ABF in Detroit 1980 – The Speedy Bee
Old man winter smiled on those attending the 36th annual American Beekeeping Federation convention in Dearborn, Michigan. The weather for that time in January (22-26) was warm (though not balmy) and only a small amount of snow fell during the week in spite of Detroit’s forecasters opining the contrary, The meeting took place in the Hyatt-Regency Hotel, just across from Ford Motor Company’s World Headquarters. The hotel is a magnificent testimony to modern technology, which some might say started not too far away in the infant assembly line that put together Henry Ford’s first horseless carriages, and became the model for subsequent increased productivity characterizing the Industrial Revolution.
The hotel’s ambiance was enhanced by four large indoor glass elevators and an open foyer with chandeliers ten stories high. It was also connected by an ultra modern tram to a large three-story shopping center complete with ice rink. Needless to say, the accommodations for the meeting were splendid.
CURRENT STATUS OF THE FEDERATION
Mr. G. C. Walker, president of the Federation began the proceedings with his outgoing address. During his tenure he was busily at work on a number of different items, he said, including: (l) the beekeepers indemnity program (finally funded, but the 2.8 million appropriated simply won’t be enough); (2) pesticides (ABF was instrumental in placing Penncap® on the restricted use pesticide list); (3) Queen honey bee smuggling (ABF urged the U.S. Customs Office to crack down on bee importation due to the threat of the Varroa mite); (4) The postage stamp (the U.S. Post Office will issue a commemorative envelope in the near future); and (5) adulteration (considered by many to be the industry’s number one problem).
President Walker reviewed the adulteration problem and the role of the honey defense fund. Ironically, he said, enforcement of adulteration in honey lags even though the beekeeping industry has led the field in this issue since the early 1900s. The passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act was in fact almost directly the result of several influential beekeepers who saw what the threat of adulteration could do to their livelihood. Presently there are no. honey testing funds available from federal sources and the authorities are leaving it up to the industry to detect violators through the honey defense fund. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also restricting prosecution because of limited funds. President Walker said the key to enforcement will necessarily be at the state level at the behest of interested beekeepers.
Membership and financial status of the Federation is perhaps the best they’ve ever been, according to President Walker. Membership has grown from less than 1,000 in 19b0 to 1739 in 1979, while income has gone from 14,000 to $53,000 in the same period. There is still a perennial problem, however, the failure of all members to renew (about 380 in 1979). This cancels out the 330 new members added, which means technically the membership hasn’t grown at all in the last year, and only stayed even. He urged all membership chairpersons to try harder in both the new and renewal member categories.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
The focus of the Detroit meeting was the future—what the new decade has in store for bees and beekeepers. The keynote address was split this year, one half to commercial apiculture, the other to apicultural research. Mr Leland Hubbard’s address “The Future of Commercial Apiculture,” was peppered with vignettes concerning his decades of beekeeping experience, and the role Michigan beekeepers played in advancing the industry. He was an organizer of one of the first national beekeepers’ conventions held in Detroit, October, 1935. The charge for the banquet then was only $1.75 per person! Mr. Hubbard’s “down home” advice concerning commercial apiculture perhaps can best be summed up this way: (I) beekeeping is a family enterprise–all should share in the work; (2) beekeepers should not take on partners—they’re only there to share the losses; (3) beekeepers can have confidence in commercial apiculture—the future is bright and good; and (4) beekeepers ask no favors–and get none. He concluded by saying he hoped his and other beekeeper’s imprints in the sand would not be those of their heels when history judges them.
Dr. E.C. (Bert) Martin followed up Mr. Hubbard’s presentation with some “Concepts and. Ideas Important to the Future of Apicultural Research.” He asked and suggested the answer was no, as to whether; apiculture was adequately represented in the Land. Grant System. This system is financed by a melding of funds garnered by selling state lands to assist agricultural education, along with appropriated monies from local and federal governments to carry out research in experiment stations around the nation. The core of the system is the Cooperative Extension Service which employs an agent in every county of every state who draws on state level subject matter specialists employed at the Lad Grant College in each state.
