Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 2014 Newsletter

Patriotic photo and honey by Gina Gallucci in honor of the 4th of July!

Presidents Message

Since I took office, I have been tooting the horn of Georgia Beekeepers Association and trying to make many understand why all Georgia beekeepers should be members. Well, now it’s time to move up a notch or two.  We need to support the American Beekeeping Federation. Why you ask….?
The American Beekeeping Federation continues to work for us in Washington, D.C. and around the country to further the legislative and regulatory related priorities important to the American beekeeper.  ABF President Tim Tucker and Past President George Hansen have already made one legislative trip to Washington in conjunction with the Varroa Summit they recently attended. 
The Legislative priorities of the ABF for 2014 include, but are not limited to:

-Funding for research into the many problems that negatively impact honey bee health.

-Maintaining USDA-ARS Lab Funding

-Protecting our honey market, including establishing a national standard for honey and         stopping illegal imports of Chinese honey through intermediary countries.


-Promoting and protecting the honey bee habitat

-Crop insurance, ELAP, and H2A labor programs

-Transportation issues

These issues have an impact on every beekeeper whether you are a hobbyist, sideliner or full time commercial mover and shaker of honey bees. I have spoken to a number of clubs about the ABF and the work that they are doing on our behalf and want everyone to know that those folks are just like you and me when it comes to caring for the honey bee. Our country and the government who runs it is so complex and with an issue like the “Plight of the Honey Bee” at hand, the bees need all the support they can get. You may not be the type to become an activist or want to join a committee, but by becoming a member of ABF you add to the ever growing number of people who are showing how much they really care and you help make our voices heard.   Please give this your heartfelt consideration. 

To Join ABF, simply go to or better yet, give Regina Robuck, the ABF Executive Director, a call at 404-760-2875 (in Atlanta) and tell her that Bear said to call!

Bear Kelley,
President, GBA

Child’s recipe from cookbook  done by kids in kindergarten and daycare:

Rabbit Cake

8 dinosaurs
   1 lizard
     1 bee

I imagine the bee is used to "sweeten" the cake
New Beekeeper, Jeff Daniel's, first harvest - about to be that time again this year!  photo by Linda Tillman

Promiscuous Queen Bees Have Better Colonies
by Gina Gallucci

Dr. Heather Mattila came to speak at the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association in May.  She is a researcher and Professor at Wellesley College in Boston.  Dr. Matilla has been investigating the benefits of genetic diversity in Honey bees for years.
Honey bee queens have a behavior that is unusual for social insects.  Queens of all bee species are highly promiscuous, meaning each queen mates with many males. The newest research shows that colonies filled with stepfamilies are healthier and more productive than colonies of full siblings.  
"Colonies with high levels of genetic diversity have a greater likelihood of having more active foragers in their colonies, including dancers, recruiters, inspectors, and scouting foragers.  So far, hygienic behavior has not been tested for diverse versus uniform colonies, but we do know that genetically diverse colonies are better at overcoming infection with AFB or chalkbrood than colonies that lack genetic diversity, and also better at keeping nest temperatures stable, which is critical for proper brood development.”  
“For Apis mellifera,  extreme polyandry means that queens mate with an average of between 12-20 drones each, depending on the study.  The record for A. mellifera is 49 mates for a single queen. "  
Jane Lu would like to know if anyone knows of any city or county restricting beekeeping in Georgia?  Beekeepers Club of Gwinnett County is preparing a letter to the Gwinnett Director of Planning and Development so he can send it to the Board of Commissioners.  In February, they restricted beekeeping to only RA-200 properties.  The Director wants to know if other counties restrict beekeeping.  If you have the answer to this, contact Jane 

Ask Ten Beekeepers A Question…….

How Do I know When to Harvest?

Christine Fahrnbauer, 
Cherokee Beekeepers

With the exception of last year, when my bees did not seem to cap much of their honey due to all the rain and humidity, I usually wait until 80-100% of the honey super is completely capped. If there are any uncapped cells I turn it upside down over the hive and tap it to make sure the honey is thick and doesn't run out. 

I ended up learning a valuable lesson last year when I harvested uncapped honey (using the tapping method~ but in most cases only 20 percent of the honey was capped), only to discover it started to ferment, which is another whole article......  :)  So a word of caution...If your honey is more uncapped than not, invest or borrow a refractometer that measures the moisture content of your honey, and make sure it is less than 18% before you harvest.

Bob Binnie, 
NE Ga Mountain Beekeepers, Macon County Beekeepers in Franklin, NC

I harvest when the bees quit making white wax.  I don’t wait until it’s 100% capped; I just wait until the bees quit bringing nectar in.  If we leave the doors open at the honey house and no bees come in that means the nectar flow is still going; if bees come in, the nectar flow is over.

I harvest when the honey is over half capped and the honey flow is over.  I put it in a warm dry room to continue drying the honey out.  I leave it completely uncovered and keep the room below 50% humidity.  I use a gauge to make sure it is below 50%.  Anything over 60% will actually make the honey wetter.  This year the sourwood has just started to bloom so I am not harvesting yet in the mountains.  

