THE BUZZ THE BUZZ September 2005 An electronic

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					THE BUZZ!                                                            September 2005
An electronic newsletter from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s State Apiarist’s Office

Another beekeeping season completed!
Well, here we are, another beekeeping season completed, or virtually completed.
From my recent travel around the state and from conversations with Kentucky
beekeepers, we seem to be in a good fall nectar flow now, which will go a long
way toward helping our bees get through the winter. Due to the recent dry
weather, the question “Will we have a fall flow?” had been asked by many
beekeepers. But it looks like we’ve had just enough rain to put some nectar in the
fall bloom of goldenrod and asters. However, I suggest that you check your hives
for food reserves if you have not already done so. The June issue of this
newsletter contained an article on getting your hives ready for the fall. If you
would like a copy of this article, you can request that I send it to you, or find it
among the back issues of THE BUZZ! at my Web site at:

As we get into the cool weather of fall we’ll be more interested in doing
“armchair” beekeeping, like reading this newsletter or attending beekeeping
meetings. Look below for both.

Beekeeping education opportunity - Fall Kentucky State Beekeepers
Association meeting
On October 15 (Saturday) the fall Kentucky State Beekeepers Association
meeting will be held at the Kentucky State University Agricultural Station. The
farm is located just south of Frankfort (off U.S. 127). Special guest speaker will
be Jennifer Berry from the University of Georgia.

If you need a fall dose of beekeeping information, this is the place to bee in

Other speakers will include: Virginia and Carl Webb, Dr. Tom Webster from
Kentucky State University, and Phil Craft, the Kentucky Department o f
Agriculture’s State Apiarist.

Fall KSBA Conference agenda
9:00 a.m. EDT Registration and refreshments
10:00 Business Meeting
10:30 Program begins
       Guest speaker: Jennifer Berry, University of Georgia.
12:00 Lunch (Catered. $5 per person, young folks 17 or under eat free!)
1:00 p.m. Program res umes (Two separate breakout sessions)
       Session 1: Virginia Webb, demonstrating how to prepare wax and make wax articles
       Session 2: Carl Webb, discussing the characteristics, traits and production of Russian
Queen bees. Carl is a certified producer of Russian Queens.
3:00 Presentations by Tom Webster and Phil Craft
3:30 Nominating Committee Report and election of officers
3:45 Installation of Officers
4:00 Closing remarks and adjournment by incoming President

2006 Beekeeping Schools
Beekeeping school in Lexington: Plans are underway for the third annual beekeeping school to
be held in the Lexington area on February 18, 2006. This year’s school (this is a one-day school
for those of you who have not attended one of our beekeeping schools in the past) will take plac e
at the Marriott Griffin Gate Hotel in Lexington (located on Newtown Pike just south of I-64 exit
115). We’re very excited about this site because of both the convenient location and the excellent
facilities at the Marriott. Our problems of crowding in the breakout sessions are over, and we’re
even exploring the possibility of inviting beekeeping supply companies to join us this year. More
information will be available about the 2006 beekeeping school in the near fut ure. We hope to
have a preliminary listing of classes to be offered at this year’s school available as early as
November. So mark your calendar (Feb. 18, 200 6!), visit my Web site
(, and watch for more information about the 2006
beekeeping school. Flyers will be available at the fall KSBA meeting.

Bowling Green B eekeeping School: Plans are also underway for another beekeeping school in
Bowling Green. The 2006 Bowling Green School will b e held on Saturday, February 4 at the
Western Kentucky Ag Cent er in Bowling Green. This also will be a one-day beekeeping school.
Stay tuned to the Allen County Beekeepers Web page,,
for more information on this beekeeping school.

Be sure to check the Upcoming Beekeeping Events calendar at the bottom of this
e-mail. Lots of beekeeping meetings and events coming up!

2006 American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) Convention to be held in
A rare opportunity will occur for beekeepers from Kentucky and the surrounding
area January 11-14 when Louisville hosts the 2006 American Beekeeping
Federation Convention. The ABF is one of the two national beekeeping groups
(the other is the American Honey Producers), and if you have never attended
one of the national meetings, here is your chance to do so – without traveling a
long distance. Normally these conventions are held further down south – for
some reason beekeepers like to get out of the cold weather in winter. If you are
familiar with our Heartland Apicultural Society (HAS) meetings, just imagine this
meeting “pumped up”. Many of the beekeepers who attend the ABF meetings are
commercial beekeepers with thousands of hives, so you’ll have an opportunity to
talk beekeeping with those who practice it on a much larger scale than we’re
used to here in Kentucky. Plus you’ll have an opportunity to hear a number of
national researchers from universities around the country, and from the USDA
bee labs.

