News for SC Beekeepers: November 2012

Local News 

The South Carolina Beekeepers will host a joint spring meeting with the North Carolina State Beekeepers in Rock Hill on 1-2 March 2013. The meeting will be held at the Baxter Hood Conference Center at York Technical College. Speakers for the meeting include Jerry Hayes, Monsanto, St. Louis, Missouri; Sue Cobey, Univ. of California Davis; Jamie Ellis, Univ. of Florida; David Tarpy, NC State Univ.; Bart Smith, USDA/ARS Beltsville, Maryland Bee Lab; and Stanley Schneider, UNC-Charlotte. Meeting registration information will be included in the February Newsletter and will be posted on the SCBA website: <>.

Progress has been made toward hiring a new Professor of Apiculture at Clemson University to fill Dr. Hood’s position when he retires next spring. A national search will be conducted soon and we look forward to welcoming a new “state apiculturist” within the next few months.

The South Carolina Beekeepers met at Clemson University for their annual summer meeting in July with a record high of 310 registered for a summer meeting. Three SCBA honorary awards were presented. Charlotte Anderson was selected as the 2012 South Carolina Beekeeper of the Year. According to her letter of recommendation submitted by the Pickens County Beekeepers, “Charlotte recently qualified to become the third Master Beekeeper in the state and is the first woman to achieve this status. She worked diligently with fellow beekeepers in pursuit of this goal as a partner in study groups, offering her support and encouragement to others.

Charlotte has been active in the beekeeping industry for several years. She is a member of the Pickens County Beekeepers and is a member of the South Carolina Beekeepers and the Eastern Apicultural Society. She travels to regional beekeeper conferences such as the recent EAS meeting held in Boone, NC and the joint meeting of the NCSBA and the SCBA held in Gastonia, NC, to keep abreast of the recent developments that affect our honey bees. Realizing that continuing education is a key factor in ‘becoming a better beekeeper,’ Charlotte makes use of all available learning opportunities. She has also won several ribbons for her entries in honey competitions.

An active participant in continuing beekeeper education, Charlotte contributes to the training of new beekeepers and promotes beekeeping and honey bee education to the public at large. She has served as one of the instructors for the SC Master Beekeeper Certified Level Short Courses that have been offered in Pickens County for the past six years. While serving as Program Chair of the local association, Charlotte worked with a committee to develop a hive scholarship program. The program used donations from area businesses to provide six new scholarship beehives to new beekeepers participating in the Certified Level Short Courses. Charlotte has served as a mentor to many new beekeepers to get them started in beekeeping by answering questions by phone, email, and in person. She sometimes makes ‘house calls’ to help a novice beekeeper find a queen or make their first colony split.

Charlotte works part time at a local beekeeping supply store in Pickens where she is often seen talking to new beekeepers to help them get off to a good start. She also encourages them to participate in their local beekeeper association where they make contacts in the beekeeping community as a great way to learn proper care for their bee colonies.

As owner and operator of ‘Carolina Honey Bees,’ Charlotte produces local raw honey, creamed honey, beeswax candles, beeswax lip balm, and goat milk and honey soap. The honey is processed in her South Carolina Department of Agriculture approved honey house and the other hive products are made on her farm. As a lifelong resident of Pickens County and Clemson University graduate, she believes healthy honey bees are essential for a good honey crop, so she practices IPM (integrated pest management) to minimize pesticide or chemical use in her bee colonies. Charlotte travels to many area festivals across the upstate during the year to promote locally produced honey and beekeeping. She has developed her own website <> to promote her business and beekeeping in general. She is a participant in the SC Certified Program, The Appalachian Grown, and she works with Slow Food Upstate.

In summer of 2011, Charlotte became a part of the first Earth Market in the US. This special farmers market located in Greenville, SC is based on the principle of good wholesome food straight from the farmer to the customer and is part of a movement that originated in Italy.

Representatives of Slow Food International from Italy visited her farm in Pickens and were very interested in comparing the management of bees and production of honey with that in their own country. The market features an educational component that enlightens and educates the public on the importance of the honey bee.

