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ABF E-Buzz: February 2019

ABF E-Buzz — February 2019

In This Issue:

Welcome to ABF E-Buzz

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

Ah ...... February

I cannot figure
You out!
Years past
You have been
Both the worst
And the best
Month of Winter.
One thing
For sure is
Your days of
Crazy weather
Will never leave
Me disappointed!

– Tim Tucker

Welcome back!

I hope the long winter will be soon behind us and we can all begin doing our regular bee work throughout the country. I know those of you in the South are already building bees for making splits in March, and the rearing of queens is soon to begin. I always await this time of year with much anticipation and love seeing the bees begin to do their buildup. It is an encouraging time of year with the new beginnings going on.

This month I would like to ask everyone to get involved in a task that is very important to the industry. If we do not do anything, nothing will get done to correct a couple things that need changed in order to help the bees. There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that the issues I and many others are experiencing with our large losses is due to pesticides.

Since the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides in the early 2000s it has been a steady downhill slope for the quality of our bees and their overall health. I am down over 90% from the number of colonies we were able to run, and run well, in the late 1990s. We are doing much more work and getting nowhere near the results of what was possible to do with bees back then.

We could grow and expand every year, and all that kept us from doing so was our capacity for building new equipment. In ten years, we went from two hives to 800 and always had brood and bees to sell. Now it is difficult to find brood with which to split hives and rebuild. It is not a lack of forage or diversity of forage in my area. We are still very much the same mix of native prairie to bottom crop ground along the river bottoms and flats. In the past twenty years, nothing much has changed in the counties where I run bees. Nothing except we have changed from the concept of integrated pest management (IPM) to total prophylactic use of pesticides, and IPM has been forgotten.

These compounds are highly toxic, and we knew the dust from the planting process was a killer for us when next to agricultural areas. We have also found out that they persist much longer in the soils than the chemical manufacturers told us they would. Back in 2011 or 2012, I was in a meeting in D.C. and told a representative for the chemical industry that they had missed the target on life expectancy of every family of compounds put on the market over the past fifty years. He called me a liar. I went through each family I could think of that ranged from pesticides to larvicides and from Chlordane to Chlorpyrifos. He very quickly left the room when I was done because he had another meeting.

I recently learned that Brett Adee lost 50,000 hives this winter, and I know he has had large losses in previous years. I don’t think Brett has lost his ability to raise and keep bees. I know him too well and know he is a good businessman and a good beekeeper. There are many others of us commercial beekeepers who knew how to take care of mites when we had two types of them bothering our bees, and the bees still went crazy in the spring. We still expanded each and every year as we could, but that came to an end about 15 years ago.

I spoke at a USDA conference a few years back where I noted the crash in our birds, butterflies and bats as well. I ended my talk with, “I miss the song of the birds.” We have very few birds anymore, and our quail and meadowlark populations are 10-15% of what they were in the 1990s. My fiancé and I took a long, two-hour walk yesterday around our farm and noticed there were very few birds in the timber and grassland areas where there should be plenty of them. We did see a half-dozen robins that were foraging for an earthworm or two, signaling the coming of spring. The timber used to have hundreds of them, and they would fly in flocks as opposed to small groups like we saw. Our prairie chickens are completely gone, and I haven’t seen a bat in a year flying around our night security lights. There is no one who can convince me that we aren’t affecting all wildlife in our area with these persistent compounds that keep building for years after use in the environment.

So... There are two links below that I’m asking everyone to respond to in the next couple days. Our responses may cause the EPA to take notice if we can get the industry to post comments about better testing for all pesticides and changing the registration for seed coatings so that they will be treated as a chemical application when they are used. This really must be done.

Currently, seed coatings are only treated as a chemical application at the facility where they are applied to the seed and not in the field. We have no means of controlling these applications under the current law or labeling requirements. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is requesting that the EPA either initiate a rulemaking or issue a formal agency interpretation for planted seeds treated with systemic insecticides. CFS believes that the EPA has improperly applied the treated article exemption in exempting these products from registration and labeling requirements.

