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Februrary 2004


Vol. 15 No. 1                    February 2004



Editor: Jennifer Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator


Georgia Beekeeping Association 2004 Spring Meeting

The Georgia Beekeeping Association spring meeting will be held Saturday, February 28th, 2004, at the extension office in Columbus, Georgia. The Board of Directors meeting will be Friday, February 27th at 7:00 pm, also at the extension office. This year's speakers include Keith Delaplane, Selim Dedej, James Ellis Jr., Dann Purvis II, Virginia Webb and Jennifer Berry. Plus, there will be a discussion panel which will include the speakers along with Bob Bennie and Fred Rossman. For more information please contact GBA President Robert Brewer at (706) 896-2024 or Evelyn Williams at (404) 366-6404. Hotel accommodations can be made at the Howard Johnson which is directly across from the meeting place. Call (800) 697-7293 for reservations and mention you are with the Georgia Beekeepers Association for a discount. Here are directions to the meeting.

From the north:
From I-185 take Exit 7B and veer right onto Manchester Expressway. Go about 0.8 miles and take a left on Veterans Parkway. Go about 2.5 miles and take a left on 11 St. Go 1 block and take a right on 10th St. Go 7/8 block and take a left into the parking lot of the extension office which is 420 10th St.

From the South:
Go north on US Hwy 27. About 5 miles after crossing I-185 take a right onto Veterans' Parkway. After crossing 9th St. at the railroad crossing take a right turn into the parking lot of the extension office just before 10th St.


Hygienic Behavior Against Small Hive Beetles

Small hive beetles pose a threat to the beekeeping industry, especially in the South, where millions of dollars have been lost due to their presence. The adult beetles and the larvae feed on contents of the colony including honey, pollen, and brood. Once this occurs the colony can soon decline and eventually collapse. Many efforts are underway to combat this newest threat to the beekeeping industry, but little is still known about these introduced African beetles.

Hygienic behavior, inherent within a colony, is one possible way for a colony to control the build-up of this pest. Hygienic behavior has shown to be successful in removing dead and diseased brood infected with AFB and EFB, brood cells infested with Varroa mites and now brood infested with small hive beetle eggs. By removing the infected or infested cells the bees are eliminating the source of contamination, thereby keeping disease and pests in check.

Fig 1Small hive beetle eggs deposited in cell of honey bee brood.

Female small hive beetles oviposit eggs inside sealed bee brood cells. The eggs hatch and begin feeding on the cell contents. If hygienic behavior exists within the colony, the worker bees may detect the presence of the beetle eggs under the wax capping and remove the infested brood. This could help keep beetles at non-damaging levels.

The UGA bee lab, in collaboration with Jamie Ellis at Rhodes University, South Africa, tested for the presence and efficacy of hygienic behavior by Cape honey bees in South Africa and European honey bees in the United States toward small hive beetle eggs in sealed bee brood. A practical assay was used to test for the presence and degree of hygienic behavior toward small hive beetle eggs expressed in a single honey bee colony. Colony differences that displayed superior hygienic behavior within each bee subspecies for removal rates of brood cells perforated by small hive beetles were identified. Also, we determined the oviposition rate in small hive beetle perforated cells (number of perforated cells in which small hive beetle actually oviposited / total number of small hive beetle perforated cells) and the number of small hive beetle eggs oviposited in each cell.

Concerning hygienic behavior, in both Cape and European colonies workers removed significantly more small hive beetle-perforated cells than either non-perforated or artificially perforated cells. Further, neither bee subspecies removed artificially perforated brood at similar or higher rates than beetle perforated brood, suggesting that it is not the perforated capping that stimulates the removal of cell contents. Thus, for hygienic behavior, the data suggest that there may be stimuli that elicit removal by bees of small hive beetle egg-infested cells. Maybe the presence of beetle eggs or an unknown oviposition chemical deposited by female beetles causes bees to remove the cell contents. Finally, there were no differences in the level of hygienic removal of beetle-perforated brood for Cape or European colonies.

The second aspect of the study examined oviposition rates and number of eggs laid per cell. There were no differences between the Cape and European colonies for the oviposition rate in cells perforated by small hive beetles. The proportion of beetle-perforated cells in which the females had oviposited was also similar in both Cape and European colonies. However, small hive beetles oviposited significantly more eggs per cell in Cape colonies than in European ones.

All tested colonies of both bee subspecies removed small hive beetle perforated brood, which is interesting since reports indicate that only a few colonies (<10%) in nature express hygienic behavior. This study suggests that the level of removal stimulants (beetle eggs, oviposition chemicals, etc) in the brood may have been unnaturally high. Further studies will need to be conducted to examine beetle stimuli that elicit brood removal.


