Malcolm T Sanford
The last American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) meeting in
The welcome to
In his address, President David Sundberg described the optimism that higher-than-usual honey prices were creating in the industry. An example, he said, was attendance at this convention, the 53rd in the Federation’s history. There were over 400 pre registered and more exhibits (50 total; many never before present) than at any previous meeting. In addition, he stated that the Federation was meeting jointly with both the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the National Honey Packers and Dealers Association in a cvontinuing effort to integrate the efforts of all industry groups.
Although the anti-dumping suit showed that all beekeepers
could work together, Mr. Sundberg said, the effort
was not over. Maintenance fees of
$10,000 a quarter are needed to ensure that the ruling is enforced. The agreement requires constant monitoring by
a private law firm, or all those efforts that have gone before will be for
naught he said. And the industry cannot
rest on its laurels as there are pressing concerns on other fronts. Of specific importance is honey adulteration,
according to Mr. Sundberg. This practice could easily negate all gains
made on the anti-dumping fund case.
Finally, he echoed Commissioner Andrews’ words concerning the need to
continue to lobby in
Given the attention by previous speakers to the
unprecedented changes in
With reference to research, he listed accomplishments of the Agricultural Research Service. These efforts have provided the beekeeping industry with many advantages over the last seven decades, starting with development of instrumental insemination in the 1920s at the Beltsville, MD. This technique has been modified over the years and is a vital part of honey bee breeding programs all over the world.
A partial list of other research efforts described by Dr. Shimanuki include:
1) The use of fumagillin to control nosema disease was
conducted by USDA and industry scientists at the
2) Tests to detect adulteration of honey by high
fructose corn syrup (HFCS) were developed by Dr. Jack White and his colleagues
3) Research identifying menthol as a candidate
compound for the control of tracheal mite was the result of a cooperative
research program between the USDA and the
4) The antibiotic extender patty was developed
by Dr. Wilson while he was stationed at the USDA bee laboratory in
American foulbrood, but is now also being used to control honey bee tracheal mite.
4) When Varroa jacobsoni was first discovered in the
Pollination of Cultivated Crop Plants is a book without equal. Mr. S. E McGregor, Chief of the USDA
Apiculture Research Branch was awarded time off to write this important book in
6) The ARS-YC-1 bee stock shown to be resistant to tracheal mite was developed jointly by Yugoslavian and USDA scientists at the Baton Rouge Bee Laboratory. This stock is being used by several breeders and the lab continues its investigations on this essential topic
7) The first computer assisted morphometric program was
developed by scientists from the
8) ARS and university researchers have also made many contributions in support of regulatory agencies, especially IR-4 on the registration of labels for minor use chemicals. These include the much of the basic information on resmethrin, Bacillus thurengiensis, ethylene oxide, paradichlorobenzene and now formic acid. In addition, ARS helps write and review labels for both the EPA and FDA.
also pointed out that university counterparts have also contributed to research
in a number of areas. Besides those
mentioned above in California-Berkeley and Florida, for example, a quick test
for screening for tracheal mite resistant honey bees was developed by
scientists at the University of California-Davis. This test is being used by scientists in
Each citizen in the
Federal research has also had to take some of the educational or extension load, Dr. Shimanuki said. One reason for this is the reorganization of the United States Department of Agriculture combining both Cooperative Extension and the Cooperative States Research Service. The federal extension effort held down by Dr. Jim Tew for over a decade has also been lost along with others at the state level. There have been some encouraging educational developments at the state level, according to Dr. Shimanuki. One is a shift in the role of inspectors from simply being regulators to becoming more service and education oriented. However, the results are mixed; some states have abandoned their apiary inspection programs altogether and most others have reduced efforts in this arena.
The challenge for the beekeeping industry at the national
level, Dr. Shimanuki concluded, will be to conserve
research and extension programs already in place. The key questions being asked by
administrators in all areas are whether efforts are being duplicated and if
problems of national concern are being addressed. Only beekeepers, through organizations like
the Federation, will be able to answer these by communicating them to their
elected officials. He concluded his
remarks by saying that two cents was not much to ask of every citizen in the
In an experimental change of form, the Federation program adjourned the program to the nearby exhibit area. This provided vendors and others the opportunity to show their wares. In this first session, a panel convened on wood vs plastic use in foundation. And new products were also shown to participants by vendors.
The afternoon session convened with George Hansen, who
addressed the topic Beekeeping in
Honey production in
Pollination has become big business in
Another driving force in pollination is the
The emphasis on hybrid seed pollination in
In some situations, there are extraordinary things required of cooperating beekeepers according to Mr. Schnack. In onion pollination, setting only the king umble is needed, and, therefore, 4 to 5 colonies per acre are required, coupled with a quick move out once this is accomplished. Although there are problems with colony placement and pesticide application , Mr. Schnack said, he sees the pollination business continuing to grow. Some 8,000 colonies were rented in 1995, resulting in pollination fees of $300,000, up from a total rental of only 182 colonies in 1982. And all this activity is done without a contract, only on a handshake. The beekeeper continues to be the key to the specialty agriculture of the area according to Mr. Schnack. He sees his job as continuously putting out that message that without managed pollination, there will be no crop.
