Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 11, Number 9, September 1993
INSTITUTE CANCELLED--END OF AN ERA?
Florida's showcase educational event, the Beekeepers
Institute, died this year. Here at the University we are still in
shock. Although there have been huge changes in beekeeping, the
Institute was always there, seemingly as solid as a rock, something
we could count on each August to kind of wrap up the beekeeping
year. As registrations came in this year, however, it became
apparent that 1993 would be different. We had only twenty four
full-time participants by Friday, August 6, the official deadline
for early registration, with only one week to go. We needed an
additional thirty to even consider making a go of it; we got one
more on Monday after the decision to cancel had been made.
In order to put into perspective what happened, it is
instructive to look back at the history of the Beekeepers
Institute. According to Mr. John D. Haynie, author the Hum of the
Hive, the predecessor to this newsletter, the first Florida
Beekeepers Institute was held in August, 1957 at 4-H Camp McQuarrie
in Astor Park, FL with 63 persons attending. At that time, it was
decided that this would be an annual event. The next year, 94
persons registered; most came from Dade, Lake and Orange counties,
22 counties in total were represented. One hundred ten attended
the sixth Institute, 4-H Camp Cherry Lake, Madison, FL in 1962.
The tenth Institute was held at 4-H Camp McQuarrie in 1966 with 133
in attendance. At that time, Vern Davis, Phil Packard, Arthur
Brady and Ralph Wadlow were honored for ten years' perfect
attendance. Significantly, Mr. Packard died early this year
following Mr. Wadlow by just a few months. Mr. Wadlow last
attended the institute in 1992, only two months before his death,
and Mr. Packard was present in 1990.
"Honey" Haynie retired in 1971 and Dr. Dan Minnick presided
over the 15th Beekeepers Institute. Dr. Minnick said in 1972, when
he turned the beekeeping extension program over to Dr. Freddie
Johnson, "...we asked you to let us know if you wanted to continue
the Beekeepers Institute because of lack of participation (203
people representing 103 families attended the last Institute)."
How this could be interpreted as "lack of participation" is
difficult to understand, for this was the greatest attendance at
the event that I can find and coincided with what many say was the
heyday of beekeeping in Florida. "So far," Dr. Minnick concluded,
"we have heard from 214 persons of 1,800." The latter figure was
the number of persons at the time receiving the Hum of the Hive
beekeeping extension newsletter.
And the Institutes continued. Over a hundred attended the
1973 event and three more were coordinated by Dr. Johnson. In
1977, after 18 years of Beekeepers Institutes, they were replaced
for two years by a beekeeping short course held on campus at the
University of Florida, jointly administered by Dr. Johnson and
Frank Robinson. Yours truly came on the Florida scene for the
first time in 1979, invited down from the Ohio State University, to
give a presentation at the second annual short course.
By popular demand, Dr. Johnson ran two more Institutes before
I became extension apiculturist in 1981. We both participated in
the one held that year at 4-H Camp Cloverleaf in Lake Placid, FL.
I coordinated the 21st Florida Beekeepers Institute the following
year at 4-H Camp Cherry Lake in 1982. This marked the beginning of
participation by Dr. Alan Bolten, who was to be actively involved
in this event until 1987. In 1983, the venue was 4-H Camp
Cloverleaf in Lake Placid, FL, selected when acquisition of the
current site, 4-H Camp Ocala was delayed.
1984 was a pivotal year. 4-H Camp Ocala became the permanent
home of the Florida Beekeepers Institute. It was centrally
located, and most importantly, air conditioned. Because attendance
was declining, several ideas were implemented to increase
participation. A brochure was sent to the APIS mailing list
advertising the event. In addition, we began to offer open-hive
demonstrations. Finally, the event was switched to a weekend so
that more persons could attend. Previously, the Institute had been
held Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, effectively eliminating many
that were not full-time beekeepers. The strategy worked; that year
130 attended, the largest attendance in the 1980s!
