Skip to Main Menu Skip to Content

February 2003


Vol. 14 No. 1                    February 2003

Editor: Jennifer Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator

Georgia Bee Letter Returns

We have re-instated the Georgia Bee Letter! It was brought to our attention by Georgia Beekeepers Association President PN Williams that GBL provides good information and an important link between Georgia's beekeepers and the UGA bee program. If you would prefer receiving GBL electronically please send me your e-mail address ( This way we can zip the Georgia Bee Letter to you without delay. It's good to be back.

Dr. Delaplane's Newest UGA Graduate Student, Nabor Mendizabal, Investigates Imprisoning Behavior as a Parameter for Small Hive Beetle Resistance Selection

The University of Georgia Honey Bee Lab is proud to announce the newest addition to our program, Nabor Mendizabal. Nabor received his undergraduate degree from his home country of Bolivia. Currently, Nabor is pursuing his master's degree under the direction of Dr. Keith Delaplane. The following abstract describes his thesis work currently being conducted at UGA. The Florida beekeeping industry reported that in six months 2500 colonies had collapsed due to SHB infestation and 10,000 after just two years of its introduction. In African honey bee races, which use four times more propolis that European ones, there is evidence of high tolerance to pests like Varroa mites and SHBs. The Cape honey bees in South Africa control SHBs by encapsulating them; in other words they imprison beetles in traps made of propolis. The present study aims to evaluate the heritability of this imprisoning behavior (IB) in European honey bees and its correlation with propolis hoarding. In order to achieve this goal, we have designed a selection program and a way to quantify IB. Twenty colonies are being tested for propolis hoarding using standard propolis traps. Additionally, we are testing for IB with specially designed cages that permit contact between honey bees and beetles. This gives us the ability to measure imprisoning response by bees. The queens for the next generation will be selected from colonies that express the highest rate of IB. We expect to have four generations of selection in two years.

2003 Young Harris Beekeeping Institute Scheduled for May 29-31

Young Harris College and the University of Georgia are offering the twelfth annual Beekeeping Institute at Young Harris College May 29-31. Since its inception in 1992, the Institute has grown to become the largest and most comprehensive beekeeping educational event in the Southeast. In addition to its dual track program for beginners and experts, training and certification for the Master Beekeeper Journeyman level and Welsh Honey Judges Certificate will take place the first day of the event, May 29th, with certificates being awarded on Saturday the 31st. Facility limitations force us to cap enrollment to 150, therefore if you are interested in attending this year's event we urge you to pre-register. Registration information should be available by early March. Registration information will also be posted on our website at

Bottom Screens and Hygienic Behavior Slow Economic Threshold for Varroa

In 1999, Dr. Delaplane and Dr. Mike Hood (Clemson University) developed an economic threshold for Varroa destructor for our region which was defined as an overnight sticky sheet mite count of 59-187 mites. A threshold like this allows beekeepers the ability to monitor their own colonies for mite buildup and to determine if and when treatment with toxic miticides is warranted. By delaying treatments, we can effectively reduce mites' resistance to miticides. This occurs because we remove the selection pressure of acute toxins on mites and allow them a maximum number of mite generations between treatments, thus conserving genes for miticide susceptibility. Many workers are identifying Integrated Pest Management practices that may delay economic thresholds. The present study focuses on three: apiary isolation, heritable honey bee hygienic behavior, and bottom screens. This research is part of a three-state project in collaboration with W.M. Hood from South Carolina, J.P. Parkman and J.A. Skinner from Tennessee.

In June 2001 forty Langstroth colonies were set up from packages in Habersham County, Georgia and each randomly assigned an experimental treatment so that every combination of the following main effects was replicated five times: (1) isolated apiary or non-isolated, (2) hygienic-selected queen or non-selected, and (3) screen bottom board or conventional solid bottom board.

The type of hive bottom significantly affected mite drop; average mite drop was significantly lower in colonies with screens (12.4±1.4) than in colonies with conventional bottoms (20.3±3.3). As the expression of hygienic behavior increased mite drop decreased. This mite infestation level reduction in colonies with bottom screens translates into a 2-month extension for a colony before reaching the economic threshold. In other words it allows the beekeeper to delay treating for two months with toxic chemicals, thereby extending the life of the acaricide and reducing resistance.

None of the colony strength parameters measured in April 2002 - quantity of bees, brood, honey and pollen - was shown to be significant, however, the following data should be noted. Screened bottom boards had an average of 3.2 deep frames of brood, 5.1 frames of adult bees, 2.5 frames of honey and pollen. This compares to the data shown for conventional bottom boards, which had an average of 2.7 deep frames of brood, 4.3 frames of adult bees, 1.4 frames of honey and pollen.