CFS is also requesting that the EPA revise testing requirements for pesticides prior to registration and require testing for whole pesticide formulations to account for the toxicological effects of inert and adjuvant ingredients and the testing of tank mixes to assess the interaction between pesticide ingredients. CFS believes this change is needed to meet the applicable safety standards of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Comments must be received by March 21. To post comments, use the links below:



Please send these links to everyone you know. Nothing will have even a chance of happening if the EPA does not hear from us.

This month we have a report from President Tim May about the upcoming ABF video that’s launching mid-March. Vice President Joan Gunter has some great information about the Livestock Marketing Association’s petition requesting a temporary modification of hours of service (HOS) requirements for livestock, fish and bee haulers which was posted to the federal register and how to comment on this very important issue.

Anna Kettlewell is back with an update on what the Honey Queen and Princess have been doing in their efforts to promote the image of honey and inform the public about how to use honey to make everything better. We also have some great news in our buzzmakers section and a great new recipe for you to try out! Once again, I hope you enjoy your time here with us and this edition of ABF E-Buzz. If there’s anything else you would like to see in a future edition, please drop me an email at tuckerb@hit.net. Thank you!


President's Greeting

by Tim May, ABF President

Now that the 2019 ABF Conference & Tradeshow is over, it’s time for the ABF to begin working on new projects and ideas. The committees will begin to meet this week about their initiatives for the year. Welcome to all new committee members. Your participation is appreciated.

One of our most significant initiatives this year will be the distribution of the ABF Informational Video which is scheduled to be released around March 15. Thanks to all who participated in interviews during the conference in Myrtle Beach. I am really looking forward to seeing the final product.

The video is intended to inform all new as well as seasoned beekeepers about the ABF. We plan to distribute it to as many local clubs and state organizations as possible. The video will introduce beekeepers to our organization and describe what the ABF does for all aspects of the beekeeping industry.

Keep a lookout in the coming weeks for your first glimpse of this exciting initiative.


Government Relations

by Joan Gunter, ABF Vice President

We have had quite a winter in the Dakotas so far. Temperatures have been below zero more days then not. Snowfall has been a problem all over the state. We are getting a real taste of winter this year.

That being said, I am safe and sound in Mississippi. I left between blizzards and headed south as soon as I could. The Mississippi beekeepers are busy planning their state convention for November 8 and 9. The content looks wonderful. If you are in the area, stop on by. You’re sure to be greeted with some good old southern hospitality.

Legislative Update

Employment issues are important to all agricultural entities, especially to the beekeeping industry. John Miller is working feverishly on fixing the issues that lie within the H-2A program. On February 7, the National Council of Agriculture Employers (NCEA) hosted the USCIS, Homeland Security, State and Labor Departments and other entities that touch the H-2A process. John was impressed with the change of attitude and is hopeful for an easier road for the future.

Authorization of a bill to pay for the registration of new pesticides is expected to get an early look in the House. Speaking at the first meeting of the House Agriculture Committee this year, Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said he thought a reauthorization of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act could be coming very soon.

On February 6, the Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) petition requesting a temporary modification of hours of service (HOS) requirements for livestock, fish and bee haulers was posted to the federal register and is now open for comment. LMA members, their producer customers/consigners and livestock haulers are encouraged to submit comments in support of this important request.

The comment period closes March 8. To comment, go here:


Time is short. Get your comments in.


ABF Welcomes New Membership Manager

The ABF headquarters office just got a little bit sweeter! We’re pleased to welcome the addition of Melissa Romsdahl who will serve as the ABF’s Membership Manager, working side-by-side with our Executive Director Molly Sausaman.

Melissa holds a master’s degree in nonprofit management and brings many years of related experience to her new role. Previously serving the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and the ARVC Foundation, Melissa’s niche skillset aligns perfectly with the needs of ABF members.

Melissa can be reached via email at mromsdahl@abfnet.org or by calling the ABF headquarters office at 404-760-2875.


Snacking with Honey On-Trend

Have you had a snack today? Maybe multiple? If so, you’re in the majority of consumers who snack throughout the day. In fact, a study by The Hartman Group found that 91% of consumers snack multiple times a day, with 8% of people replacing a traditional meal with a snack.

