Apimondia in Hungary 1983; The Speedy Bee
In what more appropriate setting than picturesque Budapest could the World Apiculture Congress (Apimondia) find to meet to discuss the most pressing and distressing problem of the day, Varroasis? Although not previously publicized as such, concern about the Asiatic bee mite, Varroa Jacobsoni and its effect on the western honey bee, Apis mellifera, took the Congress by storm. Like the Turkish Empire, the mite swept out of Asia. Humans helped the eight legged parasite to spread from its former residence on the eastern honey bee, Apis cerana, invading the western beekeeping world with devastating results. Unlike the Ottoman Empire, however, this parasite has expanded so rapidly that in less than two decades it is a worldwide pest. At present, only North and Central America and Australia appear to be free of this menace.
It was the Magyars, fierce, Asiatic horse warriors of Hungary, who were instrumental in retarding the Turkish westward advance into Europe. Only time will tell if this apicultural congress, held in the country where Ottoman expansion finally withered, will be a milestone in the fight of what is called Varroasis here, a “disease named after the Varroa bee mite (Varroa destructor). On a more contemporary basis, of course, Hungary still represents a meeting of East and West. It was behind the Iron Curtain in 1983, something immediately apparent upon arrival.
The security at the airport was nothing less than absolute. Control of Hungarian society began with economics. This was forcefully brought home to this reporter, who unwittingly attempted to bring into the country some Hungarian national currency (the forint = US $0.024), changed at the Frankfurt airport. This was a real no-no it turned out, and I was glad to have kept the receipt given me in Frankfurt. The forints were confiscated, although I’ve been told my $30.00 would be returned sometime in the near future (still waiting). I was not as devastated, however, as those heavy with recently-changed forints, arriving at the Congress in hopes of paying the registration fees. Cooptourist, the agency charge of registering, would not accept forints, only so-called “hard” currency (dollars, Deutsch marks, English pounds). Needless to say, there were some heated discussions concerning this policy at the registration desk.
Travel to the West by Hungarians is not forbidden by the government, however, only 5000 forints could be taken out of the country. This put the damper on most citizens who mighty fancy traveling very far past the Hungarian border. The Congress’ setting was Budapest’s Sports Hall on the Pest side of the Danube River (the other bank is called Buda). This large circular building is located near the huge city park, containing the famous Budapest Circus , a zoological garden and one of the oldest of the mineral water baths the city is known for. It is also near the People’s Soccer Stadium , so-called because the local populace labored after hours, apparently for free, to construct it in the suburbs of he city, a short ride on the subway from downtown.
The opening ceremony was colorful as these events are wont to be. The participating country’s delegates filled the stage, surrounded by flags of all member nations and light streamed in through the Hall’s skylight, as V. Harnaj welcomed the participants. Dr. Harnaj was weakened by a stroke, but his endurance under the stress of the Congress was apparent and an inspiration for all.
Perhaps the most interesting speech that morning was by L.R.J. Ridder van Rappard, Dean of the Honorary Members of Apimondia, who gave a full history of Apimondia since World War II. Special milestones, he said, were election of current President Harnaj in Madrid, participation of over 2,000 during the first Congress in the Eastern block (Romania, 1965), and attendance of 78 countries at the last Congress in Acapulco, culminating in present registration of over 7000 in Budapest (some 6000 Hungarians were rumored to have registered, but it seemed this figure was somewhat inflated). He stressed that beekeepers are much better united now than just after World War II and suggested another banner Congress, that of 1971 in Moscow, which also contributed greatly to economic and sociological harmony between East and West. He concluded, quoting Dr. Karl Von Frisch, whom this year’s Congress commemorated, that the aim of Apimondia was to emulate the bee colony and cooperate together for the benefit of all. His speech took on an ironic flavor, considering the Korean airline incident , which happened just after the Congress concluded.
