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September 2003


Vol. 14 No. 2                    September 2003

Editor: Jennifer Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator

Georgia Beekeepers Fall Meeting

The University of Georgia Honey Bee Lab will be hosting the 2003 Georgia Beekeeping Association’s fall meeting October 17-18. This year’s speakers will include the following:

·        Kim Flottam, Editor, Bee Culture and Chairman of the Eastern Apiculture Society

·        Charles Harper, Queen Breeder from Lafayette, LA

·        Marlene Thomas, Tennessee beekeeper specializing in beeswax, lotions and potions

·        Bryce W. Tolle, Georgia State 4-H winner in Entomology

·        Robert Brewer, Towns County Extension Agent

·        Lee Heine, National Honey Board

·        Keith Delaplane, UGA Professor of Entomology

·        Nabor Mendizabal, UGA Graduate Student

·        Kent Wolfe, UGA Extension Marketing/Finance Specialist

·        Georgia Department of Agriculture, Bee Inspector’s Report

·        Jennifer Berry, UGA Apicultural Research Coordinator

A delegation of Albanian beekeepers will be present during the GBA meeting. They are visiting Georgia in order to learn more about beekeeping in the United States.

Pre-registration for GBA members is $20 before October 1st or $25 at the door. Non-member’s cost for the meeting is $30. Registration includes lunch on Friday and Saturday, plus refreshment breaks. Friday night will consist of the awards dinner which will feature our 3rd annual Low Country Boil provided by Mr. & Mrs. JM Sikes. Friday night’s dinner costs an additional $8.00.

The meeting will also include the Georgia honey show which will reward $250 in prize money. Show classes for the 2003 honey show will include:

Extracted Light honey  Black Jar (sole criterion for this class is taste)
Extracted Amber Candles (molded or dipped—candles will be lit)
Extracted Dark   Beeswax block (1+ lbs.)
Chunk Honey Mead (1 bottle only)
Cut or Section Comb Honey  

The vendors scheduled for the meeting include Rossman Apiaries, Dadant & Sons, and Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.

Registration forms and information can be mailed or emailed to: Mrs. Evelyn Williams, Treasurer, Georgia Beekeepers Association, 528 Bridge Ave., Forest Park, Ga  30297, (404) 366-6404,

Directions to the UGA honey bee lab are as follows: From the Athens perimeter: Proceed to the south side of the Athens perimeter and take the exit for Highway 441 south. Go to the fourth red light which is Hog Mountain Road and turn right. There is a Racetrack convenience store on the corner to your right and The Stone Store on the left. Once on Hog Mountain Road begin to look for the University of Georgia Horticulture farm sign on your left. There will be a large old farm house. Take the dirt road and follow the lane to the back of the farm.

If you are coming from the south, proceed north on 441. Continue past the exit for state road 53 to Watkinsville and turn left at the second red light which will be Hog Mountain Road. The rest is the same as above.

Come and support the Georgia Beekeepers Association and University of Georgia Honey Bee Lab by being a participant at the 2003 GBA meeting.

Eastern Apicultural Society to Meet in Athens, Summer 2006

The EAS board of directors has chosen Athens and the University of Georgia for the site of its 2006 meeting. Dates and actual venues have not been finalized at this time. However, the University of Georgia Honey Bee Lab and GBA will be fully involved in hosting the event.

UGA Queen Breeding Program

This year marks the beginning of a long-term queen breeding program at the UGA Honey Bee Lab. We know that bee breeding holds the key to answering many of beekeeping’s problems today, such as pest resistance to miticides and antibiotics. That is why we decided to launch our own breeding program in order to confront these problems. Dr. Delaplane has wanted to be involved in a queen breeding program for some time but has not had the opportunity until his research coordinator position was filled. Also with the arrival of Nabor Mendizabal, Dr. Delaplane’s graduate student, we can now move ahead with our breeding objectives. Nabor will be working on the queen breeding program for his master’s thesis research.

There are several types of breeding designs. One is the inbred-hybrid design which has yielded such successes as the Starline and Midnite lines. A second type is the closed-population breeding design. The idea here is to improve the quality of bees through selection without jeopardizing the viability and genetic variability over time. The maintenance of genetic material is controlled through isolation or instrumental insemination. This way we can minimize the immigration of undesirable genes.

Let me give you a quick synopsis of what we have accomplished so far. Last year we set up 50 five-frame nucleus colonies with 3 frames of bees and brood donated by Mr. Bob Binnie. Without his gracious donations our breeding program would not have been able to take off. We then stocked each colony with a queen from a number of producers from Georgia and the rest of the USA. Receiving queens from across the country helped to ensure a large degree of genetic variation which will reduce inbreeding which is a problem in any breeding program.

Spring 2003 marked the beginning of the actual selection program. We grafted from each of the 50 superior mother queens. Then once the daughters had matured, we instrumentally inseminated each from a pool of semen representing the entire closed population. By doing this we can ensure that genetic material from each queen is represented. The mother was then replaced by the inseminated daughter and colony evaluations begun. Next spring, daughters will be reared from the top 10% of survivors, and then allowed to open mate. We will then use these queens to re-queen the entire population and begin evaluations again.

