Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 11, Number 11, November 1993
EDUCATING THE YOUNGER SET
Although most believe the concept is sound, there was never
much out there to help teachers educate school children about honey
bees. To fill this gap, "Plan Bee" is now available. It gets top
billing in the Resource Guide, published by Florida Ag in the
Classroom, and includes an 87-page lesson plan, accompanying set of
slides and a list of other materials available to help teach kids
(grades 1 through 6) all about honey bees. Plan Bee is available
free to teachers in Florida. All that is necessary is to contact
Florida Ag in the Classroom, 545 E. Tennessee St., Tallahassee, FL
32308, ph 904/487-4973. The State Coordinator is Doty Wenzel. She
will be happy to discuss the program with any interested
According to Florida Ag in the Classroom information fliers,
"If we ignore Florida Agriculture, it may go away." The mission is
to educate as many school children and teachers as possible about
agriculture. The organization is non-profit, but heavily supported
by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (the
Division of Plant Industry in Gainesville was instrumental in
developing Plan Bee), and has a volunteer board of directors.
Beyond Plan Bee, and the resource guide mentioned above, a
newsletter and booklet containing science fair ideas are published.
Besides printed resources, Florida Ag in the Classroom sponsors a
two and one-half day workshop each July in Gainesville for
educators. As noted above, teachers can become members for free;
other supporters must join by paying dues as follows: individual
($25/yr), organization ($100/yr), corporate ($250 plus $100/yr).
It would be a worthy way to spend any beekeeping association's
The National Honey Board has taken on a daunting task,
defining honey! It may come as a revelation to some that honey has
had no official definition. On further reflection, however, it is
not surprising. Imagine trying to come to grips with an adequate
description of a natural product that is infinitely variable.
After a year-long discussion with industry representatives and
others, the Board's Product Research and Development Committee has
"...a document that describes and defines our product."
The actual words used in the official definition were approved
October 9, 1993 and are subject to review every two years: "Honey
is the nectar and sweet deposits from plants as gathered, modified
and stored in the honeycomb of honey bees." That's not all of
course; several honey categories and other considerations are also
discussed in the three-page definition document. These include
honey composition, types of honey, designation of honey sources,
forms of honey, honey products, grading and methods of analysis.
Composition of honey is perhaps the most problematic topic to
deal with in defining the product. Given this fact, the Honey
Board has chosen to list an average, range and standard deviation
for major constituents. The standard deviation is an estimation of
how variable each specific item is. The higher the number, the
more difference that can be found among various kinds. The
standard deviations themselves show a large range from 70.9 (total
protein is extremely variable) to 0.126 (fructose/glucose ratio is
more consistent). The following are the actual numbers:
Average Range Standard Deviation
Fructose/Glucose Ratio 1.23 0.76-1.86 0.126
Fructose,% 38.38 30.91-44.26 1.77
Glucose,% 30.31 22.89-40.75 3.04
Minerals (Ash),% 0.169 0.020-1.028 0.15
Moisture, % 17.2 13.4-22.9 1.46
Reducing Sugars, % 76.75 61.39-83.72 2.76
Sucrose, % 1.31 0.25-7.57 0.87
Total Acidity, meq/kg. 29.12 8.68-59.49 10.33
True Protein, mg/100g. 168.6 57.7-567 70.90
Although the percentage of fructose and glucose constituents
are about the same in honeys, glucose is more variable with a
standard deviation of 3.04 as opposed to fructose's 1.77. Fructose
is the major sugar component which provides the extreme sweetness
in honey. This sugar also reduces possible crystallization in the
product; Florida tupelo honey is well known for its high fructose
content and tendency not to "sugar." The percentage of sucrose in
honey has a larger range than might be expected. Citrus honey from
Florida has been rejected in some international markets because of
its relatively high sucrose content, which is also thought to
promote crystallization. Obviously, some honeys are much more
proteinaceous than others. Perhaps this will result in some
interesting claims by producers in response to the well-known
declaration that honey is nothing more than carbohydrate!