HUNGARIAN’S HAVE LONG BEEN BEEKEEPERS
J. Marjai, Vice President of the Hungarian Council of Ministers, began the formal Congress by informing participants about the role of apiculture in Hungarian agriculture. It is noteworthy to this reporter that administrators all over the world seem to consider and treat the beekeeping industry similarly. He called it, for example, “. . . the narrower field of beekeeping,” (presumably less eligible for governmental support?) within the broader scope of Hungarian agriculture. There are 30,000 beekeepers in Hungary with 600,000 colonies, producing some 15,000 metric tons (33 million pounds) honey annually. Hungary is self sufficient in food and exports up to 25 percent of its agricultural produce, including honey.
Passing the Presidential collar from 28th Congress, President D. Cardosa Tames of Mexico, to Sandro Kocsis of Hungary was an emotional event for the Hungarians present. In his address, Mr. Kocsis stated that Hungary had a long tradition of beekeeping, and efforts since 1979 to educate the population has swelled its ranks. With formation of Hungaronektar (no longer in operation?), made up of a consortium of 143 cooperatives, beekeeping has been given tremendous impetus through education, technology diffusion and promotion of bee products.
A major problem confronting the honey industry was associated with Hungary’s major nectar source, acacia (false acacia) , that accounted for some 20 percent of the country’s forests. Those familiar with locust flows in the United States no doubt sympathize with Hungarians. The fickleness of the plant (short bloom time) and associated weather (usually rain in early Spring) at blooming time can result some extremely short honey crops.
So the stage was set for plenary sessions, the meat and potatoes of any apicultural congress. In the afternoon it began with Bee Biology, presided over by F. Ruttner of the Federal Republic of Germany . This session was held under four pictures of Karl von Frisch, and Ruttner spoke in memory of first bee scientist ever to receive the Nobel Prize. Dr. von Frish said Dr. Ruttner, was born not 250 kilometers from Budapest in Vienna and so it was appropriate honor him at the 29th Congress.
In his eulogy, Dr. Ruttner concluded, “There has hardly been anyone with so lasting an influence on the public at large as von Frisch; he provided fascinating data so admirably in clear language, understood by everyone, attractive both in style and content. ‘Bees language ignores idle talk,’ he says in one of his writings. This is also true of von Frisch’s works , and the reason for his outstanding influence going beyond the borders of biology.”
BEE RACES DIFFERENTIATED
There were two bee biology plenary sessions presented during the Congress. The first day’s devoted to characteristics of honey bees and their races (subspecies), generally based physical measurements (morphometrics). The biometrics and geographic variability of the Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera ligustica) was explored by Leporati and associates, who took 19 different measurements of sampled bees and compared them statistically. S. Rashed and co-workers described characteristics of Sudanese bees, concluding there was great variation in bees in that area of the world. Egyptian and Cuban bees were also described, as were those found in Bulgaria and of course, Hungary. The predominate bee in Hungary is the Carniolan grey honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica), a gentle, productive insect, quite adapted to the short intense spring nectar flow characteristic of the area. D. Popeskovic of Yugoslavia called for a possible future Apimondia symposium on bee races. His rationale was that protection and preservation of pure races as genetic standards was becoming more and more important, especially in the face of woridwide movement of bees and subsequent genetic mixing of races.
The focus of the second plenar: session of bee biology was less evident. G. Bilash of the Soviet Union reported that larger eggs produce larger queens in the laboratory. A. Vekey of Hungary discussed variations in bee spermatozoa, identifying some nine anomalies in 21 per cent of sperm examined. A. Dietz of the United States reported on an overwintering house, constructed at Wilbanks Apiaries, Claxton, GA, which resulted in less queen loss during long-term storage. The author suggested queen loss may be due to different attractiveness of queens for workers. Those less attractive were ignored and subsequently perished; the conclusion was that it may be important to do more study on what contributes to this attractiveness.
K. Ebbersten of Sweden suggested in her study of breeding evaluation and selection of bees that “Honey production is mainly determined by the queen, her pheromones and egg-laying capacity. Aggressiveness is determined to a larger extent by the worker’s own genotype and hence the influence of the drones that mated with the queen.” This important difference, she said, should be taken into consideration when selecting bee breeding stock.