There are 5 objectives for which we are selecting and evaluating. One trait is suppressed mite reproduction or SMR. When this trait is present, Varroa mite resistance is achieved because the female adult mite is unable to reproduce. She enters a brood cell and is unable to lay eggs or produce progeny in a timely fashion before the adult bee emerges.

The second trait is hygienic behavior. This behavior is crucial for colonies to fight against diseases like AFB or EFB and even shows promise against Varroa mite infestation. The adult worker bee detects a problem within the brood cell and removes it from the hive, thereby removing a source of contamination.

The third selection parameter is brood production, and the fourth is honey production which seems to go hand in hand with the beekeeping industry. And finally, we are selecting for gentleness. With the increasing threat of aggressive genes emigrating to the Southeast, we felt it was important to start selecting for a gentler stock. And frankly, we are tired of getting stung!

Hopefully in the next few years we will see progress, but we recognize that this is a long-term project with great rewards down the road. We thank the Georgia Beekeepers Association for their support of our queen breeding program. Last year they contributed research money to help with the initial cost of starting the program.

Nectar-robbing Carpenter Bees Reduce Seed-Setting Capability of Honey Bees in Rabbiteye Blueberry

Dr. Delaplane’s graduate student, Selim Dedej, is wrapping up his doctoral work. Selim’s research focused on honey bee pollination of rabbiteye blueberry which was reported in the last issue of the Georgia Bee Letter. The following describes his other doctoral project which concentrated on the effects of carpenter bees in blueberry fields.

Carpenter bees are notorious for their destructive drilling of holes in our homes, barns, fences, etc. On a smaller scale, they have a reputation for being a nectar thief. Certain pollinators, like the southeastern blueberry bee, have long tongues which can protrude down into a flower of the blueberry to obtain the nectar. They are therefore excellent blueberry pollinators. The carpenter bee is not so gifted. Their tongues are too short so they resort to nectar theivery. To achieve their goal, they slice a small hole at the base of the flower to siphon the nectar. If you have carpenter bees in your area, take a look at your petunias or other long throated flowers and you will see these tiny slits at the base of the flower. This activity has negative consequences since the carpenter bee is not ‘legitimately’ pollinating the flower. To legitimately pollinate a flower, the insect must rest on the opening of the flower where the pollen bearing anthers are located. They come into contact with these pollen grains which stick to their bodies and are then carried to the next flower. Since the carpenter bee is resting on the side of the flower where there are no anthers, it is assumed that pollination is reduced. So, how do honey bees fit into the picture? Honey bees also have short tongues, and have to work very hard to reach the blueberry nectar legitimately. When carpenter bees have been in the field, honey bees learn to collect the nectar from the sides of the flowers through the slits provided by the carpenter bees. Thus, they become secondary nectar thieves. Our question was, if carpenter bees are present in the blueberry fields, will they negatively effect pollination by honey bees.

We conducted a 2 year field study to test how nectar robbing in honey bees affects fruit production in rabbiteye blueberry. Mature rabbiteye blueberry plants were caged with the following treatments: honey bees only, honey bees and carpenter bees, carpenter bees only, no bees or open plots with no cages. The cages prevented other insects from pollinating the flowers and thus we could measure the activity of honey bees and carpenter bees solely. The results showed fruit-set was higher in the open plots, cages with only honey bees and cages with honey bees and carpenter bees compared with those cages with carpenter bees only and cages with no bees. Fruit-set was similar in cages with honey bees and cages with carpenter bees; however, seed numbers were significantly reduced in plots with just carpenter bees. Seed number is one of the most reliable indicators of a pollinator’s performance; thus our data indicate that large levels of carpenter bee nectar thievery in an orchard can indeed reduce the pollination efficiency of honey bees.

Honey Prices Good, Honey Flows Bad

2003 was a variable year for beekeepers across Georgia. Finally, we received the much needed rain ending our 7 year drought, however, in some parts of the state we received too much at the wrong time.

In north Georgia, the spring and summer nectar flows were both minimal at best. Rain kept the bees from working the flowers in the spring and may have washed out the sourwood nectar in the summer months. Our northern beekeepers found themselves moving their bees down south in search of cotton because they were unable to make any honey on sourwood.

The Piedmont had a spotty spring flow, with some beekeepers making only minimal quantities of honey. Nevertheless, the UGA apiaries did well with some colonies making over 120 pounds of honey.

Our southern beekeepers also had problems starting in the spring and running through the summer months. Early on, lots of rain and cool temperatures kept the bees from flying. Wet fields delayed cotton planting and prevented beekeepers from moving in hives. But at press time the reports for south Georgia cotton honey are generally good.

Honey prices are down a bit from earlier this summer, but still good. Table honey is running about $1.40/lb with bakery grade about $1.00/lb.

Hopefully next year the weather will cooperate and our bees will “show us the honey.”

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. I have had some computer virus troubles lately. 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


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