Apis Newsletter, June 2009 EZezine

Dear Subscribers,

Hot weather has come to Gainesville, mid 90s’ most of the week.  Fortunately, we are experiencing some afternoon thundershowers.  The fires in the Sunshine state have abated for the present time.  I planted a garden for the first time here.  The snow peas got a small crop off before going south in the heat, the tomatoes came on ok, but it’s the zucchini squash that is interesting.  Many blooms; no fruit.  Few insects and not a single honey bee.  My neighbor gardening consultant says have patience, but I’m not sanguine.  I live in a neighborhood where keeping bees is frowned on, but beyond that it is more and more a desert with manicured, mowed and watered lawns under a canopy of oaks and pines.  Fortunately, some folks are seeing the light and putting native plants into this modified pine forest hammock we live it. 

Bumblebee Nest Survey: My name is Athena Anderson and I'm a doctoral student at the University of Georgia. I designed a bumblebee survey to be easily-accessible to anyone who finds a bumble bee nest. Please consider filling one out for me if you find a nest this year, and pass the survey along to anyone you think might be interested! The Xerces Society has agreed to post a link to the survey on their site soon, and you can see it posted on the Pollinator Partnership site immediately (http://www.pollinator.org/projects.htm).

African Honey Bee Defensive Behavior:  There are some who have downplayed AHB defensive behavior in the past.  A recent study suggests that this might be reevaluated:

Beehive fence deters crop-raiding elephants: “Previous work has shown that African elephants Loxodonta africana will avoid African honeybees Apis mellifera scutellata. Here we present results from a pilot study conducted to evaluate the concept of using beehives to mitigate elephant crop depredation. In Laikipia, Kenya, we deployed a 90-m fence-line of nine inter-connected hives, all empty, on two exposed sides of a square two-acre farm that was experiencing high levels of elephant crop depredation. Compared with a nearby control farm of similar status and size, our experimental farm experienced fewer raids and consequently had higher productivity. Socioeconomic indicators suggest that not only was the concept of a beehive fence popular and desired by the community but also that it can pay for its construction costs through the sale of honey and bee products. We are calling for experiments testing this concept of a 'guardian beehive-fence' to be conducted rigorously and scientifically in as wide a range of agricultural settings as possible to evaluate jointly its effectiveness and efficiency.  See more at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118510939/home

Bees and Land Mines:  It looks like Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk’s research on land mine detection will get a boost from the Obama administration according to Editor Flottum’s Catch the Buzz:.  “Last year the previous administration halted plans to move the tests overseas - a crucial step needed to explore conditions in actual minefields.  With a new administration dedicated to more federal funds for scientific research, there’s a chance that the research will resume soon, and negotiations are underway on arrangements for a new round of trials.

“Aside from their accuracy, bees have a number of strong advantages when it comes to land mine detection.  As lightweight hoverers, they can cover an area without accidently discharging a mine.  They are much cheaper than high-tech equipment and they are much easier to train than dogs and other mammals, lending themselves to use in areas where funds for mine removal are thin (one leading mine removal organization, HALO Trust, has stopped using dogs due to lack of consistency).  Amazingly, bees from one hive will recruit others, so only one trained hive is needed to start surveying a large area.”

Bee Craft America:  The last free issue of this British Journal, now available electronically in the U.S. is found at http://content.yudu.com/A189nm/BCA0905/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=

After this, it will be available only via http://www.bee-craft.com/beecraft-shop/beekeeping-beecraft-magazines.html for £4.50 per year.  For back issues, e-mail secretary@bee-craft.com with full name and e-mail address putting 'Bee Craft America' in the ‘Subject’ field.

Researching the new nosema:  There’s a lot of buzz about the DNA sequencing of Nosema ceranae.  http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000466 Bloggers and newspapers are picking up on the situation suggesting this is a key to colony collapse disorder (CCD) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090604222430.htm.  So far Spanish researchers are most sold on that idea. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414084627.htm

Recently CCD in Canada has been controversial.  Large losses have occurred in New Brunswick and Alberta, but it’s not clear that CCD was responsible according to officials . http://www.seemagazine.com/article/news/comment/ninja0611/ .  Instead, pesticides have been implicated http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/front/article/693579.

Check out my June 2009 compilation of links on drugs in the water (bees drink too), blueberry issues, abandoned comb amulet, Brazilian pepper as a carbon sink, hydrogen peroxide and the immune system (honey anyone?), wild bees as pollinator replacements for honey bees, African bees and beekeeping in Utah, black bees in Britain, Manuka honey prices, and others http://www.publish2.com/newsgroups/june-2009.  


