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ABF E-Buzz: February 2017
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ABF E-Buzz — February 2017

In This Issue:






Welcome to ABF E-Buzz

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


He who would, in this Month, be warm within,
And when abroad, from Wet defend his Skin,
His Morning’s draught should be of Sack or Sherry,
And his Great Coat be made of Drab-de-berry.

Edward Ward, ‘February’. This four-line pithy epigram by the satirical writer ‘Ned’ Ward (1667-1731), a contemporary of Jonathan Swift, advises us to wrap up warm (in ‘Drab-de-berry’, a woolen cloth from Berry in France) and drink plenty of sherry as a way of getting through February. Who are we to argue with him?

Welcome back! I hope you are spending these yet long winter evenings to get ready for the coming spring. It will be here sooner than we can believe it ... I know! I am behind at my bee work, which usually involves making up new boxes with new or refreshed frames with new wax and getting ready for making up our nucs in March. I am not sure if we are going to have a winter here or not. I have only had ice on our watering tank for the horses perhaps a half a dozen times. It has never been long enough to freeze the ice deep enough that the horses can't break it, about 6 inches in depth. When we have had cold, it hasn't lasted very long and has been whisked away with temperatures twenty degrees above normal. That has made for a lot of fly days for the bees, and again I will remind you that you need to be watching your bees and how they are doing on supplies. It is likely they will need to be fed or they won't be here by the first of April when things really get going throughout much of the country. So, heft your hives to see if they are light.

Across the country there are bee schools going on and new beekeepers starting with bees. It seems the interest is growing each day. I have already taught one school locally here for a few Saturdays, and I'm headed to Indianapolis the last weekend of the month for the Indiana Bee school, where they hope to have about 900 young and budding beekeepers. I hope that there are classes where you can attend. One of the greatest things you can do is to learn everything you can about how to get through your first year. Take a good class and read everything you can get your hands on. Join the ABF and utilize our great library of catalogued webinars that include two beginning beekeeping series. The first one is titled “A Comprehensive Introduction to Beekeeping,” a six-part series given by ABF board member Blake Shook, a commercial beekeeper from McKinney, Texas. The second series, “Beekeeping 101,” is nine parts and is presented by Dr. Roger Hoopingarner, another ABF board member and professor emeritus at Michigan State University's Entomology Department, where he was involved in research, teaching and extension in insect physiology and apiculture for 38 years. Just viewing one of these series on beginning beekeeping and getting through the first few years is worth the annual membership cost of an ABF membership, $60.00. But two of them with over 15 hours of instruction from two of the best teachers in the industry is just … a steal! That's instruction at only $4.00 per hour, and if you get just one great idea that keeps your bees alive, well ... it's a bargain. Since we are selling our nucs for $150.00 each this year, you can't afford not to make the investment if it means you might have a better chance of keeping your bees alive.

At the first class I taught here in Kansas this year, most of the people who had started beekeeping last year had lost all or at least half of their bees. You really can't afford not to be an ABF member. And ... there're over thirty hours of other webinars containing lots of good information on becoming a great beekeeper. Next month I will present an article on what to look for when you are purchasing a nuc from another beekeeper. If you are not familiar with what you should be looking for in picking up a nuc, you are really at the mercy of those selling the bees. It's always good to know what you should expect when buying a five-frame nuc, so look for that article in the March issue of ABF E-Buzz.

At ABF, we are always looking for new ways to service our membership, and we have just established a new group discussion page on Facebook that is called American Beekeeping Federation's Infobee. It is a forum for ABF members to communicate issues and problems with other beekeepers who might be able to offer quick and valuable information. I hope that if you are an ABF member you request to join and get into the discussion. I hope Infobee will grow into another valuable tool for your beekeeping work.

This month our president, Gene Brandi, has an article on the FDA's ruling last year on “added sugars,” a move to inform (supposedly) the public on how much sugar is in their diet but not at all an accurate description of honey since pure honey does not have anything “added” to it. Our vice president, Tim May, is headed to Pheasant Fest this weekend. It’s a great event for ABF exposure and they are a real partner in our fight for improved habitat, which also affects our game birds as well. Sarah Red-Laird is back with our Kids and Bees update and talks about the program for the Eastern Apicultural Society, July 31 through August 4 at the University of Delaware. We also have an update on our young ladies who are serving as Honey Queen and Princess and their upcoming travels representing the industry in 2017. Honey Queen Maia Jaycox and Honey Princess Hope Pettibon have recently completed their training to become the best speakers and promoters for honey and beekeeping. We get so many miles out of their talks and demonstrations across the country that we have nothing to compare!