Mr. Bob Cox, President of the Apiary Inspectors of America, next addressed the changing role of the bee inspector. Bee inspection originally was legislated to control American foulbrood, Mr. Cox said. The first bee law was passed in 1877 in San Bernadino County, California. Some twelve states had bee laws by the 1920s. In 1922, the Federal Honey Bee Act was passed. It may be time, Mr. Cox said, to revisit this law. Much has happened since then and there are many more concerns now than American foulbrood. These include not Varroa and tracheal mites, but also viruses and the Africanized honey bee. Many of these are worldwide in importance as well, Mr. Cox said, even accounting for a new journal, Bee Biz, first published this fall.
American foulbrood and mite problems appear to be under
control at present, according to Mr. Cox.
However, there are concerns about development of alternative treatments
should resistance develop. And bee
inspection is becoming less regulatory in nature and taking on more of an
informing and educating role, as noted earlier by Dr. Shimanuki. Concrete examples of this were the AIA booth
and the traveling smoker exhibition of
Bee inspectors have also become more involved in
research, Mr. Cox said, as shown by efforts in
Coping with the future changes demanded in modern
beekeeping was the theme of this reporter’s talk entitled: “A View of Beekeeping Beyond 1996.” Change in beekeeping has been relatively slow
over the years, considering that most major beekeeping innovations occurred
before 1900. However, there has been a
rapid increase in rate of change, especially since the 1950s. These include introduction of antibiotics,
maturation of bee inspection services, and the numerous advances brought by bee
research as mentioned by Dr. Shimanuki. Things picked up in the 1970s, with
development of high fructose corn syrup as both bee food and honey adulterant
and the rapid advance of the Africanized bee into
The Africanized honey bee moved into
Jim Bach, Washington State Apiarist, discussed his ideas on evaluating colony behavior as a predictor of colony survival. Mr. Bach said that in a historical context beekeepers are experiencing more and more colony losses. His investigations into this phenomenon reveal some consistent behaviors which appear to correlate with colonies not surviving stressful periods, especially winter. Analyzing these is a “thinking process,” according to Mr. Bach, and beekeepers and others should be continually asking themselves why these are occurring and what can be done about them.
A partial list of these include:
1) Bees appear nervous and are running excessively on comb.
2) Bees are scenting more than normal.
3) Bees are making lots of noise, in excess of 85 decibels in some cases.
4) Bees are clustering off the brood.
5) Bees are making more irregular comb cells and “hybrid”, a mixture of drone and worker size brood cappings.
6) Queens are laying eggs scattered all over the comb.
7) Colonies are dwindling down even when there is honey in supers.
8) Bees are absconding in February.
9) Bees are not feeding brood and showing symptoms of bee parasitic mite syndrome.
These conditions appear to be cumulative in colonies, according to Mr. Bach. They should be recognized for what they are, vital indicators of whether or not colonies will survive temperate winters
At the end of the first day, the session again shifted to the exhibits area. where Jack Thomas discussed new products and a demonstration by Pat Kuehl took place. That evening there was the traditional orientation for new Federation members and the popular Honey Queen Quiz Bowl.
The second day of the meeting in
A big problem Dr. Wilson said is the current inability to
test mites for resistance to any chemical.
Without such a test, it is difficult to say when a material might be
loosing its effectiveness. The research
dollars to develop this test are simply not there. Dr. Frank Eischen,
now on temporary employment at
Kerry Clark, Apiculture Specialist from
A good deal more research is still needed on formic acid
Dr. Shimanuki again addressed
the convention about viruses and honey bees.
A good many viruses have been identified in honey bees. These include sacbrood,
chronic paralysis and others. Many are
not harmful, and they seem to pop up here and there. For example, bees in both
The introduction of parasitic mites in the
Many questions remain about viruses, according to Dr. Shimanuki, and only one ARS scientist is working on this aspect of bee health at the Beltsville lab. It is not known, for example, whether viruses multiply in bees, what activates them and if puncturing the cuticle is necessary to infect a bee. Other more esoteric questions include whether bee eggs can be infected with viruses and what role general stress might play in development of these diseases. In some cases, Dr. Shimanuki concluded, differences between certain viruses remain unknown. It is possible the ones we may be calling different names may in fact be the same organism.
