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May 2004



Vol. 15 No. 2                    May 2004

Editor: Jennifer Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator

2004 Young Harris Beekeeping Institute

Young Harris College and the University of Georgia are offering the thirteenth annual Beekeeping Institute, June 3-5, 2004. Since its inception in 1992, the Institute has grown to become the largest and most comprehensive beekeeping educational event in the Southeast, offering classes and workshops for beekeepers at all levels of experience and sponsoring the Georgia Master Beekeeper Program (GMBP). For 2004 we have an exciting roster of speakers and – in response to student evaluations – longer workshop periods.

Due to renovations at the College, this year’s Institute will be held at
Towns County High School on the east side of Hiawassee on Highway 76.

The Institute proper, Friday and Saturday, features a 2-track system – one track for experienced beekeepers and another for beginners. Facility limitations force us to cap enrollment at 150. A limited enrollment ensures a more comfortable learning environment for everyone, but makes pre-registration mandatory. If you cannot pre-register, please call us first to make sure there’s space before you make the trip.

Fig. 1We look forward to seeing you at the 2004 Beekeeping Institute!

Georgia Master Beekeeper Program at the Young Harris Institute

In 2004 the Georgia Master Beekeeper Program (GMBP) is offering qualifications at the Certified, Journeyman, and Master levels. Training and examinations for the Certified (entry) level are incorporated into the Beginner’s Track on Friday and Saturday; the higher levels are covered on Thursday.

Aspirants to the Journeyman or Master levels must meet advance requirements, including prerequisite certifications, minimum years of experience, documented public service credits, and/or documented expertise in at least five of 17 subspecialties. Bring all required documentation with you for scheduled audits. Please read details at

Applicants to any level are asked to check their intention on the registration form and pay the appropriate fee. Questions about the program may be addressed to GMBP director Robert Brewer at (706) 896-2024.

Welsh Bee Keepers Association Certification

The Welsh Bee Keepers Association has partnered with the YHC/UGA Beekeeping Institute to offer training and certification for honey show judges. This is the only partnership of its kind between the USA and United Kingdom. Entry-level students are given the opportunity during the Institute to complete the first two of four requirements. The Welsh Honey Judge certification requires (1) attendance at the Thursday training, (2) documented experience as a steward (judge's assistant), (3) documented experience as a senior honey show judge, and (4) successful completion of the oral examination. For most aspirants this sequence requires one or more years. The oral examination is offered for those candidates meeting all other requirements. The purchase of an official judge's smock and hat is required of those candidates ready to take the exam, and certified judges, when serving as judge or steward, are expected to wear their official uniforms in respect of the high standards of professionalism the certification implies. Questions about the program may be addressed to Robert Brewer at (706) 896-2024.

Honey Show

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the Honey Show. Cash prizes are awarded on the following basis: First place winners by class ($50), second place ($40), third place ($30), Best of Show ($100).

General Rules for the Honey Show

·         Only registered Institute participants may enter.

·         Judges and stewards are excluded from competition.

·         Institute reserves the right to limit the number of entries on a first-come, first-admitted basis.

·         There are twelve show classes: (1) extracted honey light, (2) amber, (3) dark, (4) black jar, (5) chunk honey, (6) section comb honey (either round or wood), (7) mead, (8) candles (molded or dipped), (9) molded beeswax (a single molded piece of two pounds or more), (10) original bee-related photography, (11) original bee-related art, and (12) beekeeping gadgets. Contestant may enter in any or all classes but may enter only once per class.

·         All honey and beeswax entries must have been produced by the submitter and within the last 12 months. This restriction does not apply to entries in mead, photography, art, and gadgets.

·         All entries for honey and candles must be submitted in triplicate: i.e., three matching jars of honey or three candles.

·         Submit extracted honey in standard one-pound queenline jars; either plastic or glass is acceptable.

·         Submit chunk honey in standard one-pound chunk honey jars. Insert only one piece of comb in jar.

·         Submit black jar honey entries in triplicate, with each one-pound queenline jar spray-painted black. The sole criterion in this class is flavor.

·         Beeswax entries must be pure beeswax.

·         Art and photography must be presented in a self-standing frame or easel, and each accompanied with a 3 x 5 card giving the title, artist, and brief “story” behind the piece.

·         Do not label products in any way; an identifying code sticker will be assigned to your entry at registration.

·         All entries must be submitted by 12:00 noon, Friday, June 4.

·         Judging criteria are selected at the discretion of Judge, and decision of Judge is final.

Api-Life VAR™ Approved for Georgia for 2004

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency granted Georgia a sec. 18 approval for the use of Api-Life VAR for the control of Varroa mites in honey bee colonies. Since that time, there have been changes made to the label for its use. The following information is the latest conditions and restrictions for the use of Api-Life VAR in honey bee colonies. The best news is the modification of the pre-harvest interval from 150 to 30 days.

·         Applications of API LIFE VAR may be made in any season (spring/summer/fall/winter) in which all applicable restrictions, precautions and directions for use can be followed.

·         Do not use when honey supers are in place to prevent excessive residues in marketable honey or wax. Use when average daily temperatures are between 59oF and 69oF.  Do not apply the treatment when bees are robbing.

