Everything Starts with a Tasty Meal by sassafrasbeefarm


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Quite literally, everything starts with a tasty meal.

In 1943 Abraham Maslow wrote a psychology article proposing a human heirarchy of needs. The short and sweet of the article is: humans start with meeting their basic needs such as food and shelter and, only as those needs are secure can we move to more advanced levels of operations.

So, what does this have to do with bees or insects? Nothing except that we probably need to understand other life forms also have a hierarchy of needs even if limited or primitive. Instead of behaviorally based it’s totally instinctual and for most it starts with food and ends with reproduction. Small Hive Beetles, Wax Moths, Yellow Jackets, and other pests are simply trying to have a tasty meal and move on to reproduction.

Our job, as beekeepers, is to interupt their ability to progess from food acquisition to reproduction. They want food; deny them access to food and they never progress to reproduction. Let this thought occupy our minds as we contemplate how to combat these pests (after all, we’re already fed so we can operate on higher Maslovian levels).

Denying food to pests: Does our bee feeding program build up the opposing armies as well as feed our bees? Do you see SHB or yellow jackets at your feeding station? Have we provided our hives with adequate defensive tools like entrance reducers, SHB traps, and “hive right-sizing” to guard and protect food stores? Are we inadvertantly announcing food availability with fragrant oils to attract pests who are actively seeking out food sources?

Using their needs against them: Bait traps can turn the tables on the pests by tricking them into thinking a food source is available. Simple, cheap traps can be made to attract these pests while NOT attracting honey bees. Poor, poor pests; can’t we all just get a snack? If they are hungry they are more likely to try that bait trap. Be careful not to create an increase in pest pressure through careless feeding of the foes.

My point is simply, if they don’t eat they don’t reproduce.

I remember some time back being encouraged to think like a honey bee. During these times of food dearth, perhaps it also pays to start thinking like a pest.

The Weakest Link by sassafrasbeefarm


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queen cage

Not the actual cage but you get the idea.

It’s been three weeks since I installed some virgin queens in some splits. Yeah a good three weeks. I’ve checked them a few times but with the daily rains for the past  eight or nine days I’ve been behind. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

I had a friend over the day after I placed them into the mating nucs. I gave him some of the virgins. He opened the first hive and no cage was obvious. “Oh, that cage dropped down between the frames. Just skip that one.”

Fast forward three weeks to today and I’m checking the those colonies that haven’t shown mated queens. I get to the hive with the ‘sunken’ queen cage figuring I’d combine it with another hive should it still be queenless. After all not much time and it will turn laying worker on me. There the cage was between the frames standing on the bottom board. I took it out and laid it to the side.

I inspected all of the frames for eggs and the queen just to be sure. None. The workers were running laps around the bottom board – how odd.

So, I was about to handle the situation when I looked at the queen cage I had pulled out and there were workers all over it. Surely not…

Then I remembered what I had seen just a few minutes earlier: The cage had slid down and the cage exit hole was sitting on the bottom board. Surely she’s dead right? Nope, she’s alive and active.

Probably has missed her opportunity to mate, but hey, let’s give her a chance. She’s been locked up for too long not to give her a chance.

The weakest link is the beekeeper.


Citrus Honey Chicken by The Thankful Heart


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And for your busy days, here’s an easy dinner, done in about 30 minutes.  It’s full of citrusy flavor with just hint of sweetness.  A little mixed rice, a bright salad and it’s dinner!

Read the full recipe at: Citrus Honey Chicken — The Thankful Heart


Funny Honey at the Zoo Reveals Bees’ Foraging on Sugar Baits by Entomology Today


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In the course of a study on mosquito movement at a zoo in Manhattan, Kansas, researchers discovered that local colonies of honey bees had foraged on a sugar bait for the mosquitoes that had been applied to foliage near the zoo. The bait had been dyed for the purpose of tracking mosquitoes that had fed on it, but the dye also showed up in much of the bees’ honey. Here, a frame from one of the zoo’s bee hives shows honey dyed red (black arrow). The bait in this case was nontoxic, but the discovery indicates a need for further study on attractive toxic sugar baits’ impacts on bees and other nontarget insects. (Image originally published in Kapaldo et al 2018, Journal of Insect Science)

Read the full article here: Funny Honey at the Zoo Reveals Bees’ Foraging on Sugar Baits — Entomology Today


Create a garden habitat to help essential bees by Vancouver Sun


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Worldwide there’s concern that the survival of many bee populations — in particular honeybees (Apis mellifera) — is threatened by several complex factors that will require a multi-pronged approach to resolve.

The loss of natural habitat, stress, the lack of nutrition, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, a parasitic mite (Varroa destructor), and many bacterial and viral diseases seem to be the prime causes of decline in all bee species.

Read the full article here: Create a garden habitat to help essential bees — Vancouver Sun


Deformed Wing Virus by Prime Bees – College Station Bee & Honey Farm


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Deformed wing virus (DWV) is a highly viral disease transmitted by Varroa destructor. The disease is commonly found in colonies infested with mites. Deformed Wing Virus is regarded as deadly due to its ability to spread fast in any colony. It causes massive wing deformation in bees making it difficult for them to live normally. DWV which is regarded as a low-grade infectious disease is commonly triggered by mite infestations. It has a reputation for being massively destructive leading to the decimation of well-established colonies globally. The deformed wing virus is common in late summer and early fall. A high concentration of mites can be overwhelming for any bee colony.

Read the full article here: Deformed Wing Virus — Prime Bees – College Station Bee & Honey Farm

Drawn Comb, Wax Moths, and Fish Bait by sassafrasbeefarm


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wax moth destruction

First and second year beekeepers! You may be pulling honey supers, extracting, and have empty drawn comb. Or maybe a hive failed leaving you with drawn comb. Drawn comb is gold! You can always buy more bees, catch a swarm, make a split, or otherwise replace bees. But drawn comb can not be purchased. Having drawn comb exponentially increases a colony’s productivity versus starting on foundation. A spring package on drawn comb typically makes honey the same year.

Beekeepers must protect their drawn comb from wax moths which will take every opportunity to destroy your bee’s legacy.

Here are a few excerpts from an email I sent discussing protecting drawn comb from wax moths:

Be thankful they are on plastic foundation. Otherwise you often have to replace the foundation. And if they are in wooden frames wax moths will actually bore holes in the wood as well. On plastic you can scrape it off and re-coat with wax for next year.

As for the freezer: You can google wax moth, life cycle, etc and find some research. It’s like anything else, dependent on temperature and length of time of exposure. Two days may be sufficient IF your freezer is at 0 degrees F. If your freezer is kept at 10 degrees F it may take 6 days. And if at 20 degrees F it may take 14 days. (These are guesses but you get the idea.)

There is a temperature range for wax moth reproduction. When the temperatures get cool enough outside they are no longer a threat. I guess there are some people with a limited number of frames who can store them in the freezer until the weather cools enough.

Every year we get posts on the discussion board with pictures saying they froze the comb for X number of days and then placed in in a Tupperware or other container and under the house or some similar dark place only to find the comb destroyed by spring. Last year in bee school a member of the class asked me about this specifically and said if he placed them in the freezer for days and then immediately placed it in lawn trash bags and sealed them completely and absolutely shouldn’t that work? I told him that “in theory” his plan would work but my experience is some eggs will hatch and if conditions are right they will destroy his comb.

On Para-moth (paradichlorobenzene) crystals: They do work but it is not a one and done application. Use them generously. Periodically check them through the storage period and replenish them as needed. They do “melt” as they release their gas into the supers. I’ve seen some people tape the edges of the supers to make a gas seal. Unfortunately this dark, sealed environment is also ideal for the moths when the para-moth dissolves and no longer provides protection.

Using open air and light: I did this one year with good success. I simply have too many supers now. Also, anything I place outside now is subject to squirrels who seem to like the comb, pollen, honey residuals.

BT (bacillus thuringiensis aizawa): Reports are, this works well. As you know it used to be a recognized method of wax moth control in bee hives but the company decided to not renew it’s license for use as such. Data used to be on the Clemson site. BT for use on crops is recognized as non chemical, organic bio control method and approved for use on organic crops. While an approved organic pest control method, it is no longer legal for use in bee hives.

I have a friend that uses BT and sprays the comb coming out of the extractor.

If you do not protect your comb from wax moths don’t despair, I understand the larvae are great as fishing bait.

You can read more about the Greater Wax Moth here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleria_mellonella

And on the Lesser Wax Moth here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_wax_moth

Overwintering success: the one thing I do differently by Rusty


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I’m posting this now instead of winter as the title might suggest. Why? Because it pertains to what we should be doing now in preparation for winter. Rusty is correct in her assumptions. It’s what we do or don’t do that gets our bees through the winter. Enjoy!

It’s official: I overwintered all my colonies once again. In fact, in seven of the last ten years I managed to pull every single colony through the bleak northwest winter. Having said that, the questions I’m asked are always the same: “What mite meds do you use?” “How long do you feed?” “What is your winter configuration?” All these queries presume that there is some magic trick to overwintering. If you only buy the right stuff, you will have no more bee problems.

The questions remind me of photography. Every time someone takes a truly outstanding photograph, people ask, “What camera did you use?” as if the camera went out and took pictures by itself. The photographer wasn’t sitting in the mud, all scrunched down at bug level, sweltering in the sun, and not breathing lest he produce carbon dioxide. He didn’t take 853 shots and discard 852 of them. He didn’t spend the next three days charging all the batteries he drained that afternoon. And he didn’t drive 349 miles and burn untold gallons of fuel to get to the place with all the right bugs.

You need to do the work

Like good photographers, good beekeepers actually do the work. Overwintering a bunch of honey bees is an art form. To me, it is amazing that any bug—not in a state of diapause or quiescence—can actually make it through such a long period of incarceration. I think we should be more surprised by colonies that make it than by those that don’t.

But in deference to those who want to know how to overwinter, I had a long think over it. I know what has vastly increased my chances of overwintering—things like moisture quilts and no-cook candy boards. My system evolved over a number of years and weathered many naysayers. I read books and asked question of engineers and architects about how things work in enclosed spaces, things like airflow, ventilation, heat loss, and condensation. Then I asked questions of biologists about nutrition and entomologists about diseases and vectors.

Read the full article here:  Overwintering success: the one thing I do differently — Honey Bee Suite


A Curated Collection of Beehive Cams by Grove Greenman


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A collection of beehive cams that includes views from inside a hive, a zoom camera the viewer controls in an apiary, and lots more.

Visit all the Honey Bee Hive Cams here: A Curated Collection of Beehive Cams — Grove Greenman


Honey Barbecue Pulled Chicken by Frugal Hausfrau


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I wish we all had time to stand in front of the barbecue and have parties on the deck (or by the pool if you’re so lucky) but man, sometimes we’re just busy and need to eat! That’s when this big batch of Honey Barbecue Pulled Chicken is a lifesaver.

Read full recipe at: Honey Barbecue Pulled Chicken — Frugal Hausfrau

Happy Birthday Brother Adam


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From Wikipedia:

Karl Kehrle OBE (3 August 1898, Mittelbiberach, Germany – 1 September 1996, Buckfast, Devonshire, England, UK), known as Brother Adam, was a Benedictine monk, beekeeper, and an authority on bee breeding, developer of the Buckfast bee.

“He was unsurpassed as a breeder of bees. He talked to them, he stroked them. He brought to the hives a calmness that, according to those who saw him at work, the sensitive bees responded to.” – The Economist, 14 September 1996


Due to health problems Kehrle was sent by his mother at age 11 from Germany to Buckfast Abbey, where he joined the order (becoming Brother Adam) and in 1915 started his beekeeping activity. Two years before, a parasite, Acarapis woodi that originated on the Isle of Wight had started to extend over the country, devastating all the native bees, and in 1916 it reached the abbey, killing 30 of the 46 bee colonies. Only the Apis mellifera carnica and Apis mellifera ligustica colonies survived.

He travelled to Turkey to find substitutes for the native bees. In 1917 he created the first Buckfast strain, a very productive bee resistant to the parasite. On 1 September 1919 Adam was put in charge of the abbey’s apiary, after the retirement of Brother Columban. In 1925 and after some studies on the disposition of the beehives he installed his famous breeding station in Dartmoor, an isolated model to obtain selected crossings, which still works today. From 1950 and for more than a decade Adam continued his gradual improvement of the Buckfast bee by analysing and crossing bees from places all over Europe, the Near East and North Africa.

