our "Beekeeping Vendor of the Month" features Brushy Mountain Bee Farm and introduces you to Steve and Sandy Forrest. The growth and success of their bee supply business has been due to their love and support of the honey bee. In addition, you will find a great recipe for Baklava from Ginger Reuter to add some sweet deserts to your daily diet.

Later on you will find "Bee Informed," which will offer up some tips on the feeding of bees that can be important right now in the middle of the country. While it is totally true that all beekeeping is local, we hope that the method will provide you with good management information to help you react when the time is necessary.

A recent release from UNEP is bringing attention to the decline of pollinators worldwide and is focusing attention on the realities that beekeepers have been facing for a decade now. Because of a group of issues like parasitic mites, pesticides, air pollution, viruses and the decline of flowering plants honeybees are experiencing difficulties and possibly the phenomena called Colony Collapse Disorder.  This decline in honey bees and all of the wild bees and pollinators makes it more and more difficult to accomplish the level of pollination that is required to feed the world. It's estimated that the total worldwide value to food production is $212 billion or about 9 percent of total human food value. The study indicates that with recent colony collapses in China, Egypt and Latin America that the disorder is becoming a global issue.

"Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature's services in a world of close to seven billion people," notes Adam Steiner, head of UNEP. The report urges incentives to farmers to set aside areas to  "restore pollinator-friendly habitats, including key flowering plants" and more research into insects and their decline worldwide. The full report is available at http://www.unep.org/dewa/Portals/67/pdf/Global_Bee_Colony_Disorder_and_Threats_insect_pollinators.pdf.

We hope that you find this edition of ABF E-Buzz helpful in your experience of learning about this wonderful insect, the honey bee. If you have any articles of interest for upcoming issues, we would be happy to include them, whether it's information about meetings, book reports, people in the news or recipes. Just send me an e-mail at tuckerb@hit.net and we will get your addition into the next issue or two.

Science Buzz

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

Peter Teal

Communication from scientists, in scientific papers and in presentations at meetings, comes from a highly technical perspective that renders findings sometimes difficult to follow. It's a huge problem, because you, the stakeholders, are the ones who we want to benefit from the research findings, but often these findings are not communicated in an accessible way. Even among the projects I supervise I find "science-speak," particularly regarding molecular genetics, proteomics and physiology mysterious. For example, what is "RNAi" and what are "molecular pesticides" - should we be in fear for our lives or the lives of our hives?  Well, no, but it's sometimes hard to tell from scientific reports. So, it was no surprise that the discussion at the Research Committee meeting at the North American Beekeeping Conference in Galveston, Texas, centered on how to make new scientific discoveries more accessible to you, the beekeepers. Scientists working for the Agricultural Research Service write interpretive research summaries for each scientific publication with the sole purpose of providing the public with a straight-forward description of what we did.  The ABF Research Committee decided to try this approach, so we will take current interesting research and provide a summary to you in the newsletter.  As is often the case, "he who makes the suggestion gets the job," so here I go.  

First let me introduce myself. I'm Peter Teal and I'm a research leader for the Chemistry Research Unit at the Center for Medical Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS, in Gainesville, Florida. A lot of my personal research is on developing attractants and repellants for bee pests like the small hive beetle and Varroa mite. I also look at how honey bees grow and develop in terms of internal chemical changes. Additionally, I supervise scientists working on soil science, insect pests of stored grains and crops, genetics, plant physiology and climate change. I can't keep up with the continually evolving "science-speak" on all these issues, so I have to summarize the key important elements of all of these projects to get the important findings to our customers. My approach to these summaries is to follow the "intro" (introduction to the work), "who" (who did the work), "what" (what was done) and "why" (why is the research important).
Here is an example of such an ARS interpretive summary from a paper published by Arbogast and colleagues in the Florida Entomologist.