Young Harris Beekeeping Institute

The UGA honey bee program offers the annual Beekeeping Institute in cooperation with Young Harris College and the Towns County Extension Service. Since 1992 the Institute has represented the single most comprehensive opportunity in the Southeast for concentrated training in all aspects of practical beekeeping. Held in Young Harris (GA) located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Institute is a two-day event with lectures and workshops by leading authorities on honey bees. There are separate curricula for beginners and more experienced beekeepers, as well as fun optional activities such as a competitive honey show, gadgets display, and Master Beekeeping program. It has become a tradition to include an ice cream social complete with a local bluegrass band.

This year the 2004 Young Harris College / University of Georgia Beekeeping Institute will be held June 3-5. However, the venue this year will not be at the College but rather Towns County High School, just on the east side of Hiawassee. This temporary move is necessary because of extensive renovations scheduled for the Maxwell Center on YHC campus. In spite of the temporary location there will be no abbreviations to the program. We are scheduling a full two days of lectures and workshops as well as Honey Show, Friday night social, and classes and exams for the Master Beekeeper program. Confirmed speakers include Dr. David Tarpy, newly-installed apiculturist at NC State University, and Dr. Mike Hood, longtime Institute friend from across the border in Clemson. We are aiming to release a complete program and registration information in March. Check out our website ( or contact your Georgia county Extension Agent for updates.


Management Calendar: February - April in Georgia

Colonies are quickly building up for the upcoming nectar flow. It is a critical time of year for colonies because brood is being reared and stores of honey and pollen being consumed due to the increase in population. It is imperative that you check your colonies this month for honey and pollen supplies. If colonies are in need of food, feed a 1 : 1 sugar syrup solution. This is important and should not be delayed. Here at the UGA honey bee lab, we receive numerous calls this time of year about colonies that have died. Upon inspection it is often simple starvation.

Medications for disease prevention along with Varroa and Tracheal mite treatments should be completed by the end of February. However, Varroa mite treatments may be unnecessary if your colony mite level is below the economic threshold of 60-190 mites in a 24-hour sticky sheet test. Sticky sheet insertion for twenty-four hours without chemical treatments is an effective way to determine mite levels within your colony.

On warm days, check your colony for poorly performing queens. Little to no brood or a patchy pattern is a sign of a bad queen. Re-queen her as soon as queens become available. The longer you wait to re-queen, the weaker the colony will become.

Swarming is also on the horizon. Swarm prevention is easy in theory, but difficult in practice. The colonies' urge to swarm is intense this time of year. Besides foraging for nectar, swarming is top on their list for activities during the spring months. However, one of the primary goals of any beekeeper is to keep this from happening. If a colony swarms, the beekeeper loses precious bees within minutes. Cutting queen cells, re-queening, and equalizing colonies are good ways to reduce swarming.

Hopefully by mid-April Georgia will be experiencing the best spring nectar flow we have seen in years. For the past several years, the spring and summer nectar flows have been disappointing. But in theory, the odds would suggest that this should be an excellent year for a superior nectar flow. Get those colonies healthy and strong and ready to produce a ton of honey. Remember the beekeeper's motto… "Show me the honey!"


Welcome Georgia's Newest Beekeeping Association:
The Foothills Beekeepers

Recently a new bee club was formed in Banks County, the Foothills Beekeepers Association. Meetings will be held 7:00 pm on the third Mondays of the month at the Banks County extension office. The association will only be active February through September. The address for the meeting place is 413 Evans St., Homer, Georgia 30547.

The president for the new association is Michael Gailey. You can reach Michael at (706) 776-1843. This is a good sign for the beekeeping industry to see new associations forming. Hopefully this means more people are becoming interested in beekeeping in our state.


Honey Bee Genome Sequenced

The following article appeared in Nature Reviews January 9, 2004, by Helen R. Pilcher.

The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is multi-talented. It produces honey, pollinates crops and is used by researchers to study human genetics, ageing, disease and social behaviour. "Without bees and pollination, the entire ecosystem would crumble," say Richard Gibbs, who led the sequencing effort at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

Its genome is about one-tenth the size of its human equivalent, containing about 300 million DNA base pairs. Because the genome is relatively small, genes should be easy to identify, says bee researcher Steve Martin for the University of Sheffield, UK. Many of these will be similar to their human counterparts, he says.

The bee genome may also help us understand the genetics of ageing and social behaviour, says Martin. Queen bees, for example, can live five times as long as their subordinates. Unpicking their genes may help researchers understand why.

The genome's publication is good news for beekeepers and victims of bee stings alike.

Across the globe bees are threatened by a pesticide-resistant mites call Varroa. The mite, which has spread from Asia, weakens the insects, making them susceptible to fatal infections. "The new information may help researchers generate Varroa-resistant bee strains," says Claire Waring, editor of the beekeeping journal Bee Craft. Such insects would be healthier and produce more honey.

It may also help us understand aggressive bee behaviour, says Gibbs. Stroppy swarms of Africanized bees can attack and kill people and animals. The genome may reveal the genes linked to bad bee behaviour. "This may help us deal with the problem," he says.