In 1964 he was elected member of the Board of the Bee Research Association, which later became the International Bee Research Association. He continued his studies of the Buckfast bee and his travels during the 1970s and received several awards, including appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (1973)] and the German Bundesverdienstkreuz (1974).

On 2 October 1987 he was appointed Honorary doctor by the Faculty of Agriculture of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences  while in search of a bee on the Kilimanjaro mountains in Tanzania and Kenya, which deeply moved him and he saw as the official recognition of the scientific nature of his research. Two years later he was appointed Honorary doctor by the Exeter University in England.

On 2 February 1992, aged 93, he resigned his post as beekeeper at the Abbey and was permitted to spend some months in his home town Mittelbiberach with his niece, Maria Kehrle. From 1993 onwards, he lived a retired life back at Buckfast Abbey, and became the oldest monk of the English Benedictine Congregation. In 1995, at age 97, he moved to a nearby nursing home where he died on 1 September 1996.

Video series on Brother Adam: The Monk and the Honey Bee Parts 1 – 5



Mite Treatments by What Should I Be Doing With My Bees This Month?


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Mite treatments will be the hot topic for all beekeepers very soon. Look at the graph above about the bee and mite population and the timeline. The Varroa population lags the bee population, up until early September. Then the mite population keeps increasing as the bee population goes down. This high infestation of mites damages the bees physically and also exposing honeybees to viruses. This high infestation of mites is what kills honeybee colonies.   Beekeepers need to stop this rising mite population during the month of August before the Varroa population explodes. Looking at the graph one can see there is a sharp rise in the month of August in the mite population. Treating colonies in September in many cases is too late. The bees may be so damaged by the rising mite population that they cannot recover.

Read the full article at:  Mite Treatments — What Should I Be Doing With My Bees This Month?

Beekeeping Calendar for August


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As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my offering for the beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of August:

Plan on checks twice this month but be brief when opening hive to prevent triggering robbing.

Monitor and control pests – Varroa, Small Hive Beetles, Yellow Jackets.

It is now critical that the beekeeper assess Varroa levels and treat this month as needed. (If you have not treated yet you, most likely, will need to treat.) Varroa mites are now out-breeding your bees. Fewer drone cells means they will start entering more worker cells. It is equally as critical that you determine the effectiveness of your treatments by measuring Varroa levels post treatment. Do not assume that a treatment was effective. Establishing a healthy population of bees now will be reflected in your fall bees and ultimately in your winter bees. Allowing your bees to maintain a high mite load now will result in poor preparation of fall bees and sickly winter bees later. Of course, depending on your current mite level your bees may not get to winter if this is left unaddressed. If you are seeing deformed wing virus you most likely have a serious case of mites and a high virus load and need to take action now.

Dearth continues this month. Even if you left the bees plenty of honey consider feeding a thin syrup to provide hydration. Syrup is quick and ready for the bees to utilize as needed helping them keep the brood fed, cool the hive, and keeping the hive at 50% – 60% humidity. Monitor stores, remembering they are not bringing much in and will consume what is currently stored as we continue through dearth.

August will be your last opportunity to obtain local Midlands queens. Early contact with your local supplier is suggested.

1) Treatment options for Varroa control are now limited due to the extreme Midlands heat in August. Options include oxalic acid vaporization, Hopguard II, or  ApiVar and other hard chemicals. If using oxalic acid, a series is suggested.

2) Implement pest control measures to contain Small Hive Beetles and Yellow Jackets.

3) Monitor and reduce entrances to assist the bees with guarding. Be exceptionally careful to not spill syrup or drip honey when working colonies.

4) Re-queen as necessary.

5) Unite weak colonies with stronger colonies if no disease is present.

6) A small upper entrance may be beneficial with venting excess heat – depending on your colony strength staple a screen to prevent unwanted visitors yet allow ventilation. Or use popsicle sticks between the inner and telescoping covers to allow heat to escape.

7) Remove colonies from mountains and extract Sourwood honey.

8) Cotton bloom has already started but you still have time to place colonies on upcoming soybeans.

9) If you have not been feeding, harvest summer honey on any remaining colonies. As it is getting late in the season, leave at least one super of honey for bees.

10) Monitor pollen supply coming in to hive. We occasionally see a late summer pollen dearth that lasts a couple weeks depending on weather. Some locations produce more pollen than others. Bees must have pollen just as they must have nectar or syrup in order to create brood food and to maintain a healthy immune system. Monitor pollen stores by observing the presence of pollen on brood frames and the frames on the edges of the brood nest. If your colony needs supplemental pollen consider feeding dry pollen or substitute in open pollen feeders. Do not use pollen patties as they create SHB problems here in the  Midlands. More here: Pros and Cons of Feeding Dry Pollen Substitute.

11) Starting the last week of August begin to increase your syrup feeding using a 1:1 mix and provide enough to stimulate brood production. Monitor stores as well. The goal is to start raising the nurses that will raise the nurses that will ultimately raise your winter bees. It is important that you begin to raise well fed and healthy bees free of mite loads, and viri now. Do not let sick or compromised bees do the job of raising your winter bees.

12) It’s also time to start monitoring stores to ensure you will reach the goal of one full super for winter.

13) Register your entries at the South Carolina State Fair (free until September 1st).

14) Start preparing your State Fair entries – wax and honey.

15) Attend your local monthly meeting. Volunteer to educate the public on the importance of honey bees by signing up to work a shift at the upcoming SC State Fair booth.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.


Honey Bee Speed: 100 Flowers Per Hour by 67steffen



The typical honey bee (female forager) will visit 100 flowers in an hour’s time before returning to the hive to drop off collected pollen. The bee will repeat this process about ten times in a day. I like to say the honey bee travels at a speed of 100 FPH, even though it  beats it wings around 12,000 times per minute.

View original article here: Honey Bee Speed: 100 Flowers Per Hour — 67steffen

Bee Stings and Nectar Dearth by sassafrasbeefarm


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One of our own took a few stings to the face last night. It seems instinctual for bees to go for the face.

If you’ve just started keeping bees you’re going to be asked by your friends and family, “Do you get stung?” I typically am cordial and say, “Yes, sometimes.” Then in an effort to be a good bee ambassador I go on to minimize the sting and tell them stings to the hands and arms are not so troubling. I also have a tendency to lift up the honey bee by maligning the yellow jacket. If any yellow jackets are reading this I apologize.

The true fact of the matter is, I just don’t like being stung! So, just a reminder for everyone to suit up or get yourself a veil for quick chores. Especially new beekeepers may fall victim to the bees’ gentleness during the nectar flow. Yes, they are most typically gentle during the nectar flow but even then things like queenlessness, an overcast, drizzly day, or entry early or late in the day may draw unwelcome attention from guards or foragers in the hive. Yes, you may get away with opening them up for changing a feed jar 20 times before one day when you pull that cover and wham!

And then the dearth comes. New beekeepers out there need to know that our Midlands area nectar flow will take a sharp turn downward very close to the beginning of June. It doesn’t turn off, but nectar in excess of colony needs will. This happens at a time when colony population is booming as a result of spring growth and times of plenty. What happens is those numerous foragers now become unemployed. Often they will head out in the morning and “clean up” what nectar is available early in the day, then hang out at home afterwards. It’s hot, nectar is becoming scarce, they’re crowded, and ready to guard their honey stores from other colonies also out looking for food. Also, yellow jackets and other pests may be on the increase which makes them more defensive than normal. My point being, that docile, gentle nature you have become used to during the current nectar flow will become more defensive after the nectar flow so let’s get in the habit now of suiting up or wearing a simple veil. Don’t be the test case for when dearth starts in the Midlands.

Could Beekeeping Save the US Political System? by Married with Bees


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Beekeepers have some amazing qualities. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get our politicians to be more like beekeepers?

Read full article here:  Could Beekeeping Save the US Political System? — Married with Bees


Spinach Strawberry Salad with Honey Dressing byFarm, Garden and Beyond


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What a great way to use fresh Summer produce and compliment anything that you are tossing on the grill.

Get the full recipe here: Spinach Strawberry Salad with Honey Dressing — Farm, Garden and Beyond


DIY Beard Balm by Keeping Backyard Bees


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Beard balm is a leave-in conditioner that softens, moisturizes, and helps style your beard. The beeswax in beard balm offers a light to medium hold, but its main job is to seal in moisture. A well-made beard balm will also condition the skin, leaving it soft and moisturized. Beard balm is a thicker, more moisturizing product than beard oil.

Read full recipe for beard balm here: DIY Beard Balm — Keeping Backyard Bees

Safety in the Bee Yard by sassafrasbeefarm


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Safety is always important but summer heat, dearth behavior, harvesting, and other factors make it especially important to talk about it now that dearth has started and the summer heat is upon us.

Your suit/jacket/veil: Make sure your jacket and especially your veil is “bee tight.” Holes in your veil, which you may have been ignoring. will be found by the bees this time of year. If you need a new jacket this year, consider one of the newer light weight ventilated jackets to help with the heat. And just a reminder to double check your zippers before opening the hives.

Gloves: You may have tried going gloveless during the nectar flow and had success. You may still have success. Don’t throw your old gloves away though. You may find having them handy a good idea for times the bees object to your presence.

First aid kit: I keep an old small metal Band-Aid box in my yard bucket. In it I have:

1) an old expired plastic card similar to a credit card for scraping stings out. I usually use my fingernail but having a card may come in handy and is actually probably more efficient in removing stingers with minimal injection of venom.

2) Benedryl, StingEze, Aspirin, Tylenol

3) Bandaids, tweezers, alcohol wipes.

I also have a chemical ice pack in my yard bucket and always a spare bottle of water.

You can quickly overheat in the summer while working your bees while wearing multiple layers of clothing and headgear. Last year, when out in the heat of the day, I started wearing one of those bandanas that absorb water (gel). For Christmas my kids found some fancy ones that hold a bit more water. I have not tried the new ones yet but the old ones worked well. A fellow beekeeper showed me a handy trick once when she poured a bottle of water into a cloth diaper and wrapped it around her neck before putting on her jacket.

Drinking Water: It’s not enough to have a backup bottle of water. Have multiple bottles of water close by when working your bees on hot days. Take frequent breaks. Hydrate!

EpiPen: A company has started selling generic Epipens for $10 through our local box store CVS pharmacy. I am not allergic but at my next doctor’s visit I’ll be asking for a prescription and will keep one with me on bee yard visits.

Cell Phone: A few years ago I stumbled when my foot hit a root stob while I was turning with a heavy box. I dislocated my knee and went down. I managed to reduce the dislocation and get back to the house but it made me think, “what if…?” Make sure you take a cell phone with you. It may be the most valuable safety equipment you pack. Also,  there’s no harm in telling someone where you’re going before you go out either.

Summer in the “famously hot” Midlands of South Carolina can be especially difficult on the beekeeper as well as the bees. Take extra precautions to ensure your safety in the bee yard.

In Praise of Bees in Our Yards by Kingfisher Journey- Marina Richie


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A burly bumblebee nose dives into the unfurling gold petals of a California poppy and vanishes. I lean ever closer until I’m a foot away. The bee spirals up and out, bearing pollen on her legs. Off she hums to the next flower, almost bumping into the honeybees plying the summer morning air.

Read full article with some awesome pictures here: In Praise of Bees in Our Yards — Kingfisher Journey- Marina Richie


Life without fumagillin by Alison McAfee | Honey Bee Hub

The only registered treatment for Nosema disease is no longer commercially available. On April 12, 2018, Medivet Pharmaceuticals Ltd. – a company based out of High River, Alberta – announced that they were closing their doors. And shutting down Medivet means shutting down production of the world’s supply of fumagillin, in the form of their quick-dissolving product, Fumagilin-B.