The small hive beetle is a native of Africa where it is considered a minor pest of honey bees, and until recently it was thought to be limited to that continent. However, it was detected in Florida in 1998 and by 2004, it had spread to 30 states. It now poses a major threat to the beekeeping industry of the United States. The beetle enters bee hives where it lays eggs and multiplies rapidly, feeding on pollen, honey and bee brood. It contaminates honey, causing it to ferment, and eventually destroys the hive. ARS scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida, have found that small hive beetles are capable of population growth on diets other than bee products including fruits like oranges and cantaloupes. This and earlier findings that this invasive species occurs in woodlands near which there are no managed honey bee colonies has serious implications. Its ability to survive and multiply in the absence of honey bees will facilitate its spread and help maintain reservoirs for re-infestation that may be difficult to eradicate, thus hindering efforts to manage populations in apiaries. This information will be of use to scientists in developing better methods for controlling this pest that will directly benefit beekeepers. Contact Dr. Terry Arbogast (terry.arbogast @ars.usda.gov).
In order to bring you summaries of the research that you care the most about I need your input. First, beekeepers, what do you need to know? Please e-mail me the issues that are most important to you so I can prioritize among the many honey bee-related projects that are being completed. Second, do you want to know the outcomes of individual cutting edge projects or would you prefer I summarize the most current research on a topic in each newsletter? Like Varroa control, AFB prevention, varroa detection, queen quality or many other topics.  Third, if you are conducting research and would like your newly published work to be featured, please send a copy of the paper or preprint. Prior to sending the interpretive summary to the newsletter I will send it to you for editing. My e-mail is peter.teal@ars.usda.gov. Please give me your input.

Bee Informed: Spring Feeding

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

Most of you have probably checked the majority of your hives and picked up your deadouts. Your survivors hopefully have a top box that looks like some I found the other day that had bees throughout both boxes with pretty good coverage, especially in the top box. These units may be light and need feed during the spring to survive those periods of "blackberry winter" that seem to hit for a week or 10 days during spring. Make sure there are plenty of stores of both pollen and honey and that the colony is not in danger of starving to death during one of these spring doldrums. For feeding you need to consider what your purpose is:

  • Emergency Feed colony is extremely light due to consuming most of its winter stores; or
  • Stimulative Feeding colony has sufficient stores, but you want to speed up development for the purpose of making splits in April or May.

When providing emergency stores, it is wise to use a 2:1 heavy syrup and try to provide a gallon or two of this sugar solution to weight up the colony. I like hive top feeders as they provide sugar right to the center of the colony where they usually tend to be if they are light in stores. If you do not have top feeders, you can put an empty medium box on top of the brood chambers and put a plastic bag with feed on top of the frames directly putting a few holes in the top of the bag with a cappings scratcher, which will make small holes the bees can use to remove the syrup. You can also use entrance-type feeders, such as the one pictured here from Brushy Mountain, but sometimes this type of feeder will not work if temperatures are too cool. The bees may not move down to the entrance area to get the feed if clustered due to the temperature. You can also use frame feeders, which fit into the brood chamber when frames are removed. These are very effective, but unlike most hive-top feeding do require that you open the hive to add additional syrup.

When a colony takes down a gallon of this type of syrup in just a few days, you can be assured that: a. it is strong in numbers; and b. it needs the feed.  If they don't take it, they may be light in numbers or suffering from Nosema. You may need to check for spore levels in the guts of the bees to see if  you need to do an emergency treatment for Nosema. One of the signs of this mircrosporidian disease of bees is their lack of interest in taking feed even though they may be in dire shape.

If your hive has sufficient stores, but you want to stimulate them to rear brood, then provide a feed that is more representative of an actual nectar flow. If feeding a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water feed or less, be careful to provide plenty of room for expansion. If bees are mainly in the top box and stores are light in the bottom box, I usually rotate the boxes switching the top box to the position on the bottom board. This will give the queen plenty of room to quickly move up into empty frames and begin spring buildup with the stimulative feed that you are providing. If both boxes are full of bees and good stores, you may consider adding another box of empty drawn comb for expansion of the brood nest.

Beekeeping Vendor of the Month: Brushy Mountain Bee Farm

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

Sandy and Steve Forrest
Photo courtesy of Business North Carolina

When Steve Forrest graduated from college in 1971 with a business degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he and his wife, Sandy, moved to Statesville, where Steve taught high school in Iredell County and Sandy became a teacher's aide. But, they wanted their own business and considered raising blueberries or some other fruit. While teaching school, Steve and Sandy became acquainted with another teacher that was a beekeeper.   While assisting this beekeeper, they became intrigued with the bees and their necessity to pollination efforts and in the production of honey and beeswax.  

