Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 12, Number 12, November 1994
Copyright (c) 1994 M.T. Sanford "All Rights Reserved"
It's that time of year again. Each December, I try to take
the opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the past 12
months as reported in the pages of this newsletter. This is the
143rd consecutive issue of APIS, continuing this publication's
reputation as the longest-running newsletter of its kind currently
distributed in the United States. In January, APIS was recognized
as a pioneer in electronic information delivery in the booklet, 51
Reasons: How We Use the Internet and What it Says About the
Information Superhighway. This publication will be distributed by
the publisher, FARNET, Inc., as part of a major effort to
familiarize elected officials about the educational potential of
the National Information Infrastructure (NII).
In the May APIS I relayed the information that many back
issues are archived at several internet sites around the country.
At that time, I also described other internet resources available
to apiculturists. A fuller description of electronic information
resources, along with availability of other computer programs, was
also published by myself, and colleagues T.R. Fasulo and J.C.
Medley here at the University of Florida. A reprint of the paper,
"Electronic Delivery of Apicultural Information," Bee Science, Vol.
3, No. 1, pp. 10-15, July 1993 is available to anyone upon
request. The latest development concerning electronic delivery of
this newsletter, accessibility via the World Wide Web, was
announced in the October issue. The World Wide Web URL is:
The African honey bee (AHB) was a hot topic in 1994. The
January APIS described the complexities involved in trying to
manage this insect in Texas. In summary, Bill Vanderput boiled it
down to: "...25 percent more stings, 25 percent more work and 25%
more sweat." The spread of the AHB was also reported in Arizona
(June), California (November), and, more ominously for
Florida, in Puerto Rico (October), proving that this insect can be
introduced by sea, as well as by migrating overland. AHB
Information resources developed in Arizona (June) and Texas,
California and USDA (April) were also described. Finally, the July
issue discussed the reasons that the AHB invasion seemed to have
stalled in Texas. The same issue discussed how scientists were
attempting to make sense of the AHB migration by using DNA to track
honey bee ancestry.
The February issue of APIS focused on apitherapy, describing
some of the activities of the American Apitherapy Society,
particularly its data collection efforts (Multi-Center Apitherapy
Study). The value of apitherapy for several illnesses was
reported, as was a comment from the dean of U.S. apitherapy,
Charles Mraz: "The only way to find out if this kind of therapy
works is to try it."
Other topics during the year included introduction of a new
citrus pest in Florida, the citrus leafminer, and what that
potentially meant to beekeepers (March), the disappearance of
pollinating honey bees (January) thought to be a consequence of
widespread Varroa infestation, use of attractants to increase
pollination potential (June) and employment of non-APIS or pollen
bees (April) in some pollinating situations.
The real possibility of fluvalinate contamination of hive
products in conjunction with Varroa treatment was discussed in
several issues (January, March and April) of this newsletter, along
with potential effects of general environmental pollution on a bee
colony (May). Bee poisoning by plants in Florida was reported in
June and the current status of the U.S. beekeeping industry in
The August issue of APIS was devoted to honey processing,
including how to get a permit, guidelines for honey house
sanitation and the recent rapid rise of adulterating activity. The
new nutritional labeling law as it applies to small firms was
described in October and November, as was Varroa control and
possible chemical resistance by mites due to heavy use by
beekeepers. Discussions of vegetable-oil patty use for American
foulbrood (September) and tracheal mite control (October) rounded
out the year.
4-H Essay Contest
Back in June, I wrote that the annual 4-H Essay Contest
sponsored by the American Beekeeping Federation needed entrants.
Since then, I have had only two (2) inquiries. Florida had no
entries last year; this means there is an excellent chance of
winning by simply entering the contest. Here are the details:
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.
This year, essayists are asked to write an original story on honey
bees, one that is suitable for a teacher to read to second-grade
students. The story can be about the honey bee family and the
members' life cycles or fancifully casting individuals in the
colony as characters. Any style is suitable as long as it covers:
*The roles each of the bees--queen, drone, worker--play in the
honey bee colony.
*The life cycle of the honey bee colony as a unit.
*The ways in which honey bees benefit humans.
The title of the story should indicate its context. Some
suggestions: The Busy Little Bee; I Like Honey; A Trip to the
Apiary; My Friend, the Beekeeper; Moving Day at the Bee Hive.
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 15, 1995.
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, 1995.