Read full article here: Life without fumagillin — Alison McAfee | Honey Bee Hub


Types of bees by Fat Daddy’s Apiary

Apis mellifera honey bees are also known as “western honey bees” and “European honey bees”. It is considered that many of the “pure” bees aren’t totally pure due to interbreeding from other sub-species (races). This has come about in the last few hundred years because man has moved bees into areas they were previously excluded […]

Read the full article here: Types of bees. — Fat Daddy’s Apiary

Beekeeper’s Journal by sassafrasbeefarm




I’d encourage all new beekeepers to maintain a journal. There are commercial beekeeping journals available with hive inspection sheets and other features but any old notebook will do. You will appreciate your journal next year when you’re trying to remember when the nectar flow started, when you first saw white wax, swarm dates, when various plants started blooming, when dearth began, and much more. These events have a direct bearing on your hive management such as making splits, adding boxes, removing reducers, treating for mites and hive beetles, etc. Keeping a journal will make you a better beekeeper, more observant, and increase your enjoyment and knowledge of what’s happening with your bees.


Alcohol wash to get a mite count in a beehive by Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association


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This gallery contains 5 photos.

This is an excellent article on assessing mite counts in your beehives. Thanks to J.Morgan, Karen Ferguson and SIBA for …

Continue reading

Sugar Free Lemon, Chia, Honey Cakes by Gourmet Casa Kitchen


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Coming home I felt revitalised to get on with the never-ending chores and to-do’s though feeling much more centred and energised. I even managed 45 mins before leaving to pick up the kids to whip up some of my favourite afternoon treats. My Lemon, Chia, Honey Yoghurt Cakes ready and waiting for the troops to come for then the chaos begins…

Get the full recipe here: Sugar Free Lemon, Chia, Honey Cakes — Gourmet Casa Kitchen

Protecting your Drawn Comb by sassafrasbeefarm


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wax moth destruction

First and second year beekeepers! You may be pulling honey supers, extracting, and have empty drawn comb. Or maybe a hive failed leaving you with drawn comb. Drawn comb is gold! You can always buy more bees, catch a swarm, make a split, or otherwise replace bees. But drawn comb can not be purchased. Having drawn comb exponentially increases a colony’s productivity versus starting on foundation. A spring package on drawn comb typically makes honey the same year.

Beekeepers must protect their drawn comb from wax moths which will take every opportunity to destroy your bee’s legacy.

Here are a few excerpts from an email I sent discussing protecting drawn comb:


Be thankful they are on plastic foundation. Otherwise you often have to replace the foundation. And if they are in wooden frames wax moths will actually bore holes in the wood as well. On plastic you can scrape it off and re-coat with wax for next year.

As for the freezer: You can Google wax moth, life cycle, etc and find some research. It’s like anything else, dependent on temperature and length of time of exposure. Two days may be sufficient IF your freezer is at 0 degrees F. If your freezer is kept at 10 degrees F it may take 6 days. And if at 20 degrees F it may take 14 days. (These are guesses but you get the idea.)

There is a temperature range for wax moth reproduction. When the temperatures get cool enough outside they are no longer a threat. I guess there are some people with a limited number of frames who can store them in the freezer until the weather cools enough.

Every year we get posts on the local discussion board with pictures saying they froze the comb for X number of days and then placed in in a Tupperware or other container and under the house or some similar dark place only to find the comb destroyed by spring. Last year in bee school a member of the class asked me about this specifically and said if he placed them in the freezer for days and then immediately placed it in lawn trash bags and sealed them completely and absolutely shouldn’t that work? I told him that “in theory” his plan would work but my experience is some eggs will hatch and if conditions are right they will destroy his comb.

On Para-moth (paradichlorobenzene) crystals: They do work but it is not a one and done application. Use them generously. Periodically check them through the storage period and replenish them as needed. They do “melt” as they release their gas into the supers. I’ve seen some people tape the edges of the supers to make a gas seal. Unfortunately this dark, sealed environment is also ideal for the moths when the para-moth dissolves and no longer provides protection.

Using open air and light: I did this one year with good success. I simply have too many supers now. Also, anything I place outside now is subject to squirrels who seem to like the comb, pollen, honey residuals.

BT (bacillus thuringiensis aizawa): Reports are, this works well. As you know it used to be a recognized method of wax moth control in bee hives but the company decided to not renew it’s license for use as such. Data used to be on the Clemson site. BT for use on crops is recognized as non chemical, organic bio control method and approved for use on organic crops. While an approved organic pest control method, it is no longer legal for use in bee hives.

I have a friend that uses BT and sprays the comb coming out of the extractor.

If you do not protect your comb from wax moths don’t despair, I understand the larvae are great as fishing bait.

Always Something New in the Beeyard by sassafrasbeefarm


The thing about beekeeping is there’s always something to do and something to learn.

In the Spring the chores and responding to situations can get overwhelming but with our eyes on the approaching end of the nectar flow, we try to maximize the time we have remaining with nature’s help.

Now we enter dearth period. For most this is definitely not as appealing as Spring when nature offered up its bounty of nectar to support our efforts. One thing that beekeeping has taught me well is to stay ahead of the needs of the hive. Knowing what comes next is what makes us beekeepers rather than beehavers. The bees themselves are on schedule and living in the now. We must pave the way to make their now a success.

So, keywords for summer are: pest control, and food management.

Pest Control is all about staying ahead of the problem. Primarily we have varroa, small hive beetles, and wax moths.

Varroa is undoubtedly the most deadly and difficult management problem. Deadly because the mites are vectors for deadly viri which will decimate your colony. Difficult largely because 1) they aren’t very visible and 2) you don’t get much of any warning before collapse occurs. I’ve used the analogy of a flu virus going rampant through a college dormitory when talking to others and that seems to be mostly accurate – one day someone has a cough and fever; the next day everyone in the dorm is bedridden with symptoms. Your method of dealing with varroa is a decision you’ll have to make. At a minimum you might simply want to start with a mite count using the sticky board method, sugar shake, alcohol wash, or ether roll and go from there. I know a number of beekeepers who pull their honey off and then proceed to treat using one of the many treatment options. Timing can be key with many treatments as some treatments have temperature restrictions. For South Carolina that may mean waiting too long takes some of the treatment options off the table.

Small hive beetles are another summer pest that you will want to get ahead of. These little pests will multiple inside your hive and destroy the food stores of the colony. I have seen them run a colony out of a hive (abscond) due to pest pressure. And I’ve seen colonies fail to progress due to beetles taxing the resources of the colony. I’ve also seen a colony recover and thrive once the beetles are under control. But don’t wait for a situation to develop before getting them under control. Now is the time to use one or more methods to keep them in check: place oil traps, barriers, and / or dry microfiber pads before the situation develops. Get ahead of the problem and there will not be a problem.

Wax moths are a management problem. They are opportunists looking for a weakened hive in which to run amuck. The solution is simply to keep your hive strong. Easier said than done you might say. But “strong” doesn’t mean maintaining a six box high hive full of bees. It means managing your hive such that they are strong with the boxes they have. I look at my hives daily and if I see a hive declining in population (maybe no bees at the entrance) I look inside with the idea a box needs to come off. Push your bees into a smaller space such that there are always a few bees standing around the entrance. This is what is meant by keeping a hive “strong enough” to defend itself.

Food management: The other big management goal during summer is food management.

In class we covered the ideal hive configuration size going into winter as approximately the size of 2 ten frame deeps OR a single ten frame deep + a medium. I have a friend that configures for winter with a ten frame deep and a shallow and he does just fine in our South Carolina winters.

Depending on when you acquired your bees this year you may have already satisfied this goal. Some will have more than they need already and they can relax a bit and let the bees consume some of their stores. Others may still need to feed their bees to get to this goal or to encourage more comb building. You’ll have to figure out where you are with your goals and manage accordingly by feeding if needed or pulling some off now for use later in the fall or winter, or otherwise managing the hive so that you begin working through your management techniques, towards the ideal size I mention above.

In closing, the above is my opinion based on what I have been taught by my mentors, read, experienced, failed at, and found success with while managing my bees. Your opinions and results may vary from mine. That’s okay.

To the (bee) Veils! by sassafrasbeefarm


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By now all the new beekeepers have watched a bunch of YouTube videos showing people without any personal protective equipment handling swarms, doing hive inspections, and maybe even wearing bee beards. Even while visiting mentor and bee buddy bee yards they have seen gloveless inspections and shorts being worn by more experienced beekeepers while handling their bees. A walk through the bee yard or a quick trip out to deliver a jar of syrup is usually done without formal wear. These sorts of super-human feats of coolness are typically performed during nectar flows.

Introducing dearth, a seasonal period when the available nectar is less than colony day-to-day needs. Hungry, irritable bees. Foraging bees with nowhere to ply their trade, jobless and loafing in and around the hive. And I don’t know about you but, like the Snickers commercial, I too am just a bit grumpy when I’m hungry.

Act One, Scene One: Older bees with their fully developed venom sacs hanging out at home, irritable and ready to defend their precious stores of honey goodness.

For the beekeeper dearth means you too must make changes in the manner in which you conduct yourself around the bees.

1) Wear your protective equipment. Once the nectar flow ends I begin wearing my veil even if just walking though the bee yard or exchanging a jar feeder. You may have 1,000,000 honey bees out there but it only takes one bee having a bad day. A sting between the eyes can turn your pleasant evening stroll into a evening on the couch with an ice pack coupled with periodic and annoying questions from family members.

2) Work your bees during mid-day when the foragers are out of the hive. Depending on the size of the hive, the number of ill tempered foragers not in your way makes a big difference. A hive filled with mild mannered nurse bees is a pleasure compared to cranky guards and foragers. Also, avoid working on days that keep the bees from flying like rainy or windy days. I have noticed that if we get a mid-day rain shower the foragers will return and, during dearth, many will stay home even if the sun comes back out – learned that the hard way.

3) When going into the hive suit up, use smoke, move slowly, and get out when they tell you – when you hear them increasing their “roar.” Your time inside may be limited so work efficiently. Don’t feel you “must” look at everything regardless of them being annoyed. If you’re showing a friend your bees and yammering away then go briefly into a few hives rather than keep one open too long.

4) Start to look at how your body mechanics affect the bees while working them. Are you frequently moving your hands across the top of the frames as you break apart the frames. Instead, use your right hand to break the entire line of bars along the right side then do the left side (with your left hand preferably). Pull the frames closest to you first so you don’t reach across any more than needed. Don’t stand in front of the hive. If possible, try working from the side of the hive instead of the back and you won’t be reaching across them as much. If you have multiple boxes and you “must” inspect to the bottom take the tower of boxes off first and inspect from the bottom, adding one box back at a time rather that stirring them up in each box as you work downward. And finally, if you have to shake bees off the inner cover, out of a box, or elsewhere, save that until last – no need to stir them up while you still have work remaining.

5) When all else fails walk away. You may even have to walk away, wait a few minutes and return to close them up. And if you do get stung, after you take care of yourself, take a picture. We’d like to welcome you to the club!


Happy Birthday Dr. Elton James Dyce


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elton james dyce

July 15, 1900 — February 23, 1976

Dyce was best known for his process for controlling the crystallization and fermentation of honey leading to the popular creamed honey. His process is used throughout the world in all major honey-producing countries.

Professor Emeritus E. J. Dyce served as assistant professor, associate professor, and professor of apiculture in the University’s Department of Entomology for twenty-three years. He had retired on December 31, 1965. A native of Ontario, Dyce served as demonstrator, lecturer, and professor of apiculture at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, now Guelph University, from 1924 to 1940. He was the first manager of the Finger Lakes Honey Producers Cooperative in Groton, New York, between 1940 and 1942; in that position he worked to develop a wide market for New York State honey.

Dr. Dyce was born and raised in Meaford, Ontario. He obtained his B.S.A. from Ontario Agricultural College in 1923. He earned his M.S. degree at McGill University where he was a Macdonald scholar. He obtained his Ph.D. degree at Cornell under the direction of Professor E.F. Phillips.

The Dyce Process

Dr. E. J. Dyce, then professor of Apiculture at Guelph University and later Professor of Apiculture at Cornell University, developed the first practical process for making a granulated honey in 1928. Dyce later patented the process and in Canada gave the patent rights to the Province of Ontario. In the United States the rights were given to Cornell University. Much of the money earned in the United States was invested and the income is still used to support research on bees and honey at Cornell. The patent has now expired and anyone may manufacture and market the product.