By 1976, the couple had almost 100 hives and worked and tended to them all summer long, but then disaster stuck. When they went to harvest the honey, all of the hives had been stolen. The person who took them must have had a lot of equipment to make the theft possible and little did they know that they were setting the groundwork for the start of the business of making and selling bee equipment. The couple had found a house and barn on top of a mountain in rural Wilkes county with 60 acres just down the road from Bootleggers Ridge. Steve, who loved doing woodwork, began making equipment during the week and selling it on the weekends at the home site they were establishing on "Beekeeper Drive." The rural location was not to be a detriment to the growth of the business.
"We're so far out in the sticks that even the Presbyterians handle snakes," Steve says, laughing. Both he and Sandy have a good sense of humor, which I am sure brings many of the customers to this mountain top. Sales the first few years were slow and Steve said he paid himself little or nothing the first half dozen years, but the hard work paid off. By 1981, they had hired their first full-time employee, but depended upon lots of family help when crunch time came and catalogs needed to be mailed and such.

The couple has seen lots of hard and difficult times during their growth and in 1983, while building their distribution center, they encountered the worst. High winds roared over the mountain top and the partially constructed building collapsed, seriously injuring a worker. When the word got out of what had happened, about 25 neighbors showed up and tore the structure apart, rebuilding and restoring it to its condition prior to the windstorm. It's great to have good neighbors as friends!

During the 90s, business was expanding and growth was steady, with the company adding several more buildings at the site and a seven-station sewing center to craft bee clothing. Business couldn't have been better, but suddenly Steve was struck with an illness that required seven surgeries in one year to regain his health. He recovered just in time for Sandy to be diagnosed with colon cancer, which also required multiple hospital stays and a long recovery.

You can find their products and lots of great information on beekeeping at www.brushymountainbeefarm.com.

But, recover they did and even though it took designing catalogs and directing the business from hospital beds for some time, their dedication paid off.   These days it not uncommon to see 70 to 100 customers coming to pick up orders and begin their beekeeping adventures. With sales in the millions annually and growth rates that are double digit the past few years, they have established themselves as leaders in the business of beekeeping supplies. In 2009, the business was selected by Business North Carolina as the Small Business of the Year. With over 70 employees, the company now strives to keep up with orders and the business has grown to a complex of eight buildings with more than 40,000 square feet filled with wood and metal working equipment, packing and shipping operations. It also takes a lot of marketing leadership. Shane Gebauer, who came on board with the company in August of 2007, has brought with him wonderful technical skills, and his webinars and e-commerce ability showcase his unequalled teaching skills. He has transformed the Brushy Mountain Web site into one the most informative in the industry.

In October 2009, the company opened a 12,000-square-foot distribution center in Pennsylvania. Now in their 60s, it's difficult to envision Steve and Sandy retiring anytime soon. Keep up the good work and good luck to Brushy Mountain Bee Farm!

Example of Products of the Hive
Example of Landscapes and Bees

Moments in Beekeeping: ABF Announces Photo Contest

There are four categories for entries in the photo contest:

  • Bees at Work — This will involve a great picture of a honey bee on a flower in the process of gathering nectar or pollen. It would also entail pictures of bees in the hive performing functions such as cooling, transfer of nectar or attending the queen. It could also be great frames of colorful pollen or brood.
  • Kids and Bees — This will include children working bees or in the classroom demonstrating any educational activities involving the honey bee. Costumes and recreations of bee hives are great subjects.
  • Products of the Hive — This category will show off great displays of honey, pollen or beeswax. It could be food made with honey or demonstrations of the different color of varietals. It could involve vehicles used to deliver honey or honey gift baskets. Show how you use and market the wonderful products of the hive.
  • Landscapes and Bees — Show us your favorite yard of bees and how beautiful the surrounding landscape is at your apiary sites.

Rules for photo contest are as follows:

  • Photo will be limited to 2 MB or under in size and will be displayed in a 1500 x 1200 pixel format.
  • Entrants will submit a release form for each photo stating the originality of the photo and possession of submission.
    Release forms will be sent via e-mail upon photo submission.
  • Photos and release forms must be submitted to the ABF via e-mail by June 1, 2011, for final judging. Please send photo to Robin Dahlen, ABF executive director, at robindahlen@abfnet.org.

The winner of each category will be awarded the following items courtesy of EKOBeekeeping.com (total value of $55): One 50ml bottle of Nozevit Plus; One 100ml bottle of OPIMA (essential oil, plant polyphenols, vitamins, minerals and amino acids food supplement); and One European Beekeepers Veil.

One grand prize winner will receive a Master Beekeepers Suit from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.