A familiar sight at the Hagood Mill Folk Life Center in Pickens, Charlotte operates a beekeeping display on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Her booth promotes membership in the local association (Pickens County Beekeepers) to potential new beekeepers and the importance of the honey bee’s place in history. Hive products, traditional beekeeping equipment and educational displays are used to introduce visitors to the world of the honey bee.

Charlotte held a two class workshop for beginning beekeepers at the Pickens County Museum. Developing a curriculum with the most vital components essential to the first time beekeeper, this workshop was made available to individuals who were interested in ‘getting started with bees!’

Charlotte is very active in educating the public on the importance of beekeeping. She has served as an instructor with OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at Clemson University. This is a membership organization (primarily seniors over 50) whose mission is to provide opportunities for adults to further their knowledge in academic and recreational pursuits. Her class ‘It’s All About the Bees’ has unlocked the mysteries of the honey bee for many area seniors, some of whom are considering beginning a beekeeper adventure of their own.

As an area beekeeping authority, Charlotte fields requests often from the media. She has been featured in an article in TOWN Magazine in Greenville, SC.  The article focused on the joys of being a beekeeper and the importance of bees to our way of life. In January, she was interviewed by reporter Amy Clarke as part of a Life Style segment on the resurgence of beekeeping interests in the local Greenville News newspaper.

Throughout the year, Charlotte travels with her Power Point presentations to such local groups as: Clemson Master Gardeners, Upstate Daylily Society, The Reserve Garden Club and others.  Her Programs on honey bees and beekeeping receive much praise.

Charlotte is an excellent representation of what a beekeeper should strive to be. She has devoted countless hours to helping new beekeepers and has willingly shared her thoughts with established beekeepers. She has always been willing to listen to a beekeepers problem and provide needed assistance, while at the same time sharing her excitement of beekeeping.”

We applaud Charlotte in all that she has accomplished as a South Carolina beekeeping ambassador and we encourage her to keep up the good work. 

Caroline Lowery was selected as the 2012 South Carolina Junior Beekeeper of the Year. Caroline is a senior at Ashley Hall Academy and is an active member of the Charleston Area Beekeepers (CABA). She has two bee colonies and has documented her beginning and ongoing learning as a beekeeper on her website “Becoming Queen Bee.” This site is the focal point of her senior thesis at Ashley Hall Academy to make the public aware of the importance of honey bees and their struggle to overcome colony collapse disorder, parasitic mites, small hive beetles and pesticides used in our environment.

Caroline has assisted CABA in a successful bee removal project in downtown Charleston and gave a presentation with photos at a monthly association meeting. In May 2011, Caroline volunteered as an intern at the USDA Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland to increase her knowledge of honey bees by participating and assisting with research projects at the lab.  

In February 2012, Caroline traveled to Modesto, California to assist noted beekeeper John Miller as he placed and maintained bee colonies for almond pollination. She maintained a daily blog of her activities on her website with many photos, videos and wrote an excellent description of her daily tasks while there in Modesto.

The CABA beekeepers noted that they are proud to have such an enthusiastic and intelligent young beekeeper in their association. The members of the SCBA are also proud to have such an active young beekeeping ambassador in South Carolina and our hats off to Caroline for all her activities in support of beekeeping.

Ben Powell was selected as the 2012 “Extension Agent of the Year.” Ben is a Clemson University Extension Agent in Horry/Georgetown/Williamsburg Counties. Ben was very instrumental in getting the Blackwater Beekeepers Association up and running a couple years ago. The letter of recommendation for Ben to receive this award was submitted by Glenn Tyler, who is vice president of the Blackwater Beekeepers. “Although Ben’s job responsibilities are many and varied, he has managed to find time to support his local beekeeper association that meets monthly in Horry County.  Even though Ben’s time is very limited, he has always found the time to aid us with our new association, including securing our meeting place, mailing meeting announcements to beekeepers in our area, participating in media interviews and promotions, and providing help with our first certified level short course. Ben’s talents are many and his willingness has been great to help beekeepers in this region of the state.”

Thanks Ben for all you do to support the beekeepers in your coastal region. Our hats are off to you for a job well done.

