Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 11, Number 8, August 1993
AHB ON THE MOVE
There have been several articles in the press on the movement
of the African bee (AHB). The first death attributed to this
insect was reported in Texas and several confirmed finds near
Sasabe make Arizona the second state to be officially invaded.
This will put the bee on California's doorstep soon. That state
has developed a logo and several information programs for its
citizenry. We in the east, however, cannot become too complacent.
The migration has finally reached Houston, Texas, about 100 miles
from the Louisiana border.
VARROA--A MOVING TARGET?
A major problem with Varroa is that the target (controlling
the mite's population) continues to move. Beekeepers, therefore,
must keep ahead of the mite by continually revising their
strategies to detect and control this parasite. Originally, in
Florida, it was thought that Varroa could be chemically controlled
once a year. This has been revised by many operators to every six
months. Now apparently the schedule may have to be amended again.
Take one Florida beekeeper's experience. Colonies treated
from January 18 to February 25 were moved to citrus and averaged
100 pounds of honey. The colonies were then moved to gallberry
about May 5th and began collapsing due to Varroa in early July.
Possible reasons for this are:
1. Treatment was not effective--post-treatment check suggests this
was not so; no mites were found in ether roll after strips removed.
2. Strips were not left in long enough--again, post-treatment
check refutes this.
3. Colonies were heavily reinfested from nearby apiaries or wild
colonies--the beekeeper believes not many untreated colonies were
located in nearby locations, but it is possible that infested
colonies were present and/or some hives were missed during
4. Mite populations rebounded far faster than expected--perhaps
this was due to continuous brood rearing (a superabundance of drone
brood?) in colonies building up prior to orange and then before
gallberry. In addition, the bee population may have been highly
susceptible to damage by mites.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident according to
several Florida bee inspectors I spoke to during a recent training
conference in Gainesville. They recommend checking colonies for
Varroa infestation levels at least every 60 to 90 days or risk
colonies dying earlier than one might expect. Varroa is not a
forgiving organism; all nearby colonies must be treated without
exception if reinfestation is not to occur.
There's also indication that the target continues to move in
relation to pesticide resistance. In the October, 1992 APIS, I
reported an Italian study indicated that fluvalinate was losing its
effectiveness. Two papers in the January-February, 1993
L'Apicoltore Moderno, the Italian beekeeping journal published at
the University of Torino, add fuel to this speculation.
The first indicated a high incidence of Varroa and alarming
mortalities of colonies in several areas of Italy in the fall of
1992 in spite of routine fluvalinate treatments. The second
reported on a study of 72 hives which showed that definite
resistance to Fluvalinate (Apistan (R) strips) has shown up in
northern Italy. A reason suggested is the use of fluvalinate-
soaked wooden strips by beekeepers before Apistan (R) became
available. This practice may have left high residues of
fluvalinate in wax, contributing to the development of resistant
populations of mites. The same result might occur, although
probably less rapidly than using wooden strips, if Apistan (R)
plastic strips are left in colonies for long time periods.
SEPTEMBER IS NATIONAL HONEY MONTH
The National Honey Board reports that Secretary of Agriculture
Mike Espy has declared September as National Honey Month.
Beekeepers are asked to share the "good news about honey" with
local media (newspapers, radio, television). A press kit including
clip art, recipes, tip sheets and other items is available from the
Board, 421 21st Ave. #203, Longmont, CO 80501, ph 303/776-2337.
The National Honey Board is also asking for comments
concerning a revision of the official definition of honey being
proposed by the Board's Product and Research Development Committee.
Beyond the simple definition, typical honey composition, types of
honey and honey products are also discussed. If you would like a
copy of this proposal, contact the Board directly.
Finally, the Board has redesigned its newsletter. The summer,
1993 issue contains an immense amount of information. It begins
with a beekeeping success story by the Booth family, packers of
Cheyenne Honey. There are also articles on the Board's efforts to
explain the new nutritional labeling law and a description of the
typical honey consumer. Mr. Binford Weaver, the current Chairman,
also discusses the current relative position of honey, up 7% in
volume sales versus jams and jellies (2% drop), syrup (unchanged),
sugar (4% drop) and substitutes (up 4%). If you don't get the
newsletter, ask the Board to put you on the mailing list.
1992 PRODUCTION STATISTICS
Often I get questions about Florida honey production. Some of
the answers have been published in the February 1992 Honey Report,
Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, 1222 Woodward St.,
Orlando, FL 32803, ph 407/648-6013. These statistics provide a
historical perspective of beekeeping in the state. Colony numbers
are down, dropping from a high of 360,000 in 1981 to 220,000 in
1992. Yield per colony, however, is up (104 pounds/hive) almost
reaching the high (not all years are listed in this report) of 105
pounds/hive reported for 1988. Total production was 22,880 pounds
with an average price of $.53 cents per pound.
Only California had higher honey production in 1992 (31,490
pounds), but colony numbers there were 470,000 with an average
yield of 67 pounds/colony. Highest averages per colony were
reported by Hawaii (138 pounds), Montana (110 pounds) and Louisiana
(107 pounds). After California and Florida, only North Dakota
(21.8), South Dakota (20.4), Minnesota (17.1) and Texas (10.6)
reported over 10 million pounds of honey produced. The total U.S.
crop produced by 3.03 million colonies was 220.5 million pounds,
averaging 72.8 pounds per hive and a price of 55.8 cents per pound.