We also have an update from the National Honey Board and a beekeeper’s perspective on the trip to the 2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow in Galveston. There is a great new recipe and a new riddle as well as other news that we hope will be of value to your beekeeping experience. Once again ... thank you for stopping by and we hope that you find your time well spent. If there's anything you would like to see in upcoming issues of E-Buzz, just drop me an email to tuckerb@hit.net and we will be glad to include it. Till next month, I hope that your bees are making it through this amazing winter.

President's Greeting

by Gene Brandi, ABF President

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision to require honey containers be labeled with the term “added sugars” continues to boggle the mind of everyone in the honey industry.  The American Beekeeping Federation has been part of an industry consortium dealing with this issue since late last summer when it was realized that honey “packaged as such” would be required to list the quantity of “added sugars” on the nutritional portion of the label. This is an attempt by FDA to let consumers know how much sugar certain products are adding to their diet, and not necessarily that sugars are being added to the product.

The naturally occurring sugars in real honey are primarily fructose and glucose, along with a number of other sugars in small quantities depending upon the floral source of the nectar from which the honey was made. Any additional sugars added would adulterate pure honey and would conflict with the honey industry goal of producing and marketing a pure, natural product, and yet the term “added sugars” conveys the message that sugars have been added to honey.

Consumer surveys conducted by the National Honey Board confirm that such labeling will cause confusion among consumers who want pure, natural honey with no additional sugars added.  The honey industry has been dealing with economic adulteration issues for many years and this FDA labeling requirement will certainly muddy the waters and create confusion for consumers.

To that end, we are asking that the FDA consider listing the naturally occurring sugar content of 100% pure honey as “Total Sugars” and not “Added Sugars.” The ABF, AHPA and others are considering the possibility that legislative action may be necessary, if the FDA’s position remains the same, that the term “added sugars” be required on honey labels.

FDA published the final rules on this issue in the Federal Register on May 27, 2016. The compliance date is July 26, 2018, but smaller businesses with annual food sales of less than $10 million have until July 26, 2019 to comply. On January 4, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued two draft guidance documents related to the final rules on Nutrition Facts labeling and Serving Sizes to help the industry comply with those rules. The FDA is accepting comments on the draft guidance documents and is requesting them within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register (January 5, 2017) to have them before it begins work on the final documents. This comment period closes on March 6, 2017. If you choose to comment, please use facts and don’t just belittle the FDA proposal. The fact that the proposed language will cause consumer confusion about the authenticity and of honey is a very strong reason that this label language rule should be modified. The following links provide additional information about the rule and the comment period pertaining to the Draft Guidance Documents.


Government Relations Buzz

by Tim May, ABF Vice President

The new administration has selected former Georgia Governor Ervin “Sonny” Perdue to head up the USDA. Perdue is a former veterinarian and ran a grain and fertilizer company. ABF, along with about 600 other agricultural groups, signed on to a letter supporting Mr. Perdue’s nomination. Former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has also endorsed the selection. This should help in the transition with the new administration.

This weekend I headed up to the “2017 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic” in Minneapolis, MN. ABF had a booth in the exhibit hall. There was over 35,000 attendees giving ABF and “Friends of the Bee” great exposure.

The conference also had a track dedicated to pollinators called the “Bees, Butterflies, Birds, and You” Pollinator Symposium. This featured pollinator experts from across the country. They will discuss the importance of habitat for pollinators and how it will benefit the Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever.

Pete Berthelsen, Director of Habitat Partnerships for Pheasants Forever and The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, will be speaking on “Pollinators as the glue that binds birds, habitat, precision agriculture, water quality and a broader audience.”  Zac Browning, owner of Browning Honey Co., Inc., will be discussing “What do the bees need now: A 21st century approach to beekeeping and habitat development.” There will also be presentations on “Improving forage for honey bees,” “Enhancing Pollinator Health,” and a panel discussion revolving around pollinator health and habitat.