Queen Markings     by Bear Kelley, 
Now that summer is upon us and we are making splits, getting nucs, packages and generally expanding our apiaries, marking of this year’s queen should be a concern for you.  This year’s color for the queen marking is Green.  The table below will help you through the years with queen marking. 

White……………………… year ending in 1 or 6
Yellow……………………… year ending in 2 or 7
Red……………………………year ending in 3 or 8
Green…………………………year ending in 4 or 9
Blue……………………………year ending in 5 or 0

Marking her highness is essential in tracking her age.  If you find an unmarked queen in your hive which had a marked queen, then the original queen has swarmed and they have replaced her. Most of the bee suppliers offer marking pens at reasonable rates. 


Sylvia Plath 

  Bare-handed, I hand the combs. 
 The man in white smiles, bare-handed, 
 Our cheesecloth gauntlets neat and sweet,
 The throats of our wrists brave lilies. 
He and I 

 Have a thousand clean cells between us, 
 Eight combs of yellow cups, 
 And the hive itself a teacup, 
 White with pink flowers on it, 
With excessive love I enamelled it 

 Thinking ‘Sweetness, sweetness.’ 
 Brood cells gray as the fossils of shells 
 Terrify me, they seem so old. 
 What am I buying, wormy mahogany? 
Is there any queen at all in it? 

 If there is, she is old, 
 Her wings torn shawls, her long body 
 Rubbed of its plush— 
 Poor and bare and unqueenly and even shameful. 
I stand in a column 

 Of winged, unmiraculous women, 
 I am no drudge 
 Though for years I have eaten dust 
And dried plates with my dense hair.

 And seen my strangeness evaporate, 
 Blue dew from dangerous skin. 
 Will they hate me, 
 These women who only scurry, 
Whose news is the open cherry, the open clover? 

 It is almost over. 
 I am in control. 
 Here is my honey-machine, 
 It will work without thinking, 
Opening, in spring, like an industrious virgin 

To scour the creaming crests
 As the moon, for its ivory powders, scours the sea. 
 A third person is watching. 
 He has nothing to do with the bee-seller or with me. 
Now he is gone 

 In eight great bounds, a great scapegoat Here is his slipper, here is another, 
 And here the square of white linen
He wore instead of a hat. 
He was sweet, 

 The sweat of his efforts a rain 
Tugging the world to fruit. 
 The bees found him out, 
 Molding° onto his lips like lies, 
Complicating his features. 

 They thought death was worth it, but I 
 Have a self to recover, a queen. 
 Is she dead, is she sleeping? 
 Where has she been, 
With her lion-red body, her wings of glass? 

 Now she is flying 
More terrible than she ever was, red 
 Scar in the sky, red comet 
 Over the engine that killed her—
The mausoleum, the wax house. 

 6 October 1962 
Plath, Sylvia. Collected Poems. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992, pp. 214-5. 

Editor’s note:  Sylvia Plath, noted poet and author, became a beekeeper in 1962.  She wrote a number of bee poems as a result of her experiences.  You can read about Sylvia Plath and her relationship with bees here.
Bright Cheery Summer Salad  
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
2 ears fresh sweet corn
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Honey Lime Dressing:
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. local honey
Juice of one lime
1 clove fresh garlic minced
Sea Salt & fresh cracked black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper to taste

Remove husks from corn and grill over medium heat for 10 minutes.  The corn should have some brown spots and be tender but not mushy.  Cut the corn of the cob and then scrape the cob with the back of your knife to get all the juices.  Set aside & let cool.  Slice tomatoes in half.  Dice the avocado and chop the cilantro. 
Add all dressing ingredients in small bowl, whisk and set aside.  Combine all other ingredients and gently toss with dressing until evenly coasted.  Be careful not to mash avocados.  Let stand 10- 15 minutes to let flavors mingle.

Dear Aunt Bee,

I live in an intown neighborhood of Atlanta with at least five beekeepers living within one block of my house in every direction.  The house next door to me is for sale and has been empty and unoccupied for most of the last year.  

Today as I looked out of my window toward that house, I could see bees flying in and out of an entry just barely above the dryer vent on the second floor.  Since the house has a basement and a first floor, this is pretty high up.  It's clear that they have occupied the area inside the wall by the dryer.

When the house is finally sold, I feel scared that the new owners will look in my backyard, see my beehives and expect me to do something about the unwanted occupants.  Any suggestions?

Thanks for any ideas you have short of running for the border,

Shaking in My Boots

Dear Shaking,

Assume the dual role of "good neighbor" and "honeybee expert."  

Save the day by reaching out to the realtor now, pointing out that it was probably an oversight but might be a liability the current owner will want to remedy as soon as possible, prior to sale.  

If the second floor site is too high for you to offer your removal services, canvas your vast beekeeper network and offer a few names to the realtor.  

With the colony removed and repairs already performed, there are no surprises for the new owners and the Welcome Basket you give them can include a treat made with honey  or a jar of honey from your beehives.

Your Aunt Bee  
Contribution by Linda Tillman with help from Curt Barrett, Gina Gallucci and Julia Mahood

Bee Stings and EpiPens
By Ricky Moore

I am not a doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV (smile). I am not offering legal advice or medical advice, I am simply offering my opinion in hopes that it stirs your creative juices and stimulates thought about another little discussed beekeeping fact.