Dr. Martin recently retired as Staff Scientist in Honey Bees and Pollination. He was employed by the. Science and Education Administration, which administers the Land Grant System’s funds at the Federal level. Unfortunately, he retired in-June and there are no plans to replace him. Dr. Martin urged beekeepers to put pressure on their elected officials or see this vital position be abolished. Not to have this position as a focus he said, means beekeepers will have no advocates at the federal level where most agricultural policy decisions are made. This would be disastrous to the future of apicultural research in pesticides, pollination and basic bee research.
Dr. Orley Taylor, the scientific world’s “advance man” on the front of the African honey bee invasion in Venezuela provided some totally new ideas concerning the so-called “killer bees.” It appears the situation in Venezuela is much different than it was in French Guiana where the movie “Killer Bees–Fact or Fiction” was made. So much so that Dr. Taylor says it probably couldn’t have been made in Venezuela at all. The African bee f appears to be right on time–in five years it’s moved 1380 miles (250 miles/year) and shows no signs of slowing down. The situation in Venezuela with 40,000 colonies of European honey bees is deteriorating rapidly. Beekeepers are simply not adapting to this new kind of bee. Perhaps as much as seventy percent of the hobbyists and twenty percent of commercial beekeepers have quit in face,of a far more defensive insect with seemingly uncontrollable swarming and absconding behavior. Contrary to reports in the popular press, the bees are not crossing with more docile European stocks, and they are colonizing at such a great rate the whole country will be Africanized in a short period.
The future of beekeeping in Venezuela at the present time is quite uncertain, but according to Dr. Taylor, may become worse before it gets better. He said that the bees will probably reach their peak populations in 1980 in Venezuela and then we’ll be able to judge their total effects. Dr. Taylor debunked several myths about the African honey bee: (1) the mellower myth–that the bees will be gentled down as they mix with European stock–is fiction; (2) honey production with these bees is down, not up; and (3) the African bee problem has not been solved yet in Brazil. The situation in Venezuela is so bad, he said, because: (1) there are few European queens, to requeen with; (2) there’s resistance by beekeepers to recognizing the problem and moving their bees away from people; and (3) the government has so far failed to assist in the fight. In spite of everything, however, Dr. Taylor does see some positive aspects of these problems. They’ve caused researchers to look differently at all races of bees, and in the long run we’ll learn much more about our European bee to the benefit of beekeepers in this country.
Adulteration was a key topic at the Dearborn meeting. The first afternoon a panel was devoted to whether it could be stopped. Mr. Robert Rubenstein, the Honey Industry Council’s attorney led off with some basic facts. Adulteration, he said, was cheating and should be looked at as such. Fortunately, the beekeeping industry now has a uniform honey act;, good lines of communication with the FDA and most importantly a self-policing plan. He said this is vital to keep the pressure on the Federal government to enforce the laws and make would be adulterers think twice before adding a bogus sweetener. Some progress was being made in the battle against adulteration as shown by official sampling. In 1977, of 23 samples tested, fifteen were adulterated, but in 1979 of 49 samples only fourteen were found to be adulterated. A shipment of Mozambique honey was destroyed in Boston last year) and most recently 172 drums from the People’s Republic of China were denied entry. Furthermore, several states including Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, and Florida have taken action to enforce the adulteration laws. The self-policing policy, Mr. Rubenstein,said, is like a “snowball rolling downhill.” Fear of detection increases with each case prosecuted, but only constant vigilance will stop adulteration completely, he concluded.
Dr. Jack White. followed Mr. Rubenstein on the panel. Dr. White developed the isotope ratio test, which detects certain levels of adulterated sweetening agent added to honey. The test is based on the fact thatt nectar sugars differ from those of corn and cane in their biosynthesis (manufacture by the plants). This is because nectar plants in the main are not related to grasses like corn and cane. It took three years of three scientists’ work to develop the test, and it now is officially recognized as valid by th ‘Association of Analytical Chemists. There are still some problems in honey testing, however, according to Dr. White. At low levels of concentration a “gray area” develops using this “isotope ratio analysis” and it becomes inconclusive. Another test must then be used to corroborate that the honey is indeed adulterated. This means that for some samples both tests must be run, and some of the laboratories carrying, out analyses have failed to do this causing consternation and confusion.