J. Suhayda discussed the latest developments in Hungarian queen rearing; some 30 queen rearing stations are present in the country, producing 15,000-20,000 queens annually. Purity of the Carniolan race is desired, he said, and measured by indices of proboscis length, cubital index, and color. I. Kiss, also of Hungary, presented his results of determining ratio between number of eggs laid and strength of colonies before the acacia flow. Carniolan colonies peaked between May 12 and 30, while Italians did between May 18 and 21. Carniolan queens laid 2000 to 2400 eggs per day, while Italian queens averaged 1700 to 1900.
Concluding the second bee biology plenary session, M. Brandenburgo and L. Goncalves reported experiments following defensive behavior of Africanized honey bees in Brazil, through the use of weekly tests. The results were quite variable, but there existed definite periods appearing to correlate with observed climatic effects, when colonies were more aggressive. J. Kulncevic and W. Rothenbuhler of the United States discussed differences in hoarding tests of caged worker honey bees, suggesting these might be attributable to inconstant proportions of worker bee sister groups fathered by different drones or perhaps changed environments:
ECONOMY AND PATHOLOGY
The second day of the Congress was devoted to plenary sessions on beekeeping economy and honey bee pathology. The economy session was chaired by Roy Weaver of the United States. Much of this session was devoted to beekeeping in Hungary. I. Varhidy showed slides of early medals and seals used by Hungarian beekeepers. B. Buchinger reported on establishment of many new apiaries in the 1980s, stimulated by perfection of management techniques and establishment of cooperatives, such as Htmgaronektar, which often provided no-interest loans for purchase of bee equipment. J. Hunszar discussed apicultural vocational education in Hungary. Such education has a long-standing history in the country, when socialist restructuring took place after World War II, several training centers were developed, but because of “unprofitability,” all but one have been discontinued. Now with a great resurgence in beekeeping, Mr. flunszar concluded, apicultural education is urgently needed at all levels, especially with reference to pollination of crops.
Z. Szilagyi provided the audience with a discussion of the sources of information Hungarian beekeepers have at their disposal. In 1967, the Central Institute for Information of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry was established; it has become the major source of current information for Hungarian beekeepers. More than 1000 early books exist in the library of the Institute and it subscribes to more than 23 journals from all over the world. Films and slides are also provided to beekeepers by the library, and an online computer search ability being developed.
The use of computers in the United States to facilitate transfer of beekeeping information was also discussed by M. Sanford (this reporter). A program is under development, which will disseminate electronic pages of information over the University of Florida’s computer network (part of the Florida Agricultural Information Retrieval (FAIR.) system).
Several other presentations rounded out the economy session. C. de Bruyn of England discussed queen rearing opportunities in Jamaica. The island has no known bee diseases, he said, and thus potential for exporting queens to both northern and southern hemispheres is significant. G. Rank and D. Goerzen of Canada discussed alfalfa leafcutting bee management. The authors stated this kind of beekeeping is on the rise throughout the world, and the first International Symposium on the subject was held in Saskatoon In 1982, with a total of 33 papers presented. Also discussed were various pests of this leafcutter bee and diagnosis and control of the specific kind of chalkbrood that attacks it. Leafcutter beekeeping is now widely practiced in eastern Europe, including Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and the USSR.
E. Rashad reported on ioney bee research and beekeeping activities in Egypt. Major research areas underway include: improving local bee races by importation of Carniolans, using pollen supplements made from various farm products, studying, nectar and pollen-producing flora, and rearing and mating queen bees.
A Mizigoj of Yugoslavia discussed the economic stability of Slovenian beekeepers. Many kinds of cooperatives exist to aid beekeepers. The largest was called “Medea,” which had over 2000 members. It does a great deal of cooperative research with clinics and physicians on the human use of bee’ products. With the ever increasing trend in human use, the author concluded, these kinds of bee products will continue to contribute to the stability of commercial beekeeping in Slovenia.
