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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.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

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.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. ‪(404) 482-1848‬

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Apis Mellifera

To help me study and for whatever interest it may generate in those of you who read this blog, I'm going to share what I am learning between now and the Young Harris Institute in May, 2010. In between I'll keep posting what I am doing this winter as a beekeeper.

Today I read the first chapter in The Biology of the Honey Bee. Often people ask PN Williams from whom many people buy bees in Atlanta if his bees are Russian or Italian. I've heard him say many times that he sells "mutt bees" as do most beekeepers who sell nucs. Carl Webb in North Georgia sells Russians and is a registered breeder of Russian bees, but for the most part the bees here in Georgia are all genetically mixed up.

In Winston's book he discusses the different members of the bee family, Apidae. The honeybee belongs to this family along with the orchid bee, the bumble bees, and the stingless bees. What makes members of this family unique is the presence of the pollen basket on their hind legs.

Remember biology? Family, genus, species? The family is Apidae; the genus is Apis; and the species within the genus include: A. mellifera (the honeybee), A. dorsata and A. laborisoa (the giant honey bees), A. cerana (the Indian honeybee), A. florea (the dwarf honeybee).

Our favorite bee, the A. mellifera, probably originally developed in the African tropical regions. On its own the bee migrated to Asia and to Europe, but was found nowhere else in the world.

But people loved honey and bees, and beekeepers began moving their bees with them to the western hemisphere, Australia and the rest of the world. So now, although they are not native all over the world, honeybees are found all over the world.

The honeybees we beekeepers "keep" build nests of comb inside cavities (like tree trunks - or in hobbyist/commercial apiaries, hive boxes). While there are lots of races of A. Mellifera, these are hard to distinguish because scientists separate bee types in one way and beekeepers tend to focus on other characteristics. Scientists are looking mostly at measurable features such as wing veins, mouthpart and antenna length, body part sizes. Beekeepers look at characteristics like color, behavior, honey production, gentleness.

However mixed up they may be, we keep European races of bees or genetic combos of European races. As the Africanized honeybee encroaches on American beekeeping, bees at least in the southern regions of the country (from New Mexico east to Florida) may include genetic mixes of Apis mellifera scutellata - an African race of bee.

OK, that's all I've learned tonight - now shared with you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Road to Master Beekeeper

At the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute each year, there's an opportunity to earn various levels of certification in beekeeping. The Institute is sponsored by the University of Georgia's entomology department, so the people who are speaking offer a lot of knowledge and experience. I went to the Institute in 2007 and 2008.

May 2007: Passed Certified Beekeeper in state of Georgia
May 2008: Passed Certified Journeyman Beekeeper in state of Georgia

In 2009, I had to miss Young Harris because one of my dearest friends had a surprise birthday party in Charleston, South Carolina, so I went to SC instead of Young Harris.