Since his retirement from the U.S. Government honey lab in Philadelphia, Dr. White has set up a company called Honeytech, Inc. in cooperation with Texas A & M University to continue testing honey for adulterants. He uses a simplified process, routinely performing both tests at a fixed price. In less than one year of Honeytech’s operation, some twenty percent of the samples tested were adulterated.
Setting the enforcement wheels to turning is just as difficult as determining definitive tests for adulteration according to Dr. White. The FDA uses its limited budget only if a health problem is involved, he said, and therefore honey adulteration is low on the priority list because no one has become ill. The self-policing policy, however, has made some dents. It shows the industry is committed to testing and this causes the win/loss ratio to significantly increase in those cases that are prosecuted. In addition, there’s no way the FDA can adequately police the retail market–that will have to be left to the state regulatory people urged on by vociferous beekeepers. And random sampling from retail outlets does turn up adulterated samples. Some states will even “red tag” a product if this happens and look for the same label elsewhere.
Midwest nectar sources was the subject of the following presentation by Larry Goltz, editor of Gleanings in Bee Culture. This was followed by a report of the activities of the International Bee Research Association (IBRA), a major clearing house of beekeeping information. It publishes Apicultural Abstracts, Journal of Apicultural Research, and. Bee World as well as various other publications. Dr. Eva Crane is director of the IBRA and figures prominently in many beekeeping meetings around the world.
Moving bees is still profitable according to Mr. Richard. Adee of Bruce, South Dakota. He ought to know—he moves up to sixty percent of his 22,000 colonies to Mississippi each year to over winter. Nucs are made from these in the spring and sent north to build for the midwestern honey flow. Like any good agriculturalist though, Mr. Adee leaves forty percent in the north to winter”as a hedge against total failure if the Mississippi operation should fail. He said the major advantage to moving bees was flexibility. The success of a migratory operation according to Mr. Adee, is based on good bee stock; strong nuclei made up in the south and then shipped north on a rigid schedule, using a good supply of manpower, money and equipment. He uses strictly hybrid queens because they give him uniform performance and ruthlessly eliminates colonies that don’t produce, are overly aggressive or too weak.
The nuclei made in the south (4.5 to 5 per colony) are made up extremely strong to eliminate having to recheck them constantly. Queen cells are used, Mr. Adee said, for the same reason. The nucs are made up on schedule and go north exactly six weeks later–he knws to almost the hour when they’ll arrive in South Dakota. Presently it takes only $6 to move a nuc from Mississippi, but the price,squeeze is on according to Mr. Adee. A migratory operator can no longer afford to miss a crop–to have to produce a honey crop to stay in business is a terrible dilemma for any agriculturalist to be in, he said, but it’s a sign of the times. He also said he’ll continue to migrate with the bees (120 days away from home the first half of 1979) as long as it remains profitable.
“Langstroth Updated” was the title of a presentation by Mr. W.A. Stephen, retired extension apiculturist at The Ohio State University. Reading from Langstroth’s writings, Mr. Stephen said he’d found many ideas to have been neglected over the last century. This seems particulary true with respect to upward ventilation. Langstroth emphasized upward ventilation for bees in winter and routinely provided his insect charges more than simply a hole bored near the hand hold. Packing bees for winter according to Mr. Stephen is not as important to wintering success as some might think. One reason for this is the bees make no attempt to control the hive temperature, they only do this within the cluster. Insulating a hive, therefore, may even be deleterious because a colony will not warm up rapidly on sunny days which otherwise might provide a little time for cleansing flights. Packing colonies may also retain moisture if the beekeeper isn’t careful, according to Mr. Stephen. The general tenor of this presentation strongly contrasted to that of Tom Taylor from Canada who’s talk will be discussed later.