USDA Survey Reports 2011/2012 Winter Honey Bee Losses

Survey by USDA and Collaborators Reports Fewer Winter Honey Bee Losses

WASHINGTON - Total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 21.9 percent nationwide for the 2011/2012 winter, according to the annual survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Bee Informed Partnership and the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA).

This represents a substantial drop in mortality compared to the previous five years, when winter losses of around 30 percent have been reported. Previous surveys found total colony losses of 30 percent in the winter of 2010/2011, 34 percent in 2009/2010, 29 percent in 2008/2009, 36 percent in 2007/2008 and 32 percent in 2006/2007.

The unusually warm winter during 2011/2012 could be one possible contributing factor to the decline in colony losses, although no direct scientific investigation of the weather connection has been conducted. January 2012 ranks as the fourth-warmest in U.S. history.

"A warm winter means less stress on bee colonies and may help them be more resistant to pathogens, parasites and other problems," said Jeff Pettis, co-leader of the survey and research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.  University of Maryland research scientist Dennis vanEngelsdorp was the co-leader of the survey.

Among beekeepers who reported losing any colonies from any cause, 37 percent said they lost at least some of their colonies without finding any dead bees. The absence of dead bees is one of the defining symptoms of colony collapse disorder (CCD), a serious problem that beekeepers began facing in 2006. Since this was an interview-based survey, it was not possible to confirm that these colonies had CCD or if the losses were the result of other causes that share the "absence of dead bees" symptom.

"Tracking CCD continues to be complex," Pettis said. "Despite several claims, we still don't know the cause of CCD."

Almost half of responding beekeepers reported losses greater than 13.6 percent, the level of loss that beekeepers have stated would be acceptable for their operations. Continued losses above that level threaten the economic sustainability of commercial beekeeping.

A total of 5,543 beekeepers, who manage nearly 15 percent of the country's estimated 2.49 million colonies, responded to the survey.

A complete analysis of the survey data will be published later this year. The abstract can be found at

More information about CCD can be found at

Kim Kaplan, USDA-ARS; posted June 2012

Calendar for 2013

January 8-12, 2013 – American Beekeeping Federation Annual Conference, Hershey, PA. for more details.

March 1-2, 2013 – SCBA/NCSBA Joint Meeting, Baxter Hood Conference Center, York Technical College, Rock Hill, SC,

July 25-27, 2013 – SCBA Summer Meeting, Hendrix Student Center, Clemson University

August 5-9, 2013 – Eastern Apicultural Society Annual Conference, West Chester, PA. for more details.

2013 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow

January 8-12, 2013
Hershey® Lodge
Hershey, Pennsylvania

The 2013 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow will be held in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Hershey® Lodge, January 8-12, 2013. As always, this conference promises to bring you the most up-to-date information within the beekeeping industry and the latest products and services offered by our many exhibitors and sponsors.

The 2013 conference will be a very special one because the American Beekeeping Federation will be celebrating its 70th anniversary! The ABF could not think of a better way to celebrate than by hosting another successful conference and tradeshow.

The conference committee is busy developing the agenda and you can be sure it will include presentations from industry experts as well as information from speakers new to the ABF.  Features of the 2013 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow include:

  • Two and half days of general sessions complete with presentations on the latest developments in beekeeping
  • Large exhibit hall with great vendors featuring outstanding products and services
  • The 2013 American Honey Show
  • The 2013 Honey Queen and Princess coronation
  • The ever-popular Serious Sideliner Symposium with a focus on "How I Do It"
  • The American Bee Research Conference
  • A variety of specialized hands-on workshops
  • Opportunity to visit a working bee farm (or two)
  • A few "sweet" treats
  • And much, much more...


We're excited to be in Hershey, Pennsylvania! Home to some of the bestselling chocolate in the world, Hershey is truly an unforgettable town where the scent of chocolate (and now, maybe even honey!) will follow you wherever you go.  

Make your plans now to join us in January!


Please be sure to check back often, as we will continue to post updated information as it becomes available.