The conference also had a public launch of “The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund” on Saturday at 2 PM on the Habitat Stage in the convention center. The “Pollinator Symposium” is open to the public and free of charge. It would have been great to have some beekeepers attend and present their questions and concerns during Friday afternoon’s panel discussion.

A call is scheduled to discuss the FDA nutritional labeling law. The FDA is accepting comments on the draft guidance documents and is requesting them within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register (January 5, 2017) to have them before it begins work on the final documents. This comment period closes on March 6, 2017. Following are the links about the draft guidance documents and the comment period


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

Upcoming Session:

Coweta Sustainable Beekeeping - A simple, sustainable beekeeping method for hobby and sideline beekeepers

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT / 6:00 p.m. MT / 5:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. AKST / 2:00 p.m. HST

Steven Page, Certified Beekeeper in the Georgia Master Beekeeper Program

Click here to learn more and to register!


From Colorado to a Sweeter Future in Galveston

by Ed Colby

Paul and I depart in the teeth of a snowstorm. Over Vail Pass, up the long hill to the Eisenhower Tunnel, no problem, then down to Denver the Mile High City, now South, bound for Texas, where the cotton blooms and blows. We pass semis tipped over by savage winds. We charge ahead, headed for Galveston and the granddaddy of ‘em all, the 2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow.

At midnight we check into an Amarillo motel I wouldn’t recommend. I learn how Paul gets up. When the alarm sounds, he leaps. We’re on the road a little after six.

In Houston rush-hour traffic, Paul misses a turn and heads off in the wrong direction. I use a dog-eared road atlas to guide us back. Paul and I are not smart phone or GPS people. We have no apps. We’re from another century.

Early evening in the fog, we park in front of the convention center, surf pounding in our ears. Toto, we’re not in Colorado anymore! We register. We run into friends and beekeeping rock stars alike.

Paul and I walk down a pier to check out the fishing opportunities, then head for my Airbnb at the other end of town. Eight steps up from the yard, just below the front porch, a plaque reads “High water mark, Hurricane Ike, 2008.” Inside, high ceilings, narrow stairways, creaky old polished oak floors and a shared bath. Paul has reservations at the Red Roof Inn- but tonight he’s on the rollaway in my room. Downstairs an arty poster catches my eye … smiling topless lady on a Harley with hair streaming in the wind. She’s not wearing a helmet.

The 2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow is a joint meeting of the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF), the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA), and the Canadian Honey Council (CHC). I’d never been to a national bee meeting. I did go to Apimondia, an international meeting in Ukraine. It was a lot like Galveston … huge tradeshow and an infinity of speakers, some better than others. But in Galveston we heard the best and the brightest, in intelligible English.

At the trade show I got to talk to the manufacturer of my pollen traps. The first batch I bought worked just fine but a later, similar model captures less than half as much. The reps acted interested.

I spoke to vendors of certain mite control products and explained my frustrations.

When I told the owner of a bee supply house that I switched to another company because of shipping delays, he told me, “Just use my name, and you’ll go to the head of the line!” Well, that’s all very fine for me, but I really didn’t tell him that so that I’d get preferential treatment. 

I skipped the Flow Hive demonstration, even though I agreed to tend bees this year for a wealthy client who has already purchased four of them. Whenever I think about the Flow Hive, my mind recoils like it does when I think about nuclear war, or global warming or my delinquent tax filings. 

I especially enjoyed Marla Spivak’s presentation on the conversion of the state of Minnesota to the nation’s most pollinator-friendly state with even the governor coming on board.

Former USDA top bee scientist Jeff Pettis gave the low-down on getting kicked downstairs in government when you step on sensitive toes. He got a standing ovation, and right after, when commercial beekeeper Dave Hackenberg gave his Jeff Pettis eulogy, applause shook the rafters.

I learned that, among commercial beekeepers in general, there is plenty of concern about neonicotinoid pesticides. This got my attention, because here in Colorado the commercial guys pooh-pooh neonic dangers. Well, some do. Well-documented losses by commercial beekeepers from other states get dismissed as “PPB,” or “piss-poor beekeeping.”