Use of bee products by humans was also addressed by B. Talpay of the Federal Republic of Germany. He reported on recent proposed legislation regulating pollen as human food in Germany. Once promulgated, this legislation should be of interest to United States’ beekeepers in developing similar kinds of regulations.
VARROA MITE BIOLOGY AND TREATMENT
The bee pathology standing commission’s focus in the afternoon, the first of two such sessions, was Varroasis. A major concensus at the Congress was that more and more countries are being affected each year by the Varro bee mite. A. Buriolla and L. Goncalves reported a full three-fold increase in infestation rate over a year in one-half of their apiaries at Ribeirao Preto in Brazil. They also investigated effect of colony size on rate of mite infestation; increase in colony size is directly correlated with increasing infestations of adult bees and brood. Finally, these authors, stating there is as yet no suitable control for the mite, reported their results using an aqueous infusion of the herb Santa Maria, (Chenopodum ambrosioides ), on bee colonies. This plant is used effectively as an acaricide to control ticks on cattle in Brazil. Unfortunately, the herb was found to be ineffective in controlling the Asiatic bee mite.
Although much of the work on controlling Varroa discussed during the Congress emphasized chemical control, there were several studies, again by those in Brazil, which reported on the mite’s biology. M. Cavicho explained a technique he used to induce egg laying by Varroa in the laboratory; most effective was taking mites from recently-sealed cells and placing them in beeswax queen cells containing six-day-old larvae. She, along with L. Goncalves, discussed the definite preference of the mite for drone brood of Africanized honey bees. She and D. de Jong also reported that mites entered cells as
they are about to be sealed during the fifth day of bee-larval development, and there appeared to be a lower limit to the weight of larvae acceptable to the mites.
D. de Jong and R. Morse of the United States revealed their results while studying distribution of the mite in brood combs. They concluded the mite must enter the brood cells to reproduce, and factors influencing selection of a cell included, age, sex and caste of the larva, as well as presence and proximity of queen cells. It also appeared the mites tended to clump in cells, implying a preference to enter cells already occupied by other mites. The authors indicated the mites appear to do little visible damage to individual bees in colonies in Brazil, but there is consistent weight loss and a drastic decrease in life span.
Last we in the United States tend to get complacent about the mite, Goncalves and de Jong revealed that it is associated with a great proportion of feral colonies and it disperses quickly, even into remote locations. This is not encouraging news, given that feral swarms of Africanized honey bees have now been seen in Panama, moving northward at about 200 to 300 miles per year. However, to this reporter’s knowledge, the mite has yet to be found in Central America (no longer the case). The overwhelming concensus of those participating in the Congress was that no general chemical control for Varroa yet exists.
Such studies, however, using a vast array of chemicals continue, but reported results were extremely variable. G. Kamburov and’ colleagues from Bulgaria reported that unilateral approaches to con-trolling Varroa (i.e., the use of chemicals only) have not been saccessful. Over the last few years, the Bulgarians have tried three drugs, six essential oils, three acids, 18 plant preparations and 13 chemical preparations to control the mite. Most were somewhat effective, they reported, but the better ones were naphthalene, thymol, Antival®; formic acid, Asuntol® and Varroazin®. The mite’s presence in Hungary is recent, according to L. Koltai; the first one was found in 1978 on the Romanian border. In 1979, infested colonies were burned, but by 1980 this practice was abandoned. In 1982, an effective drug (notiden-tified to this reporter) was developed and distributed to beekeepers. In the future; the author concluded, beekeepers must I rely on chemical control of the mite.
M. Peroutka and colleagues from Czechoslovakia reported good success against Varroa with 85 percent formic acid as well as Amitraz® in the Taktic® formulation, manufactured by FBC Limited, England. V. Vesely of the same country discussed a radical method of mite-control, which consisted of destroying feral and unregistered colonies in areas two to five kilometers in diameter. The trapping area consisted of four vessels one meter high and three to four meters apart, filled with poisoned sugar solution.
