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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

What I Learned at GBA

Well, I learned a lot at GBA (and had fun). The most interesting talk I heard was by Jennifer Berry. She reported on the toxin project going on at the UGA bee labs.

They have been exploring the sub-lethal effects of chemicals in honeybee colonies. They wanted to look at honeybee colony health and how miticides might impact that. They particularly studied Checkmite, Apistan and non-labeled (ie, not labeled for honeybee use) Tactik and Maverik (probably misspelled).

I found this next part amusing. They wanted to start 48 colonies of bees off with non-contaminated wax. So Jennifer bought wax from two different "organic" beekeepers. They sent the wax off (at $275 an analysis) to determine if the wax indeed were non-contaminated. In fact the process found that there was both Coumaphos and Fluvalinate in the wax - probably from purchased contaminated foundation.

Faced with an impossible task - no available "pure" wax, Jennifer set all of her colonies up on foundationless frames and lo and behold, the bees drew beautiful wax! She was so proud of it that she had a slide to show us. Like most foundationless frames, the bees had filled the frame but had not attached the lower corners.

These researchers looked at foraging, the health of baby bees, the ability of the bees to return to the hives, the numbers of queen cells, etc. They found, for example, that there were the highest number of supercedure cells in the hives in which apistan and coumaphos were applied - the bees were all saying, "What kind of a place is this? We need new leadership!"

Overall the control hives which were not treated did the best. They, for example, had the highest level of foraging and returning home after foraging. In general, as many of us assume, science is now proving that no treatment is best.

I always love to hear Jennifer speak and I never fail to learn something....but the most fun with Jennifer was on Friday night at the fried fish dinner. We had entertainment - a band called "Always, Patsy Cline." Jennifer (and the other three of us sitting together) were rocking out, singing along with "Patsy."

I know it's a Hank Williams song, but Jennifer was really the absolute best on "Your Cheatin' Heart."


  1. Thank you so much for your post. We seem to be reading so many articles lately that are pointing in that same direction - no treatment is best. I am always so encouraged when I read those articles. We are often faced with hard decisions on which way is really to best way to go for the health of the bees.

  2. I'm a first year beekeeper up here in Patsy Cline territory (Front Royal, VA) and I lost my colony this year, whether due to the cold climate or mites, I may never know (we've had plenty of each). What was a burgeoning and vigorous hive as late as Halloween is now deathly silent and without any sign of a single living bee since the new year. I don't even see dead bees stacking up in the entrance, anymore. If I have learned one thing this year it's that I no longer believe the stacking Langs to be the best way to manage honeybees. I'll still keep my langstroth hive as a control but I'm switching production over to top bar Kenyan hives. A replacement swarm of Russians is scheduled for very early April delivery!

    Experience is what we get when we don't get what we expect. . .

  3. Oh my goodness it costs a lot to have the wax analyzed!


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