Tuesday, June 26, 2012




During the past several years, while teaching Introductory Beekeeping classes,  it has become explicitly clear that class room lectures and a single field trip to the bee yard does not adequately prepare a new beekeeper to cope with all he or she will encounter in an “Apiary”.

Therefore, plans have been established to offer “Hands On Introductory Bee Keeping Work Shops” at May Farms LLC in Greenville, SC., to rectify this situation. Emphasis will be on providing experience for the new beekeeper while applying the test proven method of Hands On Is The Best Teacher. There will be five (5) identical workshops, to accommodate various personal schedules. Each Workshop will consist of two (2) sessions of three (3) hours each.

The dates selected for the workshops are:

    WS  #1- July 15 & 22;     WS #2- Aug 12 & 19;    WS #3- Sep 16 & 23;    WS #4- Oct 14 & 21;   WS  #5- Nov 4 & 11

The minimum class size will be 5; the maximum will be 10. Each workshop will last from 2:00 pm
to 5:00 pm. Each workshop, will consist of two (2) days, three (3) hours each and will be priced at $75 total. A bee veil, smoker, and hive tool will be required. The text, “The Hive and The Honey Bee” ISBN number 0915698099 is suggested, but not required. A note book will be provided and hand outs on each topic will be included. The “Workshop” will consist of a short lecture followed by a visit to the adjacent bee yard on each subject matter. This Workshop is designed for the new beekeeper with little or no experience, or for that experienced beekeeper who would like a refresher course on bee yard management. Alternative dates will be given for inclement weather.

 A tentative Workshop Outline is as follows: (This is subject to some revision)

I.                     Brief History of Beekeeping
II.                    Importance of Beekeeping
III.                  Castes of Honey Bee and Function of Each
IV.                  Bee Keeping Equipment
V.                   Bee Activities and Behavior
VI.                  Thorough Physical Examination of Hives in various stages of developement
VII.                Diseases, Pests, and Treatments (Including Microscopic Examination)
VIII.               Seasonal Management
IX.                  Hive increases
X.                    Conclusion and Summary

For the experienced bee keeper, classes will be offered on Intermediate/Advanced Beekeeping on September 17th – November 12th, 2012 at 1:30-3:00 pm for Furman –OLLI; and on Sep 13th – Nov 13th , 2012at 6:30-8:00 pm for Furman-Learning For You. Registration begins in August.

If you have any questions, please let us hear from you. Please send your request for the workshop and deposit made payable to May Farms, LLC to:

Amelia Pettiss, 312 Ambler School Road, Marietta, SC 29661

The Bee Whisperer

Ralph C. (Buddy) May Jr.
100 Birnam Court
Greenville, SC 29615
Cell: 864-430-0318
Email: buddy_may@bellsout.net

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Examine Your Objectives in Keeping Bees

The single most important item to be considered in your apiary is, MAINTAIN A STRONG HIVE. If you remember only one thing from this presentation, please let it be “Keep Your Hives Strong”, lots of bees, enough stores, and control diseases.
 I suggest that if your queen(s) is 3 years or older, consider replacing her NOW, IN JUNE. Remove the queen, leave the hive queen less for 2 weeks, and check for emergency, supercedure, and swarm cells. If any found, remove them. Now, place the new queen in the hive, preferably with the aid of a queen ring. Keep an eye out for queen cells.

Taking this action provides two benefits:

a.     The hive will be much stronger with a new queen laying, in preparation for hive expansion prior to the winter months. Most hives are loss due to inadequate bees to keep the colony warm. Many hives have been lost with a full supply of honey. Just not enough bees to keep the hive warm.
b.     It also provides a break in the brood cycle, and thus supports the IPM for Varroa Control. (No Brood, No Place for the Varroa to Reproduce.)

Make sure you have 6 to 7 frames of honey in the upper brood box. Each shallow frame equates to about 3 pounds of honey. Each deep frame equates to about 6 pounds of honey. If you need to, feed them sugar syrup.
If your bees are all in the top brood box, and the bottom brood box is empty, reverse the hives. If you do not, the hive will swarm or abscond.
The queen needs drawn comb in which to lay her eggs. Otherwise, they will either abscond or swarm.