Responding to a petition submitted to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service in May of 2010, the final disposition (favorable) was published in the U.S Federal Register 76 (216) on November of 2011. The petition requested a change to the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Crops, Livestock and Processing)” of the “National Organic Program.” The permission to use synthetically manufactured formic acid for mite control in organic honey productions was based on the following: “The use of synthetic formic acid is regulated by other Federal agencies. Formic acid has antibacterial properties that make it effective as a preservative, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits its use as a food additive in the feed and drinking water of animals (21 CFR 573.480). FDA also permits the use of formic acid as flavoring agent in processed foods (21 CFR 172.515). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exempted synthetic formic acid from the requirement of a tolerance in or on honey and honeycomb when used to control tracheal mites and suppress Varroa mites in bee colonies, and applied in accordance with label use directions (40 CFR 180.1178).\13\. The EPA has examined the potential for formic acid residues to appear in beeswax and honey and concluded that residues above those found naturally are not expected when a formic acid pesticide product is used as directed. Synthetic formic acid is currently permitted in Canada and the European Union for use in organic apiculture to control parasitic mites.

“At its October 25-28, 2010, meeting in Madison, WI, the NOSB recommended adding formic acid to the National List for use in organic livestock production solely as a pesticide within honeybee hives. The NOSB evaluated formic acid against the evaluation criteria of 7 U.S.C. 6517 and 6510 of the OFPA and received public comment at this meeting. During the NOSB deliberations, the Board noted that they had not received any public comments against the addition of formic acid to the National List. The NOSB deliberations over the petition for this substance heavily relied upon the information provided by the petitioner. According to the formic acid petition, there are several methods for controlling mite populations in honeybee hives. These methods include those that are mechanical (e.g. trapping) and biochemical such as the use of synthetic sucrose octanoate esters (currently listed on Sec. 205.603) for control for Varroa mites. However, data was provided by the petitioner illustrating that the allowed biochemical and mechanical control methods do not have the same efficacy as formic acid in the climatic conditions in Hawaii, one of the U.S.'s highest-producing organic honey regions. The information presented by the petitioner and considered by the NOSB is generally supported by a June 2011 technical report for formic acid that the NOSB Livestock Committee accepted as sufficient.

“Sec. 205.603(b) with an annotation that would limit the substance's use to a pesticide solely within honeybee hives. In their recommendation, the NOSB did not limit the use of formic acid only for treatment of Varroa mites, which was the use specified by the petitioner. Since EPA registers formic acid as a pesticide to control Varroa and tracheal mites, their recommendation and this proposed rule would, in effect, allow the use of formic acid to control both Varroa and tracheal mites in organic apiculture.

At the October 2010 NOSB meeting, the NOP and NOSB discussed the placement of formic acid on the National List. The NOP raised the question of whether listing formic acid, a miticide, under Sec. 205.603(b) is appropriate given that Sec. 205.603(b) specifies that substances under this section be limited to use as “a topical treatment, external parasiticide (emphasis added) or local anesthetic as applicable.'' The NOSB explained that research indicated that mites can be considered a parasite. The NOSB also stated that listing formic acid at Sec. 205.603(b) would be consistent with the listing for sucrose octanoate esters, another substance in this National List section which is approved for use in apiculture to control Varroa mites. Through this proposed rule, the NOP is seeking comments on the placement of formic acid on the National List. Furthermore, the NOP may reconsider the placement of formic acid on the National List as part of any future rulemaking on organic apiculture standards. In the NOP's consideration of the addition of formic acid to the National List, the NOP would also like to reiterate that registered pesticide products intended for use in organic production and handling must also be evaluated for compliance with EPA's August 2004 list of inert ingredients, minus any revoked inert ingredients.

The Secretary has reviewed and proposes to accept the NOSB's recommendation. Consistent with the NOSB recommendation, this proposed rule would amend Sec. 205.603 of the National List by adding formic acid (CAS 64-18-6) at paragraph (b)(2) as a synthetic substance allowed for use as follows: Formic acid (CAS 64-18-6)--for use as a pesticide solely within honeybee hives.”