How many times have you been talking with someone about bees or honey and they blurted out "I'm allergic to bees!" Really? Are you, how do you know, have you been tested? Isn't it more probable that the person just doesn't like the pain of being stung? (There was a pun there on bee but I let it slide.) But seriously, a percentage of the populace IS allergic to bee stings to the point where it closes off their airway causing breathing difficulty and could result in death. Hopefully you and your family are not among the ranks of the bee sting allergic, but what about the neighbor who has no idea he is, gets stung and starts to swell up and experiences difficulty breathing? What do you do? Call 9-1-1 of course, but how long does it take emergency help to arrive to your location be it at home or worse, off in the woods at the bee field? If that neighbor is allergic and knows it, he will probably have an EpiPen.

Now this is where my opinion really kicks in and I offer these questions for you to answer to your satisfaction. What are your legal and medical responsibilities to someone who gets stung by your bees? 

As a beekeeper you already know several bee sting remedies, right? After removing the stinger, apply ice, or toothpaste, or vinegar, or baking soda, or meat tenderizer, or calamine lotion or a host of other home remedies. Right? A quick search of Google will give you many, many more.

But do you know the signs of an allergic reaction?
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives that appear as a red, itchy rash and spread to areas beyond the sting
  • Swelling of the face, throat or mouth tissue
  • Wheezing or difficulty swallowing
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure
  • If the symptoms are present, seek emergency medical attention. Take an antihistamine as soon as possible and be ready to use the epinephrine part of an emergency allergy kit
Epinephrine in the form of an EpiPen requires a doctor's prescription and without insurance they can be expensive. Here in Middle Georgia I sought the cash price for a two pack of EpiPens from a local drugstore and a national chain. Both sold the two pack for around $350 cash. Your insurance may cover it and hopefully at a substantial discount. There are patient advocacy organizations which can assist you getting them for much, much less if you meet the income requirements. If you qualify, you probably already know the organizations to which I refer.

So, my question to you is, should you have an EpiPen available for the remote possibility that someone may need it? And if so, do you know when to and how to, and could you/would you use it properly?

I believe having an EpiPen is an important addition to your beekeeping first aid kit. I urge you to consider it, then speak to your doctor and lawyer to satisfy yourself about the medical and legal ramifications.


Our Survey for July

Our June survey asked if you participated in beekeeping as a child or teenager.  
  • Seventy percent of you who answered had no beekeeping experience in childhood
  • Thirty percent of those who answered came from beekeeping families
  • Six percent of those who answered either were occasionally around someone who kept bees or were exposed through 4-H

This month we are interested in how you label your honey jars!  (Surprising since harvest is just now starting in the state.)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


Photo of bee hives in Ricky Moore's zinnias


You may notice that once again we are not featuring a club of the month.  We have chased after several clubs over the last few months without getting a response.  If you would like to feature your own bee club, please let us know.  Send us an article about your club and we'd love to publish it.

Street Cred

  • To hear a wonderful podcast about colonial beekeeping from Williamsburg, click here.

  • We love all of these submissions - keep it coming to help all of us explore the Internet resources about bees.
Susannah Austin, the 2014 American Honey Queen

She will be a guest speaker at the Georgia Beekeepers Association fall membership meeting in Milledgeville, GA.  

Susannah is the 20-year-old daughter of Kris and Catherine Austin of Orlando, FL.  She is a junior at the University of Central Florida, pursing a degree in biology, with hopes of becoming a veterinarian.  Susannah’s family began beekeeping through a 4-H project over 10 years ago.    

As the 2014 American Honey Queen, Susannah serves as a national spokesperson on behalf of the American Beekeeping Federation, a trade organization representing beekeepers and honey producers throughout the United States.  The Honey Queen and Princess speak and promote in venues nationwide, and, as such, Queen Susannah will travel throughout the United States during her year-long reign.  Prior to being selected as the American Honey Queen, Susannah served as the 2013 Florida Honey Queen.  In this role, she promoted the honey industry at fairs, festivals, and farmers’ markets, via television and radio interviews, and in schools.

The beekeeping industry touches the lives of every individual in our country.  In fact, honeybees are responsible for nearly one-third of our entire diet, in regards to the pollination services that they provide for a large majority of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. This amounts to nearly $19 billion per year of direct value from honeybee pollination to United States agriculture.  

For more information on Queen Susannah’s Georgia visit and to schedule an interview, contact Clay “Bear” Kelley at 229.322.5025.
Passage from Tammy Horn's  BEES IN AMERICA

Named in honor King George III, a new English colony was established in 1733 by Perceval, Oglethorpe, and Associates.  Georgia has a twofold purpose, according to historian William Sachs: "The colony was to serve as an armed buffer zone against the Spanish in Florida and as a place where debtors could be given a fresh start."  By the time the Moravians moved to Savannah, they found that bee trees were already there.  By 1770, honey bees had spread to Natchez, Mississippi.  According to historian Everett Oertel, wild honey bees were already established in Alabama by 1773." 


Where's the Bear????
Photo sent in by Ricky Moore - any idea how he got this image?