Bee Keepers, whether they own one or thousands of hives, must develop a Bee disease management program based on periodic colony inspections. Beekeepers must learn to recognize signs of bee diseases and be able to differentiate the serious from the not so serious and must know the corrective actions for each disease.

a.     Bacterial Diseases:
American foul brood
European foul brood

b.     Fungus Diseases:
Chalk brood Disease
Stone Brood

c.      Protozoan diseases
Nosema Apis Zander
Nosema Cerana

d.     Virus Diseases
Sacbrood Disease
Bee Paralysis Diseases
   Chronic Bee Paralysis
    Acute Bee Paralysis
    Filamentous Virus disease

e.     Noninfectious Diseases
Chilled Brood
Overheated brood
Starved brood
Overheated bees
Lethal genes

f.       Parasitic Bee Mites
1.     Tracheal Mite Acarpapis woodi
Afflicts only the adult bee. Likely detection best in Fall and Winter. Shows as disjointed wings and distended abdomen, or both. Treatment is 1.8 oz. menthol in bag, placed on top bar <80 deg. F for 20 to 25 days.

2.     Varroa Jacobsoni (Destructor)
First found attacking A. mellifera in 1962 by USDA in Beltsville MD from Hong Kong, and in 1963 in the Philippines. Varroa occurs on older larvae and pupae, drone brood preferred. The number being lowest in the spring, increasing in the summer, and highest in the fall. During Spring & Summer most mites are found on the brood (especially drone brood). In late Fall and Winter most mites are attached to adult worker bee.
a.     Perform a sugar roll to determine level of infection
b.     Install drone comb
c.      Check mite infection with sticky board
d.     Install screen bottom boards with grease trays
e.     Utilize USDA assistance in identification of bee diseases.
f.       Apply grease patties to top frames of brood box

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fascination and Magic go hand in hand when you get a chance to watch bees first hand with our Observation Hive.  Mr. Buddy aka The Bee Whisperer captures the attention of young and old with his knowledge of these beneficial creatures at Saturday Market in Downtown Greenville. 

Take a minute to think…..   the oneness of the bee colony reveals the interconnectedness of the world, and each of us within this vast community we call world. In the past centuries as bees became a commodity of modern agriculture, a deeper meaning and understanding of their true nature was lost.

The old German word bien is an attempt to describe the oneness of the bee colony, and to also distinguish its individual “personality”. The honey bee colony is one being in countless bodies. The biological term for this is super-organism. The colony is both a society of thousands of individuals, as well as one super-organism, one bien. This multitude of bees creates a being with capacities far beyond those of a single bee, and the bien as a whole lifts the individual bee on to a higher level of existence.

A single bee gives herself completely to the wellbeing of the colony. Her physical existence is completely devoted to the prosperity and survival of the bien. She will even give her own life, to serve and protect much like a human mother. In this altruistic gesture we can see her sense of self and the extent to which she can surpass her individual existence and function as a part of something larger.

The Austrian philosopher and spiritual scientist Rudolf Steiner describes the bien as being “permeated with life based on love”.  If only we as humans could learn to live and work together in a life based on love….  There might be a little more Magic in the World…..

Friday, June 1, 2012


Intermediate Beekeeping
This course is designed to provide an intermediate level of beekeeping knowledge and is a requirement for the Journeyman Level of the South Carolina Master Beekeeper Program, or for that individual who just want to further their knowledge of Beekeeping. Subjects include: History of Bees and Man, Bees and Their Relatives, Anatomy and Physiology, Pollination, Pesticides and Honey Bees, Diseases and Treatments, Honey Promotion, Nectar and Pollen Bearing Plants, Beekeeping Regulation, Queen Rearing and Honey Bee Mating, Swarm Prevention and Control. Required book:  The Hive and the Honey Bee (ISBN# 0-015698-09-9).
Mondays, 1:30-3 p.m., Furman University
(September 17th – November 12th)
Ralph "Buddy" May will be teaching the course and has his B.S. degree from Clemson University.  Before retirement, Buddy was President of Mandtex, Inc. (a manufacturer of Textile Machinery).  Buddy is also a Journeyman Level Beekeeper, operator of 40 hives and a Queen Rearing Apiary.
Registration begins August 23, 2012 on the OLLI website www.furman.edu/olli .  Any questions – call OLLI @ FURMAN at     (864) 294-2998.
NOTE: This class will be taught on several levels:
First, it will be taught to the individual who is only interested in furthering his/her knowledge of the Honey Bee.
Second, it will taught to the person who aspires to obtain their SCBA Journeyman Level.
Third it will be taught to the Journeyman who needs a refresher and would like to prepare for the Master Beekeeper Level of the SCBA Master Beekeeper Program.
Those aspiring for the Master Level will be offered additional seminars for continued study.