This year (2010) I plan to at least try for the Master Beekeeper. Here are the requirements:
  • Must have three years of beekeeping experience. DONE
  • Must have held Journeyman rank at least one year. DONE
  • Must pass a written test (over Institute lectures) and practical documentation. To do in May 2010 hopefully
Note: To do the pass-the-test part, another friend from my bee club and I are going to form our own Master Beekeeper study group to cheer each other on to get to the goal. The books pictured above are what Keith Delaplane recommends for the Master Craftsman Beekeeper in addition to First Lessons in Beekeeping. They are The Biology of the Honey Bee by Mark Winston and The Wisdom of the Hive by TD Seeley.
  • Complete 10 units of public service work beyond that required for Journeyman (see public service requirements).
    • Here's my public service so far:
      1. "Providing a hive of bees to pollinate a public garden" I managed two hives at a public garden (Blue Heron) - well-documented
      2. "Officership in local beekeeping association." I'm in my third year of a three year term as a director on the Board of Directors for Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association
      3. "Presenting bee-related lecture or workshop to non-beekeeping group (youth or adult)."
      4. 3/31/09 Gave a bee talk at an Atlanta preschool
      5. 4/6/09 Collected a swarm from a resident's yard in Chamblee, G
      6. 5/13/09 Gave a bee talk (and did the waggle dance) at Clairmont Elementary School
      7. 6/12/09 Gave a presentation a St. Dunstan's vacation Bible school on bees (and did the waggle dance!)
      8. 7/20/09 Was the featured guest on a public blogtalk radio show: Scorpion Equinox, talking about being a beekeeper
      9. 10/14/09 Gave a talk at the Peachtree Battle Garden Club on beekeeping and gardening
      10. "Public demonstration on beekeeping topic at fair, festival or similar public event." 5/9/09 Ran a demonstration booth at the Eco-Fair at the Blue Heron
      11. "Other activities may be admissible, but candidates are advised to contact program officers about specific cases" I've written the two directors about the bee tree rescue below and I already know they approve of my blog as a public service:
      12. 8/5/09 Helped a tree cutting company rescue a beehive that they found in a tree so that the hive would not be destroyed. The event was written up in a community news email blast sent to 1596 citizens of the local area
      13. Have managed this blog since April 2006 and have posted 624 posts (so far)
      • NOTE: whoo - ten PSCs are all I need
  • Practical documentation must demonstrate expertise in at least five of the following 18 subspecialties:
    • Winning 1st or 2nd place in an authorized competition in extracted honey. DONE
    • Winning 1st or 2nd place in an authorized competition in comb or cut-comb honey. DONE
    • Winning 1st or 2nd place in an authorized competition in crystallized (spun or creamed) honey.
    • Winning 1st or 2nd place in an authorized competition in beeswax. DONE
    • Publishing article in beekeeping publication (excluding newsletters).
    • Publishing article in a non-beekeeping publication (with at least state-wide distribution).
    • Being recognized as a beekeeping authority in your local area by appearing on radio or TV. (Wonder if the Scorpion Equinox blogradio interview counts or the podcast I did for NKYbeekeeper?)
    • Documenting training in life-saving treatment of persons suffering from allergic reactions to insect stings.
    • Attending at least three regional (multi-state), national or international beekeeping meetings.
    • Conducting a program or workshop at a state, regional, national or international meeting or convention. Have been invited to speak at the Southeastern Organic Beekeepers Meeting in Florida in February, 2010
    • Demonstrating competence in small-scale queen rearing.
    • Completing a course on queen artificial insemination.
    • Acquiring private pesticide applicator’s license.
    • Documenting legally-licensed honey processing facility.
    • Participating in a beekeeping research or extension project at an approved institution.
    • Demonstrating theoretic knowledge of Integrated Pest Management, practical competence in its application, and personal commitment to its precepts.
    • Acquiring other certified bee-related training as approved by Review Board.
    • Serving two or more years as officer of regional, national or international bee organization (need not be consecutive nor in the same organization).
So at this point, it looks like I need to do something else in the eighteen sub-categories just above - like publish an article in a bee magazine, get some more certified bee-related training, or get asked to appear on local radio or TV.....
I need to pass the test.

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Metro Atlanta Beekeeping Short Course Coming Up

The Metro Atlanta Beekeepers will offer a short course again in January 2010. The course is invaluable for getting started in beekeeping. Here's a link to the information about the short course.

If you live anywhere near Atlanta and want to learn about beekeeping, please come - I took it before I got started and it made a huge difference to hear real people talk about their beekeeping rather than just reading information in books.

There will be great speakers, a honey tasting, good lunch and discussions. I'll be there, too. It's my job this year to put together a table about how to do a hive inspection. We'll have a slide show running continuously on a computer to show you the aspects of an inspection.

Please come - you'll learn a lot and it will be fun.

Missing Blogger

Hi Everyone,

Several of you who are used to getting at least weekly posts from me have emailed to find out if I am OK. I'm sorry for the gap in posting. I had a death in my family and have been in my hometown of Natchez, Mississippi several times in the last two weeks.

I am back in Atlanta now, though, and will be back up and posting on my bee blog.

Thanks for checking in with me.

Linda T

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