Upcoming Events

Tara Beekeepers Association is having its annual short course September 6, 2014.   Cost is $65 per person, and there is a family rate.  The course will be held at the Kiwanis Building in Forest Park.  If you would like to attend or know someone who would like to attend please check our website or give us a shout!

GBA Fall Meeting Sept 19 -20 at the Hampton Inn in Milledgeville, GA.  To register for the fall meeting, click here.  Rooms are reserved with a discount at the Hampton and Comfort Suites.  See the GBA website for more information.

Hahira Honeybee Festival, September 29 - October 4 in downtown Hahira.  For more information, visit the website

Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association is hosting the Florida State Beekeepers Association Conference in  West Palm Beach, Florida at the Embassy Suites.  Dates:  Oct. 2, 3, 4, 2014Updated information here.


A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hampton and Comfort Suites.  Rooms are guaranteed   30 days prior to the meeting.  Reservations made after August 18 will be based on availability.  All GBA sponsored activities will be held at Central GA Technical College. 

Hampton Inn
2461 N. Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061
$89 + tax /night includes breakfast
Other area hotels:

Fairfield Inn
2631- A N. Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

Days Inn
2551 N Columbia Street
Milledgeville, GA 31061

Comfort Suites
2621 N Columbia St
Milledgeville, GA 31061

The Final Buzz
We wish ya'll a very Happy Fourth of July and Happy Birthday to the beautiful USA! 
Thank you to all of you who sent us a link, a recipe or their responses to our  "Ask 10 Beekeepers a Question... ."   We would love to continue to develop sharing beekeeping knowledge across the state of Georgia.
We are looking for whatever your contribution is and we are especially happy to get your photos.  Please send us what you thoughts and suggestions and all your clubs' upcoming events.  

     Linda & Gina 

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2014 Newsletter

Editors:  Gina Gallucci and Linda Tillman

Stained Glass Art of Bee on Honey Comb by Vince West of the Cherokee Beekeepers

The President's Message

Well, another month has gone by, confirming that winter is truly over. Everyone should be busy looking after their girls and getting ready for some honey harvesting. The program at Young Harris is done and a lot of new, highly educated beekeepers have returned home. We, on the Board of Directors, have been busy hammering out and approving the new Junior Beekeeping program. 

We all know that the Junior Beekeeping and 4-H programs have been stagnant for a few years, and we have been voting “not to fund” them because of various reasons.  We took this on and merged both programs into one new Junior Beekeeping Policy. You will find it here in this newsletter.   

The new 4-H Program rewards three different 4-Hers, instead of just one, and is less expensive than the old program. We have already written the checks for the winners of the 2014 National Essay Contest.  
The winners are: 
1st Place:  Madeline Hillebrand, Coweta County   (Read her essay on page 8) 
2ndPlace:  Keaton Williams, Habersham County

3rdPlace:  Lynsey Buckindail, Habersham County
The second part of the new program is the Junior Beekeeping program.  This was written to give the local clubs flexibility in creating the kind of program their individual community needs.  GBA can then support each club and give the youth throughout the state an opportunity to learn beekeeping, rather than limit the Junior Beekeeping program to one geographical area as in the past.  As you will see in the policy, we ask (as a minimum) that the officers (president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer) in the local club be members of GBA. (Of course, it would be great if everyone in the club could be members.) Essentially, your club is investing $60 for a $200 return.  We are an education association dedicated to supporting our members, and we appreciate the support we receive from all our membership.  

Presidents please study this policy, and discuss it with your members. I challenge you to create a junior beekeeping program in your community. Let’s get the Georgia youth involved in something worthwhile.  

As I said, the Board of Directors voted on this. The Board consists of the Executive Committee, the four Directors, the Editors, and the qualified club presidents. When I say qualified, I mean those who are members of GBA. There are about ten clubs that did not have a voice in this matter because the President of that club is not a GBA member. Presidents, please join GBA so that you can represent your club at the state level and have a vote on issues that affect you and your membership. 

Bear Kelley,
President, Georgia Beekeepers Assn

Magnificent swarm - photo sent in by Scott Brandies of Wayne County, Georgia.  Scott has his Apprentice Beekeeper through the University of Florida program.
Ricky Moore (member of Heart of Georgia) sent us this link to a site about toxic chemicals and bees.  As I live near a pecan grove, I am concerned about my bees and whatever is sprayed on the pecan trees. I found this article CLICK HERE from North Carolina State University from 2008 called Bees and Trees. It has a list of chemicals that are Highly Toxic, Moderately Toxic and Relatively Toxic to bees.

Ricky says, "As a new beekeeper I'm always looking and reading for more information."
Bees Are Our Heritage
By Mary Hawkins, Appalachian Beekeepers Association

On May 16, I participated in Heritage Day at an elementary school in Jasper.   A friend had agreed to present a unit on honey bees but needed a sub at the last minute.   So I leapt past any trepidation and agreed.   I thought I was offering some community service, but I actually was signing on for a full day of fun and learning for myself. My friend provided his observation hive.  I added my bee suit, hive tool, smoker, some small pieces of drawn comb for passing around, blocks of beeswax and my bee brush.  We absolutely had to have North Georgia honey  and pretzel sticks for tasting.   It was all so clean and organized at 8 a.m.  Can you imagine what it was like by afternoon?  A different classroom full of kids rotated through every fifteen minutes!  There should have been a prize at the end of the day for the person who could correctly guess the number of honey drips I cleaned up.