We have become a nation of snackers, eschewing the traditional three-meal-a-day plan for mini-bursts of satiety through sweet, savory and salty snacks. Fueling the snacking craze is consumers’ desires for convenient and better-for-you options. Potato chips are still popular, but so too are honey-roasted nuts, protein bites and food bars.

In these snack foods, developers are focusing on more than taste. They are looking at each ingredient and the functional benefits they impart, from protein to satiety to good fats. These snacks also are using honey as both a flavor, sweetener and functional ingredient to bind nuts and seeds together.

Honey’s use in snack foods delivers all-natural flavor and a pure source of energy. It also capitalizes on these three trends.

  1. Clean Label Snacking: Today, many consumers base their purchases off the ingredients in a product, not just what the product tastes like. Honey is a unique ingredient that makes a product look good and taste good!

  2. Convenient, Healthy and Indulgent: Convenience can be healthy, and we’re seeing evidence of this as nutritious and functional snack foods are being developed to replace meals or provide a healthy option for mid-day cravings. Honey helps sweet snacks maintain their all-natural recipe and create a sense of indulgence, even in a better-for-you product.

  3. Kids Matter: Developing snack foods specifically for kids has allowed food makers to influence both kids and their parents with a positive message. Parents want to feel good about what snacks their kids are eating, and parents can feel good about giving their kids snacks made with honey.

Next time you go to the supermarket, check out these great made-with-honey snacks.

Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey Bar, This Bar Saves Lives
This nut- and seed-dense bar uses honey to bring the ingredients and the flavor together. Plus, every time you buy one of these bars, the company gives a bar to a child in need. That’s snacking we all can feel good about!

Ricotta Cups – Wildflower Honey, RifRaf
Consumers are used to snacking on cottage cheese, but this Brooklyn, NY-based company is trying to make ricotta a popular snacking option by blending it with wildflower honey. Each ricotta cup contains 250 calories and 10 grams of protein.

Superfood Bites – Wild Blueberry and Honey, Urban Foods
This sweet snack offers consumers a better-for-you option without sacrificing flavor. In this snack, blueberry and honey drive the flavor and quinoa, chia, flax, seeds and oats provide the texture.

Perfect Kids Peanut Butter Cookie, Perfect Bar
This refrigerated cookie bar uses honey and refrigeration to extend the shelf life of the product while eliminating artificial preservatives. Formulated just for kids, the bar features peanut butter, honey, oats and “hidden” vegetables to give kids great taste and nutrition.

Kind Kids Chewy Honey Oat, KIND Snacks
This kid-friendly bar marries cinnamon and honey for a delicious, chewy snack. Kids will love the flavor and parents will love the lack of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.


Getting Beehives onto Campus

An excerpt from the handbook Kids and Bees: Ideas and Inspirations for Teaching Kids About Bees

Find your free e-book here!

Steps to Success: By Guest Contributor Ryan King, certified middle school teacher at Ruch Community School (a K-8 public school)

Over the course of my graduate studies at Southern Oregon University, the following set of seemingly random facts crossed my path:

  • Nearly one in 10 American children today now receives an ADHD diagnosis.
  • Annual state spending on standardized tests increased 160% following the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2002.
  • 17 percent of new teachers leave their jobs in the first five years.
  • For every one farmer under the age of 25, there are five who are 75 or older.

These facts only appear to be random. In reality, they are not random at all but shed light on the disconnect felt by many students from the natural world, a byproduct of our current learning landscape of indoor testing and structured direct instruction. Before us lies the challenge to strengthen the ties between schools and the environment around them. One possible model revisits the age-old practice of keeping bees.

Beekeeping can create and enhance curriculum for a wide audience of students in the elementary, secondary, and collegiate settings. Just like school gardens, on-site beehives provide opportunities for students to put their academic learning to practical use. But unlike gardens, bees can sting and cause panic – a difficult sell to schools and parents.

Yet many campuses all around the United States have active beehives that act as learning centers for new beekeepers and eager students alike. For example, at Southern Oregon University, on the wings of strong partnerships and a crescendo of student interest, three beehives, managed by university students, were installed adjacent to the campus community garden in 2013.

Can this be replicated elsewhere? The answer is yes! Below are some helpful steps that can take many months to achieve.