So mark Jan. 11-14, 2006, on your calendar, and plan to come to Louisville. For
more information on this event as plans are made, go to the ABF Web site
( ) or check the calendar at my Web site

Fall swarms and their value
Every year, it seems, we see some facet of honeybee behavior that does not fit
the norm. As beekeepers will say, “the bees don’t read the books!” This past late
summer and fall, it was fall swarming of hives. I’ve had a number of calls, e -
mails, and comments from beekeepers about unusual late swarming in Kentucky
this year.

Our normal “swarm season” in Kentucky ends in June, as the nectar flows and
colony size increase slows down. (Our nectar flow in most of Kentucky actually
stopped early this year – in June – due to the dry weather.) A good nectar flow is
one of the conditions that accompany swarming (other conditions are large
colony populations – lots of bees in the hive, longer days, crowded conditions in
the brood area, and lots of brood production). While most swarming ends here in
Kentucky in June, all swarming does not end at this time. After June and into the
fall, we normally continue to see some swarming occur, which beekeepers will
refer to as “late” or “fall” swarming. Most beekeepers will not experience
swarming after the end of June, but to have a late swarm is not unusual. Often
these late season swarms are small; swarms that will fit into a pint jar are
sometimes observed. Why are these late swarms often small? My theory is that
swarming is a response of the bees to the conditions I mentioned earlier. As the
season continues, some of these conditions continue, but to a lesser degree.
Thus we get a great decrease in swarming, but it does not completely end . Often,
later in the year, fewer bees in a colony respond to these conditions, and we see
small swarms.

I’ve had more than one question this fall about the value of late swarms. Typically
beekeepers do not think catching late swarms worthwhile, due to there not being
enough time for the colony to get established before cold weather. I generally
agree with this, but I think it might be possible, if one had drawn comb and some
honey stores, to successfully winter a late large swarm. However, the only value
in a small late swarm is in the queen that accompanies it. It’s possible to combine
a small late swarm that contains a queen with a queenless hive, something I’ve
had occasion to do myself.

However, this year, throughout the summer, right up until mid-September, I
continued to hear of unusual numbers of large swarms. So what was going on?
Some of this swarming may be a result of beekeepers feeding hives that were
short on honey stores. By feeding, beekeepers create an artificial nectar flow,
and swarming can result. But one of my beekeeper friends who caught a lot of
swarms in July and August (most not from his own hives) has his own theory. He
thinks that some of these large swarms were not really swarms, but colonies
absconding. (Absconding is – in a nutshell – the abandonment of a nest by all the
bees because for some reason they decide it is an undesirable place to live.)
Now “the book” says that absconding of European honeybees, due to shortages
of food, is unusual, but as they say – the bees don’t read the book!

Kentucky State Fair - Bees & Honey Department Report
The 2005 Kentucky State Fair is history, and I’m happy to report that the Bees & Honey
Department was a great success in many ways, and full of some awesome entries. (“A wesome”
is my son Justin’s description.) During the course of the fair I received lots of positive feedback
about the area from fair visitors and a number of comments about the growth in the department
from non-beekeepers. Typic ally, these comments were accompanied by questions about the
growth of beekeeping in Kentucky and about whet her the growth in the department was a
reflection of an increased interest in beekeeping in the state. My answer to this is yes . I think we
are seeing an ups wing in interest in beekeeping, an influx of new beekeepers, and an increase in
numbers of hives in Kentucky. This increase is reflected in the increase in local beekeepin g
associations across the state. We now have about 25 local beekeeping associations in Kentucky,
up from about 16 seven years ago. Dr. Tom Webster continues to see an increased int erest in his
beginning beekeeping classes at Kentucky State University, and about 250 beekeepers (and
beekeepers-to-bee) attended the second Central Kentucky Beekeeping School in Versailles last
February. In Bowling Green, a first-time Warren County Beekeeping School was attended by
about 90 beekeepers.

But the increasing interest in beekeeping is only part of the reason for the success of the Bees &
Honey Department at the state fair. Many newer beekeepers are moving past the novic e stage
and are enjoying sharing their beekeeping knowledge bot h with other beekeepers and with the
public at the state fair. Once again, several of those entering at this year’s fair were first-time
entrants, some of whom had some nice first-year successes. Our Bees & Honey judge, Mr.
William Wiley, noted the increased quality of the honey entries at the state fair in the last several

The Bees & Honey Department and the KSBA Honey Booth at the Kentucky State Fair are
tremendous educational tools for the state’s beekeeping industry. Not only is the public educated
about Kentucky beekeeping, but a great deal of interest in beekeeping is generat ed at the fair.