A panel of bee breeding highlighted the second days’ events in Dearborn. Dr. Tom Rinderer, leader of the Bee Breeding and Stock Center at Baton Rouge, Louisiana began by talking about his research on increased nectar gathering. Tests over a several year period have suggested that empty comb spade provides bees encouragement and stimulates them to produce more honey. Newly emerged bees of the same stock in cages provided with more comb definintely hoarded .. more nectar in these studies. Field tests corroborated this as did other experiments using feeding dishes. Not only is more nectar gathered, but: those provided with more comb search out richer sources that those having less. In addition, the more stimulated bees dance more and longer, have proportionately more follower bees as well as bees flying in the fields.
Dr. Rinderer suggests all this stems from the bees’ response to an annual cycle where much open comb is naturally provided to them in spring as the flows begin. He thinks beekeepers can capitalize on this knowledge and stimulate nectar gathering by crowding the bees slightly before the flow and giving them plenty of room when it begins. He emphasized, however, that crowding the bees might initiate the swarming impulse, but this could be alleviated by providing more ventilation and perhaps using a slatted rack on the bottom board. His formula isn’t magic, according to. Dr. Rinderer, because it may require more trips to the beeyard and it demands the beekeeper know accurately when the nectar flow will begin. What these. studies show as far as bee breeding is concerned, according to Dr. Rinderer, is that bee genetics is not the whole story–the old bugaboo, “environmental effects” still must be reckoned with.
Dr. Walter C. Rothenbuhler or Ohio State University followed Dr. Rinderer’s presentation with a discussion of research on “disappearing disease.” The history of this disease is rich with efforts to characterize it according to Dr. Rothenbuhler. Perhaps the first reporting of this phenomenon was in 1868 when whole apiaries were said, to have lost their adult bee populations. Dr. Everett Oertel in Louisiana later reported 3,000 colonies dying with only a few bees left at the entrance–most apparently dying in the field. In 1964, many hives perished due to what was called “autumn collapse.” “Spring dwindling” in the United States and reports of lost adult populations in Mexico have also been characterized as “disappearing disease” (D.D.) according to Dr. Rothenbuhler.
Stock prone to disappear and that which had never had a history of the disease was brought to Ohio State Univesity and rigorously compared in a number of ways according to Dr. Rothenbuhler. Over a two year time span, critical estimates (to the tenth of a frame) were made on several colonies from different stocks. The were compared with respect to longevity, pathogens present, pattern of brood rearing, nutrition and other parameters. The conclusions from this testing were: (1) stocks of bees tested appeared to be fairly uniform in all parameters; (2) D.D. seems not to be confined to certain stocks; and (3) little evidence of the “disappearing disease syndrome” was observed in any stock tested.
A number of beekeepers believe the “disappearing disease phenomenon” to be nothing more than a critical shortage of pollen at certain times. This and the four-decade search for a pollen substitute has prompted u great deal of research on nutrition at the environmental Bee Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. Dr. Elton Herbert has been doing much of, this research and told the convention that great strides have been made recently in finding an adequate pollen substitute. The problems here are legion. For example: (1) pollens are not all alike–some are better foods than others; (2) bees don’t feed exclusively on one pollen source–they have a varied and therefore more balanced diet; (3) pollen from the same plant may vary between geographic locations–soil and other factors can come into play; (4) pollen substitutes, though nutritionally adequate, just don’t stimulate consumption; (5) to high a protein content (over 30%) is toxic to bees; and (6) placement of the substitute in a colony is extremely important.
In spite of the problems, Dr. Herbert now believes the U.S.D.A. has finally developed a good substitute for pollen. He’s now working to promote it to companies so manufacture can start soon. If the substitute works as advertised,nit could be one of the best pieces of news to come out of bee research in a long time.