Polish beekeepers must fumigate with chemicals, according to R. Kostecki, or lose their bees in two to three years. The Poles use Fumilat® of brompropylate, Fumilat A®with Amitraz and Fumilat® S–phenothyazine with saltpeter; they also use these chemicals in conjunction with other forms of control, such as the elimination of sealed brood in May.
L. Santas and colleagues discussed Greek control of Varroa using malathion dust at very small con-centration of active ingredient; four or five applications during the winter give good results. D. Sulimanovic and colleagues reported their results in Yugoslavia with various drugs and substances including thymol, formic acid, Varitan®, Varvapin®, Apiakaridim®, Folbex® and Folbex VA®. Unfortunately, the researchers found it impossible to compare the results in any way, mainly because the experiments were not consistently repeatable. The authors suggested that similar circumstances were important when experimenting with chemical controls, and this is he reason there were so many seemingly inconsistent results reported during the Congress.
If any one chemical preparation is to be looked to for Varroa contro; at present, it must be Ciba-Geigy Floibex VA®. This chemical is a relative of another chemical, called simply Foibex, shown to be effecive against the acarine mite. Ciba Geigy had a booth in the exhibition, and also won a gold medal for a film about Varroa. In addition, as part of their marketing effort, the company threw a hospitality bashl at a local hotel. The company’s case or Folbex VA® is laid out in the Ciba Geigy Journal of February 19& “Folbex VA® Versus Varrol Xsease®,” by Christian Muschter), prints of which were available from the U.S. corporate offices. Various researchers, especially from Germany, reported favorably on the use of Folbex VA®. Other countries using yhe chemical include: Yugoslavia, Greece, Poland, and Romania, though considered effective, the chemical simply doesn’t kill all the mites, according to W. Ritter and Associates from the Federal Republic of Germany, who also reported other kinds of possible control measures, such as constant removal of sealed drone brood. This latter treatment is so labor intensive , however, it seems unreasonable to suggest it for large-scale operations, such as those and in Mexico, the United States Canada.
Post Script: The above discussion is included for historical reasons only. Beekeepers should contact regulators, researchers, and other beekeepers for current control measures in normal and legal use.
PLANTS AND POLLINATION
The third day of the Congress was dedicated to melliferous flora and pollination, and beekeeping technology. Predictably, much of the emphasis in the former session was on temperate crops. I. Balana and associates from Romania reported on factors affecting nectar secretion by crops. They concluded that fertilization increased nectar yield in most varieties. The element phosphorous was most important while nitrogen application was secondary, and seed production was directly related to nectar potential as was sowing time. The optimum period for the latter was the first ten days in April.
Several papers were presented on sunflowers in Hungary. J. Frank reported bees indispensable in hybrid sunflower technology and a good nectar yield for male-sterile lines as the most important factor needed to attract bees. A. Nilcovitz and associates discussed the variability of nectar and pollen yield in sunflowers; best hybrids or nectar were IH 18 and Gahib 18, for pollen. J. Peter revealed that sunflower pollen had a higher biological value than that of maize, especially with regard to amino acid content.
D. Frediani and M. Pinzauti of Italy also discussed pollination of safflower by honey bees. They concluded that safflower is frequently visited by bees, even in the face of competitive flows, and better quaility seeds with more oil and less husk were obtained from insect-pollinated plants. I. Fries and J. Stark of Sweden suggestedthat an insect gradient due to increased distance from apiaries can be used to evaluate honey bee pollination in different field crops. The importance of bees to sour cherry trees in Hungary was addressed in two presentations.
I. Balana and colleagues discussed experimental results in intensive sour cherry plantations: fruit set-ting rate increased from 9.1 to 17.5 percent, depending on closeness of colonies to the orchards; highest setting resulted with four colonies per hectare; amount of fruit set in caged trees was 0.07 kg per tree, but was 14.0 kg per tree when not caged. J. Farkas and associates also suggested the pollen of the sour cherry as an excellent source of protein for colony buildup.