Currently, the only U. S. registered formic acid product for mite control is the NOD Mite-Away Quick Strip® formulation. There is a request, being formulated for submission to the IR-4 (“Orphan Drug”) Program, to oversee an experimental trial of the MiteGone® refillable pads for use in formic acid fumigation of beehives. If registered as a pest control device, the pads would be sold dry. They can be cut into various sizes to match the dosage requirements of a colony. The approach requires someone to “charge” the pads by soaking them in 65 percent formic acid solution. This is best done just before placing the pads on the top bars. Thus, many beekeepers might be purchasing and handling 65 percent formic acid. That can be done, but sometimes practitioners do not respect the ability of formic acid to cause human physiological damage, since they think it is a “weak” acid. DON’T make that mistake! If the pads are proven to be effective and can be handled safely, perhaps some intermediary persons, trained accordingly, should be responsible for filling the pads for the beekeepers.

Source: UC Davis Newsletter Sept/Oct 2012


BY Carl Wieland

One of the most fiendishly complex mathematical computations is the so-called “Travelling Salesman Problem”. Given a list of locations (e.g. cities) and the distances between them, it involves finding the shortest possible route in which each location is visited only once.  As the number of locations increases past anything more than a handful, the complexity of the problem increases dramatically, to staggering proportions.

Such computations “keep supercomputers busy for days”, says Professor Lars Chittka, from the University of London.1 Yet scientists from that university, using artificial computer-generated flowers, have found that bees learn to solve such problems, in effect and extremely quickly.2 They are the first animals found capable of this—and they solve it for hundreds of locations.

Chittka says that bees are able “to link hundreds of flowers in a way that minimizes travel distance, and then reliably find their way home—not a trivial feat if you have a brain the size of a pinhead!”  Using artificial computer –controlled flowers, the researchers found that bees can do this “even if they discover the flowers in a different order”.

Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau, the co-author of the study, says this shows that, despite a limited number of nerve cells in their brains, bees obviously have “advanced cognitive capacities”. The researchers express the hope that one day it might be possible to understand how such amazing processing feats are achieved with such apparently minimal “hardware”.

But if the best computer hardware engineers and software programmers have yet to design a supercomputer that can match the bee’s “advanced” computative performance, let alone one with the space efficiency of a bee’s brain, what does that say about the bee’s designed?  One doesn’t need to be good at mathematical computations to work that one out (Romans 1:20).

References and Notes

1Tiny brained bees solve a complex mathematical problem, Queen Mary – University of London,, 25 October 2010,

2Lihoreau, M., Chittka, L., and Raine, N., Travel optimization by foraging bumblebees through readjustments of trap lines after discovery of new feeding locations, the American Naturalist 176(6):744-757, 2010.



Prof. Eric Mussen, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1976, will also touch on the newly announced threat to honey bees, the parasitic phorid fly (Apocephalus borealis). San Francisco State University researchers, in work published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS One) Journal, found that the parasitic fly lays its eggs in the honey bees; it was previously known to parasitize bumble bees, but not honey bees.

The infested bees reportedly fly around like zombies and cannot return to their hives.

“This information explains why some, infested, honey bee adults leave the colony at night and are not likely to come back,” Mussen said. “The percent infestations level is not high enough to cause a Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) loss, by itself. However, anything that further stresses the bee population and increases bee losses can contribute to CCD.”

Mussen said the fly “may be contributing to the loss of adult bees from colonies, but that probably is happening, also, in colonies that are not collapsing. CCD seems to be an additive malady, so losses to fly parasitism can join the other stresses.  It does not appear to be a dominant factor.”

The San Francisco researchers detected the fly parasite in some commercial hives in California and South Dakota. Mussen said that without surveys, “we would not know for sure how widespread it is. However, it is likely that a bumble bee parasite would be distributed at least as widespread as its bumble bee hosts.”

Mussen said he does not consider the fly a significant threat. “Honey bees have an amazing ability to ‘make up for’ unanticipated losses – like exposures to bee-toxic agrichemicals in the fields – to the adult population by rearing more brood than would be expected at that time of year to return to normal populations size.  So, if the colony is shrinking abnormally, the bees often can re-establish the normal size by rearing ‘extra’ brood. However, depending upon the inherent genetic abilities of a specific colony to tolerate fly parasitism, some colonies might be prone to developing parasite levels that are overwhelming, and actually succumb to the infestations.”