Capping the day were some lively comments by Mr. Charles Mraz of Middlebury, Vermont. Mr. Mraz has a great many years experience in beekeeping and it’s his opinion that genetic stbck in the United States has deteriorated because of inbreeding and selecting for color-especially golden Italian queens. According to Mr. Mraz, there are two ways to rear queens–Mother Nature’s way and man’s. Unfortunately, man’s way eliminates much variability which the beekeeping industry will desperately need to cope with problems like American foulbrood (AFB) and the Varroa mite. Continually selecting from the limited gene pool with no incorporation of new genetic material is potential disaster to the beekeeping industry. So Mr. Mraz would have us look and learn from Mother Nature in improving the bee stock in the United States–that is maintain and bring in if necessary genetic variability in our queen rearing operations.
The third day of the convention was highlighted by the international beekeeping scene and the pesticide situation. Dr. Gordon Towrsend’s film: “Beekeeping in Kenya–Using a Top Bar Hive,” was a remarkable, show of how beekeepers can adapt to prevailing levels of technology in lesser developed countries. The top bar hive allows Kenya beekeepers to work within the confines of modern bee behavior (the bee space) and manage effectively the defensive African honey bee. Dr. Townsend believes beekeeping in the third world using technology like that demonstrated in the film will be the wave of the future. His twelve years of experience in beekeeping all over the world while employed by the University of Guelph have given him a unique viewpoint. He predicted that vast changes in beekeeping—not the bee itself–will soon wash across the continents. This is due to the mass movement of bees and diseases in recent decades. The present producer/consumer/exporter mix will shift dramaticall, particularly as the Varroa mite affects the present major producers. The U.S.S.R. and most of Asia are now under the mite’s influence and feeling the effect. As a consequence 20 percent of the world’s export honey hangs in the balance. The African nations are presently net honey importers, but hopefully soon will be self sufficient. They are not expected to become exporters any time soon.
On the American continents, the African bee problem will change beekeeping technology considerably in the now net honey exporting nations, particularly Mexico. Tropical areas will go to a more extensive beekeeping; consumption will increase locally as more and more people enter the craft; and honey exportation will therefore decrease. In the United States, the energy situation will reduce migratory operations, but more use of legumes to enrich the soil will increase bee forage. The Varroa menace is much more of a potential threat to the U.S. now that its effect can be calculated in other temperate countries. Dr. Townsend concluded therefore that the future of world beekeeping is not all that clear at present. He is hopeful, however, that these changes will develop more honey consumers in the future and provide the honey bee with many more spokes persons worldwide in the following decades.
Bee research in Canada was emphasized by a panel following Dr. Townsend’s remarks. Dr. Maurice Smith reported on his work increasing the efficiency of queen rearing nuclei in Ontario. Dr. Smith is attempting to gain nucleus time by introducing newly emerged virgins instead of queen cells into mating nuclei. The virgins are caged and put into the nucleus while the nest is still occupied by a queen previously introduced, which has yet to mate. It appears the bees will feed this caged virgin as she acquires the colony odor. After the other queen mates, she’s removed and the virgin then directly released into the nest with good results. Thirty nuclei were involved over a ten week period in the experiment. Out of 240 introduced virgins, 196 (73%) laying queens were eventually harvested. Dr. Smith still has questions, however, concerning whether older virgins do in fact compare with the final results from queen cells. He expects to take sperm counts and conduct other observations while continuing this experiment next spring.
An overview of Canadian bee research was then provided by Dr. R.W. Shule of Guelph University in Ontario. Both the national government and provincial ones provide funds for bee research in Canada. It appears to be increasingly difficult, however, to get long range funds than in the past. According to Dr. Shule, short-range funding appeals more to agencies who are for the most part interested in quick results. Most interest at present in Canada is devoted to queen selection–particularly the effects of small scale screening. Queen storage experiments are also supported; over 80 percent of queens isolated in cages and provided with water and royal jelly were able to survive eighty days, some as much as 108 days.
Another important thrust of Canadian research deals with selecting legume varieties for nectar production. Birdsfoot trefoil is getting much attention in this area. In addition, the government is looking toward using nectar-producing plants in waste lands and incorporating them into its whole land use philosophy. Integrating the planting of herbs, shrubs and trees is also involved in this scheme.
