The October 26, 2016 edition of the Apis Information Resource News has been published. It contains information on a recent trip to Hawaii, fake manuka honey in the marketplace, reflections on bee breeding and other news:
I am writing this on my last day in Hawaii after attending the 2016 version of the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) in Honolulu and departing from the Big Island (Hawaii). Today I was hosted by one of premier queen producers in the shadow of the world’s largest volcano (Mauna Loa). Back in 2011, colleague Larry Connor ofWicwas Press wrote an article for American Bee Journal relating his visit to Big Island Queens. The players appear to have changed since that article, but the situation seems to remain about the same. Matt Prowse and Tom Olivarez hosted me and put up with my probing questions about beekeeping in the 50th state. I was able to meet their chief bee wrangler, Luis Fernandez, originally from Venezuela and a legal resident of Canada.
I also was able to visit Garnett Puett III and his wife at Big Island Bees. Garnett’s and my history overlap somewhat. As a graduate student at the University of Georgia in the late 1970s I was able to meet his father, Garnett Puett II, at his queen rearing operation in Hahira, GA. When he died soon thereafter, I remember the community’s shock and mourning. Garnett the third was twelve years old. Soon after, Jim Powers of Powers Honey Company married Puett’s widow and the rest ishistory. The pioneer bee breeder on the big island was Jim Powers as well, who purchased a working outfit in the early 1970s, which later was to be called Kona Queen Co. With the success of year-around, pest-free beekeeping, other queen producers were attracted and now three large and several smaller outfits produce 75 percent of Canadian queens and 25 percent of the U.S. mainland supply, valued at $10 million.
Garnett left beekeeping for a while taking a break to go to college and study fine art. He lived for several years in New York, creating and showing his “apisculptures,” shaped by coating objects in beeswax and allowing honey bees to build comb on them. He has recently gone back to this activity and has a current show running in upstate New York. Meanwhile Big Island Bees is a prime producer of certified organic honey, hosting a number of hour-long tours and honey tastings. A comprehensive history of Hawaiian beekeeping to around 1991 is linked to the state beekeeping association’s website.
Several reports of New Zealand Manuka honey being adulterated and faked, even stolen have recently surfaced. The manager at one Tesco store has decided to lock the jars in plastic security boxes because they are proving so tempting to thieves. The boxes set off an alarm if they are taken out of the shop. The honey, highly prized for its antibacterial properties, joins an increasingly long list of items security tagged to stop unlikely middle-class shoplifters walking off with them. TheManuka honey story is fascinating. It shows the power of research and promotion for this and potentially other honeys.
I am interested in the idea that many queen producers routinely call themselves “breeders.” If one has a lot of time and is interested in the topic, it might be worth while to look at the latest discussion on queens and queen replacement at the Bee-L list 10 through 24 October 2016. Consult the topics “Queen replacement and contradictory results,” and “Queen replacement:the key to prevent winter loss.”
I’ve written something about this topic at https://beekeep.info under the major topic “managing genetics,” linking to “breeding programs, has their time come.” .A common thread is the cost of developing and managing a true honey bee breeding program. The closest to this that I know about is that of the Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association, backed up by testing at the USDA Baton Rouge Bee Laboratory. I am in the process of writing something on this topic to appear in print fairly soon. Again it often boils down to how much beekeepers are able/willing to pay for a queen.
During the 2007 Apimondia meeting in Australia, Martin Braunstein of Malka Queensand myself developed an initiative called the Global Bee Breeders Association. During and after the meeting it became clear that this was going nowhere. There was such a demand for queen bees world wide that producers simply didn’t have incentive to convert themselves into true breeders.
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