This year’s Open Class Division S weepstakes winner (determined by adding up points awarded
from ribbons won in all classes) was Ross Branscum (Hillbilly Ranch) from Eminence, Ky. This is
the second time in three years that the Branscums (Ross’s wife, Joyce, is his partner in their
honey business) have taken home the Open Class Division Sweepstakes prize. The winner in the
Youth Division this year was Jacob Clark. Jac ob is from Campbells ville and was a first-time
entrant. The Honey Cookery Sweepstakes winner was Rose Dieterlen from Georgetown, Indiana.
This was the fourth time that Rose has won the Honey Cook ery Sweepstakes at the Kentucky
State Fair!

The following persons took home ribbons at this year’s fair. Open Class blue ribbon winners were
Ross Branscum, Susan Kahmann, Marcie Anderson (a first -time ent rant !), Hilda Tellman, Lucy
Breathitt, Amelia Bone, Rose Mary Dixon and Barbara Veigel (another first-time entrant !). Others
taking hom e ribbons in the Open class were H.D. Overholt, Randy Is on, Abigail Keam, Danny
Clark and Barbara Webb. Blue ribbon winners in the Youth division were Jacob Clark and Adam
Fleming. Blue ribbon winners in the Honey Cookery were Barbara Veigel, Roselind Brennan,
Mary Ann Scheler, Lisa Hutt, Georgianna Standiford, Rose Dieterlen, Madonna Smith, Juanita
Mudd and Amelia Bone. Others winning ri bbons in the Honey Cookery were Mary Anne
Morriberon, Angela Walker, Laurel Yorgas on, Donald Standiford, Rebecca Sims, Janet Sharber,
Maria Lee Standiford, Cindy Hettinger-Carcion, Janice Hearn, Henrietta Booth, Ember Drake and
Hilda Tellman.
The Barbara Horn award, which is a special judge’s choice award from the Kent ucky State
Beekeepers Association, was awarded for the first time for a cookery entry, to Roselind Brennan
for her whole wheat bread entry (the judges said that they all wanted to take the rest of the loaf
home!). The award is in memory of Barbara Horn, who served as the superintendent of the B ees
& Honey Department at the Kentucky State Fair for many years. The prize is a needlepoint
display which is the labor of Carol Mark, a Utica, Ky. beekeeper.

I would like to thank all those who helped make this year’s Bees & Honey area a
success. Most of all, thanks to Bud Spath, who serves as my assistant
superintendent. Bud puts in many, many hours helping set up the display cases,
taking and arranging entries, and helping break down the area. Many of the
improvements you see in the area, like new signage, are Bud’s ha ndiwork. I
would also like to thank those who served as Honey Cookery judges, Kristie
Jones, Jannesse Shoulders, Betsy Rodgers, Lama (Vince) Vincent, Mary
McLaren, Doug McLaren, Jill True, Mark True, Judy Woods, Sue Cole and Carol
Spath. Visitors often joke about what a “sweet” job judging the honey cookery
must be, but the reality is that judging more than 140 food items is a big job, and
the sweetness quickly runs out. But most of all I’d like to thank all those who
entered in the Bees & Honey Department and who made the success of the
department in educating the public about beekeeping possible.

Kentucky 2005 Upcoming Beekeeping Events – mark your calendars
   October 15 (Saturday), Kentucky State Beekeepers Association Fall
     meeting at the KSU Farm, Mills Lane, Frankfort. Guest speaker: Jennifer
     Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator, University of Georgia. For
     schedule, see article elsewhere in this newsletter; for directions to KSU
     Farm, go to:

       January 11-14, 2006, The 2006 American Beekeeping Federation (ABF)
        Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Louisville Hotel. For more
        information go to the ABF Web site at: . Updates
        on the convention will be posted there periodically.

To have THE BUZZ! sent directly to you!
If someone has forwarded you this issue of THE BUZZ! and you would like to
have THE BUZZ! sent directly to you via e-mail, send me an e-mail at and ask to be added to my list. I organize my e-mail list by
name, so make sure you sign your e-mail with first and last name. Also, if you are
a Kentucky beekeeper, I’d appreciate knowing a little about you and your
beekeeping activities – address, how many hives, years of beekeeping
experience, and if you belong to a local beekeeping group or to the Kentucky
State Beekeeping Association. I would also like your mailing address. This
information helps me better serve the beekeepers of Kentucky by knowing where
beekeepers are located and allows me to let you in on regional beekeeping
activities, or to drop you a note if I discover your e -mail address stops working.
This e-mail newsletter is not restricted to Kentucky residents. Many subscribers
are from our surrounding states, especially Tennessee and Indiana. If you’re
from out of state, I need only your full name and home state; any other
information is optional.

Keep those smokers lit and your bee veils on!

Phil Craft, State Apiarist
Kentucky Department of Agriculture
Web page:
100 Fair Oaks, Suite 252
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 564-3956
Cell: (502) 330-0797
FAX: (502) 564-7852

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