The first step is to galvanize support from the most powerful voice – the youth. A signed petition from students or an oral presentation to faculty members will do the trick. Just plant a seed and nurture its growth by outweighing the associated risks with both the educational and environmental benefits of beekeeping. Utilize data and evidence that can be found in the practice of place-based education, and various conservation policies like the Agricultural Research Service’s annual report on colony losses.

Picking a physical location for the beehives is also necessary at this point – of most value may be a small undeveloped plot inside a community garden or behind a building with little foot traffic. The key is to secure approval from the property owners either in a written contract or possibly an agreement with the school’s facilities manager. Outline the roles and responsibilities for both parties.

The next step is to partner with a local beekeeping organization or school club focused on a similar mission. The goal here is to pool together resources and talents. If no organization exists, create one and invite parents, farmers, businesses, schools, and other community members to join – in other words, the guardians of children who attend the place you wish to put the beehives at. These will be the strong allies and suspicious critics you must rally.

After some time, there will be enough momentum to schedule a meeting with the “decision-makers”. Two important documents will assist your pitch. The first is a “Safety Plan” that will be assembled within 100 feet of the apiary site. The plan consists of an emergency removal contact list, medical procedures in case of a honey bee sting, warning signs and a fence to prevent trespassing, and a full list of equipment and supplies to be stored on site.

The second document is a Beekeeping Ordinance that alleviates restrictions on keeping honey bees in close proximity to residential areas or within city limits. Ask your town council if such a law exists and work with the council to make it more bee-friendly. If need be, use other ordinances as templates, such as the city of Ashland or Eugene, both located in Oregon, or Oregon’s House Bill 2653 of 2015 (more info at residentialbeekeeping.org).

Should the project get approved, congratulations! You did it! Now work with beekeepers to get the hives installed and come up with a plan for their yearlong management. Begin to craft learning experiences with teachers and secure parental consent for students who want to participate. These lessons can range from science topics in biology to botany, with other subjects and aspects of hands-on curriculum woven in between. The learning may look different depending on what’s going on that time of the year – summer camps, outdoor field trips, pollinator planting events, honey spinning, and fundraisers, to name a few.

The bottom line is that the longevity of a campus apiary lies in communication. This includes clear safety precautions when kids interact with active colonies, as well as identifying needs and seeking input from the community or school. In addition, it is a good idea to promote and market successes of your project, which may support how beekeeping engages students, cuts absenteeism, boosts cooperative learning skills, and improves test scores. The outcomes will look different depending on your vantage point. Whatever shape it takes, make it positive.

There are innumerable benefits to install beehives on school campuses. First, youth feel a deeper connection to their school and the outdoors, thus making them more engaged academically and socially. Second, local communities benefit from having more trained and dedicated young people willing to help solve local problems. And finally, teachers build positive relationships with students and find joy in their profession again. It’s a model worth replicating.

Bring bees to schools. The buzz is audible. Good luck!


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Honey Queen Buzz

by Anna Kettlewell, American Honey Queen Program Chair

Happy February! This is a great month to promote the wonderful sweetness of the hive with consumers! Honey is a perfect accompaniment to holiday meals and makes our baked goods even more flavorful. It’s a great month for Honey Queen promotions as well!


The Queen Committee wrapped up its training session with Queen Hannah and Princess Nicole in early February. Dubbed “Honey Queen University” by several queens, this seven-day coaching session featured fabulous teachers, mentors and friends of the program. I am grateful to have been joined by many former national representatives, ABF members and longtime supporters of the American Honey Queen Program to provide instruction, tutelage and guidance in the areas of presentations, media relations, social media platforms, governmental relations and many other topics. Thanks to a phenomenal team consisting of Carmen Risi, Amy Blakeney, Patty Sundberg, Rachel Bryson, Jolene McNutt, Tabitha Mansker, Angie Lundeen, Dan Piechowski, Danielle Dale, Louann Hausner, Bill Graffin and Gabrielle Hemesath, we successfully matriculated our new Queen and Princess! Special thanks to all the additional volunteers who helped make this week a success. Braving a 60-degree temperature swing throughout the week (from -20° to 40°), the queens had the opportunity to speak in a couple of Wisconsin schools in addition to their training.