Bee Educated: 2011 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow Session Recordings Now Available

Several educational sessions were recorded as audio files during the 2011 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow in Galveston, Texas, and are now available for your review on the 2011 conference Web site, including:

  • Honey Bee Pharmacology, Dr. Marion Ellis, University of Nebraska
  • Certified True Source Honey Traceability Program, Various Speakers
  • Honey Bee Health Surveillance: A Successful Program to Restore Bee Health, Dr. Medhat Nasr, Crop Diversification Centre North, Canada
  • Best Management Practices for Beekeepers Pollinating Ag Crops, Christi Heintz, Project Apis m
  • Hints for Successful Backyard Beekeeping, Dr. Eric Mussen, University of California, Davis

You can access these sessions online by clicking here and download them at your convenience. We hope you find these recordings to be a valuable resource for your personal beekeeping education and experience.

Be sure to mark your calendar now for the 2012 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow, January 10-14, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Conference information will be available soon on the ABF Web site at www.abfnet.org.

Bee Active: 2011 Pollinator Week is June 20-26!

Thanks to your support and action, last year 38 states declared their own State Pollinator Week. With your help, Pollinator Partnership hopes to reach 100 percent state participation this year. Many states require that one of their citizens request events such as Pollinator Week be officially proclaimed. Therefore, Pollinator Partnership is asking that you send a letter to your governor requesting (s)he proclaim their own State Pollinator Week. Go to http://pollinator.org/pollinator_week_2011.htm to access: governors' contact information; sample letter; and proclamation text. Be sure to send your letter before the end of March 2011 to allow processing at your governor's offices!

Buzzmakers: Latest and Greatest Beekeeping Industry News

  • Pollinator Partnership's Dr. Mark Moffett was a recent guest on The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. During his segment, Dr. Moffett spoke about the current National Geographic Magazine article featuring pollinators. Watch the full video at http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/376284/march-03-2011/mark-moffett.
  • The March issue of Bee Culture Magazine marks another milestone in the history of The A.I. Root Company and the business and craft of beekeeping in the United States. The issue is now available on nearly 500 magazine stands from the familiar Tractor Supply Company Store to entirely new audiences in Borders and Barnes & Noble book stores in every state in the U.S. — from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California and even Hawaii. Over the next few months additional outlets and more newsstands will be added to this initial venture.
  • The National Honey Board recently announced that it will fund in 2011 eight new research projects focusing on honey bee health. The Board's Research Committee, with input from a panel of experts, selected the projects from 12 proposals it received by the December 15, 2010, deadline. Learn more at http://www.abfnet.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=136.

ABF Welcomes New Members — February 2011

  • Delbert Barber, Oregon
  • Bill Campion, Illinois
  • Holly Campion, Illinois
  • Antony Carey, Missouri
  • Lance Chastain, Kansas
  • Michael Glennon, Illinois
  • Carole Hayes, Florida
  • Stephanie Lane, Iowa
  • Lisa Lanz, Illinois
  • Peggy Marton, Utah
  • Folkert Miedena, Canada
  • Jaroslaw Pietrzyk, Illinois
  • Warren Schave, Minnesota
  • Debbie Seib, Indiana
  • Mike Seib, Indiana
  • Alvin Skow, Nebraska
  • Paul Thatcher, Florida
  • Kurt Vollmer, Wisconsin

Recipe of the Month: Baklava

Recipe Courtesy of Ginger Reuter

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net


  • 4 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 pound phyllo
  • 1 cup butter or margarine melted





  • Grease a 13 X 9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, set aside.
  • In baking pan, place one sheet of phyllo, allowing it to extend up sides of pan; brush with melted butter. Repeat to make five more layers; sprinkle with 1 cup nut mixture. Cut remaining phyllo into 13 x 9 inch rectangles. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Place one phyllo rectangle into pan; brush with melted butter. Repeat to make at least six layers, overlapping small strips of phyllo to make rectangles if necessary. Sprinkle with 1 cup nut mixture.
  • Repeat step 3 three more times. Place remaining phyllo on top of last nut layer. Trim any phyllo that extends over the top of the pan. With a sharp knife, cut just halfway through all layers to make 24 servings. Bake 1 1/4 hours or until top is golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan over medium/low heat, heat honey until hot (not boiling). Spoon hot honey evenly over baklava. Cool on wire rack at least one hour, then cover and leave at room temperature until serving time.
  • To serve, finish cutting through layers. Serves 24.

*To keep phyllo from drying out and tearing, place a dampened towel over the dough while you work. Phyllo (or filo) can be found in the freezer section.

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.