Some Facts About Granulation And Fermentation

When Dyce began his studies there was little known about honey granulation and fermentation. He was aware that all natural honeys contain yeast. When the moisture content of the honey is somewhat above 19 percent, these yeast cells grow, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeasts found in honey are not the same as those used to make alcoholic beverages or bread but belong to the genus zygosaccharomyces. However, carbon dioxide may be produced in such quantity in fermenting honey as to burst the drums or containers in which the honey is packed. The foul odor produced by fermentation makes the honey unmarketable. If it is not damaged too badly it may be used as bee food.

When honey granulates a small amount of the water in honey is taken into the sugar crystals. However, the quantity of water so contained is not proportional to the amount of water in the honey. Thus one may have a jar, drum or container of partially crystallized honey in which the liquid fraction has a moisture content higher than that of the original honey. When this occurs the honey may ferment. Dyce recognized that if he was to control the granulation of honey he must first pasteurize the product. Any seed crystals he added must also be made from honey, which had been pasteurized.

Dyce found that the optimum temperature for honey granulation is 57’ F. There has been much conflict about this question in the literature. Many people were of the opinion that a fluctuating temperature speeded up granulation; Dyce showed this was not true. Most granulated honeys will have a firm texture six to 14 days after the introduction of seed crystals if held at the proper temperature. In commercial practice rooms used for holding honey the process of crystallizing are held within 10’F. of the optimum temperature.

Pasteurization of honey destroys the nuclei on which crystals might grow. Dyce found he could introduce previously granulated honey, that which had been ground and the crystals broken, into honey to be crystallized.

These crystals are called starters. When five percent of a ground, finely granulated honey was introduced into newly pasteurized honey there is a sufficient quantity of seed to produce a high quality, finely crystallized honey. In commercial practice most firms use eight to ten percent starter; under ideal conditions less may be used. An important factor is that the seed crystals must not be warmed too long and thereby caused to melt partially.

Dyce processed honey

Dark, strong flavored honeys have a lighter color and milder flavor when made into a finely granulated honey; this fact has led some packers to use less than desirable honey in making granulated honey. Honeys used to make granulated honey should be of table quality. The optimum moisture content is 17 ½ to 18 percent; in the northern states 18 percent in winter and 17 ½ percent in summer; in the southern states 17 ½ percent is used throughout the year. The moisture content of a crystallized honey has a great effect on its hardness and therefore its spreadability. Honeys which have a higher or lower moisture content will be too hard or too soft and will not spread properly when spread at room temperature. The first step then is the selection and blending of honeys of proper color and moisture contents.

Honeys to be processed by the Dyce process need not be filtered. In fact, filtering removes certain of the natural elements present in honey, especially pollen. The honey should be heated to about 125’F at which temperature it should be carefully strained. Dyce recommended the honey next be rapidly heated to 150’F and then cooled rapidly. This temperature is sufficiently high to kill the yeast present. Prof. G.F. Townsend of Guelph University showed that yeasts in honey were killed if it was held at 160’F for one minute or 140’F for 30 minutes or some equivalent combination of time and temperature between these two extremes. In commercial practice e there is time involved between heating and cooling the honey, which also has an effect on yeasts. If the honey in a bulk tank is heated to 150’F and then cooled, even under optimum conditions, it will have heated enough to kill any yeast cells present.

The Starter Crystals

For a starter one uses granulated honey, which has been previously made by the Dyce process. It is not satisfactory to take previously granulated honey from the grocer’s shelf to be used as seed since the high Temperature at which this honey is held in a store will have started to melt the crystal nuclei present. One method of obtaining a yeast-free, finely granulated honey to use as a starter is to grind with a mortar and pestle a small amount of coarsely crystallized honey that had been heated (pasteurized) previously. The honey must be ground very finely and preferably at a temperature in the vicinity of 57’F as the crystals may melt at higher temperatures. The honey into which the crystal nuclei are introduced must also be cooled before the starter is added. Most of the grinders used for starter for Dyce crystallized honey are homemade or modifications of meat or food grinders on the market.

Air and Crystallized Honey

Honey which is in the process of granulating and which is held at lower than room temperatures is viscous. Often a number of air bubbles are incorporated into it in the process of cooling and/or adding the seed. These small air bubbles may rise to the surface of the product and give it a white frothy appearance. This white froth may be avoided by allowing the honey to settle a few hours before it is packed, or packing and cooling the honey rapidly so the air bubbles are incorporated into the final product. The air has no objectionable effect on the flavor.

Granulated honey in glass may pull away from the glass. The honey may assume a white froth-like appearance between the honey and the inside of the glass. Customers usually do not realize what has happened and may think the honey has spoiled or become moldy. (Mold cannot grow on or in honey.) It is for this reason that granulated honey is usually packed in tubs or glass jars with labels that wrap completely around the container.

Stack Heat

The seed crystals are usually added to the cooling honey when the temperature has reached about 75’F. It is very difficult to force honey to flow at lower temperatures. This temperature is higher than desired but if it is not held too long little damage is done. However, when cases of newly packed, crystallized honey are placed on pallets or trucks the cases must be carefully spaced so that air can flow between and around the cases. If this is not done the stack of newly packed jars will retain heat. This heat could have an adverse effect on seed crystals and cause them to be less effective as crystal nuclei.

Shelf Life

Properly made granulated honey has a long shelf life, longer than most liquid honey. Honey packers have observed that they may make and hold granulated honey for long periods of time, much longer than they would have stored packed, liquid honey. Granulated honey made and held under controlled conditions retains its fine texture, color, appearance and taste. There is probably a wider market for honey in this form than is now being exploited.


Crystallized Honey By Roger A. Morse

Cornell University Memorial Statement

Patent Application and Description of Creamed Honey Process

Books by Elton J Dyce:

Dyce, E. J.

Dyce, Elton J.

Scapegoats and Witch Hunts by sassafrasbeefarm


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“The Witch, No. 3” circa 1892 Feb. 29. by Baker, Joseph E., ca. 1837-1914, artist.

I’m calling journalistic foul on the spate of recent articles I have seen placing the honey bees at odds with native bees.

So, who’s today’s scapegoat in the blame game on bee decline. Today’s top scape goat is apis mellifera. Seems like the latest press release being picked up by several publications is a report that honey bees are severely impacting native bee species. The researchers imply that honey bees, in the numbers kept by beekeepers, are so thoroughly diminishing the nectar and food sources that the native bees are having a hard time surviving. They admit that as a society we need and demand foods requiring pollination but add that the honey bee is to blame for the troubles of native bees. One article I read says the solution may be to eliminate feral honey bees. (After all we don’t want to step too hard on the toes of those ensuring we have our almond milk.)

I had to laugh as, for the most part, feral honey bees have already been decimated due to the Varroa mite. If reducing feral honey bees was a solution then it should have been offered as a solution 30 or 40 years ago when we actually had populations of ferals. I’m involved in a local study of feral honey bees and I can tell you that, even in the countryside of the largely undeveloped rural areas we are studying, even finding feral honeybees is a challenge. I believe the truth of the matter is these authors aren’t looking for a solution but rather 1) a step towards a general acceptance that non-native honey bees are to blame and perhaps 2) an angle to obtain research funding using the honey bee as “a problem” to be studied. Or perhaps it’s just a quick fix and human nature to point the finger at  someone or something for every issue nowadays. I say Hogwash.

Do I think we can overpopulate areas with honey bees? Well, yes in some instances honeybees are overwintered and at other times placed in stock yards awaiting pollination contracts. But I can also offer an instance not considered by the native bee enthusiasts. An instance probably a thousand fold more frequently encountered. I have lived on poor, sandy land for the past 16 years. When I moved here the foliage was scant. So scant in fact that even insects and wildlife were equally scant. After introducing honey bees I have visibly seen an increase in both quantity of nectar producing plants as well as an increase in native bees. How? Keeping honey bees has greatly increased the pollination of the local nectar producing plants which in turn has increased their seed production and reproduction. Now, the area foraged on my the bees has become much more attractive and productive to all species of bees. It is not uncommon for me to now see dozens of flowering plant species in the nearby fields that were not present or minimally present even 5 years ago. And nowadays there are many more native bees on flowers during the day when the honey bees are home bearding on the hive or working a brief nectar flow on a flowering tree.

My take on this is that as humans we simply find it of some psychological benefit to  play the blame game in this matter – someone or something must be at fault. And Apis Mellifera, that newcomer, non-native must be at fault. Yes, forage is at a premium these days and yes, all bees need forage. But I’m not buying the implication that the decline of native bees is largely to be blamed on honey bees. Apis mellifera mellifera was introduced to North America in 1622 – that’s 396 years ago. Since 1622, many changes to our environmental landscape have occurred, largely due to man. But now, apparently ignoring history but with an overabundance of historical shortsightedness, some journalists are misreading the scientific studies and placing the blame of a lack of forage on honey bees? There is a lengthy list of reasons we have gotten us to our current state of affairs with regard to habitat and lack of forage. Journalists need to look a little more to the obvious if the intent is to truly find solutions to native bee declines.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne



winnie the pooh

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think.  Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”             -A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Introducing Queens by Lytchett Bay Apiaries


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Whenever a new queen is introduced to the existing colony there is always a chance your worker bees will not accept her, and the result of this could be the death of your new queen – no matter which method of introduction you use.

The main things you need to be sure of when introducing a new queen, whether it be into a full colony or nucleus, is that you do not have a virgin queen or indeed a mated queen that has simply gone off lay in your colony. You need to ensure you have removed all queen cells or queen cups, shake the bees off the frames if necessary to find the queen cells they hide in the edges of the frames. Also ensure you do not have laying workers in your hive.

Read full article here: Introducing Queens — Lytchett Bay Apiaries

Flexibility in Beekeeping by sassafrasbeefarm


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Our local club President, Danny Cannon, delivered one of the best lectures I’ve ever sat through at a MSBA meeting a few years ago. It was titled Flexibility in Beekeeping, Being Flexible in Beekeeping, or some such similar title.

That lecture keeps ringing through my brain lately and for good reason. One of the components of the lecture was moving backwards as easily as we move forwards in our management. For instance, recently I’ve been playing musical chairs with supers, frames, and bees. Let me explain.

In the Spring it’s all about adding, expanding, and growth around here. Things seem to get bigger. A lot of addition taking place – boxes, hive stands, and new hives. The thinking is, If I can stay ahead of them with “more” they won’t swarm. Add, add, add. Grow, grow, grow. Feed, feed, feed. Pollen, pollen, pollen. Gotta add more boxes! Look and act – usually with more, more, more. Find a swarm and be flexible enough to have an extra stand, bottom board, and box – capture, and add to the apiary. And that’s how most of the management goes in the Spring.

And then comes the post flow Summer, Fall, and Winter management. But can I break that addiction to adding? Can I be flexible enough to read the bees and the situation? The queen will slow her production down as nectar wanes and more so when the days start getting shorter. Can I tap the brakes, slow down, make changes? I’m just too reluctant to pull that super off that I worked so hard to build them up to needing. Or maybe they’ve swarmed and the hive is half empty now, yet I want to leave those boxes on in hopes they will build back up – and they very well might if I’m flexible in my management!

Maybe a queen fails and it becomes noticeable at the hive entrance that activity has slowed. But it’s hot and I’d rather not look inside; say it isn’t so because I’d really rather not track down a new queen. Or I have two hives that are in steep decline, should I combine them with stronger hives? After all, I have a vision of how many hives I need to complete the mental picture I have of my hives sitting on their designated hive stands in my well designed apiary. I want X number of hives not X – 1 hives.

And so, I return to the topic of flexibility. Can I be flexible enough to respond appropriately during these months post nectar flow? Oh, it’s difficult. But if I don’t employ the same discipline of flexibility in removing unpopulated boxes, combining weak hives, or replacing a failing queen what penalty is paid? Unlike the threat of swarms in the spring, the lack of flexibility now is paid for with increased pests, hive failures, and loss of valued comb. Hives no longer able to cover comb with bees allow Small Hive Beetles to go unchecked and run amuck in nectar. Worse still is the bane of Wax Moths that move in on weakened hives and steal your most precious resource – your hard earned comb. Weak and declining hives need to be combined with strong hives and I must look at that empty spot on the hive stand and tell myself that maybe a split may be possible later in the year or at least next Spring.

