Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 11, Number 10, October 1993
MITCUR (R) NEWS
It's official. Hoechst-Roussel Agri-Vet Co. has decided not
to market Miticur (R) bee mite strips. Although not a surprise,
this is still a disappointment to many who believed that the strips
were a much needed alternative to the one chemical now registered
for Varroa control, Apistan (R), and the use of menthol in tracheal
mite control. This action leaves the beekeeping industry one
product poorer in its continuing war against parasitic bee mites.
It also punctuates the advice that whatever chemicals beekeepers do
have to control diseases and pests should be used with utmost
caution and care.
PANHANDLE SEMINAR A SUCCESS
Well over sixty persons attended the beekeeping seminar near
Pensacola at Bear Lake Recreational Area. Malcolm "Doc" Bullard
and a dedicated local crew did a bangup job organizing the event.
The featured speakers were Mr. Laurence Cutts and myself, but
several persons assisted with invaluable information. Especially
important were contributions of Joe Robinson about local cotton
nectar resources, and out-of-towner Rich Henry (all the way from
the Florida keys) on producing and marketing round section honey.
The food was outstanding as was the camaraderie.
This event was organized by the Escarosa Beekeepers
Association as an alternative to the 4-H Camp Ocala Beekeepers
Institute, cancelled in August due to low attendance. The
enthusiasm of the group couldn't have been higher and the open-hive
demonstrations were helped by excellent weather conditions. It was
an intense two days. One was taken up with the seminar (7:00 a.m.
to 7:00 p.m.). The day before, the local arrangements committee
provided the opportunity for Mr. Cutts and me to appear on a talk
radio show and a cable television program, sponsored by Jim Porter,
President of Old South Properties, Inc., an avid beekeeper who also
attended the seminar.
The success of this panhandle seminar suggests that one-day
events of this sort held on a weekend (Saturday) would be a good
alternative to the traditional Institute. Because the audience has
changed and there are many more part-timers involved, this allows
persons to attend who would not otherwise make the trip to Ocala.
The necessary ingredient is a local cadre of committed individuals
who would find a suitable location and make arrangements. Now that
Doc Bullard and his association have some experience in this
matter, I'm sure they would be willing to share it with other
associations that might consider a similar venture. You can
contact Mr. Bullard at 9801 Lyman Dr., Pensacola, FL 32534, ph
I have received little feedback concerning the cancellation of
the August Institute. Most came from strong supporters of the
event who were scheduled to attend. Although those individuals
were disappointed that the Institute was cancelled, there has not
been a ground swell of interest in continuing the event from others
around the state. Mr. Rich Henry sent a note saying, "...I don't
think the agenda or cost of the Institute is a problem...I believe
1993 was an anomaly...the Institute would benefit from a more
intense marketing program." Perhaps, but the response to
cancellation of the event does not support this view.
Mr. Millard Coggshall, who sold his bees twenty years ago, yet
still maintains an interest in Florida beekeeping sent a picture of
a panel discussion at the very first Institute (1957) showing Prof.
Milledge Murphy, James Russ, himself, Arthur Brady and Vern Davis.
He also has a copy of the Institute's first program in 1957 (at the
time, Mr. Coggshall was president of the Florida State Beekeepers
Association) and other documents relevant to Florida's beekeeping
history which he would be willing to share with anyone genuinely
interested in the topic. You can contact him at 1740 Virginia
Drive, Clermont, FL 34711.
Mr Coggshall writes in an accompanying letter, "As you say
(September APIS), the Institute worked real good for the generation
who were in beekeeping and honey production in the 1950s, 60s and
mid 70s. They kept their bees in Florida all year...They really
looked forward to the Institute...Since the mid 1970s, most good
Florida beekeepers have been migrating to the northern 'green
pastures' seeking those big crops of high priced honey. They
aren't in Florida in August...Maybe the Institute will have to be
done by teleconferencing or some other electronic miracle then, but
I bet this, too, shall pass."
BEEKEEPING DATABASE AVAILABLE
By special arrangement with the American Association of
Professional Apiculturists (AAPA), a computerized beekeeping
database developed at the University of Florida is being made
available. This database is featured in an upcoming issue of the
apicultural journal, Bee Science. It consists of 1.4 megabytes
of text, graphics and animated images and comes complete with a
self-installation program. Several hundred screens of information
about honey bees and beekeeping are available through easy-to-
navigate menus. One animated sequence shows the decomposition of
an American foulbrood infected bee pupa into a scale. The full
life cycle of the honey bee is also graphically portrayed in a
series complete with popup windows describing each stage.
Instructions concerning the limited ability of the user to update
and print screens come with the database.