Mr. P.W. Burke, Ontario’s regulatory officer followed Dr. Shule with an overview of Canadian beekeeping. According to Mr. Burke, the meeting place this year was appropriate considering the extensive cooperation in beekeeping between the United States and Canada over the years. In fact, honey bees were:introduced into Canada across the Detroit River in 1745. Bees were studied by Ontario’s Agricultural College as early as the 1870s. The Canadian U.S..partnership brought together Mr. Beton of Canada and Mr. Frank Benton of the U.S. who brought stock into both countries, establishing some on isolated islands in the Great Lakes.
Mr. Burke characterized Canadian beekeeping as having a large number of small producers in the east with fewer, larger outfits in the west. Canadians consume 1.75 to two pounds of honey per year, with a total for the country of some /42 to 48 million pounds annually. Disease is a significant problem–and attempts to deal with it span the philosophies from burning to chemotherapy. Ethylene Oxide (ETO) chambers are now used in Quebec and soon in Alberta. Pesticides continue to plague Canadian beekeepers, and no indemnification exists to bail them out when large losses occur.
In recent years, Canada has experienced a tremendous growth of sideliner and hobby beekeepers. According to Mr. Burke, locations are becoming crowded, increasing the disease threat. He views the beekeeping hobby as a responsible one because it can and does affect neighbors, which few other hobbies do. Finally, he sees honey promotion efforts in Canada to be minimized and believes beekeepers can and should do more to promote their product. All this would seem reminiscent of the apicultural problems in the United States; the only difference in the future may be Canada’s switch to the metric system, According to Mr. Burke, by late 1980, jar sizes will all turn over to grams–they will range from 150 grams to one kilo (1,000 grams).
Because of rising prices and other considerations in using package bees, Canadians continue to try to outdoor winter their bees. There’s been good success in recent years with this technique according to Mr. Tom Taylor, a commercial beekeeper and recent graduate of the University of Guelph’s apicultural program. In 1973, less than 1,000 colonies were overwintered in Canada. By 1979, 100,000 were over wintered. Preparation is the key to effective overwintering, according to Mr. Taylor. He feeds 40 to 55 pounds of sugar to his colonies to get a net weight of 65 pounds on the hive. Outdoor wintering is benefited by using standard fiber glass insulation (R-12 on the sides; R-30 more on top). In addition, the colonies are wrapped with tar paper in groups of four (four packs) to minimized outside wall exposure. Mr. Taylor finds lit moisture problems ,with this technique and claims the bees aren’t in cluster even in below zero weather. He concluded his remarks by saying that overwintering was feasible and he would continue to experiment with this type of management dictated by higher prices for package bees in the United States.
SOYBEANS AND PESTICIDES
The emphasis on soybean cultivation throughout the midwest has led. Dr. Eric Erickson of the University of Wisconsin to investigate soybean visitation by honey bees. He detailed few specific answers on the subject,stating it was infinitely complex for a number of reasons. There are, for example, a great number of soybean varieties– some with no flowers; others with many. Differences in flower color and habitat, as well as variability in sugar concentration of nectars of different types, all acted on by soil conditions keep researchers guessing. Studies are continuing, but right now, according to Dr. Erickson, specific soil and geographic climatic information is required to begin to suggest what variety will be a good nectar source in a certain area.
Pesticides continue to imperil honey bees was the consensus of those on a panel addressing this subject. Mr. Bud Hilbert, a beekeeper from Traverse City, Michigan detailed his problems with chemicals in the last fey years. His plea was passionate and fell on receptive ears, but the problem persists. Although all pesticides have been damaging, Mr. Hilbert declared the new encapsulated ones like Penncap M®. He concluded by calling for a national certified testing laboratory to detect pesticide residues in bees which can then be used as proof in a court of law.