·         Colony treatments are for 8 to 20 full size Langstroth frames or equivalent.

Two treatments per year may be made. A treatment (3 tablets) consists of the following:

·         Take one tablet and break into four equal pieces. Place pieces on the top corners of the hive body. Avoid placing pieces directly above the brood nest. After 7-10 days, replace with a fresh tablet broken into pieces as above. Repeat procedure again, 7-10 days later and leave last tablet for 12 days. After 12 days remove residuals from colony.

·         To prevent the bees from gnawing the tablet, either enclose each piece of tablet in an envelope of screen wire (8 mesh/inch), or place the uncovered pieces above a sheet of metal screen that prevents bees from contacting it.  


·         Remove API LIFE VAR tablets from hive at least 1 month (30 days) prior to harvesting the honey.

·         Do not use during honey flows.

·         Do not use when surplus honey supers are installed on the hives.

·         Do not harvest honey from brood chambers or colony feed supers.

·         Do not use API LIFE VAR at temperatures above 90oF.


·         Use of API LIFE VAR is most effective when less sealed brood is present.

·         At higher concentrations, thymol residues may impart off-flavors to honey. To minimize residues, carefully follow all label directions and restrictions. The potential for off-flavors can be further reduced by increasing the PHI and/or by delaying the replacement of surplus honey supers after the treatment is completed.

·         The use of API LIFE VAR at average daily temperatures below 54oF may result in less control of Varroa mites.

·         The use of Api Life VAR at higher than recommended temperatures (over 900 F) may increase the potential for brood or bee mortality. Closely adhering to the label directions will minimize adverse effects. The benefits of Varroa mite control will usually greatly exceed the effects of limited mortality. However, since not every possible combination of colony and environmental conditions have been replicated in experimental trials, beekeepers should follow all directions and monitor colonies for unusual conditions or signs of colony stress.

·         For best results, the colony should be as compact as possible during treatment. Combine weak colonies before treatment..          

Storage and Disposal


·         STORAGE: Store in original containers in cool, dry, isolated, well-ventilated area away from heat, sparks, and open flame. Do not eat, drink, or smoke in areas of use or storage.  Do not store in houses or other areas where vapors could accumulate. API LIFE VAR is not affected by freezing, so it may be stored in unheated areas.

·         PESTICIDE DISPOSAL: Pesticide wastes are toxic. Improper disposal of excess pesticide is a violation of Federal Law. If pesticide cannot be used according to label instructions and must be disposed of, contact your State Pesticide or Environmental Control Agency, or the Hazardous Waste representative at the nearest EPA Regional Office for guidance.

·         CONTAINER DISPOSAL: Offer for recycling or dispose of in sanitary landfill, or by incineration, or if allowed by State and local authorities, by burning. If burned, stay out of smoke.

Management Calendar: May - July in Georgia

Hopefully, your colonies didn’t swarm, are queenright and healthy and are making or have made some honey. In the Piedmont region, we are reaching the end of the nectar flow whereas regions to the north are just reaching the peak of their flow. Reports on honey production from the southern regions sound better than last year’s flow. Here at the bee lab we are hearing conflicting reports about honey production in our area. Areas to our west are producing honey, better than expected, but the eastern half of the state is not faring as well. However, it looks as if the honey flow throughout the state is better than last year.

After the spring honey flow is over, the main activity is removing and extracting supers and preparing for the sourwood flow in the mountain regions and the cotton and palmetto flow to the south. The sourwood flow in the past few years has not amounted to much. Last year, most beekeepers in the northern regions didn’t make a drop of sourwood honey. This important honey flow begins the first two weeks of June and may last through July.

It is still crucial that you manage your colonies for honey production between the spring and summer flows. Make sure the colony has a vigorous queen with a nice brood pattern. Also, continue to be vigilant about swarm prevention and control. Colonies may still swarm even into the late summer months. If you are in an area where a summer flow doesn’t occur, make sure to leave enough honey on the colony to survive the summer and winter months. An average colony in our region needs at least 35-40 lbs of honey to survive. Another problem during the dearth periods is robbing. Strong colonies will rob all of a weaker colony’s food supplies. Once robbing starts in an apiary, it is almost impossible to stop; therefore, precautionary measures should be taken. Colonies should be equalized throughout an apiary. Weaker colonies are vulnerable to robbing. Entrances should be reduced and all gaps and cracks taped to discourage foreign bees from entering a colony. If the summer months turn out to be hot and dry, provide water for your colonies.

Hopefully, we will continue to hear good news on outstanding nectar flows throughout the state of Georgia.

Georgia 4-Her Wins American Beekeeping Federation Essay Contest

The following is the award-winning essay of Ashlin Reid, national winner of the annual American Beekeeping Federation essay contest. She is an eighth grader and attends Southeast Bulloch Middle School in Brooklet, Georgia. She has been involved in 4-H since the fifth grade and is now president of her junior 4-H club. Last year she won first place with her Entomology project on honey bees at District Project Achievement. She has been a beekeeper for the past four years. Congratulations Ashlin! The last local Georgia 4-Her to win this award was Jamie Ellis who is now Dr. Ellis, a post doc at the University of Georgia honey bee lab.