Honey Bees Improve Pollination of Rabbiteye Blueberry, 'Climax'

Dr. Delaplane's graduate student, Selim Dedej, is wrapping up his doctoral degree and will be leaving us this August. Selim's research focused on honey bee pollination of rabbiteye blueberry. The following describes one of his projects that was recently presented at the 2002 North American Apicultural Research Symposium, Niagara Falls, Ontario.

To investigate the influence of different population densities of honey bees on pollination of rabbiteye blueberry var. 'Climax', a 2-year (2000, 2002) study was conducted at the University of Georgia Horticulture Farm in Oconee County, Georgia. Mature orchard plants plus potted pollenizers ('Premier') were caged with varying densities of honey bees (0, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 or 12800 bees plus open plot) during the bloom interval. The percentage of legitimate flower visits tended to increase as bee density increased within a range of 400 - 6400 bees; there were more legitimate visits in cages with 6400 bees than in those with 1600 bees. Similarly, within a range of 400 - 6400 bees there was a trend for an increase in fruit set with means ranging from 25.0 - 79 percent. Fruit set was higher in cages with 6400 or 3200 bees than in those with 800 bees. Within a range of 0 - 3200 bees the average seeds / berry tended to increase with increasing bee density; there were more seeds in open plots than in cages with 12800 honey bees or 1600 bees. Sucrose content ranged from 12.1 - 16.7 percent and fruits tended to be sweeter in cages with lower bee densities; percent sucrose was higher in cages with 400 bees than in those with 1600 bees or in open plots. Speed of ripening tended to be higher in cages with higher bee densities, however this trend was weaker than for the other variables; fruit ripening was faster in cages with 3200 bees than in those with 1600 bees or in open plots.

The effectiveness of honey bees as a pollinator of rabbiteye blueberry is partly variety-dependent. Honey bees were demonstrated to be inefficient pollinators of 'Tifblue' (Cane & Payne, 1990 Alabama Agric. Exp. Sta. 37: 4) but effective for 'Climax' (Sampson & Cane, 2000 J. Econ. Entomol. 93: 1726-1731) based on assays of single-bee flower visits. Our results support those of Sampson & Cane, confirming that Apis mellifera is an effective pollinator of  'Climax.' Our data further indicate that the effectiveness of A. mellifera is bee density-dependent. Fruit set, seed number, and speed of ripening increased as bee density and flower visitation rates increased.

International Travel and Awards

Dr. Delaplane and I had the opportunity to do some international travel this past year. In July 2002 Dr. Delaplane traveled to Wales where he was a session convener for the 6th European Bee Conference and presented a paper on the small hive beetle problem in the United States. Later that same month we both traveled to Ireland where Dr. Delaplane, Towns County Extension Coordinator Robert Brewer and I were invited to participate in the 2002 Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Association Summer Course. It was a wonderful journey to the emerald island and my first time in Europe.

In November 2002 Dr. Delaplane spent two weeks in Nepal. Winrock, an international organization dedicated to helping developing nations, sponsored his trip. Dr. Delaplane inspected apiaries and lectured on bee genetics and breeding. While he was in the country he was able to witness many biological and cultural novelties, including eastern honey bee species Apis cerana and A. dorsata. And then there were the public human cremations . . .

Finally, I just returned from a trip to Bolivia. It was my first encounter with Africanized honey bees and to my amazement, they were not as nasty as I had been told. I found the bees in Ireland much more aggressive than the bees in central Bolivia. The only difference I noticed in the Africanized strain was the persistence of the bees in following you out of the apiary and down the road and into the car. Another trait I saw was the uneasiness of the bees and queen on the comb. They moved rapidly around the frames and in the hive, making it difficult at times to find the queen. During my stay in Bolivia, Don Hopkins (North Carolina bee inspector) and I visited numerous apiaries doing general inspections for disease and mites. We then presented a short course on honey bee diseases, queen rearing, extracting, marketing and presenting honey. The trip was sponsored by Farmer to Farmer program which works with Central and South American countries. Programs like Winrock and Farmer to Farmer are important organizations because they help developing nations receive educational needs they are unable to attain in their country. Their main goal is to send specialized people into the region and help with different agricultural systems. My trip was very rewarding and I plan to return next year to continue with the queen breeding program.