ACACIA IN HUNGARY
The major nectar source in Hungary, acacia, was also described during this session. B. Keresztesi reported that false acacia stands cover 168,000 hectares in Hungary and that this nectar source accounted for 50-60 percent of the country’s honey crop. In 1967, he said, Hungaronektar requested the Sylviculture Research Institute develop selected varieties for nectar production. One result of studies carried out under this mandate is that area planted to false acacia has increased from 200,000 hectares in 1954 to its present level, a 34 percent increase. Three new varieties were approved for planting in 1973 and five more in 1979; of these, four varieties were selected for timber production, three for both timber and nectar yields and one solely far its nectar production. In 1982, over 1000 hectares were planted to selected varieties of acacia at a cost of 20-30 million forints. G. Jozsa also discussed the results of 20 years’ observations on acacia flowering, which has enabled him to predict more reliably when certain varieties will begin to yield, thus making this source more accessible to migratory beekeeping.
Finally, B. Toth reported results in selecting certain shrubs and bushes for nectar secretion at the Sylviculture Institute. About 100 species were selected based on attractivity to bees, flowering period, adaptability, and possibilities of other uses. This cultivation has considerably extended the nectar-secretion time in Hungary, as well as contributed to the fight against soil erosion. G. Fota and associates from Romania are also experimenting with false acacia as a cultivated nectar
source. Their methods include identification of individual trees which flower successively every six to ten days, and subsequent selection of and hybridization of selected plants. The kind of research reported above is light years ahead of its time when compared to other areas where beekeeping is a major practice, such as the United States.
It seems to this reporter that the Hungarians and others doing these kinds of studies should be recognized by the international beekeeping community as uniquely contributing to the survival of beekeepers in a world that increasingly seems unwilling or unable to understand the importance of the honey bee.
BEE TECHNOLOGY- HONEY ADULTERATION
The beekeeping technology plenary session in Budapest had several foci. One was changes in honey over time; the other was the thorny topic of numerous foreign substances now being found in honey. M. Atallab and colleagues of Egypt presented results of investigations on honey storage. During storage, total amino acid content decreased by 57.8 percent in Sharkya honey and 65.09 percent in Giza honey; most noticeable was reduction in lysine (93%), histidine (91%), and methionine (74%). Valine disappeared in both samples. Honey also changed with respect to the concentration of various aroma constituents over time. As a general trend, the authors concluded, furan derivatives increased over time, while esters and aldehydes decreased.
E. Bianchi of Argentina reported on a technique using a starch substratum to determine both glucosidase and diastase activity in honey, considered to be vital elements in world wide honey quality control. He also called on Latin American countries to establish a honey quality control research center in their region.
There was also consideration given to so-called “unnatural” substances present in honey. G. Bago and J. Szkolczai of Hungary reported results of their work in detecting pharmaceutical products in honey. The presence of fumagillin and oxytetracyline in honey was tested at four different times of the year Fumagillin was found in no samples, but oxytetracycline was present in a few; it was concluded that the latter persists in honey (especially when fed in expander patties) and so strict precautions were important when using these drugs in beekeeping. J. Ramotsa and colleagues, also from Hungary, discussed methods for determining Amitraz residues as well as phosphorus esters and carbamate insecticides in honey, unfortunately this reporter is unaware of any data gathered by the authors using the techniques. J. Gayger and J. Dustmann of the Federal Republic of Germany also discussed results of their attempts to find chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide residue in honey, wax and pollen.
Using gas chromatography, the investigators found Lindane®, Aldrin®, chlordane, Heptachlor® and Endosulfan in varying proportions. Finally, T. Thrasyvoulou and associates of Greece reported finding malathion residues at 0.0025 to 5.0 parts per million in honey. All this suggests that many kinds of “unnatural” chemicals are already in much of the world’s honey, and continued use of these substances, especially in mite control, will inexorably lead to more honey adulteration as time goes on.