Mr. Phil Gray of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed with Mr. Hilbert that some testing of Penncap M® would have been desirable before licensing the pesticide, but it just wasn’t thought about at the time. EPA has learned from the experience, however, and a honey bee pesticides hazard assessment is now being developed to mandate testing of all new pesticides on beneficial insects. Four types of tests are scheduled: (1) a bee contact test establishing LD fifty levels (the dosage at which 50 of a bee population dies); (2) a test for toxicity of residues on foliage; (3) a sub acute feeding study to determine how else a pesticide affects a bee population besides simply mortality; and (14) full field testing. This is not in force yet, but should appear in the Federal Register by June. With specific reference to Penncap M®, according to Mr. Gray, the EPA has put this pesticide on the restricted use list and is requiring Pennwalt Corporation to develop a technique to detect the presence of the product in a bee colony by 1981. He also reiterated that Penncap M® is not out of the woods yet, and the EPA still has several options open/including, if necessary canceling its registration. No, actions are pending yet, but the product is being monitored carefully while EPA makes up its mind.
Mr. Gray concluded with an appeal to beekeepers to collect and submit hard data to the EPA on bee kills. With reference to this he suggested a uniform reporting system. The EPA is in fact now working on a system or protocol to report suspected bee kills similar to the one now available and used to detail human accidents with pesticides. While this is, being worked on, he suggested kills of 25 or more colonies be reported with as much information as possible to one of the twelve regional epidemiological study program directors now investigating human accidents. He further urged freezing a sample of dead bees as quickly as possible to facilitate testing if the regional director believes it’s feasible.
Reinforcing Dr. Bert Martin’s keynote address that help is indeed available from the Land Grant system to those who ask for it was Dr. Gordon Guyer, Director of the Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service. Dr. Guyer suggested identifying and cultivating specific contacts at the Land Grant Collegeby inviting and involving key officials in beekeeper planning; and developing partnerships with other strong disciplines like horticulture, agricultural economics, and integrated pest management. All could add, immeasurably in gaining support for beekeeping programs from the Land Grant System.
Gene Killion, Chief Apiarist in Illinois, followed Dr. Guyer with an update of the activities of the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA). He was distressed that all chief apiarists don’t show up at the AIA’s meetings. This promotes confusion and concern about inspection procedures around the country. Mr. Killion also introduced the next speaker, Mr. Robert Holloway, who showed an excellent slide series about what his company, Arch Mineral, is doing to establish bee pasture on reclaimed strip mine sites in southern Illinois. This was an extremely interesting presentation for this concept could certainly be applied in other mining areas around the nation.
“Bears Bees and Beekeeping” was addressed by Dr. Clarence Collison of The Pennsylvania State University. He provided the “bear facts” about these bee-molesting mammals, including tips like: (a) locating apiaries away from established bear trails; (2) notifying the game protector if bees are molested by a bear; (3) putting up, and most of all, maintaining electric fences around a bee yard as a last resort.
Concluding this rather long day, Dr. Norman. Gary of the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) and Mr. Jack Matthenius of the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) described their respective organizations and invited. all participants to their next meetings. They suggested that a large hobby beekeeping organization based on the principles of the EAS and WAS would benefit all beekeepers in the central United States, a potential Central Apicultural Society (CAS).
The final day of the meeting, Tom Taylor from Canada addressed the subject of international beekeeping cooperation from the Canadian Honey Council’s (CHC) point of view. Mr. Taylor said the CHC has set up a trust fund of $50,000 for bee research and hopes the national government will match that sum. •This is an experiment in grass roots funding which has excellent promise and could be a model for a similar program established by interested beekeepers in the U.S.
The CRC is extremely concerned about the spread of the Varroa mite according to Mr. Taylor, and it’s feeding the fires of those Canadian beekeepers wishing to be more independent of the U.S. package bee industry. He urged the package bee industry to make every effort to produce a quality product free from any taint that the mite could produce in the future. In’the fight against Varroa, the CRC is recommending to the Canadian government the following: (1) all package bees be banned except those from the U.S. and. Hawaii; (2) all queen importation be banned except from U.S., Hawaii and New Zealand; (3) all stock be banned from countries having undesirable bee stock such as the African race in South America; (L.) Canadian quarantine programs be reviewed periodically for effectiveness; and (5) the Canadian Extension Service alert all beekeepers about the potential threat of the mite if introduced.
