Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 11, Number 12, December 1993
It's time to take stock again as the old year closes. This is
the 131st consecutive issue of APIS to roll off the press. Not
only is the printed form available, however, but also the
electronic document. This year, APIS will be formally recognized
as a pioneer of the Information Age. The history of its
publication on the Internet (a collection of various computer
networks) will become one of a few stories compiled into a
publication that will be used to promote construction of the
National Information Infrastructure (NII).
Most back issues of APIS are no longer in print, however, the
electronic revolution still keeps the information, along with an
index, available to anybody with an electronic mail address.
Perhaps these files will also be part of a Gopher or accessible by
anonymous FTP in the future. For those on the IFAS Computer
Network, there are other options, including issues for the last two
years in the ONLINE database. My electronic mail address appears
at the end of this newsletter for anybody who would like to peruse
either the index or back issues.
Perhaps 1993's top subject was first the availability (January
issue) and then abrupt withdrawal from the market (October issue)
of the alternative Varroa mite treatment, Miticur (R). This was a
great setback for the beekeeping industry. As a consequence, it
will continue to have to rely on only one chemical for Varroa
control, a prescription for accelerating the development of
resistance by the parasite (November issue).
In conjunction with this, the dangers of using alternative
mite treatments for Varroa and the search for mite-resistant stock
were discussed (January). The phenomenal ability of Varroa to
transfer among colonies was also described as a beekeeper community
problem (March) and the parasite's control, therefore, as a moving
target (August), culminating in what some have called the Great
Mite Plague of 1993 (October).
The February issue detailed the search for a model management
plan, not only for disease and pest control, but other issues
beekeepers face. The question, When is a bee colony healthy? was
asked in July. Tracheal mite resistance was also discussed
(April), as well as a sampling procedure to find these parasites
Another topic addressed at some length was the African honey
bee migration. Results of research at the University of Florida on
African-European hybrids in the tropics were reported, leading to
some ideas about why they do not appear to persist in the wild
(June). The advance of the African honey bee into Arizona (August)
and New Mexico (November) was also cataloged. How the word "swarm"
is now perceived by beekeepers and others, but might have to be
modified with the arrival of African bees, was addressed (April).
Finally, this issue discusses the need for studying the biology of
A plethora of other topics were dealt with throughout the
year: bee bashing by columnists and others involved in the honey
subsidy issue (January), the life and death of beekeeping pioneer
Phil Packard (April), queen rearing on the rebound in Florida,
conserving honey quality (May), apitherapy and human health (July)
and agricultural ethics (August). The future of pollination as a
consequence of Varroa depredations on feral honey bee nests and the
hue and cry for training persons in urban areas to tend bees
strictly for pollination were also addressed (June).
Finally, an era ended in 1993 with cancellation of the
traditional Beekeepers Institute (September). This sad occurrence
was replaced by a phenomenally successful one-day beekeeping
seminar in Florida's panhandle (October). What 1994 will hold is
anybody's guess. Stick around, however, you'll be one of the first
to know as a recipient of APIS.
1994 4-H ESSAY CONTEST
The time is right to be penning an entry for the American
Beekeeping Federation's 4-H Essay Contest. The prizes for this
year's event include:
Cash prizes to three top winners:
1st Place $250.00
2nd Place $100.00
3rd Place $ 50.00
Each State Winner also receives an appropriate book about
honey bees, beekeeping, or honey.
The topic is Products of the Hive and Their Uses.
Essayists should research the subject thoroughly and cite uses of
not only honey, but beeswax and other hive products: royal jelly,
venom, propolis, honeydew, bee brood and live bees.
To get started, look for how hive products have been used in a wide
variety of ways in the past. Some of these are highly unusual,
even humorous, when viewed from today's perspective. Then answer
the questions, "what roles do hive products play in the world
today?" and "what uses do you imagine for them in the future?".
NOTE: Honey bee pollination of plants is not considered a product
of the beehive.
1. Contest is open to active 4-H Club members only. 4-H'ers
who have previously placed first, second, or third at the national
level are not eligible; other state winners are eligible to re-
2. Essays must be 750 to 1000 words long, written on the
designated subject only. All factual statements must be referenced
with endnotes; failure to do so will result in disqualification of
the essay. A brief biographical sketch of the essayist, including
date of birth, complete mailing address, and telephone number, must
accompany the essay. (The word limit does not include the
references or the essayist's biographical sketch.)
3. Essays submitted must be typewritten, double-spaced, on
one side of the paper and should follow standard manuscript format.
Handwritten essays will not be judged.
4. Essays will be judged on (a) accuracy, (b) creativity,
(c) conciseness, (d) logical development of the topic, and (e)
scope of research.
5. Essayists in Florida should forward essays directly to
Essay Contest, Dr. M.T. Sanford, Bldg. 970, Box 110620,
Gainesville, FL 32611-0620. The deadline is February 1, 1994,
earlier than usual.
6. Each state may submit only one entry.
7. Final judging and selection of the National Winner will
be made by the ABF's Essay Committee, whose decision is final.