The Swarming of Honey Bees

A swarm of honey bees in flight is one of nature’s most magnificent sights! When leaving a parent colony, a swarm of honey bees will cluster on a tree limb or other nearby object temporarily, before proceeding to their new nesting site. Swarms are believed to make this temporary stop to insure that their queen is present before moving on. It has been determined that a swarm travels only an average of one-half of a mile before settling in a location that their scouts have deemed to be suitable. Swarming honey bees are not aggressive and are seldom a threat to people. They prepare for traveling by gorging with honey and this makes them unlikely to sting unless provoked. Though a seemingly spontaneous event, much planning and preparation by the honey bees goes into the process of swarming. Worker bees will build several queen cells in the hive and begin feeding the larvae royal jelly so that they will develop into queens. The original queen will usually swarm with part of the hive before any of the new queens emerge. The swarming queen will have stopped laying eggs, allowing her abdomen to decrease in size to enable her to fly. Occasionally, colonies will cast one or more secondary swarms, called afterswarms, headed by the emerging queens.  

            An interesting bit of folklore tells that beating on pots and pans or ringing a bell will cause a swarm in flight to settle. This may seem to be true because when first emerging from the parent colony, a swarm will settle into its temporary location within about 200 feet, whether pans are being beaten or not. Some people may have believed the banging and ringing to have an effect on the honey bees because some antiquated laws gave permission to beekeepers to trespass on other’s land to retrieve their own swarm; however, they were required to announce their presence by making a noise. Beekeeping prints from a few hundred years ago illustrate pan beating. For honey bees in the wild, swarming is the natural process of propagating the species. In the beekeeper’s world, swarming is a sign of problems in the hive, usually overcrowding, inadequate ventilation, supersedure impulses, or a combination of the three. These causes are detectable and almost entirely preventable by an experienced beekeeper. Although a breath-taking phenomenon to a nature lover, the sight of swarming honey bees to a beekeeper represents the loss of honey and profits. However, understanding honey bee behavior and using some preventive measures can keep bees thriving happily in their hives.

            “Swarming season” can roughly be defined as springtime. It is after a nectar flow and the rapid increase in the population of worker bees that overcrowding is likely to occur. Overcrowding of the brood nest is typically the cause of swarming, not the lack of available space in the entire hive. A congested brood box is easy to recognize, because it is just out of free space with all the cells full of capped brood or honey. Another sign is the presence of burr comb, irregular bits of comb attached to corners of the hive box or any other free space where the honey bees have tried to squeeze in a few extra cells for brood production or honey storage. It is believed that congestion somehow disrupts the distribution of chemical substances, called pheromones, which are secreted by the queen. The queen’s presence in the hive is communicated by these pheromones. The simplest method of relieving this congestion is to add another brood chamber or a super on top. Because honey bees always expand upward, the brood boxes can be also be reversed if the bees have mostly moved into the upper box. Some beekeepers have used controlled splitting to relieve overcrowding. This method involves taking frames of brood, honey and bees from a congested colony and placing them in a hive at a new location with a new queen. The swarming urge is relieved in the strong colony and the removed bees are not lost.

            Inadequate ventilation, often found with overcrowding, can contribute to swarming. Excessive heat can be generated by the presence of an over abundance of bees in the hive. In this case, worker bees will sometimes be seen at the hive entrance fanning their wings in an attempt to lower the temperature inside. Besides solving the overcrowding condition, ventilation can be improved by removing hive entrance reducers to increase the air flow into the hive and placing the hive in light shade. In extreme temperatures, the hive body can be raised off the bottom board with two small pieces of wood to allow more air to circulate. Beekeepers may also use nine frames in a ten-frame hive or use frames with a narrower top bar. This will not only improve ventilation, but will not deter movement of the queen who has a larger body than workers and drones.

            Supersedure is the process of replacing a failing queen; however, beekeepers believe that supersedure can lead to swarming. The original queen will leave with the swarm, taking up to 60% of the workers with her. The new queen will have an established hive with a store of honey for over-wintering. It is estimated that only 25% of swarms survive the first winter, but 90% of original colonies survive. The fact that the original colonies are equipped with a strong, vigorous queen plays a significant part in their survival. Some beekeepers recommend replacing the queen annually. Young queens, besides laying more eggs, will secrete more pheromones that stimulate worker bees to forage and suppress swarming.

            If a beekeeper controls overcrowding, provides proper ventilation, and inhibits supersedure impulses by re-queening annually, swarming can usually be prevented. Otherwise, the honey bees will solve hive problems on their own by using the tool mother nature equipped them with – swarming!

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 it 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

Coweta 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, Cumming

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

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 Association

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

Cherokee Beekeepers Association

BJ Weeks, President
(770) 735-3263

Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association

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

Coweta Beekeepers Association

Wally Batchelor
P.O. Box 71425
Newnan, Georgia 30271
(770) 328-3472

East Central Georgia Bee Club

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

Eastern Piedmont Beekeepers Association

Bill Owens, Chairman
(770) 266-6619

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

Towns 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