Heritage Day included presentations on old fashioned skills such as weaving and knitting;  yummy ones like biscuit and butter making; modules held outside on various livestock; learning about and singing with pioneer instruments; a herpetologist with lots of live snakes…… and, of course the bees.

Each group of children sat on the floor in front of the observation hive for a brief and lively discussion of bee and hive trivia.  The hands on aspects were the biggest hit of course. My perfectly constructed pieces of comb were soon balls of wax so we called them a beehive scent opportunity for the rest of the day!  The bee brush was a favorite to my surprise.  And to no one’s surprise the bee jacket with hat and veil held the most “hands on “ interest.  Almost every child wanted to try it on and did. Some of the smaller ones were covered to the tops of their shoes.  They all agreed it made them feel very safe. I became the fast change artist getting that many children in and out of that suit.
Many had never tasted really flavorful honey, so the tasting table was loved.  My favorite question and answer of the day came from one of the younger classes. One child asked how to tell which bee was the queen.  Before I could answer a classmate yelled out,  “The one with the turquoise dot!”  Ahhh, there are beekeepers out there introducing our working girls to our kids and shaping the next generation of bee keepers.   Maybe next year we’ll have the bees in a room next to the biscuit and butter module so we can drizzle honey on those hot buttery delights.

Dear Aunt Bee,
The other day as I was inspecting my hive, I noticed a peculiar bee with unusual markings.  Can you tell me if someone was in my hives and painted mysterious symbols on my bees or is this some sort of genetic malfunction?  (See photo).
Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed and Confused,
So was I.  I’ve never seen a bee that looked like that so I consulted with Mark Winston, author of Honey Bee Biology, whom I recently met.  Here’s his response:

I don't know for sure, but it's most likely one of two things:

Pollen: That's the most usual thing causing a pattern like this, as bees enter a deep flower, although something this distinctive would likely have been noticed by your beekeepers before.

Foreign substance: Exploring bees might well enter a small cavity and encounter paint or dust (from construction, for example) that could leave an imprint. Since it was only the one bee, that's a possibility.

That's about as good a guess as I can make. If you find out something more definitive, let me know.


So keep an eye on your bees and hopefully you can determine if it’s pollen or paint!

Good luck,

Your Aunt Bee         

Question submitted by Christine Fahrnbauer - 
answer by Linda Tillman and Mark Winston      


Linda Jennings of Coweta Beekeepers with her artistically painted hives for 2014
Recently beekeepers in Georgia had an opportunity to take a writing workshop with Mark Winston, author of The Biology of the Honey Bee and a book coming out in October,  Bee TimeIn the class, Mark encouraged the writers to submit their writings to our GBA Newsletter.  Here are the ones we received.  If anyone else would like to submit their creations, we'll be glad to put them in upcoming issues.         

With the Wings of a Honeybee
     By: Mother Hyponja

With the eyes seeking the light,
With the ears feeling the vibes;
With the tongue the sweet flavor;
And the nose heaven’s savor;
With the arms for warm embrace; 
With the heart a holy place;
T’discover the perfect space,
Simply share the cup of grace.

In the Wilds of Rhododendron
     By: Honey Kittin

On an old jagged peak,
Upon a blanket o’green,
Pale Clover on the lawn,
Pops a’gentle morning yawn,
As Appalachian Rose,
Strikes a lavender pose,
To celebrate all day,
And give the heart away.
In the cave o’shiny leaves,
Brown Thrasher will please,
Gifting song to the breeze,
Above the hum of honey bees.

Oh Daisy!
     By: Honey Kittin

Fleetest little bumblers,
Humming around the hive,
Carrying a message,
To ev’rything alive;
The zip of golden wings –
Fuzzy, buzzy, bizzy –
The humming thorax sings,
‘N Little Daisy’s dizzy!

Talking about Beekeepers
by Keith Fletcher, Ga Master Beekeeper from Alabama.

Many of us beekeepers love to talk about bees; each other, new beekeepers, school children.  We talk about bees in the morning, we talk about bees in the evening.  We talk about bees to our spouse, yes, our spouses who desperately try to demonstrate they're interested in what we say about bees.  We just love to talk about bees.  But... many of us talk about...  ...beekeepers?   ...AND, talk about them in a particularly loving way?  How many of us take a short moment to thank a beekeeper?  Not for their honey or their knowledge, but to thank perhaps, a new beekeeper--to thank someone else for simply and only trying to start beekeeping?  Everyone has value, everyone has worth, not just a veteran expert beekeeper, but the "newbie" beekeeper, too!

May I offer a gentle reminder to stay humble in the heart -- and, if we forget to stay humble, our bees are always there to remind us how humble we should remain.         

Beekeepers hold Training Session
By Linda Jennings, Coweta Beekeepers Association

            The Coweta Beekeepers Association (CBA) recently held a training session for new beekeepers at the apiary of Tom and Linda Jennings.

