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Your host---Bee Talk---Days Gone By

Your Host

I have been keeping bees in Texas for most of my life and I have never seen the weather conditions so bad for beekeeping. This year is going down in the history books and next year may also. Most of us in Texas have had to feed our bees and will have to winter our bees on sugar water which is not a healthy as honey. A lot of the commercial beekeepers in Texas have moved their bees to other states where nectar sources are available for their bees to work. It is hard times for the small time beekeeper in Texas but the weather will get better. We just have to learn as much as possible about how to care for our bees during a drought.

The club picked up a few more members in August and is continuing to grow at a slow pace. If you know of other beekeepers who are chemical free or would be willing to move to not placing chemicals into their hive, please promote our chemical free registry.

Bee Talk


Here's a question for you. Why is bee pollen good for us? Doesn't pollen cause allergies? Thanks, Teddi 


Bee pollen is one of the richest, most complete foods in nature and contains a wide variety of essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein and amino acids. It is extraordinarily rich in most of the B vitamins and also contains only a few calories per serving. Bee pollen is easily absorbed, so the beneficial effects are noticed quickly. It also contains naturally occurring antioxidants.

Bee Pollen also contains Lecithin which helps to remove fat stores from the body and stimulates the metabolism. Lecithin also helps in the assimilation of nutrients in the digestive process. 

Honey contains different pollen particles in it and over a period of time, by eating honey, you can develop certain immunities to specific pollen allergies. 

I hope that this helps.    Dennis

Dear Dennis, 

I was reading your article for July. I see that you use two brood boxes to give plenty of room for queen to lay eggs so the hive could be kept strong. 

Am I correct to understand that I can put a deep super box on the top of the brood box without the queen excluder between the two and let the queen go up and down to lay eggs in both boxes?. If so could I use two brood boxes in the season when bees are growing in numbers and super on the top with queen excluder between second brood box and super. We always use deep super box. 

Dennis - We in India have problem of wax moth in summer time which start in May till July/August, may be longer. This is the month we do not have any or very little flowers to keep bees supply of pollen. Though we feed sugar syrup  but still our hives are weak with less bees. It is difficult to find pollen supply. If pollen supply was provided and bees fed with sugar then will lay eggs in that condition.  In India where we are our winter is mild, we do not have snow fall either. 

If I provide pollen and sugar syrup in summer when there is not enough flowers available the bees, then would queen be able to lay eggs in summer as well so we could have strong colony which can protect themselves from wax moth attack?  Surendra

 Hello Surendra,

Beekeeping management is directly related to the environmental conditions in a given area. Here in the southern USA can be different from the northern parts of the USA.

It sounds like in India you have to develop a management program that is better suited for your conditions. The basics in beekeeping management should be consistent no matter where you live. The difference should be in how and when you apply those basics.

For an example, here in Texas, our normal environmental conditions allow us to provide our bees with two brood boxes to live in full time. They are able to thrive and maintain that amount of space under normal conditions. When the honey flow arrives, we add a honey super above those two brood boxes. The queen will not usually move above those two brood boxes so an excluder is not necessary. After the honey flow, we remove all of the honey supers for our use and leave the two brood boxes for the bees. If we find a weak hive, we figure out why the hive is weak and fix the problem. It may be that the queen is still good but the hive has to much room. We then remove a box and run that hive in one brood box until the population builds back up.

"Never give the bees more room than they are able to care for".

In your area, you may need to run your hives in one brood box or one brood box and medium box for the bees. Then place an excluder on top of that when you add a honey super on. The point being that you should run your hives according to the environmental conditions in your area. If you are having trouble with wax moths, you are providing more room than the bees can care for. Moths are opportunists and will take advantage of a weak hive.

As your hive population grows, you should expand their space. When the population declines, you should limit their space. It may be that your bees could grow into two brood boxes for the honey flow. This will allow your bees to store honey in both brood boxes and then maybe store more in a super for you. This would provide honey for you bees for a longer period of time which means that you would not have to feed your bees sugar water as much, if at all. Honey is always better for your bees than sugar water. When the hive population declines and the stores are used up, remove a brood box and run the hive in a smaller area. Add space and then remove it according to the bees needs.

I hope that this has helped you. If it is not too much trouble, would you take some pictures of your hives? I would like to post them in one of the clubs newsletters for all of the members to enjoy.   Dennis