Another focus of this session was bee management technique and advances in the technology of beekeeping. K. Ahonen of Finland discussed the use of a hand-held blow torch for uncapping, which he said had many advantages over standard uncapping procedures. Some of these, he said, were that the procedure is easy to perfect, little honey is left in the cappings, honey handling is facilitated, and little honey is wasted. Several kinds of “new” hives were reported on: a minihive from Argentina, the “Zaklada” super of Yugoslavia, and the “Pelias” hive, reputedly with frameless movable comb. In addition, hives made from plastics, Styrofoam, metal and ferro cement were also on display in the exhibition area.
J. Bande and colleagues from Cuba suggested their results proved that introduction of two foundation combs alternating with drawn comb provided the best environment to draw foundation. J. Csizmadia of Hungary reported that thinner-than-normal foundation was just as durable as that of normal thickness and was drawn out quicker. He also suggested wintering bees under plastic sheets, providing watering places at hive en-trances early in spring to minimize bee loss in cool weather, and using a cheap hive paint, made by melting one kg bitumen and 0.2 to 0.3 liters of tar, then adding gasoline so the paint can be used during cool weather.
With reference to bee management, G. Buchinger, of Hungary suggested a fast re-queening method for two-queen hives; he divided colonies prior to the end of the acacia flow after extraction; the queenless colony was soon apparent because of “characteristic” buzzing, and the new queen was immediately accepted into the queenless half, all with little robbing. D. Espina of Costa Rica reported on the ad-
visability of using two queen colonies in the tropics and reducing bee population during periods of dearth. A Laffers of the German Democratic Republic discussed the mobile bee house as a modern management method; although the cost per colony is high, its use results in higher yields per colony. Moveable bee houses were very much in evidence at the Congress; some took, on the appearance of, high quality furniture, and though obviously a joy to look at and work in, this reporter is not convinced to-day’s honey prices would quickly pay for such a facility.
LOOK AT CARNIOLAN BEES
The fourth day of the Congress was a break from the plenary sesssion format. Several field trips were organized: This reporter traveled to the Bee Breeding Facility ant Sylviculture Institute at Godollo. This was to be our first real look at the Carniolan honey bee. A gentle creature it certainly is; nobody got stung even in the face of so many curious Congress-goers pressing, pushing and in general making a nuisance of themselves in efforts to learn as much as possible.
The Breeding Facility’s most impressive building is the imposing bee museum with a high thatched roof; unfortunately, it was not open for visitors. Several display areas had been set up, At one the visitors were shown how Hungarians move bees into and out of areas where pesticides are being applied. This is done by means of a large truck equipped with a hydraulic crane that one normally associates with moving bricks. This moving device was so huge in comparison to the colonies being lifted, it appeared to be the ultimate example of “cutting butter with a chainsaw,” totally out of proportion to the job it was doing. In contrast to that of the Bee breeding Facility, the Sylviculture Institute tour was more relaxed. We roamed through the shrubs and bushes being planted in Hungary to extend the nectar flow, then proceeded deep into the acacia forests. Most striking were the so-called `shipmast” acacias, considered more desirable by the lumber industry. these rigid, straight-as-a-ship’s-mast trees rose imposingly, their tops producing a thin canopy.
We were fed many facts and figures about selecting the best acacias, but always the biological law of being unable to maximize all parameters (in this case both nectar production and timber utilization) held. The Hungarians have made a lot of progress, but are still looking for the perfect acacia tree. We journeyed north of Budapest to historic Esztergom . Here lies the largest church in the country and underneath it a vast honeycomb of a wine cellar. There’s a spectacular view from the church grounds across the Danube into Czechoslovakia. On this day, the smog produced by a huge paper mill on the Czech side was thick.
One of the big concerns all over Europe is air pollution. Acid rain has devastated many of the pine forests, especially in the Eastern Block, and threatens more and more hectares each year. Budapest was often heavily polluted; the automobiles, though small, seem to put out large amounts of noxious fumes, presumably because the octane of the gasoline is not high. This reporter saw a great deal of damage done to sculptures, church facades and other architecture during visits to historic sites. The last journey of the day was down into the beautiful countryside associated with the “bend” of the Danube. Here we ate dinner to the tunesof Hungarian music played on an electronic organ.