            “Talk about perfect timing,” said the day’s instructor, Steve Page. “The Jennings had just received two nucs and one package which the participants were able to see installed. They’d also caught a swarm two days earlier and another hive was about to swarm, so everyone was able to see a swarm trap and a hive division. It was great.”

            As an extra attraction, Linda Jennings displayed some of her painted supers (the boxes in which bees live). “I did it for fun,” she said, “but I also did it to encourage some of the less interested wives into joining their husbands in their beekeeping endeavors. I love to see husbands and wives doing things together.”   
            “Adults are not the only members of CBA,” said Bobby Torbush, the club’s president. “It’s such a thrill to see so many kids learning to become full-fledged beekeepers. They’re smart and they go after it with such gusto. It’s a pure pleasure for our organization to help train them.”

            “Both the kids and adults have a great time raising bees,” adds Page, “but raising bees is serious business. Without bees, this nation has no food. We’re a critical part of keeping this nation fed.”

            CBA meets on the second Monday of each month at the Coweta County Extension Office, which is located near the Fairgrounds at 275 Pine Rd. The Junior (4H) Beekeepers meet at 5 p.m., and the main meeting is from 7 – 9 p.m. Experienced professional beekeepers speak on relevant topics, and for those who have personal questions concerning their own hives, time is provided before and after each meeting.

            The next meeting will be held Monday, May 12. For further information, you may contact Bobby or Karen Torbush at

The Board of Directors of the Georgia Beekeepers Association has voted to change the policy on the 4-Hers and Junior Beekeepers.  The following is the new adopted policy.

GBA Policy for the Support of the Statewide
Junior Beekeeping Program

4-H Beekeeping Essay Contest

The essay contest is an annual event sponsored by the National Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, Inc. and hosted by the State 4-H program and the University of Georgia’s Entomology Department. This is a national competition offered by the Foundation, and in the spring of each year is judged at the state level by the UGA Entomology Department.   The top three essays are selected, and the first ranked winner competes at the national level. The contest is open to active 4-Hers only. Beginning in 2014, GBA will provide the cash prizes to the winners at the State level in the amount of:

$250 for first Place
$100 for second place
$  50 for third place

As soon as possible after being notified by the 4-H Director, these checks will be sent to the winning individuals with a letter of congratulations from the President of the Georgia Beekeepers Association.

Junior Beekeeping Program

In addition to the state 4-H program, the Georgia Beekeepers Association will support Georgia’s junior beekeepers by implementing the following program effective June 1, 2014: 

Any active beekeeping club within the Georgia Beekeepers Association whose officers, President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, are all members of GBA shall be eligible to receive financial support for a junior beekeeping program in the amount not to exceed $200.00 per calendar year.
The funds shall be used to support an education program in basic or advanced beekeeping, sponsored and presented by local club members.  Funds may also be used to rent facilities, educational equipment, education materials, advertising, snacks, etc.

A junior beekeeper is defined as any student less than 18 years of age or who has not yet graduated from high school (twelfth grade).

The program shall be available to all youth throughout the state.

The funds may not be used for….                                                                                                  
  • Purchasing equipment such as smokers, hive hardware, personal protection suits, gloves or veils.
  • Paying professional speakers’ travel or fees. 
  • The purchase of bees in nucs or packages, or the purchase of queens. 
To obtain the funds, the president of the local club must submit a request to the Vice President of GBA outlining the program, date/time, location, and expected number of students. The GBA Vice President will review the request, grant approval, and send it to the Treasurer for the funds to be disbursed. Upon completion of the program, the local club president will send a summary of the program, showing number of students, etc, to the VP of GBA for review.  This will be sent to the GBA Secretary to be kept as a matter of record.

The Treasurer will account for all funds distributed and make that a part of the treasurer’s report at the meeting of the members. 

The purpose of supporting these programs is to educate our youth and to encourage learning about the importance of honey bees, and hopefully, get youth involved with the beekeeping industry as a hobby or commercially.  This policy supersedes all previous 4-H and junior beekeeping policies.  

How Bees Influenced a Nation

By Madeline Hillebrand

The Apis mell fera L. or honey bee, although not native to the Western Hemisphere and more specifically, North America2 has played a significant part in the United States of America’s beginning, culture, and symbolism. The first colonies of honey bees sailed from England in skeps as that was most advantageous for climate differences and ease of handling.  The skeps were placed in a wooden crate that was fastened  to a seaward facing platform on the ship’s back deck to minimize bees getting in the way of passengers or the ship’s crew,6 and was sent by the Council of the Virginia Company on December 5, 1621 to the Governor of Virginia.1  Little did  Governor know that there would be no successful import of honey bees for another 16 years.1 A quote from a letter addressed to the Governor of Virginia, states: Wee haue by this Shipp and the Discouerie sent you diurs [divers] sortes of seedes, and fruit trees, as also Pidgeons, Connies, Peacockes, Maistiues [Mastiffs], and Beehives, as you shall by the invoice pceiue [perceive]; the preservation & encrease whereof we respond vnto you…”1       