Gleanings from the June 2009 Bee Culture:

Dave Meldrum, Andover, MA provides a CCD update according to his sources.  Charles Knaack, Circleville, OH says both bees and humans act the same under the influence of alcohol.  Heather Burgett,  Bonnyman, KY remembers her grandmother’s four hives in eastern KY.  Keith Fletcher, Gainesville, VA declares mission accomplished in Prince William County where supervisors voted 4-2 to overturn old zoning language in favor of new.  Frank Linton, Fairfax, VA implements a variation of a scale hive using a plastic mirror replacement kit.  Finally Norm Gary, Citrus Heights, CA (formerly professor at UC Davis) gives kudos to Editor Flottum for his Inner Cover and writes that retirement is a second career.  In his case retiring from retirement will take another 15 years.

Editor Flottum says it’s time to change and provides some detailed tips on how to do just that.  Read his recommendations, especially about those Russian bees, rotating frames, detecting mites and others.  Good stuff this month; I’m sure Dr. Gary would agree.

The June honey report seeks to predict the future.  Read what observers in the field think about honey production, commercial pollination and the percentages of folks who are considering each kind of enterprise.

Peter Smith reports on the biggest meeting for beekeepers  in the UK, Stoneleigh, with the British beekeepers Association occupying the conference centre.  Read who he ran into and what they said.  The Brits too appear to be having a beekeeping boom with over 40 applications for the beginners course.  They too are having problems coping with the influx like other places in the U.S.  It is the “worst of times and the best of times.”

Duane Waid recommends learning how to make candles for added income.  Read how to define your interests and the great number of types of candles possible.  He will give a workshop at the Eastern Apicultural Society’s meeting in Ellicot, NY http://www.easternapiculture.org/programs/2009/.

 Kitty Kiefer is an “ambassador of sweetness.”  A trained lawyer, she advocates telling the truth, having beautiful labels and doing demos.  She too will be at EAS.  Find out why it’s OK to own more than one jar of honey at a time.

 Jason Nelson discusses a small storm, the dynamics of the honey bee’s flight mechanism.  Read how it is possible that the wings beat 240 times a second and all that emanates from that eye-popping statistic.

 Larry Connor discusses time management and the beekeeper.  His tips are timeless;, use a check list, start small and grow gradually, and work smarter not harder.

 Kim Flottum reports on the documentary film, The Importance of Honey Bees:  A Case Study.  Read his account of the production of this film and where you might be able to view it, including youtube.com, although I can’t find it at the present time.. 

 Alan Harman asks “What’s with those Asian Honey Bees.”  He discusses the risks of entry of Asian bees into Australia.  This involves mites as well small hive beetle.

 Jim Tew writes about his beehive mistakes.  Read how both bees and beekeepers can make mistakes, and the advice he and others have provided for many years, when in doubt doing nothing is better than taking action.

 Clarence Collison takes a closer look at PER, the proboscis Extension Response.  Read how this behavior is used for a number of assays and how it could be used in the future.

 Ross Conrad looks at Colony Collapse Disorder from a new perspective.  Colonies, and the environment in general, is awash in chemicals.  Read the evidence behind this and stay tuned for his followup comments in future columns.

Ann Harman discusses good design and good reading.  She allows becoming a newsletter editor is your choice to be creative, but with limits.  Read how font size, margins, lengths of paragraphs and page divides are all involved in producing a quality publication.

 In All the News That Fits, we find information about the changes at the American Beekeeping Federation, and my good friend Doug McRory’s (Ontario Canada’s Provincial Apiarist) retirement.  He will be missed; few people have his depth of experience in the craft.  His successor will have big shoes to fill.

 Finally, on the Bottom Board read a letter from a beekeeper’s wife and then try to guess the date it was written.  As she concludes, “No man who is not good gambler should ever be a beekeeper.”  Amen.


Malcolm T. Sanford


Bee sure to Catch The Buzz, Bee Culture's latest releases important to beekeepers at <http://www.beeculture.com/content/catch_buzz.cfm>.  Also access the Apis Information Resource Center <http://www.squidoo.com/apis>, which contains Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford's archived Bee Culture articles at <http://www.squidoo.com/bee_culture/> and check out his blog <http://abeekeepersblog.blogspot.com>.  Finally, take a look at the Global Bee Breeders Association’s efforts to increase honey bee diversity with minimal risk <http://gbba.vze.com>