Unfortunately, we were never able to come close to the 1984
participation again. Through the rest of the 1980s, attendance
limped along, averaging about 75. It fell to an all time low of 57
in 1991, but recovered to 75 for the 1992 event, the 30th Florida
After Dr. Bolten departed, we invited speakers from out of
state to help make up for his contributions. Without exception
these speakers were well received by participants, enjoyed the 4-H
camp experience immensely and were very favorably impressed with
the event. Unfortunately, partly as a result of the changes
implemented in 1984 (out-of-state speakers, bee hive rental, air
conditioned cabins, brochures), costs began to rise dramatically.
The 1981 Institute cost $16.50 per person. By 1984, the
registration fee had gone to $40.00. In 1988, it reached $65.00,
the advertised price this year.
Because the cost remained the same, we cannot attribute the
extreme drop off in registration in 1993 necessarily to that
factor. Time and again those attending have indicated that the
cost was reasonable for six meals, two nights of accommodations and
the beekeeping information received. Part of the answer for
lackluster attendance through the 1980s and 1990s may lie in the
different population the Institute now caters to.
For the traditional Florida commercial beekeeper, the event
provided a chance to relax and get together with colleagues. Many
of those people we all came to know and love, who showed up year
after year at the Institute, are no longer with us. They have been
replaced by part-timers whose energies are split between beekeeping
and other activities. For them, the Institute is no longer the
only logical option come the end of August each year. Though they
might attend on occasion, it is impossible to come every year, and
their numbers simply can't make up for the loss of the old timers.
This is exacerbated by the fact that there are fewer total
beekeepers as evidenced by the size of the present APIS mailing
list, reduced to less than half of what it was in 1972.
In essence, there has been a paradigm shift. The old-
fashioned unairconditioned, low tech, rotating 4-H camp Institute
with its smoker-lighting and hive-nailing contests was replaced by
the new-style Institute located permanently in one spot, featuring
out-of-state speakers, open-hive demonstrations, air conditioning
and video demonstrations. It, too, is apparently destined to be
replaced. The question remains with what? I hope the readership
of this newsletter and those that attended the Institute over the
years will help me to determine what format they would like the
premier beekeeping educational event in the state to take in the
OTHER FLORIDA EVENTS
Although the Beekeepers Institute will not be held this year,
there are other opportunities for beekeepers to get together. Mr.
Malcolm Bullard is coordinating an educational event September 11,
1993 in the Florida panhandle near Pensacola, FL. Details are
still being hammered out, but right now both Mr. Laurence Cutts and
myself are planning to be on hand. The focus is projected to be
queen management; open-hive demonstrations will be featured. Cost
is projected to be about $20, which includes two meals. Contact
Mr. Bullard at 904/478-7690.
The Florida State Beekeepers Association will meet November
4,5, and 6 in West Palm Beach, FL. For details, contact Ms. Eloise
Cutts, Executive Secretary, 2237 NW 16th Ave., Gainesville, FL
32605, ph 904/378-7719.
A unique event will take place in Jacksonville, FL Saturday,
October 9, 1993. A session entitled: "Bee-Tending for Backyard
Pollination" will be held at the auditorium of the Museum of
Science and Industry, 1025 Museum Circle. This seminar will be for
those interested in tending honey bees strictly as pollinating
agents. A registration fee of $1.00 per person will be collected
for the seminar along with museum admission fee of $5.00. Checks
for $1.00 per person attending must be made out to the Clay County
Horticulture Advisory Committee (CCHAC) and sent to P.O. Box 278,
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043-0278 no later than October 6, 1993.
For further details, contact Mr. Ray Zerba, Clay County Cooperative
Extension Service, ph 904/284-6355.
After the bee session, stay and see the featured exhibit,
"Backyard Monsters Will Really Bug You," an assortment of
computerized, animatronic, 100-times life size insects and
arachnids. Seating is limited and no children will be allowed in
the bee tending seminar.