Researchers have deposited the draft sequence with GenBank, a public database run by America's National Institutes of Health. It will also be published on European and Japanese databases.

The project began in 2003, when the US Department of Agriculture and the National Human Genome Research Institute donated more than US$7 million. This is the first time that the amassed sequence data have been made publicly available.


Georgia 2004 Sec. 18 for Coumaphos Renewed

The Environmental Protection Agency has renewed Georgia's sec. 18 registration for coumaphos for the year 2004. The use is approved for coumaphos-impregnated plastic strips (CheckMite+ Bee Hive Pest Control Strip) for the control of Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) and small hive beetles (Aethina tumida). The following are conditions and restrictions for use of coumaphos inside honey bee colonies set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Treatments must be applied at a time when bees are not producing a surplus honey crop. Chemical resistant gloves (such as waterproof material) must be worn when handling strips.

  • To control Varroa mite, remove honey supers before application of CheckMite+ Strips and do not replace supers until 14 days after the strips are removed. Use one strip for each five combs of bees in each brood chamber (Langstroth deep frames or equivalent in other sizes). Hang the strips in separate spaces between the combs as near the center of the bee/brood cluster as possible. If two deep brood chambers are used for the brood nest, hang the CheckMite+ Strips in both the top and bottom brood chambers. Treat all infested colonies within the yard. The treatment is most effective when brood rearing is lowest. Effective control may be achieved by treating hives in the spring before the first honey flow and in the fall after the last honey flow. For maximum efficacy leave the strips in the hive for at least 42 days (six weeks). Do not leave strips in hive for more than 45 days. Do not treat more than twice a year for Varroa mites. Honey supers may be replaced 14 days after strips are removed.

  • To control the small hive beetle, remove honey supers before application of CheckMite+ Strips and do not replace until 14 days after the strips are removed. Prepare a piece of corrugated cardboard approximately 4 x 4 inches by removing one side. Remove one CheckMite+ Strip. Cut strip in half crossways and staple the two pieces to the corrugated side of the cardboard. Tape over the smooth side of the cardboard (the side opposite the strips) with duct tape, shipping tape or similar tape to prevent the bees from chewing and removing the cardboard, or use one sided plastic corrugated sheets. Place cardboard as near to the center of the bottom board as possible with the strips down. Make sure the bottom board is clean and the strips lay flat on the bottom board. For maximum efficacy leave the strips in the hive for at least 42 days (six weeks). Do not leave strips in hive for more than 45 days. Do not treat more than four times per year for the small hive beetle. Honey supers may be replaced 14 days after strips are removed.


Electronic Delivery of Georgia Bee Letter

If you would like to receive Georgia Bee Letter via email, send me your address at If you have sent me your address and not received GBL, please send again. We sometimes experience computer viruses on campus. Also, notify me if there are changes to your club meeting times or contact persons.


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

Chattahoochee Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm bimonthly, second Monday

Oxbow Meadows Nature Center, Columbus

Cherokee Beekeepers Club

7:00 pm third Thursday

Cherokee County Justice Building, Canton

Coastal Area Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday

Southbridge Tennis Complex, Savannah

Coweta Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday

Newnan County Extension Office

East Central Georgia Bee Club

7:00 pm fourth Monday, (bi-monthly)

Burke Co. Office Park Complex

Eastern Piedmont Beekeepers Association

7:30 pm first Monday

Bishop Community Center, 4951 Macon Hwy, Bishop

Foothills Beekeepers Association 7:00 third Monday, February through September Banks Co. Ext Office
413 Evans St., Homer
Forsyth Beekeepers Club 6:30 pm third Monday Forsyth County Library, 585 Dahlonega Hwy, Cummings

Heart of Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday

Georgia Farm Bureau, 1620 Bass Rd., Macon

Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Tuesday

Dunwoody Nature Center, Dunwoody

Mountain Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm first Monday

Conference room in Appalachian  Bank, Blairsville

Northeast Mountain Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Thursday

Northeast Georgia Regional Library, Clarksville

Northwest Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm second Monday
January through June, and also in September

Walker County Agricultural Center - Rock Spring
For more information, contact the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548

Southeast Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:00 pm fourth Tuesday

Wacona School Building, Waycross

Southwest Georgia Beekeepers Association

7:30 pm last Tuesday, even months

Swords Apiaries, Moultrie

Tara Beekeepers Association (Clayton County area)

7:30 pm third Monday

Reynold 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 Association

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

Cherokee Beekeepers Association

BJ Weeks, President

Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association

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

Coweta Beekeepers Association

Contact County Agent for information

East Central Georgia Bee Club

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

Eastern Piedmont Beekeepers Association

Jim Thaxton, Chairman
(706) 769-1315

Foothills Beekeepers Association

Michael Gailey, President
(706) 776-1843

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

Rick Cline, President
P. O. Box 5
Rock Spring, GA 30739

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