It’s all flexibility. I’ll read the bees as best I can, make adjustments, go with the flow every time I visit the apiary or open a hive. It’s a roller coaster with ups and downs, round and rounds, bright lights and dark tunnels. When I get off the ride I don’t say I enjoyed the ups but not the downs or the round and rounds. No, really I enjoyed the ride itself. Be flexible.

Happy Birthday Charles Martin Simon




Charles Martin Simon was born on July 8, 1941, at 6 A.M., in Newark, N.J. He graduated from Montclair Academy, a private, pseudo-military high school famous for it’s state-of-the-art dress code and discipline, in 1959, and went on to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where he majored in Agriculture and English Literature.

He was always a writer, having started his first novel in 1948, at the age of seven, and always a nature boy, therefore the split major. But after two years at Rutgers, he realized the agriculture he was being taught was not the agriculture he wanted to learn, and it was only going to get worse. He’d had enough of castrating sheep, calculating chemical fertilizer specifications, and murdering chickens. His English literature studies weren’t much more promising. The high point came when the editor-in-chief of the College Literary Magazine, who, although never having learned to write himself, went on to become the has-been of an illustrious career as the Clinton Administration’s Poet Laureate, recognized Simon’s writing and asked him to take over the magazine, which offer Simon graciously declined.

Simon dropped out and drifted for a few years and then went to California and became part of the organic farming movement, as a partner in a 21-acre piece. Believing strongly in non-mechanized farming, he worked the farm completely by hand from 1967 until 1977. And that was where his involvement with bees began in earnest in 1967.

The 21 acres cost $5,000 originally, but when the partners were offered $350,000.00, they just couldn’t resist. Simon voted against the sale, arguing that the ten years put into the land was worth more than any amount of money. He was outvoted, the land was not divisible, and he lost the farm.

But he did not lose the bees. He was able to keep them on various pieces of property and continue with bee culture, since it is not dependent on stable locations as are horses, chickens, goats, gardens, and orchards.

In 1990, he invented and began marketing world-wide the SuperUnfoundation bee frame. This was well-received and selling well when the price of wood doubled and then tripled. It suddenly cost more for the raw materials than he could get selling the finished frames, and he was out of business. Never one to accept things “as they are” and being much more interested in the health of the bees than in their produce, he is developing an apiculture system to allow the bees to actualize their true potential vitality and really solve the varroa and many other bee problems.

Simon had no hobbies, having followed Henry David Thoreau’s advice to make one’s vocation and avocation one. He operated a one-man bee and wasp removal service and cared for bees in several locations. He also helped people overcome disease and get healthy and stay healthy.

And he wrote, with twelve books in print. He self-published, executed every part of the book process himself: conceived, wrote, edit, designed, formatted, printed, cut, bound each volume by hand. His books are in stock in a few bookstores and available from all bookstores via the ISBN system, but he sold mostly direct to the public at CharlesMartinSimon.com.

Reference: http://beesource.com/point-of-view/charles-martin-simon/

Happy Birthday Edward Bevan


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Gentle Bee! bright example to mankind of industry, economy, concord, and obedience! What triumphs, what wonders, dost thou not achieve! It shall be our delightful task to talk of thee, to write of thee; and if we talk not, and write not, pleasantly, then, indeed, the fault is in-ourselves, and not in thee. Sweet is the sound of thy mourning hum, attuned to music, when thou revellest on some gay bank of purple heather, visiting bell after bell in quest of their ambrosial essence, heaven-distilled! Sweet is the air around thee, air impregnated with the breath of flowers! Sweet is the joyous concert of feathered choristers above and about thee! Sweet is the memory of those few happy days when we have drunk freely of scenes like these, and basked in the early sunshine on some fragrant bed of thyme, “ dazzled and drunk with beauty ”-—the beauty of nature. ~The entomological magazine, 1835, Volume 2, Page 270. By Bevan, Edward, M.D.

The Biography of Edward Bevan.

Edward Bevan M.D. (July 8, 1770 – January 31, 1860)

The Honey Bee: its Natural History, Physiology, and Management. By Edward Bevan, M.D. was first published in London, 1827. The critics in 1827 write of Bevans book; “The latter part of the last century and the commencement of the present, have given birth to a considerable number of valuable tracts, elucidating the Natural History and Physiology of the Honey Bee, as well as several regular treatises on its management; but the work before us, by Dr. Bevan, is the first possessing any claim to the character of scientific.”

Bevan, Edward, M.D. (1770-1860), physician and an eminent apiarian, was born, in London on 8 July 1770. Being left fatherless in early infancy, he was received into the house of his maternal grandfather, Mr. Powle, of Hereford, and at the age of eight was placed at the grammar school, Woottonunder- Edge, where he remained for four years. He was afterwards removed to the college school at Hereford, and it having been determined that he should adopt medicine as a profession, he was apprenticed to a surgeon in that town. He then proceeded to London, was entered as a student at St. Bartholomew’ s Hospital, and during three sessions of attendance on the lectures of his instructors Abernethy, Latham, and Austin, he acquired the honourable appellation of ‘the indefatigable.’ His degree of M.D. was obtained from the university of St. Andrew’s in 1818. He commenced practice at Mort-lake as assistant to Dr. John Clarke. After five years so spent he settled on his own account first at Stoke-upon-Trent, and then at Congleton. There he married the second daughter of Mr. Cartwright, an apothecary, one of the last of the ‘ bishops ‘ of a sect called the primitive Christian church. After twelve years’ residence in Cheshire, his health not bearing the fatigue of a country business, Bevan again returned to Mortlake, and practised there for two years, but with a like result. He thereupon retired to a small estate at Bridstow, near Ross, in Herefordshire, where he devoted himself to the development of an apiary which he found already established on his newly acquired property. Previous to this he had, in 1822, assisted his friend Mr. Samuel Parkes in the preparation of the third and revised edition of the latter’s ‘ Rudiments of Chemistry.’ The first edition of his book on bees was issued in 1827, with the title, `The Honey- Bee : its Natural History, Physiology, and Management.’ This treatise at once established the author’s reputation as a scientific apiarian, and was read wherever the bee is regarded as an object of interest. The second edition, published in 1838, is dedicated to her Majesty. In it the author has included much new and valuable matter. A third edition, by W. A. Munn, appeared in 1870. Bevan also wrote a paper on the ‘ Honey-Bee Communities ‘ in the first volume of the ‘ Magazine of Zoology and Botany,’ and published a few copies of ‘ Hints on the History and Management of the Honey-Bee,’ which had formed the substance of two lectures read before the Hereford Literary Institution in the winter of 1850-51. He had from 1849 fixed his residence at Hereford, where he died on 31 Jan. 1860, when within a few months of completing his ninetieth year As a public man Bevan was shy and retiring, but was much beloved in the circle of his private acquaintances. It is recorded as a proof of the esteem in which he was held, that on the occasion of a great flood in the Wye, in February 1802, washing away all the doctor’s beehives, a public subscription was raised, and a new apiary presented to him, of which, as a very pleasing substitute for what he had playfully called his ‘ Virgilian Temple,’ the venerable apiarian was justly proud. Bevan was one of the founders of the Entomological Society in 1833.



Portrait from: The Zoologist: A Monthly Journal of Natural History, 1839, Page 142

Dictionary of National Biography
by George Smith – 1885
Page 444



Berry Honey Milkshake by BEEKeeping: Your First Three Years


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You can use non-fat milk, ice cream or yogurt if you wish

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • 2-1/2 cups strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 small mint sprigs (optional)

In blender combine all ingredients except mint. Blend about 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately in tall chilled glasses. Garnish with mint sprigs if desired. Makes four servings.

via Cooking with Honey — BEEKeeping: Your First Three Years

On my Varroa Soapbox, Understanding Varroa Risk by sassafrasbeefarm


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It’s no mystery that Varroa mites are the single most problem facing honey bees and leading to large percentages of colony deaths a year.

Understanding Varroa Risk. We either understand the enemy or he defeats us. The good news is, once understood I can understand the mite’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Conquering the mites means I can enjoy my bees much like generations of beekeepers before me enjoyed their bees. In addition, my bees perform better, make more honey, make more bees, and I don’t have the number of odd, random incidents occur in the apiary. All this results when we perform one management task – Varroa assessment, management, and control.

View the video below by Meghan Milbrath at Michigan State University for an excellent review of understanding the Varroa risks and assessing Varroa in your colonies.

Happy Birthday Robert Evans Snodgrass


Source: Wikipedia

Robert Evans Snodgrass (R.E. Snodgrass) (July 5, 1875 – September 4, 1962) was an American entomologist and artist who made important contributions to the fields of arthropod morphology, anatomy, evolution, and metamorphosis.[1]

He was the author of 76 scientific articles and six books,[2][3] including Insects, Their Ways and Means of Living (1930) and the book considered to be his crowning achievement,[4] the Principles of Insect Morphology (1935). (ed note: Also The Anatomy of the Honey Bee)

R.E. Snodgrass was born in St. Louis, Missouri on July 5, 1875, to James Cathcart Snodgrass and Annie Elizabeth Evans Snodgrass, where he lived until he was eight years old.[1] He was the oldest of three children. His admitted first ambition in life was to be a railway engineer or a Pullman conductor, though frequent visits to the St. Louis Zoo aroused his early interests in zoology.[1] His first recollections of entomology were recorded by E.B. Thurman:[1]

The first entomological observation which Dr. Snodgrass recalls is seeing that the legs of grasshoppers, cut off by his father’s lawnmower, could still kick while lying on the pavement. This apparently mysterious fact made a strong impression on him, and he decided that sometime he would look into the matter.

In 1883, he and the his family moved to Wetmore, Kansas, where his father worked in a local bank, and young Snodgrass began work as a self-taught taxidermist.[1] He had a particular interest in birds, even expressing a desire to become an ornithologist, though his family only allowed limited shooting of birds for his mounted collections. At age 15, the family again moved, this time to Ontario, California, where they settled on a 20-acre (81,000 m2) ranch and grew oranges, prunes, and grapes.[1] It was here that Snodgrass entered a Methodist preparatory school at the high school level, then known as Chaffey College.[1] He studied Latin, Greek, French, German, physics, chemistry, and drawing, but notably no biology because the curriculum forbade involving the teaching of evolution.[1] Snodgrass bypassed this problem by reading Darwin, Huxley, and Spencer in his free time.[1] His openly professed belief in evolution caused him problems in his relationships at home, and eventually resulted in being expelled from church activities in his community.[1]


In 1895, at the age of 20, Snodgrass entered Stanford University and majored in zoology, taking classes such as general zoology, embryology, entomology with Dr. Vernon Lyman Kellogg, ichthyology with then Stanford president Dr. David Starr Jordan, and comparative vertebrate anatomy. His first opportunity to conduct research came from Dr. Kellogg, who set him to work on the biting lice (Mallophaga). The excitement of research, and the prospect for publishing original work led to his giving up the desire to become an ornithologist,[1] and the publication of his first two science articles (works 1, 2). During this time, Snodgrass also participated in his first two field expeditions, the first to the Pribilof Islands led by Dr. Jordan, and the second to the Galapagos Islands, led by Edmund Heller.[1] Snodgrass eventually published seven papers with Heller regarding organisms collected during the Galapagos expedition[1] (works 3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 16, 19). Snodgrass graduated from Stanford University with his A.B. degree in Zoology in 1901.

He was awarded the 1961 Leidy Award from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Illustrations from Anatomy of the Honey Bee by R.E. Snodgrass

[5Photo Source: https://hpsrepository.asu.edu/handle/10776/185

Source: Wikipedia




Happy Birthday Frank Benton


1511652_695255597195606_238998393290147706_nThe Biography of Frank Benton
(July 5, 1852 – February 28, 1919)

Frank Benton – born July 5, 1852, in Coldwater, Mich. His education was obtained in the public school of that city and in the Michigan Agricultural College. He taught for a few years in rural schools and in the University of East Tennessee. but soon abandoned this work for beekeeping.

For many years Frank Benton was prominently identified with the beekeeping industry of America. He spent 12 years abroad, living in Cypress, Beirut, Syria, Germany, and Austria, investigating the different races of bees in those foreign countries, and exported thousands of queens from numerous subspecies shipping them to all parts of the world. He was the inventor of the Benton cage for shipping queen bees. The cage is used almost exclusively in the modern queen shipping industry, allowing for convenient transport of bees over long distances.