Of all the numbers presented above, those with reference to
percentage of water are perhaps most significant to honey judges.
The standard for moisture content in honey shows has traditionally
been 18.6%. Does the upper bound shown in the official definition
(22.9%) mean that judges will have to accommodate honey in shows
with what heretofore was considered an unacceptably high moisture
content? In any case, this information will require changes in ENY
129 "Honey Judging and Standards" and ENY 130 "Moisture in Honey,"
available from this office in limited supply. The official
definition does incorporate current U.S. standards and grades of
extracted and comb honey which are quoted at length in the above
ON RESISTANCE TO PESTICIDES: THE VARROA CONNECTION
There has been a good deal of talk in these pages about the
possibility of the Varroa mite becoming resistant to Apistan (R).
To date, we have little evidence that this is indeed happening. It
seems that many reports of resistance are really cases of
reinfestation by Varroa from nearby untreated colonies or improper
treatment by the beekeeper. Nevertheless, those with experience in
the field indicate that mites developing resistance to Apistan (R)
is a real possibility.
An article by Drs. John Capinera, Chair, and Majorie Hoy,
Eminent Scholar, at the Entomology-Nematology Department,
University of Florida, in the November, 1993 issue of Florida
Grower and Rancher, sheds important light on development of
resistance by insects and mites to pesticides. It begins, they
say, with an all-too-predictable and sad scenario:
"A grower observes that a treatment which formerly was
effective for pest control no longer works quite as well. Blaming
it on the weather, the applicator, or the product is the natural
response. This is followed by increased frequency with higher
rates of application which prove temporary relief. But soon this
also fails to provide satisfactory pest control. Eventually the
problem is diagnosed as pesticide resistance. The grower scrambles
to find another pesticide which controls the pests but in doing so
experiences crop losses, higher pesticide costs--and increasingly--
lack of alternative pesticides."
Examples of the above scenario, according to the authors,
include control of leafminer on celery, diamondback moth on
cabbage, sweetpotato whitefly on tomato, green peach aphid on
potato, broad mite on peppers and two-spotted spider mite on
strawberries. The seriousness of the problem is indicated by the
fact that by 1984, some 39 percent of 171 medical and 61 percent of
164 agricultural insects and mites showed resistance to pesticides.
Most resistance has been found to the older chlorinated hydrocarbon
and organophosphate compounds, but it is also being seen in the
newer carbamates and pyrethroids.
The authors suggest that resistance principally comes from
species' ability to metabolize and detoxify poisons, but it could
also be due to behavior and other factors. They list the major
causes for pesticide resistance developing in pests as (1) high
reproductive capacity, (2) many generations per year, (3)
parthenogenesis, (4) high survivorship, (5) immigration and (6)
high initial frequency of the genes responsible for the resistance.
Experience indicates that resistance is also promoted by: (1)
close chemical relationship between previously used insecticides,
(2) high persistence of materials used, (3) broad-scale
applications, (4) frequent applications and (5) sole reliance on
chemical control. Finally, the authors conclude it is not possible
to predict when or whether resistance will occur or why there is
resistance to some pesticides and not others.
A closer look at the Varroa situation reveals that many of the
conditions above are present which favor it acquiring resistance to
fluvalinate. For example, the Varroa mite does produce several
generations per year; in fact it can reproduce whenever there is
brood. This means most of the time in Florida. It can also be
characterized as a mite with a high reproductive capacity; for
every mated female in a colony, several daughters may emerge to
continue the cycle. If each of these produces a number of
daughters, an exponential rate of increase results.
Parthenogenesis (reproduction without fertilization of the egg)
does not seem to be an important factor in Varroa reproduction.
Perhaps of most significance is Varroa's a high rate of migration
from infested to treated/noninfested colonies, as shown both within
and among in beekeeping operations (see the August and October
issues of this newsletter). In general, therefore, it can be said
that a majority of biological factors affecting development of
resistance are present in Varroa.