SOURCE: Western Farm Press, August 2012, Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis


An M&M processing plant in northeastern France is turning bee honey into unusual shades of blue and green, making the product impossible to sell.

Angry bee keepers recently started noticing the strange honey hue and launched an investigation into the cause of the color change. Bee keepers soon discovered their bees were carrying a colorful substance back to their hives from an M&M plant located in biogas.

The M&M plant had left processing containers outside and uncovered, which led to the bee based contamination.

While M&M parent company Mars is not commenting on the incident, it has covered up the containers to ensure no more contamination occurs.

Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant, said in a statement: “We discovered the problem at the same time they did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it.”

Anytime a beehive is infected with foreign substances, it raises a new level of concern as bee colonies have been in great decline all over the world for the last decade. France has taken an especially hard stance against the disruption of bee colonies, banning the pesticide, Cruiser OSR, after a single study found that it was causing high mortality rates in bees.

While the town of Ribeauville is best known for its wine, there are 2,400 beekeepers in the town, keepers who tend to more than 35,000 bee colonies.

The honey with its unusual blue and green hues may be consumable, but beekeepers say nobody wants to buy colorful honey from their colonies.



By Nora Hertel

Until now, beekeeping in Madison (Wisconsin) was technically illegal. Nevertheless, dozens in the city have tried to keep their bees under the radar.

According to Matt Tucker, the zoning administrator for the City of Madison, keeping bees has been like stacking firewood on your property. The city does not condone the activity, but it only becomes an issue if the neighbors complain.

But a new ordinance, passed on Feb. 28, permits, even encourages, Madison residents to keep bees as part of an effort to promote local, urban agriculture.

Officially called Section 9.53, the change comes as an amendment to chapter 28 of the Madison General Ordinances of the conservancy, agriculture, and residential districts.

Proponents see the ordinance as part of a broader urban farming movement.

“There is a movement in this country and abroad, a grassroots recognition of the benefits of urban agriculture,” explained Tucker. “It’s a big buzz concept in our contemporary society. It’s new farming.”

Tucker and Alder Satya Rhodes-Conway began working on the beekeeping ordinance in May 2011, although neither keeps bees themselves.

“I think it’s important, where people are interested, to allow them to grow their own food, or have access to locally grown food,” said Rhodes-Conway. “That can be done in an urban context.”

The ordinance requires that hives remain three feet from property lines, 10 feet from public sidewalks, and 25 feet from the neighbors’ primary building. Keepers must maintain a source of water for the bees and acquire a beekeeping license from the city. The licenses cost $10.

Tucker worked with the Dane County Beekeepers Association (DCBA) in drafting the ordinance, adopting many of their suggestions in the final document. Keepers can maintain up to six hives on one property, but no hive can exceed 20 square feet.

Regulations also specify location and height of “flyway barriers,” which force bees to fly up and away when they leave the hive, rather than drift into nearby yards.

An educational website will also be set up to encourage beekeeping and inform new hobbyists of relevant regulations.

While the new changes encourage beekeeping, Tucker made sure to take non-beekeepers’ concerns into account. The ordinance maintains a 25 foot requirement between hives and neighboring houses, despite opposition on this point by the DCBA. This is to keep neighbors happy.

“We needed to calm people’s fears about bees up front,” said Tucker. “We wanted to be sure that introducing bees wouldn’t have adverse effects on the neighboring property.”

Some objections to beekeeping stem from fears of stinging insects, although honeybees are considered non-aggressive. They seek only nectar from plants, and sting only when threatened. The majority of a hive remains to care for larvae and create honey, while about a third of the bees will fly as far as two miles to collect nectar.

In preparation for the ordinance, Tucker and Rhodes-Conway reviewed beekeeping codes from Milwaukee, New York City, and Vancouver, among others. Tucker met with entomologists from UW-Madison, keepers of the hive at the Vilas Zoo, and Dane County Animal Control to understand honeybee behavior.