California’s Hood Littlefield followed Mr. Taylor with a report on his tours of Greece, Israel and. Bulgaria in conjunction with the Apimondia meeting in Athens. Mr. Rodney Dillinger then gave the convention an update on what the international Agency for Apicultural Development (IAAD) is doing to help lesser developed countries establish beekeeping programs around the world.
WASHINGTON DC EVENTS
Beekeepers it seems continue to get short shrift from Washington. First Dr. White’s lab was dismantled when he retired, now Dr. Martin’s position is on the block. And the beat goes on. The program now being discontinued is honey estimates, which means the statistical base for the beekeeping industry will no longer be provided or availale from the Federal government. Mr. Donald J. Fedewa of the Michigan Agricultural Reporting Service stated at the convention that 1979 is the last report in the honey series. Zero based budgeting is to blame, according to Mr. Fedewa; in 1979 it cost $43,000 to; compile the commercial production survey and $50,000 for the annual survey, a total of $93,000 to support the series.
What can the industry do In response? The only recourse is to fight in Washington to save the honey estimate series, according to Mr. Fedewa–only some of the production reports have been eliminated.
Others are still functioning presumably based on the need as realized by legislators constantly besieged with requests. The only light at the end of this dark tunnel is that Honey Market News will still be available–at least for a while longer.
COMB HONEY PRODUCTION
Following an analysis of the family approach to beekeeping by Mr. Ernest Groeb of Hubbard Apiaries, Dr. Richard Taylor climaxed the morning with some comments about new developments in comb honey production. Comb honey is becoming more feasible for commercial beekeepers according to Dr. Taylor. The price is up to $1.00 wholesale and demand is increasing. In response, Dr. Taylor has totally switched from extracted honey to producing comb honey. This represents quite a savings in terms of other capital expenditures like uncappers, melters and other extracting paraphernalia. Dr. Taylor said his management was simple–and he likes it that way. He uses a story and a half colony, which is heavy in the fall because he doesn’t remove a fall crop. His colonies come through strong in the spring this way. Swarming doesn’t give him much trouble since he tries to spot it ahead of time and divides these colonies by removing three frames of brood and bees to make nuclei. He never uses a queen excluder, but manages the bees so a band of honey above the brood keeps the queen downstairs. Dr. Taylor likes to look at comb honey like he looks at apples, “Why squeeze the juice from an apple when you can store and eat it whole.”
Two presentations were the finale of the Dearborn convention. The first concerned, the role of beekeeping at a local community college. According to Mr. Roger Sutherland of Schoolcraft Community College in Livonia, Michigan, there are 1,234 community colleges in the United States, each a natural for teaching people the art of beekeeping. At his community college, beekeeping started as small class consisting of eight two-hour sessions. Now, though, it has an apiary of its own, has planted nectar secreting plants on the campus and integrated beekeeping into the basic biology and zoology cirriculum. Mr. Sutherland urged beekeepers to seek out their local college and help them establish a beekeeping program like Schoolcraft’s__and he suggested, “one might even get paid in the process.”
The concluding presentation prior to the business meeting was a film produced by Dr. Norman Gary of the University of California at Davis. It introduced a new management tool dubbed: “A New Apparatus for Finding the Queen Bee.” The device is rather like a large vacuum cleaner which gently removes all bees from a frame as it is passed between two banks of bee brushes. The film showed how effective the device was–it indeed did remove all bees from a ten-frame super in a very short time. Dr. Gary said the most exciting thing about the device was that every beekeeper who’s seen it said it could be used differently. The apparatus is now in the patent process.
Besides all the presentations of course there were many other activities lined up by the organizers including: tours to Canada, a visit to the Ford manufacturing facility and famous Greenfield. Village. All in all the Dearborn meeting was memorable. Next year the convention shifts to the west coast. The slogan for that event, “Meet me in Seattle in 1981.”