Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 12, Number 10, October 1994
APIS AND THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Back in the mid 1980s, I first reported that this newsletter
was available through BITNET, an academic computing network. It
was a real advance for me at the time. Later, the Internet came
into being and the newsletter was put up on that network as well as
a remote bulletin board system (RBBS). Then, in January 1994, and
almost in shock, I wrote that APIS was available on the Internet
through File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Gopher, something I found
serendipitously while searching what is known as "gopherspace." In
May 1994, I reported that the last two years of this newsletter
were placed on The Ohio State University's Gopher and made key-word
Well, the accelerator on the information superhighway has been
pressed again! The University of Florida campus information system
has become a reality and so has Alachua County Freenet, giving any
local citizen free access to the Internet. The IFAS Online
information facility, which used to only be accessible to those
with accounts on our college of agriculture minicomputer, has also
been "gopherized," and is now available to the electronic world.
It contains the last four year's issues of APIS.
Meanwhile, a program capable of searching or browsing the
Internet using all the present electronic tools (FTP, GOPHER), plus
its own interface which includes graphics and sound, has taken the
Internet by storm. It's called Mosaic, and uses a language that
helps link documents together. Because of the linking feature,
Mosaic gives us a new way of looking at information via what is
called the World-Wide Web (WWW).
Fortunately, besides Mosaic, a free program for those who know
how to get it, several alternatives are available that support
graphics (i.e. Cello) or just text (i.e. Lynx). Either way, WWW is
fast becoming the preferred way to get on the information
superhighway. This is accomplished through uniform resource
locators or URLs. And APIS now has its own URL:
I look forward to comments from those using this resource.
You can contact me electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or use
the traditional address or telephone number at the end of this and
all issues of APIS.
SECOND ANNUAL SEMINAR A SUCCESS
By any measure, the second annual beekeeping seminar in
Florida's Panhandle at Blackwater State Forest Training Center in
Santa Rosa County exceeded expectations. Some fifty-five eager
beekeepers attended the event, expanded from last year to include
Friday evening. As always, the open-hive demonstrations were the
This seminar also boasted the attendance of Dr. Jim Tew,
Extension Apiculturist at The Ohio State University, and Dr. Evan
Sugden who is affiliated with Kentucky State University. The
organizers, especially one of Florida's newest bee inspectors, Joe
Robinson, should be congratulated for putting together a well-run,
informative event. Others interested in developing local
beekeeping training events of this nature would do well to contact
the organizers for their ideas.
AHB IN PUERTO RICO
Although there may be some good news for Florida beekeepers
reported in the July 1994 APIS about the African honey bee (AHB)
stalling in Texas, there was some disquieting news from Puerto
Rico. Because of a number of recent finds often near ports, the
island may soon be declared infested by the Animal Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS). The message is clear. AHB can be
introduced via ships, and Florida beekeepers and regulators should
not let their guard down in trying to detect introductions of this
successful biological pioneer.
NEW NUTRITION LABEL: WHO IS EXEMPT?
Who has not seen the new nutrition label that was implemented
earlier this year? The idea is to make nutritional information as
simple as possible while ensuring that most foods have both a label
and list of ingredients. Time will tell whether this goal will be
Meanwhile, the immediate question arose as to whether small-
scale honey marketers fall under this food-labeling legislation.
The good news is that outfits doing less than $500,000 per year
gross sales are automatically exempt from nutritional labeling
requirements. And those exceeding this gross sales figure, but
doing less than $50,000 in food sales, are also exempt. The
exemptions are automatic and require no notification of either the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services.
There is one big caveat, however. Any nutritional claims
about a product void these exemptions. Thus, advice that something
is "healthy," "packed with energy," or "low in fat" automatically
requires full nutritional labeling. To be safe, the best bet is to
only say the product is "pure honey." Although a good sales tool,
this phrase is redundant because by definition any product labeled
as honey must be "pure"--that is, not adulterated in any way. Any
labels that are even a little questionable should be faxed to Ms.
Betsy Woodward, Chief, Food and Residue Laboratories, Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, ph 904/488-0670,
FAX 904/487-6573, for her opinion.
A label change for Florida that many may not yet know about is
that a dual English/metric declaration is now required on honey
products [i.e. 1lb (454g)]. Ms. Woodward will be providing up-to-
date labeling information at the Florida State Beekeepers
Association meeting in Ft. Myers in late October. Questions about
labeling for the FDA should go to the Office of Food Labeling at
the FDA's Center for Foods, ph 202/205-5229.
FLORIDA BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION MEETS IN FT. MYERS
The Florida State Beekeepers Association will be meeting
October 27-29, at the Lani Kai Island Resort, 1400 Estero Blvd, Ft.