8. The National Winner will be announced by May 1, 1994.
9. All entries become the property of the American
Beekeeping Federation, Inc. and may be published or used as it sees
fit. No essay will be returned.
FEDERATION MEETS IN FLORIDA
It's not too soon to plan to attend the annual meeting of the
American Beekeeping Federation in Florida. It will take place at
the Sheraton World Resort in Orlando, January 19-23. The program
promises to be one of the best ever. Featured presentations will
be given about NAFTA's possible impact on U.S. beekeeping, the
USDA's "new" honey program, bee research around the nation and
world, coping with African bees in Texas and Arizona, apitherapy
and the beekeeper, and managing Varroa and tracheal mites.
On Saturday, January 22, there will be meetings of special
interest sessions (package bees and queens, commercial beekeepers,
supply manufacturers and dealers, inspectors and researchers, hobby
beekeepers and honey packers). In addition, participants will be
given the opportunity to attend a wide range of educational
workshops that afternoon. Finally, on Sunday, January 23, an all-
day visit to Mike Blocker's Bee Ranch in Umatilla is planned.
Tentative events include a barbecue and bobcat/forklift rodeo to
find the fastest, most proficient driver in beekeeperdom.
Information on the meeting is available from the American
Beekeeping Federation, Inc., P.O. Box 1038, Jesup, GA 31545, ph and
fax 912/427-8447 or ph 912/427-4018. I look forward to seeing you
I am in receipt of the August 1993 issue of Bumblebeequest,
published in Canada. It contains an article on how these non-apis
bees manage to fly in cold weather and the results of a survey of
cranberry pollination by North American bumble bees. In addition,
there is information on regulations involving moving colonies in
Canada and three reviews on books recently published on pollination
biology. To subscribe (up to four issues per year are planned),
send a check for $20 to Dr. D.T. Fairey, Box 411, Beaverlodge,
Alberta, Canada TOH OCO. Phone 403/354-2212, FAX 403/354-8171.
There seems to be more and more interest about bumble bee
culture as the availability of Bumblebeequest attests. A
discussion list on the these bees and their contribution to
pollination has also been set up by Dr. Chris Plowright at the
University of Ottawa. For those on the Internet, send a subscribe
message to BOMBUS@CSI.UOTTAWA.CA. For other questions, communicate
directly with Dr. Plowright (PLOWRIGHT@CSI.UOTTAWA.CA).
HYBRID HONEY BEE BIOLOGY--A NEW FRONTIER?
Drs. Glenn Hall at the University of Florida and Orley "Chip"
Taylor, University of Kansas, teamed up recently at the Florida
State Beekeepers Association meeting in West Palm Beach to discuss
hybrid honey bee biology. Together they reported on a mounting
body of evidence suggesting that there may be surprises when the
New World feral African honey bee population meets up with the
managed European one in temperate America.
Dr. Taylor's studies of queen and worker development time in
Mexico, Dr. Hall's investigations of metabolic rates in
collaboration with Dr. Harrison of Arizona State University, and
analyses of honey production at the Escuela Agricola Panamericana
(Zamorano) in Honduras all show similar patterns. African mother
lines generally propagate better-performing hybrid offspring than
do Europeans in the first generation (called F1 by geneticists),
although European mother lines do produce viable stock. In
succeeding generations (back crosses), both African and European
mother lines become progressively less vigorous. However, the
European mother lines do so to a much greater degree.
Thus, instead of uniform hybridization between the two
populations, these investigations suggest a parental influence
skewed towards the African side in the American tropics. It was
stressed that these dynamics have been studied in mostly feral or
wild bee populations. Colony management (helping them become more
competitive) by beekeepers in the honey production study appeared
to help hybrid stock compensate. In one African-European cross,
for example, while metabolic rates were lower, suggesting a less
productive bee, honey production was almost the same level as that
of the maternal African parent.
Dr. Taylor said that in the tropics, a zone of temporary
hybridization may first appear along the feral African bee invading
front, but that population becomes more African-like over time.
How much of a hybrid African-European feral population will
eventually persist across the southern tier of states in the U.S.,
as is now found in northern Argentina, he stated, is unknown at
The reason African bees have appeared to slow in east Texas,
Dr. Taylor conjectured, is because the hybridizing front may be
meeting tough resistance from an already entrenched Varroa
population. If the hybrids are decimated by mites, there remains
a question about how long it might take the African bee to actually
reach Florida. Another possibility, he concluded, is that the
large number of nesting sites in the "Big Thicket" of east Texas
might be swallowing up the feral population for a period of time,
until it outgrows the region and again pushes eastward.
According to Dr. Hall, these studies collectively reveal that
far more attention may have to be paid to the contribution of the
African mother line when developing hybrid honey bees for beekeeper
use in the southern U.S. Simply saturating an area with European
drones or requeening with European certified stock may not be
enough to keep the feral African-derived population's influence at
bay. In the final analysis, the only way to answer many of these
questions is to intensively study the hybrid biology of African and
European bees where they collide.
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