The program venue shifted again to the exhibit hall where
this reporter and Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk,
The afternoon session featured two speakers on the
Africanized honey bee. Dr. Jerry Loper at the ARS laboratory in
Dr. Bill Wilson next described the
For the moment, however, Dr. Wilson said, the news hype is over and beekeepers remain in business. Nevertheless, they don’t like the Africanized bee and its presence adds about 25 percent more overhead to operations. The bottom line according to Dr. Wilson is that the bee remains unpredictable and beekeepers and others should stay away from it if they can.
Dr. Jeff Pettis from
Dr. Diana Sammataro,
In the meantime, Dr. Sammataro
concluded, continuous exposure of vegetable oil patty does appear to work by
perhaps confusing the mites during their “questing” activities. This has led her to recommend the following
integrated pest control technique against tracheal mite at least in
1. Requeen in the fall to ensure a prolific layer next spring.
2. Try to reduce the number of foragers and drones in the fall that will be infested with mites .
3. Use an extender patty with Terramycin in fall and spring to prevent infestation of young bees.
A most interesting presentation followed in the exhibits area by Mr. Glenn Peters. It was called the “Mr. Honeystix and the Honeystix Story.” This product, honey packaged in plastic straws , allows beekeepers to sell their honey for anywhere from $11 to $17.00 per pound. This unique candy is in high demand and is very profitable. The production limitations present in the past have now been overcome and there is much more opportunity to obtain the product. Beekeepers can buy the product outright from the firm or contract to have their own honey put into the plastic straws.
Honeystix in ‘96 is the motto of Mr. Honeystix, according to Mr. Peters, who exhibited a huge mockup of a plastic straw crimped at both ends. The candy has won some world class awards and, he concluded, it will be responsible for leading honey marketing into the 21st century.
The biggest news in
According to Mr. Yang, one advantage of the agreement is that much of the work will be done by the PRC in terms of compliance. It will allocate quotas, report allocations, and issue certificates. Most important, however, the PRC will also avoid circumvention by actively enforcing the agreement. Mr. Yang said he was committed to enforcing the agreement, but also indicated that the Commerce Department had a very heavy work load. He urged anyone with concerns or information on possible circumvention to contact him at 202/482-0406 or Lisa Yarborough at 202/482-2306.
Mr. Paul Rosen of the law office that has been hired to pursue the anti-dumping suit then reported on his firm’s activities. The anti-dumping ruling is valid for five years, he said, but is subject to review each year. This action will be to ensure whether there is continued need for the order. His firm is committed to contacting the Department of Commerce on a regular basis to monitor the agreement. The possibility of circumvention is always there , Mr. Rosen said, and must be guarded against by constant vigilance. This is the reason the industry is being asked to come up with the quarterly payments mentioned by President Sundburg in his opening remarks.
There is a downside to honey price increases.. This is the
increased incentive to purposefully adulterate the product. In
The stage was set by Dwight Stoller, chair of the Honey Quality Assurance Task Force, set up by the National Honey Packers and Dealers Association. He introduced Dr. Jill Snowden, the National Honey Board’s scientific consultant in this area. She addressed the issues of purity, standards and enforcement in the honey market today.
The image of honey is unique, Dr. Snowden said, it must remain so at all costs. The addition of adulterants is simply not acceptable. It destroys the unique qualities that honey is known for and the basis for its appeal. The bottomline, she concluded, is that it is much more difficult to repair the image should it be tarnished than to maintain the one that already exists in the minds of most consumers.
Honey identity continues to be a problem, according to Dr. Snowden. However, the National Honey Board (NHB) cannot determine this. There is no universal agreement on standards, and they have to be based on sophisticated and expensive tests. Thus, the NHB, is using its resources to improve the knowledge base on honey in the hopes that this investment will pay off in the future by helping establish a set of standards that all can live with. Dr. Snowden passed out a summary of recent research on detection techniques for inexpensive sweeteners in honey. The full paper is available to interested parties on request from the National Honey Board.
In terms of enforcing the laws against honey adulteration, government cannot be the total answer, Dr. Snowden said. Self-enforcement is also needed. Ideally, this would be based on a set of values established by the industry. Enforcement, also carries a risk of adverse publicity, according to Dr. Snowden. There is nothing new in economic adulteration; it has always been there and will continue to be a threat as long as there is a honey industry, she said. A permanent structural change based on goals and values is needed to reduce adulteration to a minimum. Some of that is in place, Dr. Snowden said, but more needs to be done. Finally, it is important to keep the perception of the product positive. This means communicating the image of honey, instilling confidence in the product and taking initiative when there is a problem.
The NHB is attempting to promote all three of the above concerns, Dr. Snowden concluded. It does this through its “Pride” program which promotes total quality management or TQM in honey processing. Ensuring purity, Dr. Snowden concluded, must take into consideration a wide variety of things, including developing trusting relationships (customer-packer-producer), establishing standards, using adequate testing procedures, and taking advantage all other available resources.