DISEASES AND PESTICIDES – AFB HIGHLIGHTED
On Tuesday, the bee biology standing commission held its second session, as did the pathology standing commission. The latter was characterized by presentations on other bee diseases besides Varroa. M. Billiam of the United States reported that bees with good hygienic behavior are much more able to resist chalkbrood. American foulbrood was also addressed. A presentation on ultrastructure on the bacterium that causes the disease using electron microscopy was given by J. Ludvik of Czechoslovakia. J. Markek, of the same country, reported on a new growth medium for Bacillus larvae, and M. Lodesani and associates of Italy discussed a method to obtain large numbers of spores for study.
Finally, B. Mljuskovic of Yugoslavia, presented data on the resistance of Bacillus larvae to antibiotics. Seven antibiotics were tested: penicillin, streptomycin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, erithromycin, polcmyxin, and kanamycin. Twenty-eight strains of bacteria were isolated from diseased brood comb. Results showed 25 to be resistant to all antibiotics tested.
Finally, pesticide application an ever-present threat to beekeeping, was not ignored. A Gubicza of Hungary reported stages in symtoms of poisoned honey bees, and J. Ramotsa and co-workers discussed their method of routine toxicological analysis using three steps: extraction, cleanup and final determination. D. Ionescu and colleagues from Romania determined the toxic dosages of five herbicides: Balan®, Iloxan®, Treflan®, Areti®t and Besagram®. All were found to be “moderately toxic,” and strict observance of instructions on the label was recommended.
0. Svendsen of Denmark also reported on laboratory and field studies on toxicity of synthetic pyrethroides to honey bees. The author concluded that these have definite toxic effects on bees, but also repel the insects, reducing the number of bees in sprayed fields from 50-80 percent. As a consequence, the use of these chemicals on full-blossom oilseed rape in Den-mark is permitted, except for periods when bees are actively flying.
BEE BROOD FOR HEALTH?
The last day of the Congress was occupied by the independent working group on apitherapy and closing ceremonies. The use of bee pro-ducts in human health seems to be on the rise throughout the world. The latest products reported at the Congress were bee brood extracts, produced in Romania, called “Apilarnil®” and “Apilarnilprop®.” Several papers were given on these materials’ effects. M. Ardeleanu and associates from Romania reported on the beneficial results of treatment with these preparations which included increase in physical and psychic activity, and decline of fatigue and depression. Other studies indicated these products were effective for ulcers, arthritis and colitis.
The closing ceremony of the Congress was as exciting as the opening. Of special significance were summaries by tbe`presidents of the standing ,commissions. J.P. Bonimond of France; who presided over the apitherapy sessions, concluded it was time for this topic to get full recognition as a standing commission, rather than remain in its present working group format. Perhaps the most emotional event was the invitation by the Japanese for Apimondia to convene in Nagoya in 1985. This proposal passed unanimously, as Korea withdrew its own invitation in favor of its island neighbor. The traditional giving of gifts by the delegates was also a colorful event. When it was all over, the desk in front of Mr. Koesis was: piled, high with everything from a huge-copper Brazilian smoker to a beautiful petite Japanese-doll in a glass case. The farewell banquet was spectacular._ It was. perhaps the most elegant buffet this ‘reporter has ever -seen; large tables lined lthe reception area, each covered with “haute cuisine.” Especially memorable were the deviled eggs:topped with authentic’ sturgeon caviar, elegant canapes of every conceivable description and loaves of potato salad carefully. Molded into decorative fish and fowl shapes. All this was washed down with either delicate Hungarian Tokay wine or rich, thick Magyar beer.
Post Script: At the conclusion of this congress, the author was privileged to visit what was then the country of Yugoslavia and its Pcelarski Kombinat, as a guest of Dr. Jovan Kulincevic, who continues to be a major player in a bee breeding program at the Apicentar in Serbia.