The database sells for $50.00; seventy percent of the income
derived is donated to the Department of Entomology and Nematology
at the University of Florida for further development of computer
programs involving extension entomology. The package runs on all
IBM-compatible computers equipped with a hard drive, DOS 3.1 or
higher, 640K memory and EGA, VGA or SVGA card and appropriate
monitor. Send a check with your order to Beekeeping Database, c/o
Dr. M.T. Sanford, Secretary-Treasurer AAPA, Bldg 970, Box 110620,
Gainesville, FL 32611-0620. Be sure to please specify 5.25 or 3.5
NATIONAL HONEY BOARD DOINGS
The National Honey Board has recently distributed new bulk
honey recipes for noncommercial foodservice operators such as
schools, business and cafeterias. Recipes include honey-lemon
butter for baked fish and chicken, honey tomato sauce for open-
faced sandwiches, a pear and honey dessert and honey-orange peanut
butter spread. The recipe cards are perforated and contain
information on the back about honey's characteristics, composition,
use and value-added benefits. A set of cards can be had for the
A face lift has been given the Honey Board's newsletter,
according to the Chairman, Mr. Binford Weaver. The concept is to
make the newsletter more "readable," timely and less costly to
produce. The summer, 1993 issue contains information on honey
consumers and how the new nutrition labeling law will affect honey
in the retail market. It features an article about the Booth
family in Wyoming who are promoting their product "Cheyenne Honey,"
in several venues throughout the Western states. For a copy of the
recipes mentioned above or to be put on the mailing list for the
newsletter, contact the National Honey Board, 421 21st Ave. #203,
Longmont, CO 80501-1421, ph 303/776-2337, FAX 303/776-1177.
The National Honey Board has also taken the daunting task of
defining honey. It may come as a surprise that there is no
officially recognized definition of this centuries-old sweet. The
variability of the product works against a specific definition.
Thus, the Honey Board has elected to provide an average range of
values and standard deviation for fructose/glucose ratio, percent
fructose and glucose, percent ash, moisture, reducing sugars and
sucrose, total acidity (meq/kg) and true protein (mg/100g). This
information is based on the work of Jack White, retired from the
Federal Government as a chemist, but still active in honey work.
Some 24 types of honey and honey products are proposed, along with
a discussion of grading and official methods of analysis.
Finally, as reported in the September issue of the Iowa Honey
Producers Association newsletter, the National Honey Board has
helped to change the Arabian Gulf honey standards, considered by
many to be non-tariff trade barriers restricting entrance of U.S.
honey into the Saudi Arabian market. The new standards lower the
diastase enzyme level from 8 to 3 and increase the HMF level from
40mg/kg to 80 mg/kg.
The revision was initiated following a technical seminar
conducted by the National Honey Board on May 25, 1992, along with
the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service and Saudi Arabian and other
officials of Gulf countries. "There was resistance and opposition
to changing the standard from the other major global honey
exporters to Saudi Arabia" said Bob Smith, executive director
from the National Honey Board. "However, Saudi Arabia was anxious
to allow quality U.S. honey in the market." This revision
represents expanded opportunities for U.S. honey exporters to the
Gulf states, said Smith.
THE GREAT MITE PLAGUE OF 1993
Again according to the Iowa State Honey Producers
Association's September newsletter, Mr. Harry Fulton, Mississippi
State Chief Apiarist, reports that Varroa mites have humbled some
beekeepers and showed how little is known and how much more
research is needed on the practical aspects of pest management in
Based on the unfortunate necessity of learning from
experience, it appears that two treatments (not just one during
the fall/winter) will be necessary to keep Varroa at bay in
colonies. Beekeepers in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have
experienced a devastating loss of colonies this summer, in spite
of having treated hives in the fall/winter with "Miticur Bee
Mite Strips" according to label directions. In one case, hives
were monitored by using the ether-roll technique and good control
was noted. In all cases, the hives overwintered, built up a good
population, and made a decent spring crop of honey. In July, when
beekeepers went to remove the honey (after inspecting them just 2-3
weeks earlier) they found a big portion of them dead. The ground
in and near the apiaries was covered with dead bees. The dead and
dying hives contained a tremendous number of Varroa mites crawling
on the frames. Pesticide kills were improbable since there were
no crops in the area and the apiaries were isolated from mosquito
spray programs. The only conclusion, based on the evidence, is
that Varroa killed them. But how could that have happened? They
were treated in the winter and strips were removed in February.
Where did so many mites come from?
The answer is really not too hard to figure out:
reinfestation! Unless your neighboring beekeepers treat, your
hives will become infested; or maybe you forgot to treat a hive or
two. The first thought that comes to mind is "the treatment didn't
do the job!" But, where hives were monitored, it did reduce Varroa
levels! This all points out that we must take Varroa seriously (as
the worst pest to honey bees known in the world). Beekeepers must
spend time visiting apiaries and monitoring Varroa population
levels using the ether-roll or the soapy water technique. Strips
must stay in the hives at least six weeks to get good control
because at any one time only 10% of the mites are outside the brood
cells. (Editor's note: In Iowa, if levels of Varroa exceed 10
mites in a 300-bee ether-roll test, then another treatment is
necessary even if bees were treated the previous fall or spring.)
All this adds to the advice I published concerning Varroa
mites as a community problem (March 1993) and as a moving target
(August 1993). It cannot be said too often. Continuously monitor
for Varroa or risk colony loss!
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