Jerry Probst, Vice President for Research of the Sioux Honey Association echoed many of Dr. Snowden’s remarks. No specific standards have been established in his 25 years of service to the industry, he said, but the FDA climate is changing and it may be possible now. Unfortunately, he said, the typical composite definition doesn’t work for all product and a matrix approach setting limits is probably the best the industry can ask for. Finally, he concluded that labs are available to do the testing, but need guidance by the industry on what to look for. This is because the next generation of sources of adulteration and contamination are always just around the corner.
Peter Martin of QP Services,
Several European initiatives are currently being
conducted, according to Mr. Martin. An
outgrowth of the last Apimondia meeting in
Dick Sullivan, Executive Director of the Olive Oil Marketing Association provided some upbeat remarks concerning what his organization has been able to do, particularly in the foodservice and industrial foods sector. Olive oil has some of the same problems associated with honey. Communication of what you are doing to maintain purity and confidence in the product is the main factor that will provide a stable market for any product Mr. Sullivan concluded.
Bob Brandi addressed the audience from what he called a “producer’s perspective.” To keep honey a marketable item, he said, producers must ensure they are using treatments as the label directs. In addition, the producer should strive to visit his packer and encourage as much sampling as possible. This is especially true in the present climate where economic adulteration is high. Finally, he concluded, that the Federation’s Honey Defense Fund was still in operation and should be used to its fullest extent.
Troy Fore, Jr., Executive Secretary of the Federation, provided an appropriate footnote to this panel on ensuring purity of honey in the marketplace. He reviewed the recent Groeb trial for purposeful adulteration which ended in an acquittal. He concluded, that lack of an acceptable standard of identity for honey affected the outcome of the trial in several ways. In particular, it raised considerable doubt in the mind of the jury about what constituted purposeful adulteration.
Special interest groups concluded the Friday afternoon
session. These included those for
package bees and queens, hobbyists and commercial beekeepers. This reporter attended the latter
session. International forces driving
the supply and demand for honey were detailed by Ms. Elyse Gagnon, Odem
David Hackenberg, the new vice president of the Federation, discussed the need for insurance by commercial beekeepers. He showed what can go wrong when a truck full of bees overturns. He warned beekeepers to carry adequate insurance as driving fatigue and other reasons can cause accidents at any time.
Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk discussed his study into whether the new generation of microbial pesticides being developed had much effect on bee colonies. So far, his research has shown that variants of Bacillus thurengiensis are not harmful to bees. In addition he showed how his techniques have advanced from periodic assessment to “real time” monitoring, using portable computers.
Dr. Oscar Coindreau presented his discussion of information on new developments regarding Apistan®. He advocated using the product only as listed on the label and said that there was in force as .025 parts per million (ppm) on fluvalinate in honey.
The final session of the convention in
Although good for producers in general, Steve Smith of
Miller’s Honey Company, said that although it was perceived as such, the
anti-dumping suit might not be the most important reason for higher prices
given the forces in China today. The
results of the suit, however, forced packers into a situation they had not
experienced before, relying almost totally on
The unprecedented rapid increase in prices meant trouble for packers in a number of other areas, according to Mr. Smith. First and foremost it resulted in extreme profit squeezing. Shorter contract times, higher lines of credit and increased need for storage space also resulted. Industrial customers cut down on buying honey and some cases went to other sweeteners, eliminating the product from their lines altogether. Higher prices also provoke an increase in economic adulteration efforts, Mr. Smith concluded, especially considering the extreme difficulty in prosecuting any such case as shown in the Groeb trial.
Pat Eakle of Dadant & Sons spoke on the long-range effects of prices on equipment suppliers. They are provoking “cautious optimism,” he said, and there is hope they will result in more capital expenditures by beekeepers. The situation may also stimulate others to enter the profession. This short-range run up in prices, however, must be tempered by the fact that a stable environment is needed in the long run to put the industry back on a sound footing. This requires a secure business atmosphere and the addition of new blood into beekeeping. As a footnote, Mr. Eakle said the beeswax market had also experienced unprecedented increases in recent months which also will affect the long-term health of the beekeeping industry.
Darrel Rufer of Waverly, MN discussed the producer’s perspective in the wave of price increases. Although a rise in honey prices was helping, he said, those actively producing honey must also get deeper into marketing their own honey to promote a more stable business environment in the future. As part of this, producers must keep abreast of the changing marketing mix and other cost shifts that are occurring. Finally, he concluded that quality must be the overriding concern in producers’ minds as they begin preparations for the next honey producing season.
Glenda Wooten, Wooten’s Queens,
The final day of the meeting in
The next ABF convention is scheduled for January 14-19,
1997. When the Federation meets by the