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.
Parasitic Mite Syndrome
The report by James Bach on his trip to the British Isles in
the November issue of APIS provoked some feedback. Bob Hawkes, a
beekeeper accessing the newsletter on World Wide Web, sent me these
"Last Saturday I attended the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers
Association meeting. The apiary inspection chiefs from
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia reported that they
no longer consider tracheal mites to be a serious problem. But
there is serious concern about Varroa. We have Varroa infestation
throughout much of Pennsylvania now. And this fall many
beekeepers have seen their colonies crash--the "disappearing
disease." Some have been wiped out, and the colonies went from
very strong to dead in a very short time. The experts reported
finding the same [those reported by Mr. Bach] viruses (chronic
paralysis virus and Kashmir virus) in some of these dead colonies.
So they associate these viral infections not with tracheal mites,
but with Varroa mites. Are the viruses carried by one or both? Or
are these viruses always present and their effect associated with
stress from any source? It's a frustrating yet fascinating time!"
Now comes a report in the December 1994 American Bee Journal
(Vol. 134, No. 12, pp. 827-828) on what the authors (H. Shimanuki;
N. Calderone and D. Knox) call parasitic mite syndrome. As the
they state: "...two different parasitic mites in a colony is
especially devastating because Acarapis woodi (the tracheal mite)
parasitizes the adult and the preferred host of Varroa is the
prepupae. We theorize that the parasitic mite syndrome is in some
way connected to one or both of the parasitic mites vectoring the
acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV)..." Dr. Shimanuki has
subsequently reported to me by electronic mail that 28% of the
adult bee samples with Varroa are also found to be infested with
the tracheal mite. The authors provide a list of symptoms that can
occur at any time of year and which may not all be evident at a
1. Varroa is present.
2. Adult bee population is reduced.
3. Crawling bees are seen.
4. Queens are superseded.
5. Tracheal mites may be present.
1. Varroa is present.
2. Brood pattern is spotty.
3. Symptoms resembling the foulbroods or sacbrood may be present.
These may disappear after feeding Terramycin (R), sugar syrup or
inserting Apistan (R) strips.
4. Affected brood can be in any stage and anywhere on the comb.
5. Many symptoms are similar to American foulbrood, but there is no
"ropiness," no typical odor and resultant scales are not brittle
and easy to remove.
6. No predominant bacterial type is found and no known bee pathogen
has been isolated from samples so far.
Although coincident with presence of mites, the use of
"parasitic mite syndrome" to characterize the above conditions is
not without complications. As the authors state: "It is somewhat
confusing that colonies with parasitic mite syndrome benefit from
the feeding of oxytetracycline or sugar syrup, both of which are
not known to be effective against viruses. Nevertheless they
conclude: "The effectiveness of fluvalinate impregnated plastic
strips [Apistan (R)] strongly suggests an association with Varroa
Until further notice, the authors report that they will begin
to use the term "parasitic mite syndrome" in routine reporting of
disease diagnosis from their laboratory. Persons submitting brood
disease samples to the laboratory should send a piece of brood comb
and 100 adults from each affected colony. Comb should be at least
2 inches square, wrapped in a paper bag, towel, or newspaper and
mailed in a wooden or cardboard box. The use of plastic bags,
aluminum foil, waxed paper, tin or glass should be avoided.
Address samples to: Honey Bee Diagnosis, USDA, ARS Bee Research
Laboratory, BARC-E, B-476, Beltsville, MD 20705.
The symptoms listed above, especially those associated with
adult bees, except for the presence of either or both mites, ring
familiar to many beekeepers. These conditions have often been
referred to as "disappearing disease," "autumn collapse" or "May
disease." They also remind me of those involved in the unexplained
dieoff in Florida's panhandle in 1986-1988, coincident with the
initial detection of tracheal mites in the area. First reported in
the February, March and April 1987 issues of APIS, and later
reflected on in April and March 1988, this situation culminated in
a feeding study carried out in 1988 and 1989. The results were
reported in Bee Science in 1991 [A Florida Honey-Bee Feeding Study
Using the Beltsville Bee Diet (R), Vol. 1, No. 2, pp 72-76]. I
will mail a reprint to anyone upon request.
Best wishes to all for a happy holiday season!
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
APIS on the World Wide Web--
Copyright (c) M.T. Sanford 1994 "All Rights Reserved"