The first draft, presented to the city in October 2011, met with significant criticism from the DCBA and city planners. It required larger distances between hives and property lines or sidewalks, and capped hive capacity at 10 square feet. Many hopeful beekeepers would not have been able to comply with the originally drafted requirements, especially on the smaller residential plots of the isthmus neighborhoods.

“We admittedly had too rigorous of a form,” said Tucker.

The DCBA stepped in to suggest changes to the code. They recommended parameters that would allow residents on smaller isthmus plots to keep bees, while also taking neighbor’s concerns into consideration.

Bees’ interest in flowers contributes to the local ecosystem, because they serve as docile pollinators for the area around the hive. They also contribute to local agriculture by creating their own crop of local food – honey.

The code’s express support of urban agriculture and generous guidelines are considered progressive by beekeepers and city workers alike.

“There’s no city that has as generous an ordinance as we’re going to have,” said Jeanne Hansen, the instructor of local beekeeping classes. “This ordinance will be used as a prototype by bee clubs and beekeepers from here to breakfast.”

The ordinance is good news to honeybee populations too, as hives suffer from numerous threats worldwide. The number of honeybees throughout the world dropped dramatically in the last several years.

Now that bees have support to thrive in Madison, beekeepers, honey eaters, and urban agriculture enthusiasts look forward to rearing them legally.

Local beekeeper and DCBA member, Mike Gourlie, worked closely with Tucker on the ordinance. He appreciates the way the city carefully considered the Association’s perspective.

“I take my beekeeping hat and my beekeeping veil off to the city of Madison for the job they did on this,” said Gourlie.



A previously unknown honeybee defence weapon against varroa and a potential new natural anaesthetic for humans

Researchers have discovered that honeybees can bite as well as sting and that the bite contains a natural anaesthetic. The anaesthetic may not only help honeybees fend off pests such as wax moth and the parasitic varroa mite, but it also has great potential for use in human medicine.

The surprise findings discovered by a team of researchers from Greek and French organisations in collaboration with Vita (Europe) Ltd, the UK-based honeybee health specialist, will cause a complete re-thinking of honeybee defence mechanisms and could lead to the production of a natural, low toxicity local anaesthetic for humans and animals.

The natural anaesthetic that has been discovered in the bite of the honeybee and measured at the University of Athens is 2-heptanone (2-H), a natural compound found in many foods and also secreted by certain insects, but never before understood to have anaesthetic properties. Independent tests have verified Vita’s findings and the potential of 2-heptanone as a local anaesthetic.

As a naturally-occurring substance with a lower toxicity than conventional anaesthetics, 2-heptanone shows great potential. Vita has already patented the compound for use as a local anaesthetic and is seeking pharmaceutical partners to develop it further.

Until recently, research seemed to indicate that 2-heptanone was either a honeybee alarm pheromone that triggers defensive responses, or a chemical marker signaling to other foraging bees that a flower had already been visited. Vita’s results contradicted these notions.

The new research clearly shows that 2-heptanone paralyses small insects and mites bitten by bees for up to nine minutes. Somewhat like a snake, the honeybee uses its mandibles to bite its enemy and then secretes 2-heptanone into the wound to anaesthetise it. This enables the honeybee to eject the enemy from the hive and is a particularly effective defence against pests, such as wax moth larvae and varroa mites, which are too small to sting.

 Source: News from Vita Europe Ltd., Oct. 17, 2012


Tempe, Ari. – Scientists at Arizona State University have discovered that older honey bees effectively reverse brain aging when they take on nest responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees. While current research on human age-related dementia focuses on potential new drug treatments, researchers say these findings suggest that social interventions may be used to slow or treat age-related dementia.

In a study published in the scientific journal Experimental Gerontology, a team of scientists from ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, led by Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, presented findings that show that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains.

“We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the next and take care of larvae - the bee babies – they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them, “ said Amdam. “However, after a period of nursing, bees fly out gathering food and begin aging very quickly. After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function – basically measured as the ability to learn new things. We wanted to find out if there was plasticity in this aging pattern so we asked the question, “What would happen if we asked the foraging bees to take care of larval babies again?”