The queens quickly put their new skills into action shortly after their training session. Nicole jetted to Florida for the state fair immediately following training. She participated in multiple activities during her stay, including handing out honey samples, meeting with elected officials, assisting with cooking demonstrations and answering the public’s questions at the fair. She also participated in school and civic organization presentations. Nicole also had the opportunity later in February to speak to the New Jersey Beekeepers Association’s state meeting. Hannah used her new media skills extensively in February, participating in five interviews (newspaper and radio) in Wisconsin regional and statewide publications and stations.

The queens reunited in Minnesota for some continuing education at the University of Minnesota’s Beekeeping in Northern Climates course. This two-day session allowed the queens to learn new ways to explain beekeeping concepts, learn some different beekeeping techniques and facts and market the ABF and its membership benefits to new beekeepers. We thank Dr. Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter for making the queens’ trip to this course possible.

March will bring a slew of promotional opportunities for Hannah and Nicole, and they are excited to begin their journey around America. Please contact me to arrange a visit to your area (honeyqueen99@hotmail.com or 414-545-5514) in the spring and early summer! Happy promoting!


Buzzmakers: Beekeeping Industry News

Bee Bread Improves the Antioxidant Status of Athletes

Mowing Less Often Can Help Native Bees

Honeybees Are Struggling to Get Enough Good Bacteria

Bee Propolis: One of Nature’s Most Effective Antibiotics

Extensive Study Finds that Organic Farming Can Halt Pollinator Decline

New Research Shows that High Levels of Pollution Negatively Affect Plants and Insects

Petition Seeking Rulemaking or a Formal Agency Interpretation for Planted Seeds Treated with Systemic Insecticides: EPA-HQ-OPP-2018-0805


ABF Welcomes New Members - January 2019

Nancy Palilonis, Florida
Jeffrey Monroe, Alabama
Patricia Bohls, California
Gary Landon, New Mexico
Keith Dalton, Pennsylvania
Mick Wiser, Maryland
Felicity Taylor, Virginia
Roda Shope, Michigan
Edward Morgan, Georgia
Calvin Terry, North Carolina
Jim Condon, New York
Stan Umlauft, California
Saar Safra, Washington
Dave Meyer, Illinois
Eric Berntson, Massachusetts
Dale Boone, Virginia
Rebecca & Gerard D’Amour, North Dakota
Alicia Donovan, Illinois
Brad Shaw, Virginia
Corey O’Day, Hawaii
Gary Brundege, New York
Debbie Rhodes, Texas
Trish McAleer, California
Hillary Hampton, District of Columbia
Adrian Van Essendelft, North Carolina
Emily Webber, Illinois


Recipe of the Month: Honey Chili Cauliflower

Recipe Courtesy: Niya’s World

Honey Chili Cauliflower combines the wonderful aromas and tastes of chili and honey in the goodness of cauliflower.


1 pound cauliflower florets
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons corn flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup oil, to deep fry cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon oil (extra)
6 shallots, cut into slices
1-inch piece green ginger or normal ginger
1 capsicum, remove seeds and cut into cubes
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons corn flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons Chinese chili sauce or normal chili sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon spring onion greens (for garnishing)


Wash and clean cauliflower florets. Drain out the water thoroughly. Wipe each piece with a kitchen towel. Coat cauliflower florets lightly with corn flour mixture, which has been seasoned with salt.

Fry half the cauliflower florets, in deep hot oil, until golden brown. Reduce heat and cook for approximately five minutes, or until the cauliflower florets soften, cooked through. Remove from oil and drain on an absorbent paper. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower florets. Pour off excess oil.

In another pan, heat one tablespoon of oil. Add sliced shallots and fry until light pink in color. Add peeled and grated green ginger or normal ginger to the pan. Sauté gently for one minute. Add capsicum cubes and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add honey and stir for one minute. Add combined corn flour, water, chili sauce, lemon juice and soy sauce. Stir until the sauce boils and thickens.

Add deep-fried cauliflower pieces and toss in sauce for three minutes, until cauliflower is heated through. Garnish with spring onion greens. You can also sprinkle on chopped, shallow-fried garlic. Serve hot with rice, fried rice or noodles.