Benton Bee Cage


In 1890, he took a position in the United States Department Agriculture, as the first Apiculture Specialist. During his administration of the Department of Apiculture at Washington he occupied very much of his time in the investigation of the various kinds of bees, and traveled much abroad in this work. He was especially interested in the big bee of India, the Apis dorsata, and tried to acclimate them in this country. His administration of the department was a stormy one, but today no one questions the right purpose of his great enthusiasm, and his devotion to the cause and advancement of beekeeping.

His contributions to the beekeeping industry in America are many, if relatively unknown. Besides being the inventor of the Benton queen shipping cage, he exported thousands of queens from numerous subspecies, adding to the genetic diversity of A. Mellifera in the New World. Ironically, many of the bees he imported were not popular with beekeepers, who stopped managing them in favor of gentler races. In 1899, while with the Department of Agriculture, Benton wrote The Honey Bee: A manual For Apicultural Instruction, a 118 page guide for new beekeepers.

He wrote many articles on bees for different publications and was the inventor of the mailing cage known as the “Benton cage.” He was a linguist, speaking fluently several languages. Searching for the big bees of India for Apis Dorsata, be contracted jungle fever. which was the beginning of years of ill-health for him and caused his retirement from active labor, but not from continued interest in apiculture. He sought some betterment of his condition in the warm climate of Florida. Death occurred at Fort Myers, February 28. Benton remains one of the lesser known figures in beekeeping, largely because he lived during a time when critical labor-saving and profit-making making devices, such as the moveable frame hive and the centrifugal honey extractor, were invented, and the Italian honey bee rose to prominence in American beekeeping; by comparison, his contributions seem modest Upon his death in February 1919, the American Bee Journal published an obituary and a short travelogue about Benton (Anonymous 1919); but, apart from a mention of his importations in Pellett’s History of American Beekeeping, little else was written of his work.

Benton’s Travels

American Bee Journal – 1919 – Volume 59 – Page 307

Early in 1880, Frank Benton. went abroad, where eleven eventful years were spent in travel and study, and in investigating the honeybees of Europe, Asia and Africa. Apiaries were established on the Island of Cyprus and in the Holy Lands at Beirut. Syria. In the winter of 1880-81 Ceylon, India. Farther India and Java were visited and extensive collections and studies were made of the native bees of those regions. It was on this expedition that the “jungle fever” was contracted, which ultimately claimed its own. but only after many years of active service had intervened. The winter of 1882-3 found Dr. Benton a student at the University of Athens, and the years 1884-86 were spent at the University of Munich, where he all but completed his work for the doctorate. He was granted the Master of Science degree by the Michigan Agricultural College in 1885 in view of his studies abroad; and some years later the degree of Se. D. was conferred upon him by the Oriental University of America for similar studies. During the years spent in Munich several trips were made to Cyprus and Syria, and on one occasion Tunis and the African coast were visited and the bees of these regions studied. Italy was visited by the way as was also the little province of Carniola, in southern Austria, with the result that the four years from 1886-90 were spent in the fastnesses of the Carnic Alps in investigating, breeding and giving to the world the docile bees native to these mountains.

In 1890 Dr. Benton was commissioned by Dr. C. V. Riley, the United States Entomologist at Washington, to proceed to the Orient for the purpose of carrying on further investigations of the giant bees of India, and to study and import the Blastophaga wasp from Smyrna in the interest of establishing the Smyrna fig industry in California. Unfortunately, this commission passed Dr. Benton on the high seas, as he had already sailed from Hamburg for New York in December of 1890, after an absence from his native land of eleven years.

On ‘his arrival in America Dr. Benton was offered a chair in modern languages at Cornell University, and at the same time came an offer from the United States Government to go into scientific work at Washington. It was not an easy matter to decide, especially for one so rarely gifted in both fields of endeavor. But at the parting of the ways Dr. Benton, at the age of 39 years elected to go into scientific work, thereafter ‘becoming only indirectly identified with academic life as an occasional lecturer. He proceeded to Washington in July, 1891, ‘the proposed trip of exploration abroad being held in abeyance for the time being. and fourteen years intervened before this second journey was finally undertaken.

It was not until June, 1905, that Dr. Benton finally undertook his second tour of apicultural and botanical exploration which became a world embracing expedition, and everywhere he was welcomed and given the highest attention and every consideration by both scientific workers and members of apicultural societies and of the apicultural press. One leading periodical in summarizing his work closed with the statement, “Happy America that can speed such a man on such a journey!”—an index of his appreciative reception abroad. The overland route through the Balkans to Constantinople was followed and from thence the Caucasus was visited, where, in spite of the Russian revolution of that year, much data of value was collected, and representatives of the Caucasian races of bees imported. During the height of the revolution the Bishop of Armenia extended to Dr. Benton the hospitality of his monastery at Erivan, where Dr. Benton took refuge for several weeks until able to proceed to Baku on the Caspian Sea, from which point the long journey inland through Asia was started. Turkestan and Bokhara were visited, from where was imported the Turkestan melon, now becoming extensively grown in this country as a table delicacy. Turning southward, Dr. Benton organized a caravan, traveling a thousand miles through Persia, reaching Teheran early in January, 1906, and India the fore part of March. During the next seven months every part of India was visited, from Quetta in the northwest to the jungles of Assam, front the plains of Jubbulpore to the Himalayas of Simla and Darjeeling. and extensive studies made of the native honeybees which were captured and kept under observation in experimental hives. The guest of His Highness, the Maharaja of Kashmir, Dr. Benton had placed at his disposal a herd of elephants and retainers which greatly facilitated the work of exploration that he was engaged in. Finally, in September, the Philippines were reached and several months were spent in a long tour of this thousand-mile archipelago. At Zamboango, in Mindanao, Dr. Benton was very ill with fever contracted in the jungles of Assam, but despite these difficulties, he was able to rally and continue his work of investigation. The homeward journey was made by way of the Chinese coast. and some time was spent in Japan, Dr. Benton reaching America early in 1907, after an absence of nearly two years, with his long-planned journey an accomplished fact.


American Bee Journal, 1919 – Volume 59 – Page 197

Frank Benton and His 1881 Search for Apis Dorsata, by James P. Strange

Gleanings in Bee Culture, 1919 – Volume 47 – Page 244

American Entomologist, 2001 – Volume 47 – Page 116

Queen Rearing – 1962 – Page 11 -By Harry Hyde Laidlaw, John Edward Eckert

Image: The American Bee-keeper – February 1906 – Page 35


Happy Birthday Roger A. Morse


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Roger Alfred Morse was born July 5, 1927.

Roger A. Morse, who turned a childhood interest in beekeeping into an encyclopedic knowledge that made him one of the best-known apiculturists in the world, died May 12, 2000 at his home in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 72.

Dr. Morse, an entomology professor at Cornell University for more than 40 years, was a quiet man of fluid motion — traits that served him well in a field that often put him in intimate proximity with thousands of bees.

That is not to say that he did not get his share of stings. Four days before his death, he visited his laboratory and returned home with what proved to be a final trophy. ”He died with a little bee sting on his eye,” said his daughter Susan.

A prolific author, Dr. Morse straddled the worlds of professional beekeepers and amateur ones, whose numbers in the United States are put around 200,000. Although much of his renown came from such popular books as ”The Complete Guide to Beekeeping” (E. P. Dutton), which for many beekeepers is almost as much a necessity as the hives themselves, Dr. Morse’s knowledge was widely sought by commercial beekeepers around the world.

These beekeepers not only produce honey but play a vital role in pollinating vast swaths of cultivated land: in the United States alone, about $10 billion worth of crops each year are pollinated entirely or partly by bees.

Dr. Morse traveled the world, often for the United States Department of Agriculture, teaching local beekeepers from Africa to South America how to improve their craft.

”There wasn’t any subject that you could bring up in the area of bees and beekeeping that he couldn’t discuss with you,” said Philip A. Mason, a corporate lawyer in Boston who worked as Dr. Morse’s last graduate student while he was on a sabbatical from the business world.

Roger Alfred Morse was born July 5, 1927, in Saugerties, N.Y. His father, Grant, a superintendent of schools, kept bees as a hobby and instilled the interest in his son. Roger Morse began tending his own hives when he was about 10, his family said.

After serving in the Army in Europe from 1944 to 1947, he enrolled at Cornell, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and, in 1955, his doctorate. He joined the faculty about two years later, and from 1986 was chairman of the entomology department. Over the years, he also taught in Helsinki, Brazil and the Philippines.


When he was not thinking about how to improve the general practice of beekeeping, he was looking at the intricate network of bee societies. Scientists have long been fascinated by the complexity of the hives and their elaborate division of labor, in which roles are assigned ranging from queen to, in essence, undertaker.

”If you want to understand sociology in this world, there is nothing like the honeybees,” Dr. Morse said in a 1991 interview.


He spent much time studying the incursion of the Africanized bee, a cross-breed known popularly, if fancifully, as the killer bee, which escaped from a laboratory in Brazil in the 1950’s. The bees’ reputation for aggressiveness made for many scare stories as they made their way north, eventually arriving in this country in the early 1990’s.

Dr. Morse, though, was more sanguine than many. He suggested once that after the bees began mating with local species, they might end up strengthening the domestic bee population. ”I’m not saying these bees are kittens, but they can be worked with,” he said in an interview in Popular Science magazine.

He was more worried about two forms of mite — tracheal and varroa — that in recent years have been ravaging wild bee populations, forcing commercial beekeepers to monitor their hives vigilantly. Dr. Morse estimated that in the mid-1990’s, as many as 45 billion bees from 750,000 hives had been killed by the mites.


In addition to his daughter Susan, of Ithaca, Dr. Morse is survived by his wife, the former Mary Louise Smith, whom he married in 1951; another daughter, Mary Ann, of New York; a son, Joseph, an entomologist at the University of California at Riverside; a sister, Jean Kallop of Voorheesville, N.Y.; and a brother, Stanley, of Millbrook, N.Y.


At Cornell, in addition to his other teaching duties, Dr. Morse taught the introductory beekeeping course and, as recently as last fall, a laboratory course on practical beekeeping. In the early 1960’s, an article described how he had figured out a way to lure swarms of bees to follow him wherever he walked. The trick was to carry filter paper saturated with the ground-up queen bee mandible glands.


Dr. Morse also maintained his own hives at home, and he did so using the same sort of utilitarian approach he urged on his readers.

In ”A Year in the Beeyard” (Charles Scribner’s Sons), he wrote: ”My apiaries are not picturesque; my combs are not uniformly free of drone comb; and not all of my equipment is well painted.


”Still, I manage to harvest a reasonable amount of honey every year. More importantly, in the occasional year when conditions are perfect, I can make sure that my hives are filled with honey. At these times beekeeping is the most fun.”

He often gave the honey away to acquaintances, which endeared him to them. But not so much, perhaps, as when he was a graduate student at Cornell and writing his thesis on mead, the wine made from honey. His fellow students often benefited from the fruits of his research.

”I was very popular at school,” Mr. Mason recalled Dr. Morse saying.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/05/21/nyregion/roger-a-morse-expert-on-bees-sweet-science-dies-at-72.html

A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly by sassafrasbeefarm


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A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly.

Proverbial bee-keepers’ saying, mid 17th century; meaning that the later in the year it is, the less time there will be for bees to collect nectar and pollen from flowers in bloom in preparation for winter..


Over Wintering Nucs- A Better Way by Michael Palmer


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I used to buy bees, lots and lots of bees; singles from South Carolina, nuclei from Florida and frames of brood from New York. I used to buy queens, lots and lots of queens; queens from Georgia, queens from Texas and queens from California. Every year it was the same. Pick up the pieces of my apiary in the Spring, send a big check to southern queen breeders, split up my best colonies, and hope I made enough of a honey crop to pay the bills. Some years I did, some years I did not.

Read full article here: Over Wintering Nucs- A Better Way — BEEKeeping: Your First Three Years

Happy Birthday Francois Huber


Francis Huber Hive

Prior to the middle of the 1800’s, most bee hives in North America and Europe were simple shelters for the bees. Skeps, log gums and box hives were common types of hives in this period.