At the commercial beekeepers’ breakfast, a big topic was mites developing resistance to amitraz, the commercial go-to miticide. As this chemical declines in effectiveness, beekeepers find they need to treat more often. I heard that mite-ridden bees constitute a major problem for neighboring beehives. Afterwards I talked about that with ABF president Gene Brandi. He compared it to owning a dog. If your dog had fleas, you wouldn’t withhold treatment and just let your dog spread those fleas to other dogs, would you? I know. In the long haul, chemicals aren’t the answer. But in the short run, they keep us in the game. When your house is on fire, the short run matters.

At a roundtable we talked about the 2017 EPA directive requiring a veterinary prescription to obtain antibiotics for American foulbrood. I can tell you that confusion reigns, partly because so few vets have any experience with honeybees. Consensus: You might want to consult with a vet before you decide you need antibiotics. The law is the law, but relationships are the grease that makes the world work.

I acted brave and talked to strangers. Whenever I got lonely, the Kansas contingent took me in. I’d look around, thinking “Who am I going to go to lunch with?” and Joli and Becky would appear out of thin air, inviting me back to their rental house for pickles and Steve’s home-smoked turkey sandwiches.

The best part of all was the people. Beekeepers, salt of the Earth. I felt happy just being among them. You would, too. The ABF, AHPA and CHC are all organizations that promote bees and beekeeping. You ought to join one. I did. Hell, join ‘em all! Then you could go to conventions. And if you bump into me at one, maybe we’ll go to lunch.  

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

National Honey Board Partners with Thomas’ on Sweet Breakfast Promotion

The National Honey Board (NHB) is so excited to launch the new year with its first retail promotion of 2017.

The NHB is pleased to partner with Thomas’, the leader in English muffins and bagels, on a sweet breakfast promotion. January through March, retailers across the country will be running unique promotions encouraging the purchases of both honey and Thomas’ products. Some of the major retail partners include:

  • Albertsons/Safeway
  • Publix
  • Kroger
  • ShopRite
  • Ahold USA
  • H-E-B

Some stores will include recipe demonstrations, so be sure to keep an eye out at your favorite grocer.

You will find promotion details and seven great recipes utilizing honey and Thomas’ English muffins and bagels on our campaign page at www.honey.com.

Kids and Bees

Kids and Bees at the Eastern Apicultural Society Conference

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


I am so ecstatic to be bringing the Kids and Bees program back to EAS in 2017. This year the conference will be held July 31 through August 4 at the University of Delaware in Newark. There will be two separate events where local kids can join us to learn about bees. These events double as a volunteer opportunity to work with me and the chance to get some hands-on experience working with kids.

The first event is a collaboration with the Delaware School for the Deaf. On August 2, approximately 30 elementary school-aged kids will join me at EAS for a brief and entertaining honey bee lesson, followed by hands-on exhibits. The exhibit session will consist of activities including beeswax foundation candle rolling, honey, pollen and propolis tasting, a microscope station with bee body parts and pollen, a bee/human nutrition station where kids learn about the importance of planting for honey bees and their connection to our food, a bee finger-puppet-making station, an observational beehive and a display with hive parts, educational frames and beekeeping equipment.   


The program will double as a workshop for adults who would like to create a kids’ education program or get ideas for their existing program. 


The kids’ section of the program will run on Wednesday, August 2, from 2:00pm-3:00pm. Adult EAS participants will be invited from 1:30 to 3:30 for a quick training and then a debrief and Q&A.     


To participate, register for EAS here: http://easternapiculture.org/


The following day, I’ll be running the “Eastern Apicultural Society Beekeeping Academy.” The Beekeeping Academy is a one-day camp for up to twelve kids going into grades four through six. Students will spend their day in a fun and educational immersion into the world of the bee. During the morning hours, we will take an in-depth consider bee anatomy, biology and sociology and their vital role in our food system. The afternoon will be spent up close and personal with honey bee hives and native bee observations. Throughout the day, students will learn about present challenges bees face and how kids can be part of the solution in the bees’ survival. The program will run on Thursday, August 3, from 9:00am-3:00pm.  



Tuition for the academy will be $60 per student.


More information and and registration can be found here: https://2017easbeekeepingacademy.eventbrite.com


If you would like to spend all or part of your day observing, or joining in the academy as a volunteer, I would “bee” happy to have you! Please send an email to sarah@beegirl.org for more information. 

Honey Queen Buzz

by Anna Kettlewell, American Honey Queen Program Chair

2017 honey and beekeeping promotions have officially started!