Life for the Colonists, Native Americans, and their ecosystem changed for the good after the arrival of the honey bee. For the Colonists the arrival of honey bees added four new pieces of barter or trade in the Colonies; honey, wax, propolis and honey bees. Honey was used for sweetening foods and medicines and for making mead (an alcoholic drink made out of honey). Wax was used in making candles, for sealing letters, water proofing leather, smooth thread for sewing, to bind wounds, and even wax sculptures. The propolis could be made into a healing or drawing salve or used as an early type of gum.
For the Native Americans, their diet diversified, and as they added honey and other honey bee produced foods to their diets, they began to appreciate the honey bee. The honey bee was referred to as the “White Man’s Fly” by the Indians as there was no Native American word for wax or honey.1 For their ecosystem, the honey bee was essential to the survival of the Colonist’s crops as all of the flower, vegetable, and grain crops were imported from Europe: Crops that the honey bee- not native bees- was acquired to pollinating.1
             Beeswax was a valued item at home and for export. Taxes were allowed to be paid in beeswax in North Carolina in 1740 and Tennessee in 17852. Records of Virginia exports in 1730 show that the total amount of beeswax exported was a whopping 343,900 pounds!1   A list of exports from the British Continental Colonies in 1770 reported that 128,500 pounds of wax was exported valued at 6,426 pounds sterling2. There is no doubt, beeswax was in high demand.   
One final way honey bees majorly influenced the Colonies is through the Revolutionary War, the Revolution was full of bee allegories,  such as the British being lazy drones living off the sweat of hardworking Colonists3.  A bee skep with 13 rings was used on official currency approved by the Continental Congress, and to throw off British counterfeits, a red beeswax seal was used3.  As a result the honey bee was chosen as the state insect for 17 states4; a reward for all they contributed to our nation.
In the progress of my research I decided to compile a survey to learn the views of beekeepers in my local area. My survey consisted of five questions, and to get as many opinions as possible, the survey was circulated to members of the Coweta Beekeepers Association and other beekeepers I knew. The purpose of my survey was to learn how beekeepers felt about the changes and differences in beekeeping from the colonial times until now.
Five out of six of the beekeepers surveyed replied that honey bees were essential to the colonist’s survival.  The beekeepers unanimously pointed out the positive improvements since the colonial times in the beekeeping industry such as it is safer, modern equipment is more beneficial to the bees and their handlers, and because of removable frames, the bees did not have to be killed to collect the honey.  
 In colonial times in order to harvest the honey all the bees had to be killed (usually by burning sulfur at the hive entrance2), made to swarm, or smoked out. The improvement to the modern hive has made a lasting mark on the beekeeping industry.   
It was agreed that beekeeping husbandry has improved.  In the words of Timothy M. Copeland, “We have advanced in the ways we keep bees and treat them. We keep more hives and do not have to depend on wild honey bees.” The general agreement of those surveyed was that Lorenzo Langstroth is the father of the modern hive. Langstroth’s design, which came from Francis Huber who invented the Leaf Hive in Switzerland in 17985, is now the standard for all hives produced throughout the United States. Thomas Jefferson was influential by promoting the honey bee in colonial America and thus increasing their popularity.
Honey bees are creatures of an intricate and complex nature, they are involved in a society that closely resembles that of human beings. The bee's behavior reflects American virtues and values3  such as fidelity, loyalty, and comradeship.   The honey bee has been used as a symbol of responsibility, industry, and stability from the time of the Romans3, and is found often in the American colonies. The foresight of those that first brought the honey bee to the colonies can now be fully realized.
(Word Count: 932)
1 Honey Bees Across America, By Brenda Kellar 2004 Web.
2History of Beekeeping in the United States, By Everett Oertel October 1980 Web
3Carlson, Laurie. Our National Insect: The Honey Bee as America’s Cultural Symbol.
H-Net Reviews. February 2007.  Web 

 4List of U.S state Insects. Wikipedia. Web
5L.L. Langstroth. Wikipedia. Web.
6 Horn,Tammy. Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation.
The University Press of Kentucky, April 21, 2006.


Richard Littleton, Vice President of the Coweta Beekeepers Association 
Bobby Torbush, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Debbie King, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Timothy M. Copeland, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Steven Page, Coweta Beekeepers Association member
Darlene Kelley, Beekeeper

About the Author

My name is Madeline Hillebrand.  I am homeschooled and in 9th grade. I have been an active 4-H member in Coweta County for 4 years. My activities in 4-H includes: Horse Quiz Bowl, Dairy Quiz Bowl, Wildlife Judging, and Poultry Judging. And I am an active member in the Jr. Beekeeping Club, Horse and Pony Club, Poultry Club, Livestock Club, Veterinarian Science Student Organization, K-9 Club and Sigma Lambda Chi. This year I joined the County 4-H Dairy Heifer Show Team. I also play the viola and violin in a homeschool orchestra. I have a passion to become a veterinarian and live on a working farm in rural Georgia where I am able to gain hands on experiences with a wide variety of animals. I love to read and learn.