Bees attached their wax combs to the hive’s roof and walls, just like they do in wild hives. Today we refer to these types of hives as fixed-comb hives.

Skeps were made from grass straw, and often had sticks inside to provide support for the honey combs. Beekeepers inspected skep hives from the bottom.

Box hives were simple shelters to house a swarm of bees.

Francois Huber

François Huber (July 2, 1750 – December 22, 1831) was a Swiss naturalist, born at Geneva, of a family which had already made its mark in the literary and scientific world: his great-aunt, Marie Huber, was known as a voluminous writer on religious and theological subjects, and as the translator and epitomizer of The Spectator (Amsterdam, 3 vols., 1753); and his father Jean Huber (1721–1786), who had served for many years as a soldier, was a prominent member of the coterie at Ferney, distinguishing himself by his Observations sur le vol des oiseaux (Geneva, 1784).

François Huber was only fifteen years old when he began to suffer from a disease which gradually resulted in total blindness; but, with the aid of his wife, Marie Aimée Lullin, and of his servant, François Burnens, he was able to carry out investigations that laid the foundations of a scientific knowledge of the life history of the honey bee. His Nouvelles Observations sur les Abeilles was published at Geneva in 1792 (Eng. trans., 1806). A second volume of work published along with the first came out in 1814 which covered many more subjects including the construction of comb and experiments on the respiration of bees. Huber’s New Observations Upon Bees The Complete Volumes I & II has been replublished in English by Michael Bush – Visit Amazon to Purchase

Francis Huber Hive Open

Movable comb hives allow beekeepers to start new colonies easily by dividing a hive. They also allow beekeepers to inspect the health of colonies, find the queen, and even cut honey comb without destroying the brood nest. Bees in movable comb colonies were disturbed less than bees in fixed-comb hives, so beekeepers received fewer stings!

Many movable comb hive inventions used “frames” for the bees to build their combs inside.

Huber’s leaf hive. The Leaf Hive, invented in Switzerland in 1789 by Francis Huber, was a fully movable frame hive. The combs in this hive were examined like pages in a book. A.I. Root and E.R. Root credit Huber with inventing the first movable frame hive.

Huber’s contribution was also acknowledged by Lorenzo Langstroth, inventor of the hive style that is most commonly used today:

“The use of the Huber hive had satisfied me, that with proper precautions the combs might be removed without enraging the bees, and that these insects were capable of being tamed to a surprising degree. Without knowledge of these facts, I should have regarded a hive permitting the removal of the combs, as quite too dangerous for practical use.”
– L.L. Langstroth in Langstroth on the Honey-Bee, 1860.

The leaf or book hive consists of twelve vertical frames or boxes, parallel to each other, and joined together. The cross spars, nine or ten. The thickness of these spars an inch (2.5 cm), and their breadth fifteen lines (1 line=1/12th in. 15 lines=1 1/4 in.=32mm). It is necessary that this last measure should be accurate; a piece of comb which guides the bees in their work; d. a movable slider supporting the lower part; b b. pegs to keep the comb properly in the frame or box; four are in the opposite side; e e. pegs in the sides under the movable slider to support it.

A book hive, consisting of twelve frames. Between 6 and 7 are two cases with lids, that divide the hive into two equal parts, and should only be used to separate the bees for forming an artificial swarm; a, two frames which shut up the two sides of the hive, have sliders.

The entrance appears at the bottom of each frame. All should be close but 1 and 12. However it is necessary that they should open at pleasure.

Source: bg-bees.com June 17, 2016 by

Midlands Beekeeping Calendar for July


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As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my offering for the beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of July:

July tends to be very hot, often dry, and represents a huge challenge for both the beekeeper and the  bees. Stressors for the bees are the recent harvest, nectar dearth, heat, and pests.  Robbing becomes a concern as nectar becomes scarce. You will notice the bees bearding on the front of the hive in an effort to reduce the heat inside the hive. Populations typically remain large and they can consume a great deal of food. You may see a reduction in brood rearing due to  the reduction in forage and increase in stressors.

The main stressors for the beekeeper are heat and finding time and enthusiasm to manage their hives during suitable temperatures and busy summer schedules. The exciting colony growth period of spring gives way to a less appealing time of feeding, dearth, and pest management. Moving beekeeping chores to early morning hours helps with temperatures. And never forget to hydrate before, during, and after working your bees.

This month the bees’ interest in syrup is impressive. Many hives will consume a quart or more a day if provided. Be careful with sugar syrup and during inspections as spills and unattended honey can incite a robbing frenzy in the bee yard. Hive inspections should be brief and frames should not be scattered around which may provoke robbing. Established hives left with plenty of stored honey may not need feeding although feeding of a thin syrup will increase needed water in the hive and promote a continuation of brood rearing. New beekeepers, with newly established hives, are typically advised to continue to feed to promote comb building and to provide the colony with food and hydration to maintain brood rearing to keep a balance of all ages in the colony population. Use a feeding delivery method which does not provoke robbers.

This month honey bee pest management becomes a beekeeping chore not to be ignored. Your colonies will need your assistance with Small Hive Beetle (SHB), and Varroa mite control.Plan on brief checks twice this month but do not work unless necessary to prevent the triggering of robbing.

Remove any Varroa treatment products scheduled for removal if used. If not treated for Varroa in June then assess Varroa levels and treat this month as needed. Time to keep a close eye on Varroa levels before they become too high for treatment to be effective. Remember the mite is simply the vector for the true villains – viri.

Dearth in earnest this month. Even if you left the bees plenty of honey consider feeding a minimum amount of syrup to provide hydration. Syrup is quick and ready for the bees to utilize as needed helping them keep the brood fed, cool the hive, and keeping the hive at 50% – 60% humidity.

July lst – July 30th

1) Remove dry supers for storage if left on hives or returned to hives for cleanup. To protect drawn comb supers should be stacked tightly with paradichlorobenzene crystals on a paper plate or piece of newspaper between each 5 supers. (Remember fumes from the moth crystals move down as they evaporate.) DO NOT USE COMMERCIAL MOTH BALLS! They are a different formula and not approved for use on beekeeping equipment!

2) Treat for Varroa mites if needed. Write down dates if using strips that will need removing later. Southeastern U.S. Varroa mite Treatment Decisions

3) Inspect colonies for queen status and order queens for August replacement, if necessary. August is usually the last month local Midlands queens are available. If needed you should make contact with your local queen supplier now to ensure receiving queens.

4) Assessing bee population, remove any supers not needed and store. Maintaining a strong hive means adjusting the internal volume to match the colony population. A strong colony will handle many pests themselves.

5) Consider feeding established colonies with a plan to maintenance feed until August then start stimulation. With full on dearth now present, all feeding should be done cautiously to prevent robbing. Internal feeders are preferred. Boardman feeders discouraged. Open feeding should be done at a distance greater than 50 – 75 yards from your hives. Feed additives with essential oils are discouraged for two reasons: a) they don’t need encouragement to feed as they are already hungry b) syrup laced with the scent of oils will mark their hives as targets for other hungry colonies and pests. Also, do not let syrup ferment which will attract SHB. If your bees stop taking syrup then investigate the reason with an inspection. Should you decide to go full tilt with feeding be mindful of the potential of stimulating late season swarms.

6) Monitor pollen stores in the hive. Some locations may produce adequate pollen while other locations will not. In some Midlands areas a pollen dearth has been noted during late summer. Bees must have pollen just as they must have nectar or syrup in order to create brood food and to maintain a healthy immune system. Monitor pollen stores by observing the presence of pollen on brood frames and the frames on the edges of the brood nest. If your colony needs supplemental pollen consider feeding dry pollen or substitute in open pollen feeders. Do not use pollen patties as they create SHB problems here in the  Midlands. More here: Pros and Cons of Feeding Dry Pollen Substitute

7) Monitor entrances and use entrance reducers to discourage robbing. Remove multiple entrances such as Imirie shims if used. Keep a balance of internal hive space and bee population such that entrances have guard bees.

8) Strong hives handle wax moths, beetles, and robbing pressure better. Keep hives strong by equalizing space with population.

9) Consider combining hives that are failing, are losing population too fast, have poor queens, or are otherwise not performing up to expectations. Combine with strong hive, swarm, or late flow split that is progressing nicely. Do not combine two weak colonies. Never combine a sick, diseased, or colony collapsing from Varroa hive with a healthy colony.

10) Keep multiple water sources for bees filled. This month you will start to see them gathering water in earnest. Use a Boardman feeder to place water on the hive.

11) There is still time to consider moving to late summer bloom like cotton, sourwood, or soybeans.

12) Begin measures to control Small Hive Beetles as they will begin ramping up their populations now. Do not feed pollen patties.

13) A small upper entrance may be beneficial with venting excess heat – depending on your colony strength staple a screen to prevent unwanted visitors yet allow ventilation. Or use popsicle sticks between the inner and telescoping covers to allow heat to escape.

14) For safety, work bees early before it gets hot. Hydrate before, during, and after. Quit early before you are tired. Take frequent breaks if needed. Bees can be testy during dearth – wear your veil even for minor tasks. Carry your cell phone. Work outyards with a buddy. Heat Safety

15) Start preparing your State Fair entries – wax and honey.

16) Attend the South Carolina State Association meeting.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.

Honey – Balsamic Reduction Sauce by snapshotsincursive


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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? A Burst of Flavor: Balsamic Reduction Sauce-It’s Sweet! This is the elegant dark sauce you find drizzled over salads, cheese, meats, vegetables, and even fruity desserts in restaurants. At home, it can be made in minutes. You’ll feel like a master chef when you swirl it over your favorite dishes. I do.



Read the full recipe here: Balsamic Reduction Sauce — snapshotsincursive

The Quiet Box by sassafrasbeefarm


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billy davis

Billy Davis’ Quiet Box for bees.


At the Mid State Beekeepers “Bees in the Backyard” event, while inspecting a hive, I had a question about where the best place is to place a removed frame with a queen on it. Would I lean it against the side of the hive? At the time I was not in my bee yard so I just said that the queen would stay on a frame of larvae. In fact I’ve never seen one leave a frame of larvae unless I placed it back into the hive and she went to another frame. But, when in my own bee yard I use a quiet box for such occasions. In fact, I use my quiet box any time I am doing any in depth inspection into the brood nest area. My first frame comes out and, with bees attached, it goes into the quiet box. Should I find the queen on a frame then the she and the frame she is on also go into the quiet box. If I start to find queen cells – quiet box again. One of the biggest advantage I find is that I know where my queen is and fragile cells if I find any. Once the queen is in the quiet box I can pretty much move through the hive at will and concentrate on reading frames. Here’s an excellent video on using a quiet box and how one is constructed.

Happy Birthday August von Berlepsch



Born June 28, 1815

Baron August von Berlepsch a dedicated apiarist dedicated himself to study and built upon the works of other prominent beekeepers of his time. Probably most importantly Johann Dzierzon’s discovery of the exact space which we now refer to as bee space. “In 1848 Dzierzon introduced grooves into the hive’s side walls, replacing the strips of wood for moving top bars. The grooves were 8 × 8 mm—the exact average between ¼ and ⅜ inch, which is the range called the ‘bee space.’ On the basis of the aforementioned measurements, August Adolph von Berlepsch (de) (May 1852) in Thuringia and L.L. Langstroth (October 1852) in the United States designed their frame-movable hives.” (Wikipedia)

Thus Berlepsch edged out Langstroth by 5 months on the invention of a removable frame hive utilizing bee space to the benefit of the beekeeper.

The following text is an extract – introduction from his work published  (3rd edition 1873). The technical part would go beyond the scope of a homepage. The book may be borrowed from well-assorted public libraries.  

The Honey Bee and its Breeding in Movable Honeycombs in Regions without Late Summer Yield.  