 February 1 marked the first official day of American Honey Queen Maia Jaycox’s  and Princess Hope Pettibon’s training for their positions as national industry  spokespersons. They spent seven days in Wisconsin working with 10 different  experts in their fields learning about the industry, crafting effective responses to  media inquiries and difficult questions, developing effective presentations for  various audiences and venues, working with legislative representatives, preparing  social media outreach plans, learning essential travel tips and countless other  things.  All these skills will be vital for a successful year of representing ABF and  its many interests. In addition to training, the Queens gave their first presentations  of the year in three different elementary schools in central and southeastern  Wisconsin. The training team of the American Honey Queen Committee is excited  about Maia’s and Hope’s upcoming year and confident that they will serve our industry well.

A day after training ended, Princess Hope hopped right on a plane for Florida for promotions with the Florida State Beekeepers Association. Her primary appearances took place at the Florida State Fair in Tampa, speaking to fairgoers on the many ways they could incorporate honey into their diet. She also attended beekeeping meetings, getting the word out about ABF and its many programs and why individuals should join our organization.

Queen Maia has her first solo promotion in Minnesota, working alongside the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund at Pheasant Fest the weekend of February 18. This event draws tens of thousands of attendees in only three short days. Maia is helping teach attendees about the importance of pollinator habitat and how honey bees benefit from quality food sources.

March will again bring a busy travel month for the Queen and Princess, and their calendars are filling in nicely, but we have a lot of room on the schedule to visit your state throughout the year.  Contact me with your promotional requests soon at honeyqueen99@hotmail.com or 414.545.5514. Happy promoting!

Bee Thinking

Congratulations to Candy Vinduska, of Kansas, who guessed the January E-Buzz riddle. The answer was A Keyboard. Did you guess it, too? Don't be shy; send in your answer this time and you might be the next winner! Here's a new riddle for February: 

I have ten or more daughters. I have fewer than ten daughters. I have at least one daughter. If only one of these statements is true, how many daughters do I have?


Think you know the answer? The first to email Regina Robuck at reginarobuck@abfnet.org will lay claim to another fun ABF prize.


Buzzmakers: Latest and Greatest Beekeeping Industry News

  • Honeybees welcome friendly migrants to hives but repel raiders. Read More.
  • Bees learn while they sleep, and that means they might dreamRead more.
  • What is propolis? Read More.
  • New honeybee threat discovered – a surfactantRead More.
  • Prisoners get the sweet taste of empowermentRead More.
  • Lavender and Honey Espresso Bar. Read More.
  • Miel Brewery announces plans to open in 2017Read More.

ABF Welcomes New Members - January 2017 


  • Lucinda Bailey, Texas
  • Lawrence Chismar, Minnesota
  • Tom Greene, Texas
  • Jack Elliott, Texas
  • Lee Nicholas, Texas
  • Craig Wilson, Texas
  • Lynanne DeGarmo, Kansas
  • Mike Pohl, California
  • Heidi Carlson, Alaska
  • Roberta Neidhardt, New York
  • Ryan Smith, California
  • Pat Case, Oregon
  • Allen Pemberton, Texas
  • Amy Kesavan, New York
  • Jackie Park-Burris, California


Recipe of the Month: Winter Delight

Put cranberries in a blender to mash and grind skins, or mash cranberries, and, after cooking, press through a sieve to remove skins. Cook apples and cranberry in water until tender, about 45 minutes. Measure out 3 cups of pulp and add pineapple, lemon juice and honey to it. Mix well and boil rapidly at 9 degrees above boiling until thick and clear, about 8 minutes. Spoon hot into sterilized jars to within ¼ inch from the top. Seal. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.


  • 3 cups cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups diced apples (peeled)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups crushed pineapple (undrained)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/3 cups honey


Put cranberries in a blender to mash and grind skins, or mash cranberries, and, after cooking, press through a sieve to remove skins. Cook apples and cranberry in water until tender, about 45 minutes. Measure out 3 cups of pulp and add pineapple, lemon juice and honey to it. Mix well and boil rapidly at 9 degrees above boiling until thick and clear, about 8 minutes. Spoon hot into sterilized jars to within ¼ inch from the top. Seal. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Source: "Putting it up with Honey” by Susan Geiskopf

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2019 American Beekeeping Federation Conference & Tradeshow





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