 Hey Dennis, 

I don’t know if you remember, but when I gave you an update ~ July 4 on my packages, I mentioned that of the 3 packages I purchased the date of our field trip to Bee-Weaver, one was doing very well, one was doing OK, & one was doing poorly.   You asked me about feeding, & I had been feeding 1:1 sugar syrup.  You suggested bumping it up to 2:1 sugar syrup, which I immediately did & continue to do. The 3 hives continue to progress as I had mentioned in my original e-mail, i.e. one doing pretty well, one OK & one poorly.  I base my assessments on the number of drawn frames the bees have produced.  The hive doing pretty well has drawn out all the frames in the lower brood box (I use deeps), & has begun to draw frames in the upper brood box.  With the drought we’ve experienced, I figured this was pretty good.  The second best hive has drawn out ~8 frames in the lower brood box, & I have added a second brood box to that hive.  The third hive, and by far the weakest, has only drawn out 6 frames.  I still have not added a second brood box.  I have, however, taken a frame of capped brood & bees from one of my other hives about 5 weeks ago & added to this hive to boost it’s numbers.  About 4 weeks ago, I added another frame of capped brood (no bees) from another strong hive.  Still, there is very little activity at the entrance of this hive.  When I was in the bee yard this past week, I counted less than 5 – 10 bees coming & going in ~ 2 minutes of watching the entrance.  I also noted that the queen’s laying pattern is very poor, with very little capped brood.  The capped brood that is present is not solid, but spotty.  My concern is that the hive may not even make it to fall, much less make it through the winter if I don’t do something.  I thought the queen was probably the culprit, but am definitely open to and appreciative of any ideas you may have. Thanks a million for your insight.

 Rick Rhodes

Hello Rick,

It sounds like the queen is not doing a very good job. I have a saying that I feel all beekeepers should live by. It goes like this: "Think like a commercial beekeeper but enjoy your bees like a hobby beekeeper". What I mean by this is not to baby your bees. Learn to identify problems and deal with those problems immediately no matter what it takes. An example; your third hive has been dragging along since April. You now realize that the queen has been doing a bad job. Her laying pattern is not and has not been good. Solution? Make sure the hive isn't on the decline from disease/mites. If the queen is indeed the problem, it is decision time. Do you re-queen or unite the hive?

Weigh the situation. We are now in August. There is a severe drought with no end in sight, which means that no natural food sources will be available for the bees to winter on. You will have to feed the bees’ sugar water which is expensive and not as healthy as a natural food source would be.

There is a chance that any queen you purchase right now has been raised under these same conditions if she was raised in the drought area. Because of the time of year, the drone population has been on the decline which means that the queen may not mate with as many drones as she needs to.

If you unite the hive with the other two, you can replace their foundation with drawn comb. You can increase their hive population and reduce the number of hives that you need to feed which reduces your cost.

A commercial beekeeper would choose to unite the hive rather than to continue to baby it along. It is too much work and money to end up loosing the hive later on anyway.It is best to have two strong healthy hives than to have three with one suffering.

You have provided a great example for all beekeepers to learn from. In beekeeping, we will always be faced with these kinds of decisions. It will make your beekeeping experience a more rewarding one if you learn early to; "Think like a commercial beekeeper but enjoy your bees like a hobby beekeeper."

Thanks Rick for your email and providing a learning experience for all who will read this.  



I lost 4 of my 12 hives during the heat and paucity of nectar. Three of them have wax moths. What is your advise as to how to clean up the mess? This is the one area of beekeeping that I cannot stand.

John—Eureka Springs, Ar.

 Hello John,

It was good meeting both you and Phil. Thanks for all of your help while we were there. We plan to make a return trip for the Christmas parade.                                   

Sorry to hear about your bees. This drought is hurting lots of us. Most of the commercial beekeepers have moved their hives out of the state to better resources.

Wax moths are opportunists. They will only take advantage of hives that are weak. A hive can be weak from any number of things. The queen can be poor. The food supply is limited which could cause the queen not to lay normally. The hive could be queen-less. I could go on and on.

I would go into the hive and figure out what caused the population to decrease. If it is just that the bees do not have enough to eat, reduce the number of boxes the bees are in and start to feed them. Obviously the bees have more room than they can take care of. Make sure the hive does not have any diseases. Sometimes you need to unite a hive with another one using the newspaper method. Make sure there is no disease present or you will spread it.

If there are only a few combs that have minimal damage, place those in your freezer for 24 hours. That will kill the wax moths and their eggs. There are many more reasons for the current condition you are experiencing but these are a few.

Keep me posted. Good to hear from you. Dennis

 Hey Dennis, 

Didn't get a chance to thank you for the talk you gave the other day on helping your bees through the drought.  You answered most of the questions I had without me even having to ask them.  I do have one thing I can't remember about feeding the bees.  Is it acceptable to take a frame of honey from a strong hive and give it to a weak hive that is next to it or will this encourage robbing by the stronger hive?  I assume that I would have to greatly reduce the entrance to the weak hive? 

I hope that we get rain soon, but it doesn't look like it.  I fear next year might be as bad as what you said at the meeting.  Better start preparing now I guess.  Later,  Jeff

Hello Jeff,              

You are welcome. Before removing a frame of honey from one hive and giving it to another, I recommend first that you evaluate the honey stores in the heavier hive. If you think that the hive has enough food to last until spring, then go ahead and pull some honey for the other hive. If not, I would feed that hive two parts sugar to one part water.

Honey is much better for the bees than sugar water. It would be better to have only one hive on sugar water than to use up the honey stores from the other hive and turn around and feed both hives sugar water.  