Myers Beach, FL 33931, ph 813/463-3111. The traditional barbecue
is set for Thursday evening. A baking contest will also take
place; entries should be delivered to the registration desk by 4:00
p.m. Thursday, October 27. Friday will consist of the program, a
luncheon (bring a "BEE" related gift) and the annual banquet.
Finally, the business meeting will conclude the event on Saturday,
The cutoff time for early registration is October 15 at $20
(after that it costs $25). Send checks to E. Cutts, 2237 N.W. 16th
Ave., Gainesville, FL 32605, ph 904/378-7719. The special hotel
rates are $49.95 single or double (king or double beds) or the
efficiency room, including a small kitchen, for $59.95. These
rates are for the Florida State Beekeepers Association meeting
only (regular prices are almost double). Rooms are limited and
reservations should be made as soon as possible.
THE VARROA SWITCH
Dr. Roger Hoopingarner in his September B-Plus Newsletter from
Michigan State University discusses a concept he calls the "Varroa
mite switch." In the late summer and fall, as honey bee colonies
stop rearing drones, Varroa mites find their preferred hosts in
short supply. Mite predation, therefore, generally "switches" from
drone to worker brood. As Dr. Hoopingarner says, "This switch
occurs the last part of August and September...If the same life
shortening effect (it is thought Varroa predation reduces worker
life expectancy by as much as one-third!) occurs in these 'winter
bees' that affects bees during the summer then the colony will lose
many bees early in the winter cycle."
Although writing for his part of the country, the "Varroa
switch" probably plays the same role throughout the United States.
Even sunny Florida is not immune. Winter bees are just as
important in the South, even more so in areas where little forage
is available. Although workers have more flying time, they may be
using valuable capital (energy and longevity) that their northern
sisters are happily conserving in their winter cluster. Dr.
Hoopingarner says the only way to increase individual and, thus,
colonial longevity, is to treat for mites when winter bees are
being produced. This means August and September in Michigan.
Beekeepers waiting longer until a colony is broodless risk their
bees being heavily damaged by mite predation, leading to less
Dr. Hoopingarner also suggests leaving the strips in for the
maximum period at this time to kill as many exposed mites as
possible. The bottom line in Michigan, he concludes, is protecting
winter bees. Then beekeepers only have to worry about nosema and
adequate food. In Florida, broodless times are all too rare, even
in November and December, and the same advice applies. Short
circuiting the Varroa switch gives the bees the best opportunity to
come through winter ready for spring buildup.
VEGETABLE OIL AND TRACHEAL MITES
In the September 1994 issue of APIS, I discussed Terramycin
(R) use in extender patties. Vegetable oil is used mainly for
controlling American foulbrood by "carrying" the antibiotic,
oxytetracycline, into the bee colony. However, there is evidence
that patties in and of themselves will also help control tracheal
mite infestation. This led to an investigation by Diana Sammataro
and colleagues at The Ohio State University reported in the Journal
of Economic Entomology, Vol. 87, No. 4, August 1994, pp. 910-916.
Two experiments were conducted: 1) summer application of oil
patties in 1991 to see if mite levels in the subsequent fall were
affected and 2) continuous exposure of colonies throughout the
In the first study, a two-time (6 June and 23 July)
application of oil patties did not affect mite populations. Mite
levels were the same in treated colonies as in controls (not
treated). The authors concluded that "well populated, established
colonies already infested with mites gained no protection from oil
patties when fed twice at peak bee populations."
The second test was undertaken at two sites to see if
continuous application would fare any better. Here significantly
lower levels of mites were found in treated colonies than in
controls. Mite populations in untreated colonies peaked between
November and February, sometimes exceeding 30 percent. In treated
colonies, the mite level rarely exceeded 10 percent.
Some general observations during the second experiment merit
reflection. There were differences seen between the two sites.
Site one had greater loss of untreated colonies (four out of six).
One colony died of starvation and three with heavy fecal soiling
appeared to have had high levels of nosema as well as mites. The
nectar flows were also poorer at this location.
At the second site, two untreated colonies had low mite levels
throughout the year. This may have been because they were
manipulated (split and requeened) later than other colonies.
Two more survived the winter despite high (51 percent-92 percent)
mite levels, and only one died.
Of the queens dissected at Site 2, some had blackened
tracheae, considered caused by mite feeding, whereas others had
light to no infestation. Two queens were also found to be heavily
infested with amoebae (Malpighamoeba mellificae Prell).
An overriding observation in this study was that in colonies
that survived winter infestation, mite levels appeared to decline
as the bee population rose in spring. This suggests an analogy to
the situation discussed above for Varroa mites. The graphical
representations also show that most differences in tracheal mite
levels between treated and untreated groups were from August
through February, critical times for colonies to successfully
winter. The authors conclude: "Our study shows that oil treatment
interferes with one or more aspects of the mite's life cycle. The
continuous presence of an oil patty with or without Terramycin
helped lower tracheal mite populations and increased colony
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