Finally, in January 1994, Florida is fortunate to again host
the annual meeting of the American Beekeeping Federation (Jan. 18
through 23) in Orlando. Details will be forthcoming in the bee
journals and this newsletter. For the latest information, contact
the Secretary-Treasurer, Mr. Troy Fore, Jr., P.O. Box 1038, Jesup,
GA 31545, ph/fax 912/427-8447.
NEVER SAY NEVER
It has been brought to my attention that I may have overstated
the case last month concerning Varroa resistance to fluvalinate.
When it comes to life, it is not wise to say "never" as many of us
have learned to our dismay. In science, however, it is almost
never wise to say "definite." This word raises a red flag, because
there are generally a great many variables that cannot be
adequately controlled in most experiments. Science is in the
business of asking questions, not necessarily providing "definite"
answers, one of the reasons for much of the frustration with
scientists that many agricultural producers have on occasion.
Unfortunately, I did use this word in last month's
APIS when I said, "...a study of 72 hives which showed that
definite resistance to fluvalinate (Apistan (R) strips) has shown
up in northern Italy." With the aid of my Italian dictionary, I
can find no evidence that the offending word was in fact used in
the article. The English summary says: "The results obtained
suggest tath (sic) varroa had become resistant to fluvalinate." My
apologies to the author, Giulio Loglio, "Varroa jacobsoni Oud.:
comparsa di resistenza al fluvalinate?" Apicolt. mod. 84:7-10
Alert readers also caught a mathematical error in last month's
issue. In 1992, Florida honey production was 22,880,000 pounds.
Using the 22,880 figure I reported would have meant that Florida
colonies on the average produced less than a pound of honey surplus
MITICUR (R) NEWS
In a letter dated August 4, 1993, Hoechst-Roussel Agri-Vet
Company (HRAVC) has provided some long-sought guidance to
beekeepers concerning Miticur (R). The news does not appear to be
"Since our investigations have not identified the cause of
reactions allegedly resulting from the 300 strip packages, we have
determined in an excess of caution to also instruct all beekeepers
not to use Miticur (R) strips packaged in bags of 30 strips and to
follow the instructions set forth below. This is in addition to
the instruction that beekeepers not use strips packaged in bags of
1) DO NOT TREAT COLONIES WITH MITICUR (R) PACKAGED IN 30 STRIPS
PER BAG PACKAGES. Any unopened packages of 30 strips per bag of
Miticur (R) or unused strips originally from packages of 30's
should be stored pending further instructions from HRAVC. If you
have any unopened packages of 30 strips per bag of Miticur (R) or
unused strips originally from packages of 30's, please complete the
enclosed Request for Reimbursement and return it immediately to
HRAVC in the envelope provided (but in any event not later than
August 30, 1993). We will process your request and provide you
with further instructions as soon as possible. A legible copy of
the original invoice must accompany the Request for Reimbursement.
2) MITICUR (R) STRIPS ARE NOT REUSABLE. If you have purchased
Miticur (R) packaged in 30 strips per bag packages, and have used
those strips in a hive, then such strips should be disposed of in
accordance with the label and not reused.
3) If you have purchased Miticur (R) on behalf of other apiaries,
please advice them of this correspondence and instruct them to
4) Since we have been unable to identify the cause of the reported
reactions, beekeepers should not use Miticur (R) (whether from bags
of 30 or 300 strips) to control tracheal and varroa mites in bees.
Alternate treatment regimens should be used.
HRAVC appreciates your cooperation in this matter. If you have
questions with regard to these instructions concerning Miticur (R)
bee strips packaged 30 strips to a bag, please call 1-800-723-6516.
The Request for Reimbursement enclosed with this letter applied
only to Miticur (R) strips originally packaged in bags of 30's and
does not apply to any Miticur (R) strips from packages of 300's.
Any inquiries concerning Miticur (R) strips from packages of 300's
should be directed to NOR-AM Chemical Company at telephone number
Not specifically stated in the letter is the one burning
question beekeepers have about the product. Will it continue to be
marketed by the company? It would indeed be unfortunate to lose
the product as an acceptable alternative to fluvalinate Apistan(R)
for Varroa mite control.
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