Hi Dennis,

I was just doing a little reading on feeding bees and came across an interesting idea and wanted to get your opinion.  Instead of using a bucket feeder inside an empty hive body, they suggest using a sandwich bag filled with sugar water with about a 1 inch slit on the top of it.  The article suggests that it is simple, inexpensive, and effective.  It sounds like a good idea, but I'm worried that once the sugar water gets low, the bees will enter the bag, get trapped, and die.  What's your take?  Have you had any luck doing this?

Also, do you have a date set to release your book?  Later,  Jeff

 Hello Jeff,             

I have known a couple of beekeepers that tried this method. Their feedback to me was that if the entire bag didn't spill out, then the bag worked good. I have not been brave enough to try it myself. If the bag emptied out and spilled down through the frames that would set up a perfect robbing situation. Besides, I think you would still have to place an empty hive body around it otherwise the top would squeeze down on it and force the liquid out of the bag. 

I will post this email in the next newsletter and see if anyone else has tried this method. If they have, they can email me and tell me what their thoughts are on the subject and I will post the results in the following newsletter.

My book is currently at the printers. I am hopeful that I will have it available on our website by the end of September.   Dennis

This next article was submitted to us by members "Joyce and Sam Hammett"  

Where There is Smoke

Article written by: 

L. Joyce Hammett


Fleming, Ohio 

            Many of us have heard the phrase, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.”  But, most of us probably have not equated that thought with eating honey for health purposes.  As discovered in my research paper titled, “Nutritional Apitherapy – The Health Benefits of Ingesting Organic Raw Honey,” there is plenty of hard science (fire) behind the anecdotal evidence (smoke) of eating honey for health purposes.

            I had studied holistic nutrition for many years and also helped my husband, Sam, produce raw honey through organic practices.  Eventually, I began to wonder if there was any scholarly literature or research studies to support what many of us have long heard about eating honey.  I wondered, “Could there actually be a concept or practice such as nutritional apitherapy?  I contacted Andrew Kochan, M.D., past president of the American Apitherapy Society, and verified that the ingestion of honey did fit into the definition of apitherapy.  Then, I was off and running on a worldwide web and scholarly literature search for as many sources of information as I could find. 

            Through the process of discovery, I learned that substantiated research studies strongly suggest that honey indications include:  viable source of antioxidants, anti-inflammation and cardiovascular protection, diabetes management, immunity enhancement, anti-carcinogen effects, postmenopausal and spermatogenesis effects, seasonal allergy immunity, colds and nocturnal cough suppression, anti-aging properties, athletic enhancement, cognition enhancement, gastrointestinal health, calcium absorption, weight control and sleep quality.  In addition, a 200-page European publication titled, “1699 References Apimedical Science,” was  discovered. This publication lists 1,699 worldwide research studies, clinical trials, books, etc., documenting the use of honeybee hive products for health purposes.  Overwhelmingly, though, the research shown in this publication, and that supporting the earlier listed indications, was completed outside the United States.

            As I searched, it soon became evident that, for nutritional apitherapy purposes, consumers needed access to the highest quality honey they could find.  Authentic unprocessed raw honey from hives managed through organic or organic practices techniques will be most effective.  In an unheated, unfiltered, unstrained condition, raw honey will still contain its enzymes, pollen, antioxidants, and other nutrients.   Raw honey is not, however, a health panacea.  It is produced from a large assortment of plant varietals and it is very difficult to pin-point which varietal contributes to which health indication.  Although raw honey research consistently finds positive health results, a scholarly literature review will also indicate that many more observational studies, human clinical trials, and epidemiological studies are needed.  To push that research forward, it would also be greatly beneficial if worldwide cooperation among scientists and laboratories would occur.  

            “Let the buyer beware,” is also a phrase that most people would not think when purchasing honey.  But, as I discovered, consumers must be very wise about their honey choices.  Uniform quality standards for raw honey do not currently exist.  The terms raw, natural, and pure mean different things to various beekeepers and other sources of honey.  To help with consumer decisions, I prepared a, “Raw Honey Purchasing Guide for Individual Consumers” that contains the following tips:

           Through Anam-Cara Apiary, Sam and I offer a series of public education programs about the substantiated health indications for eating raw honey.  With increased public awareness should come increased demand.  Increased demand should require more raw honey production from current beekeepers, as well as provide opportunities for the development of brand new beekeepers.

           Copies of, “Nutritional Apitherapy – The Health Benefits of Ingesting Organic Raw Honey,” are available on disc.  The first 140 pages contain the complete literature review and the results of a small study done to collect the subjective opinions of a local population about eating honey for health purposes.  The pages also contain detailed descriptions of some of the worldwide research studies completed for the various health indications as mentioned earlier.  The last 201 pages contain a complete copy of the European publication, “1699 References Apimedical Science.”  Please contact Sam and Joyce Hammett, at Anam-Cara Apiary, samjohammett@frontier.com, to request a copy.  At the very least, our educational programs and research paper should open dialogue toward considering that human health may, indeed, come from the honeybee hive. 

For Sale

Wrought iron bee stands that are designed to hold two hives. The dimensions are; 13 inches high x 18 inches wide x 4 feet long. They are $50.00 each. Located in Bryan, Texas. Contact Dennis. dennis@lonestarfarms.net

Days Gone By