Operational considerations which effectively promote
resistance to insecticides by Varroa may also be working in concert
with the biological factors discussed above. Presently, there is
only one chemical labelled for controlling Varroa in a living
beehive. This is Apistan (R); it contains the active ingredient
fluvalinate, a synthetic pyrethroid. Fluvalinate is a contact
poison that kills Varroa. It will also poison bees, but the
concentration in Apistan (R) is so low that it does not appear to
harm the larger-bodied bees. Unfortunately, the product is being
used on a large scale and frequent applications are often
necessary, especially in subtropical climates. In addition, it is
known that beekeepers at present must rely totally on this one
pesticide to economically reduce the Varroa population in colonies.
This short-range fix could lead to a long-term disaster, should
Varroa become resistant to Apistan (R). There are simply no other
materials legally available which effectively reduce the mite
Whether alternative chemicals would become available for
Varroa control is problematic. The authors of the article in
Florida Grower and Rancher say that pesticides are increasingly
concentrated in the hands of only a few manufacturers that choose
to market only to producers of large crops like corn and cotton.
Fewer, in some cases, no, options exist for developing chemicals
for many minor uses. This includes beekeeping. Thus, the authors
conclude, the risk of development of resistance to pesticides must
be minimized in these minor crops. For beekeepers, this means that
Apistan (R) should be treated like the rare commodity it really is.
Just how precious is Apistan (R)? In many areas of the world,
for almost 30 years, there was no effective control for Varroa. By
the time of the product's introduction, over 140 chemicals had been
tried, most unsuccessfully, in controlling this devastating
parasite. The result was large-scale colony loss where ever the
mite was introduced. The U.S. beekeeping community, therefore,
should count itself very lucky indeed to have had a legal and
effective pesticide become available soon after Varroa was
introduced. Illegally using Apistan (R) or using alternative
formulations of fluvalinate risks reducing the effectiveness and
ultimately, the loss of this product. It should be the fervent
hope of every apiculturalist that the product maintains its
effectiveness, prolonging as long as possible the addition of
"Varroa on honey bees" to the lengthening list of pests which have
established resistance to pesticides.
AHB FOUND IN THIRD STATE
New Mexico has now been added to the list of states confirmed
to have African bees. In addition, there have been several finds
in Arizona, one very close to the California border, and Ector has
become the 69th Texas county to be quarantined.
With the AHB find in Cotton City, N.M., the New Mexico
Cooperative Extension Service began working closely with the New
Mexico Department of Agriculture and other agencies to educate the
state's residents on learning to live with AHBs, according to L.
Michael English, extension entomologist at New Mexico State
University. The educational campaign is being directed at all age
groups, starting with school children. Primary education targets
also include highway department workers, pest control operators and
others likely to come in contact with bees.
POLLINATION--A GROWTH INDUSTRY?
I have participated in two panels this year at beekeepers'
meetings on commercial pollination. At least for some, it is a
growth industry. For the first time this year, Florida bees were
trucked to California for almond pollination!
Uniform advice from these panels was that a quality
pollination service takes commitment. The beekeeper must always be
ready to get bees in and move them out of fields with very short
notice, and some kind of a backup plan should be in place in the
very real case that things go wrong. One must develop a long-term
personal relationship based on trust with the customer. A key to
this is communication. Successful pollinators are regularly in
contact with customers, even during the off season. They send out
reminders and make phone calls in advance of the coming season to
try to assess their capabilities and the growers' needs. One
outfit writes a newsletter that includes information on a wide
variety of topics.
I was happy to hear that at least one commercial pollinator
has used information I published about pollination in his marketing
efforts. "Pollination of Citrus by Honey Bees," and "Beekeeping:
Watermelon Pollination," two papers I wrote for commercial grower
conventions, are both available from County Extension Offices on CD
ROM 7 and 8. In addition, I continue to have a supply of ENY 110
"Sample Pollination Agreement," available on request.
The message from participants on both panels was clear. Given
quality service, growers are not opposed to paying top dollar for
pollination fees. There seems to be no better time than now for
every beekeeper to look closely at commercial pollination as an
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