South Carolina and Maine Receive Section 18 for Api-Life Var™

Api-Life Var™ is an essential oil miticide manufactured in Italy which has been shown to be effective against Varroa mites in tests in GA, SC, and TN. The ingredients are naturally occurring oils, thymol, eucalyptol, camphor and menthol, that are impregnated into wafers of vermiculite (a substance used in floral arrangements). Beekeepers in Maine and South Carolina may now purchase Api-Life Var this spring under a section 18 label. Currently, 30 other states are being considered for an Experimental Use Permit which includes Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina. If you are interested in helping Georgia receive a section 18 please contact Dr. Michael Braverman at IR-4. His telephone number is (732) 932-9575. Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, (800) 233-7929, is the national vendor of the product.

Even though this is a "natural" product, that doesn't mean it is safe. Extreme caution must be taken when handling Api-Life Var. The high concentration of caustic oils means it is an irritant to the skin, eyes, etc. Moreover, thymol is lethal to bees at high doses and high temperatures. Once it is approved in Georgia, care must be taken to use it in strict accordance with label instructions.

How to Get Georgia Bee Letter

Ask your county Extension agent to put you on the mail list. GBL can be received electronically by emailing your request to . If you receive multiple copies, please tell your county Extension agent.

Regular Meetings


7:00 bimonthly, second Monday

Oxbow Meadows Nature Center, Columbus


7:00 third Thursday

Cherokee County Justice Building, Canton

Coastal Area

7:00 second Monday

Southbridge Tennis Complex, Savannah

Eastern Piedmont

7:30 first Monday

Bishop Community Center, Bishop

Heart of Georgia

7:00 second Monday

GA Farm Bureau, 1620 Bass Rd., Macon

Metro Atlanta

7:00 second Tuesday

Dunwoody Nature Center, Dunwoody

Northeast Mountain

7:00 second Thursday

Clarksville Library, Clarksville

Northwest Georgia

7:00 second Monday, June & Sept

Civic Center, Rock Springs

Southeast Georgia

7:00 fourth Tuesday, Aug-March

Wacona School Building, Waycross

Southwest Georgia

7:30 last Tuesday even months

Swords Apiaries, Moultrie

Tara (Clayton Co. area)

7:30 third Monday

Reynolds Nature Preservation


Beekeeping Subscriptions

American Bee Journal, Hamilton, Illinois 62341 (217) 847-3324
Bee Culture, 623 W. Liberty Street, Medina, Ohio 44256 (330) 725-6677
The Speedy Bee, P.O. Box 998, Jesup, Georgia 31598-0998 (912) 427-4018


Resource People for Georgia Beekeeping


Chattahoochee Valley Beekeepers Assoc.

Jim Harris, President
34333 Pontiac Drive
Columbus, GA 31907
(706) 563-4186

Cherokee Bee Club

Jim Driggers, President
1672 Hillside St
Marietta, GA 30066
(770) 973-5639

Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association

Greg Stewart, President
124 St. Ives Way
Savannah, GA 31419
(912) 232-6734

Coweta Beekeepers Assoc.

Contact County Agent for information

East Central Georgia Bee Club

Edwin S. Stephens, President
522 Pine Needle Rd.
Waynesboro, GA 30830

Eastern Piedmont Beekeepers Assoc.

Paul Smith, President
(706) 548-6196

Forsyth County Beekeepers

Jan Payne
2926 Pruitt Road
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 781-2959

Georgia Dept. of Agriculture

Barry Smith, Manager
Apiary Program
P.O. Box 114
Tifton, GA 31793
(912) 386-3464

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers

Robert Pokowitz, President

Mountain Beekeepers Association

Larry Sams, President
158 Needlemore Drive
Hayesville, NC

Northeast Mountain Beekeepers Association

John Haaseth, President
(706) 865-1085

Northwest Georgia Beekeepers Association

Richard Wright, President
3492 Trion Highway
LaFayette, GA 30728
(706) 638-1354

Southeastern Georgia Beekeepers Association

Bobby Colson
945 Sinkhole Rd.
Register, GA 30452
(912) 852-5124

S.W. Georgia Beekeepers

Sonny Swords
5 - 28th Avenue N.W.
Moultrie, GA 31768
(912) 941-5752

Tara Beekeepers Association

Bill Lynch, President
60 Yates Road
Hampton, GA 30228
(770) 707-2627

Town County Coordinator

Robert Brewer
Georgia Master Beekeeper Coordinator
PO Box 369
Hiawassee Ga 30546
(706) 896-2024

University of Georgia

Jennifer Berry
Apicultural Research Coordinator
1221 Hog Mountain Rd.
Watkinsville, GA 30677
(706) 769-1736

University of Georgia

Keith S. Delaplane
Professor of Entomology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
(706) 542-2816