During experiments, scientists removed all of the younger nurse bees from the nest – leaving only the queen and babies. When the older, foraging bees returned to the nest, activity diminished for several days. Then, some of the old bees returned to searching for food, while others cared for the nest and larvae.
Researchers discovered that after 10 days, about 50 percent of the older bees caring for the nest and larvae had significantly improved their ability to learn new things.

Amdam’s international team not only saw a recovery in the bees’ ability to learn, they discovered a change in proteins in the bees’ brains. When comparing the brains to the bees that improved relative to those that did not, two proteins noticeably changed. They found Prx6, a protein also found in humans that can help protect against dementia – including diseases such as Alzheimer’s – and they discovered a second and documented “chaperone” protein that protects other proteins from being damaged when brain or other tissues are exposed to cell-level stress.

In general, researchers are interested in creating a drug that could help people maintain brain function, yet they may be facing up to 30 years of basic research and trials.

“Maybe social interaction – changing how you deal with your surroundings – is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger,” said Amdam. “Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences.“ 

Amdam suggests further studies are needed on mammals such as rats in order to investigate whether the same molecular changes that the bees experience might be socially inducible in people.

Source:   American Bee Journal, Vol. 152, No. 9, September 2012




Makes about 6 cups


  • 1 20 oz. can evaporated skim milk, chilled
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract


Chill a large mixing bowl and electric beaters. Pour milk into bowl and use the electric mixer at high speed to beat until foamy. Add honey and vanilla; continue to beat until mixture is the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately.

Serving size: 2 tablespoons

Calories: 12

Fat: 0g

SOURCE: 150 Calorie Desserts from



Hands-on Time: 20 min.  Total Time: 3 hr., 20 min.


  • 1 9 ¼-lb. fully cooked, bone-in ham
  • 40 whole cloves
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 1/3 cup Creole mustard
  • 1/3 cup molasses


Preheat oven to 350°. Remove skin from ham, and trim fat to ¼-inch thickness.  Make shallow cuts in fat 1 inch apart in a diamond pattern; insert cloves in centers of diamonds. Place ham in an aluminum foil-lined 13 x 9 inch pan.  Stir together brown sugar and next 4 ingredients; spoon over ham. Bake at 350° on lowest oven rack 2 hours and 30 minutes, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes.  Shield ham with foil after 1 hour to prevent excessive browning. Remove ham from oven, and let stand 30 minutes. Makes 15 servings. 

SOURCE: Southern Living, Heirloom Recipe Cookbook



  • 1 (1-lb. 7-oz.) can syrup packed sweet potatoes
  • ¼ c. honey
  • 2 tsp. orange peel
  • 1 tsp. finely grated crystallized ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. butter


Drain and reserve liquid from the sweet potatoes. Arrange sweet potatoes in flat baking dish. Combine liquid with honey, orange peel and chopped ginger.  Pour over sweet potatoes.  Dot with butter.  Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are well glazed.

SOURCE: “From the Hive to the Table”, Stanly County Beekeepers Association Cookbook.


Prep: 20 min. Bake: 50 min. + cooling

Yield: 6-8 Servings


  • Pastry for a double-crust pie
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup milk


Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom pastry. Trim and flute edges; set aside. In a bowl, combine the pumpkin, honey, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add the eggs, evaporated milk and milk. Pour into crust. Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

From the remaining pastry, cut out three 3-in. leaves and three 5-in. x 1/2-in. strips. Using a sharp knife, cut veins in leaves. Wrap each strip of dough around the handle of a wooden spoon; place spoons upside down on a baking sheet. Place leaves, vein side up, on the rounded side of spoons. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Arrange decorations on cooled pie.

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (1 slice) equals 384 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 97 mg cholesterol, 399 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein.



Comments or Questions, Contact:

Mike Hood,  Extension Apiculturist, 864-656-0346,

Clemson University, Dept. of Entomology, Soils, & Plant Sciences
Attn: "News for SC Beekeepers", Editor
Box 340110, 116 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634-0110
Phone: 864-656-3111, Fax: 864-656-0274

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