My Life as an Apiarist  

  1. The beginning of my passion for bees dates back to the early days of childhood, and the only thing I still remember is that when I was a very little boy, I liked nothing better than running away from my nurse to the bees of our neighbour Gottlob Richter. When the lovely maiden came to take me back, I was standing right amidst the buzzing bees, crying mockingly: “try and get me, try and get me!” On 28 June 1822 , my 7th birthday, my father bought me first beehive from the most renowned beekeeper of my native region, the peasant Jacob Schulze, who was living in the neighbouring town of Langensalza . From then on, that man gave me training, and when I was 10 and my education was committed to the learned parson Wenck in the nearby village of Heroldshausen, I already owned 4 hives. 2 accompanied me to Heroldshausen, 2 were left at my father’s manor Seebach (Note: expropriated by the Russians in 1945, and once more expropriated by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1997) so that I would not miss the bees on Sundays, which I used to spend at home. At Easter 1828, I was transferred to the flourishing Gotha grammar school with the famous Latinist and Horaz interpreter Döring.  
  2. My grandfather who was still alive at that time, Baron Gottlob von Berlepsch, was a grammar school and university fellow student of Döring and insisted on presenting me to his former pal. It happened that Döring was as enthusiastic beekeeper as a philologist, and when grandfather told him that “bees meant everything to his little grandson and that he was very skilled in handling them,” the amiable 72 year old man insisted on my bees being moved to Gotha and on being accommodated in his beehouses also. So 6 hives immigrated to Gotha and I became Döring’s “bee catcher”, as the kind man used to call me even at school because I climbed up the highest trees to collect the swarms for him. I spent many wonderful hour with good old Mr. Döring in his apiary, and it was in place where he explained to me the complete 4th book of Virgil’s Georgica sermone latino, although better under linguistic than under apiarian aspects.  
  3. As a student of philology and law at the universities of Halle, Bonn and Leipzig, I always had several beehives standing in front of my windows, and in Greifswald, the professor of botany, Hornschuh, put me in charge of his small beehouse which he maintained in the botanic garden. And it was here where I saw a queen bee on her return flight, bearing the copulation mark; certainly, neither I nor Hornschuh to whom I talked about my discovery, knew what it was. We both believed that the queen had been injured through an adversary event, and were worrying about the hive, which naturally continued to enjoy excellent health.  
  4. From 1836 to 1838 I worked as a post-graduate judicial service trainee at the regional and local court of Mühlhausen in Thuringia while I owned a small beehouse in said place and a larger one at my father’s estate nearby.Soon I became absolutely fed up with juridical practice because of its dull formalism; I quitted and went to the ‘German Athens’, the splendid city of Munich. Living at Theresienstrasse, I let the bees fly out from the bedroom windows. But when despite all my attentiveness, a hive was swarming in June 1840 and the swarm moved to Ludwigstrasse landing on a         hackney cab, the police ordered me under penalty of punishment to remove my hives at once.
    (Note: After leaving judicial service, he studied catholic theology in Munich, took the simple vow and published then the esteemed work Anthropologiae Christianae Dogmata in 1842, in which he is dealing about Maria not being incriminated with the original sin. Furthermore he was a recognized and valued Pomologe and owned a very efficient and versatile large fruitplants-nursery in Seebach.)  
  5. My father died on 5 September 1841 , and already at the end of October, 100 straw hives were standing at Seebach manor. I had already read every book about bees which I could get hold of and learnt a great many things in particular from Spitzner, Baron von Ehrenfels and Klopffleisch-Kürschner,         but I yet owe most of my knowledge to the above-mentioned Jakob Schulze, a very intelligent man who definitely knew a lot more than I learnt from the books which I had read already. From then until his death on 12 December 1854 , I had very close and frequent contacts with this man. In the 13 years between 1841 and 1854, nearly no week passed without “Bienenschulze” coming to Seebach or the “Bee Baron” (which I am generally nicknamed in my native region) going to Langensalza.
    Being 26 years old (1841) and owner of 100 hives, I practised beekeeping on a large scale, anything devisable was undertaken and tried out without sparing cost and effort. Journeys, also far away and to all four points of the compass, were undertaken for the benefit of apiculture.  
  6. So the year 1845 began when Dzierzon made his first appearance in public and the bee journal (i.e. (Nördlinger) Eichstädter Bienen-Zeitung, which is the first substantial beekeepers’ journal in the world edited from 1845 to 1899) was founded by Barth and Schmid.   This simultaneously occurring double event meant a turning point in beekeeping. Old times had ended, a new time had begun. Dzierzon and Schmid (Barth had always only been lending his name as editor) are the two men to whom we owe the tremendous progress which the knowledge about bees and their keeping has experienced during the past 23 years.     Dzierzon invented the hive with movable honeycombs and supported by an extremely rare talent for observation and combination, was in a position to unveil the sexual relationships and other circumstances of the life and behaviour of bees, which had been covered by darkness during thousands of years. Schmid opened a free platform in his journal where intellect and scholarship could romp about.  
  7. In 1845, when Dzierzon appeared and the bee journal was published for the first time, I probably was the one who had made the most experiments among all living beekeepers, but I had neither come to know the hive with movable honeycombs and I am lacking Dzierzon’s immense astuteness and amazing talent for observation. Motivated by this new incentive, I doubled the efforts which I spent on observations and tests, mainly to verify Dzierzon’s theorems in all directions. But regrettably enough, I was so unfortunate as to own such miserable hives with movable honeycombs that my work was often delayed, hindered or totally frustrated, but yet so fortunate to recruit a 15 year old boy, Wilhelm Günther, the youngest son of my gardener, in 1848 as my assistant who was in no way inferior to Huber’s famous assistant Burnens in terms of inquisitiveness, perseverance, talent for observation, and astuteness. He has been by my side with great loyalty in all matters, and I feel obliged to express my thanks to him in public, as I did in the 1st edition, now also in the 2nd edition.         Without him, a good many things in that work would certainly not be as they are.  
  8. Finally, after seven years of silent studiousness, I came before the public in the bee journal in the issues of the years 1853 and 1854 with my Apiarian Letters which should become so famous and in which I, now standing on firm ground, presented Dzierzon’s fundamental theses in systematic sequence and in astute and clear form, furnishing experimental evidence on all points. As if on military command, a triumph was achieved for Dzierzon’s new theory. Many agreed openly, others at least kept quiet, whereas Dzierzon himself had in vain been struggling for recognition of his theory since 1845 in numerous articles in the bee journal and in special publications.  
  9. The first to swear the oath of allegiance with Dzierzon was Kleine. In the 1854 bee journal, page 4, he wrote: “Von Berlepsch has published a series of apiarian letters in the bee journal which must be welcomed as an event of greatest importance by all those of its readers who take a higher interest also in the scientific aspect of beekeeping. A new system which poured an unexpected light over the secret obscurity of apian life was established and struggled for recognition. Although it may have found such recognition in many places, this yet happened in the quiet. No one supported it openly and frankly. So many prejudices had to be overcome, the choruses of apiarian scientists rose up against it so uncompromisingly, and the deeper insight into natural science among beekeepers was such a pia vis (lit. pious force) that it needed the firm confidence of conviction, the skilled tactics and the resolute courage of Dzierzon to fight his case in a seven years’ struggle, however, with successful result. Nevertheless, the truth of what he claimed was still only based on his own testimony credence to which was not given from all sides, and his scientifically founded principles were granted only the significance of hypotheses. At that moment, von Berlepsch, with his unsuspicious testimony, sided with the single-handed fighter. As a second Oedipus, he resolutely went into action against fatal Sphinx, solved its most intricate riddles with admirable astuteness, taking from us the ultimate doubt which we might have had against the new teachings.”
    But Kleine was not only the first after me to acknowledge the new teachings, he also was particularly helpful by examining it as physiologist from the viewpoint of exact natural sciences and contributing excellent further evidence. He was the one who first raised apiculture above the level of mere empirics. For at that time, Dzierzon knew little about physiology, I myself nothing, and the same absolute physiological darkness was prevailing among all other beekeepers.  
  10.         Already before my presentation in the bee journal, the famous Carl Theodor Ernst von Siebold, Professor         for zoology and comparative anatomy in Breslau (Wroclaw), at that time stationed in Munich, had contacted Dzierzon in 1851, “partly” as he wrote to me later, “to get instructed himself about the life of bees by the greatest authority on bees nowadays, partly to come to the beekeeper’s assistance with his microscope and exact science.” Also, von Siebold had condescended to take the chair of vice-president at the 3rd migratory meeting of German Beekeepers in Brieg in 1855. This encouraged me to send quite a lengthy letter to von Siebold in which I proved the only still hypothetic point in Dzierzon’s theory, the reproduction of the male bee through parthenogenesis, by empirical arguments, while loudly calling for the help of von Siebold and all natural scientists. My voice should no longer be crying in the wilderness. For already in May 1855, the no less famous Professor Leuckart from Gießen came with his big microscope to visit me in Seebach and so did Siebold in August the same year. And the latter was successful in supplying the scientific-microscopic evidence proving the correctness of Dzierzon’s hypothesis in my garden salon and thus shaking the foundations of the whole theory of procreation. More details are contained in Chapter VIII of the book.  
  11. In the years 1852 and 1853, I had considerably perfected the movable hive with movable honeycombs by the appropriate construction of the bee pavilions and by inventing the frames, thus having prepared a beehouse of more than 100 beehives with movable honeycombs of the type that may probably have been seen in larger size, but definitely not better populated and with better internal structures. In this context, I will only quote what von Siebold has written in the Parthenogenesis, p. 110: “I was really astonished at the bee material which was presented to me in Seebach; the mass of bee colonies as well as the utterly suitable equipment which was most appropriate for observations of any kind, surpassed all my expectations. I found 104 Dzierzon hives intended for hibernating and packed with honey and bees, distributed in different forms over a spacious orchard in 8 places, from which the pavilion with its 28 colonies, which had often been discussed in the bee journal, was a particular surprise to me.” Crowds of beekeepers from all over Europe, even Russia, France, Sweden and Denmark, went on a pilgrimage to Seebach. Several persons stayed for months in order to learn apiculture thoroughly, among them e.g. the present bee master of Rhineland-Westphalia Teckaus.  
  12. Theory and practice were developed in the bee journal with more and more thoroughness, and a continually growing number of excellent men bought the journal, let me only mention Dönhoff, Vogel and Count Stosch in that period.  
  13. Despite all my involvement with bees and science, especially with national economy and the other social doctrines that are governing the world of today, I got so sick of living in a small village deprived of any scientific communication, that I left my large bee establishment to Günther and moved to Gotha in 1858. In cooperation with my old friend Kalb, I built up a new beehouse which almost reached up to the one in Seebach, continued my research work untiringly and became aware that eventually the time had come to collect all the material published in the bee journal and otherwise existing in bits and pieces, and combine it to a comprehensive didactic book.

August Baron von Berlepsch married on 8 Januar 1867 the renowned widowed author Karoline (Lina) Künstle, nèe Welebil, and died 17.9.1877 in Munich.

Source: http://www.v.berlepsch.de/_private/bienen-august-engl.htm

Died: September 17, 1877



Beekeeping Humor – Self Incrimination, You have a Right to a Lawyer by Stephen Bishop


Apparently, I had been speeding down a South Carolina highway without wearing my seatbelt (uncharacteristic, I swear) and couldn’t provide a logical answer to a state trooper’s question, “So where you heading?” My conundrum was I didn’t know where I was heading. I was searching the countryside for a logging crew, any logging crew to photograph. I had just written an article, in fact my first ever as a freelancer, for Grit magazine on forest management, and the editor wanted photos to accompany it. The state trooper doubted my story and asked me to exit the car and follow his finger with my eyeballs without moving my head. Then he proceeded to tell me to recite the alphabet backwards from M.

You try.

It’s difficult, even sober. I was sober but petrified because my story sounded ridiculous. After walking a line, toe to toe, which isn’t so easy either under the gaze of a lawman, the trooper asked if he could search my backpack in the passenger’s seat. I consented thankfully. If not, I might have been escorted to the slammer. In that backpack was a copy of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well and about a year’s worth of Writer’s Digest. After that, the trooper handed me a seatbelt violation and let me go on my aimless way.

Today I use that same backpack to tote beekeeping stuff. It contains, among other things, a crowbar-looking thing with a little hook on the end that looks like a perfect tool for burglary. I have a grafting tool that looks like a lock pic and an unlabeled ziplock bag of a white powdery substance. In my truck bed is a long metal wand that I can hook to my truck battery to volatilize my white powdery substance. I reek of smoke. If stopped by a state trooper today, I would soon be sitting behind bars until the lab results came back showing oxalic acid.

Read full article here: Self Incrimination — BEEKeeping: Your First Three Years