Homemade Strawberry Jam
by Christine Fahrnbauer, Cherokee Beekeepers

Our strawberries started ripening over Memorial Day weekend and I ended up with a surplus and decided to try a new Pectin I purchased online that touts jelly and jam-making with low amounts of ANY sweetener, or NO sweeteners at all (except for concentrated white grape or apple juice). I was intrigued because I do not like commercially or even home made jams because of the excessive amounts of sugar needed (usually 50-85% sugar, yuck!)

So off I go, mashing and cooking and adding the ingredients to my strawberries. The recipes and easy instructions are included in every box, but for a beginner, I do recommend purchasing the easy to follow with simple illustrations paperback that is also sold with the pectin. The pectin uses a separate calcium powder packet that you must first mix with water and then add to the fruit mixture as it cooks. Pamona's pectin is 100% pure low-methoxyl citrus pectin and it is extracted from the peel of citrus fruit. Once this is mixed with the honey and added to the fruit mixture, it is activated by the calcium. I was in awe of how wonderfully delicious my jam was, with a slight hint of honey! My entire family and several friends gave it rave reviews as well. I then went into my freezer and got the remains of last years blueberry crop and made a couple recipes of blueberry jam as well, also successfully delicious:)

I thoroughly recommend this healthy, low-sweet version of jam, (I only used 3/4 cup honey for 4 cups fruit) especially for those last bits of crystallized honey that need to be 'warmed up' in order to get out of the jar.  I did find the fruit of the strawberry jam floating to the top, so as it jelled and cooled I gently shook and evenly re-distributed it with the liquid.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

4 C. mashed fruit
1/2-1 C. Honey
2 t Pamonas pectin
2 t calcium water
1/4 C. lemon juice (for low acid fruit, such as blueberries)

Photo of Steve Page's swarm trap in action


Survey Results and this month's survey

Last month we asked about what is important to you about being a member of GBA.  
  • 72% of you belong to GBA to learn more about honey bees
  • 41% of you want to be with people with similar interests
  • 34% of you want to support the efforts of the honey bee industry
Among the “other” responses were:
Keeping up with legislative work around bees, accessing vendors at state meetings, and making bee friends.       

This month's survey is about your childhood history with the bees. 
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Links You'll Like!
I'm a new beekeeper in the Heart of GA Club in Perry with 2 - oops, just split one, make that THREE hives! I'm careful most of the time, but I did manage to get stung yesterday necessitating me to look up how to treat a bee sting.  From Ricky Moore
WIKIHOW.COM has a really good article here:

From Sam Alston 
From Philip Dreger
Waggling Bees Give Their Verdict on a Landscape

From Jane Lu, Gwinnett Beekeepers
Chinese man sets terrifying record

From Steve Page
Honeybees abandoning hives and dying due to insecticide use, research finds

From Bee Informed
Preliminary Results: Honey Bee Colony Losses in the United States, 2013-2014 

Note from a beginning beekeeper:

Hello Susie,

Yeap.....the girls were all there tonight. I could not locate the Queen as it was getting quite dark. I will take your wise advice my friend and do this in the daytime. 

I got my Bees from Bill at 7pm and thought I should follow that timing. 

My husband and I suited up, got the material for my smoker and down to the hive we went.  I did not have a lighter :) so back to the house I go.......get back down to the hive....smoke the girls a bit. Take off the top and then........remember I need a hive tool :)......back to the house I go, leaving hubby with the girls (he likes the ladies).......retrieve the hive tool.......back down to the hive I go.....hubby has the smoker. I have the hive tool and we went in to see the girls. It was wonderful. The girls KNEW I was not Bill. I could see it in their behavior. They were good but with Bill they were more calm, peaceful and content. I need to "tell the Bees" how  pleased I am with them and how very valuable and loved they are...girls always like to  hear this :)

From the Hive

Upcoming Events

Tara Beekeepers Association is having its annual short course September 6, 2014.   Cost is $65 per person, and there is a family rate.  The course will be held at the Kiwanis Building in Forest Park.  If you would like to attend or know someone who would like to attend please check our website or give us a shout!

GBA Fall Meeting Sept 19 -20 at the Hampton Inn in Milledgeville, GA.  Rooms are reserved with a discount at the Hampton and Comfort Suites.  See the GBA website for more information.

Hahira Honeybee Festival, September 29 - October 4 in downtown Hahira.  For more information, visit the website

Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association is hosting the Florida State Beekeepers Association Conference in  West Palm Beach, Florida at the Embassy Suites.  Dates:  Oct. 2, 3, 4, 2014Updated information here.

The Final Buzz

We asked for people outside of the MABA club to respond and you did in droves - we got articles, we got photos, we got essays, we even got poetry!  Thank you for all the contributions - links, suggestions, questions for Aunt Bee, etc.  You are all creative beekeepers out there - send us even more for next month. 

We'll be looking for funny stories, photos, and the ongoing story of your life with bees.  Send them to us and we'll put them in the newsletter.  Also be sure to send us your club's upcoming bee events.

Linda and Gina

Submission Guidelines:  Keep your articles to about 500 words and send them as an attached Word document.  Don't do anything funny to the margins - just makes it difficult for us.  Send photos as attachments to the email.  If they are in the body of the article, we can't use them.  Please tell us who took the photo, where and when.  Use this email address:  Deadline for July Newsletter:   June 25