A CHALKBROOD/AFB CONNECTION
Dr. H. Shimanuki, our featured speaker at this year's Florida
Beekeepers Institute, and colleagues at the Beltsville Bee Lab in
Beltsville, Maryland were highlighted in a recent spread in
Agricultural Research, the information organ of the USDA's
Agricultural Research Service (July 1993). In conjunction with
their efforts to diagnose diseases in samples sent in by the
beekeeping industry, Beltsville researchers noticed a decline in
European foulbrood samples from New Jersey bees (1980-1990) while
the number of chalkbrood samples remained constant.
Further investigation has shown that Ascosphaera apis, the
causative organism of chalkbrood disease, produces a substance that
inhibits growth of bacteria causing both American and European
foulbrood. This material has been isolated and could provide the
basis for a new, inexpensive control for both foulbroods. Thus,
like the bees themselves, the microorganisms found in the nest also
are interrelated in a complex community.
In May 1989, I wrote in this newsletter about the business of
ethics. The next year, the American Beekeeping Federation took up
the subject and it was well received by the membership. Now Dr.
Jeffery Burkhardt, Department of Food and Resource Economics, has
written a lengthy analysis of what he calls a new growth industry,
"ethics talk." Ethics, Dr. Burkhardt says, means, at a gut level,
proper conduct. It is usually concerned with interpersonal (or
Two key questions, according to Dr. Burkhardt are where do
ethics rules come from and what is their content. Ethics rules, it
seems, are constantly evolving according to circumstances. Their
content usually revolves around the concept of "harm." What
constitutes "harm," and to whom are key issues that must be decided
before ethical responsibilities become clear.
Agricultural ethics, therefore, Dr. Burkhardt says, are
concerned with "what kinds of harm, to what people should
agriculturalists avoid." Much debate must go into these ideas and
ethics talk is involved in these deliberations, driven by both
"external" and "internal" criticisms which are calling for a
rethinking of values historically associated with agricultural
research and education.
Three main issues in Florida generating ethics talk, according
to Dr. Burkhardt are natural resource (especially water)
protection, agricultural technology (especially biotechnology) and
international trade policy and competition. With reference to
beekeeping, a number of specific issues, including pesticide use,
honey adulteration and health claims about honey bee products may
come under the ethics rubric. Expect to see more about ethics in
the future, especially the talking part. As Dr. Burkhardt
concludes: "...we might be able to prevent unforeseen yet possible
harms to one another, and to maximize unknown yet potential mutual
goods or benefits." If you wish to explore this topic further, I
will send a full copy of the paper on request.
LOVE THAT SOAPY WATER
It was a year ago that I reported in this newsletter about
firefighter training relating to bee emergencies. That article
also included a suggested letter to local fire chiefs. The
training video I discussed in that letter has been released for
some time. It is "Controlling Honey Bee Emergencies," produced by
the A.I. Root Co. and is now available in the IFAS Audiovisual
Library as VT 378, as well as through the A.I. Root Co., Medina, OH
44256, ph 216/725-6677.
A testimonial to information presented in the tape is found in
the July, 1993 issue of Bee Culture. At the end of May, a trailer
load of bees (672 single colonies) fell off a truck on U.S. 71
North, two miles from Mountainburg, Arkansas. This was a true
emergency including injured persons trapped in cars, stung rescue
workers (four seriously) and closure of a major highway for 26
hours. Fortunately, a nearby fire chief already knew that soapy
water in fire truck pumpers should be used to control honey bees,
as outlined in the program.
Both the chief and another beekeeper who directed the efforts
to effectively deal with the situation would literally have been up
a creek without a paddle if it weren't for the material (especially
that soapy water) presented on the tape. As the beekeeper said,
"The video showed emergency procedures for a bee accident almost
identical to the one that happened on Highway 71...at the time I
saw it I thought I'd probably never need that information in a
million years...I've found out different."
APICULTURAL VISUAL AIDS
The IFAS audiovisual library continues to be a valuable
resource for county agents and beekeepers in Florida. ENY 112,
"Extension Apicultural Visual Aids," that discusses tapes/motion
pictures (a total of thirteen) available through this facility, has
recently been updated. Two more are now being added, they are VT
378, mentioned above, that concerns honey bee emergencies and VT
379. The latter is entitled: "The Queen Bee: Finding, Marking and
Clipping." It is produced by the University of Illinois and shows
Mr. Gene Killion, Extension Specialist in Beekeeping at that
institution, discussing one of beekeeping's most elementary skills,
finding and employing methods to later identify the queen. Certain
rules apply to securing use of these tapes. It will invariably be
more efficient to secure them through your local county Cooperative
Extension Office. A copy of ENY 112 is also available from county
agents or this office.
Malcolm T. Sanford
Bldg 970, Box 110620
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
Phone (904) 392-1801, Ext. 143
BITNET Address: MTS@IFASGNV
INTERNET Address: MTS@GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU