Kim Flottum

We are running a tad late this month due to our trip to The National Honey Show in the UK in late October. It was an enjoyable three day event, and if you’ve never seen or heard of it, you can see what they do on their web page, though what you’ll probably see now is from 2017 because the 2018 info isn’t up yet. It’s still quite a show. Their venue is the facilities of a Race Track – horse racing that is. And, if you know about horse racing, you know that the meeting rooms, display and vendor areas are really first class. Average people like me don’t get to these places often, so this was a treat.

One thing we did this time to show it off a bit was to conduct a live FaceBook show near the end of the week. Like Jim Tew and I did at the EAS meeting this Summer, we visited several of the vendors there and found out what they were up to and what was new from that side of the pond. That show remains on Bee Culture’s FaceBook page, as does the EAS show, and you can get a feel for what’s happening in UK beekeeping this season. We talked to the Show’s Chairman, BJ Sherriff’s people, our Root Candle Europe staff who had a stand selling beeswax candles, Thorne’s Bee Supply, The British Beekeeper’s Association, Bees For Development and a few others. Then we toured the honey, wax, mead, gift baskets and all the rest of the displays. It’s a pretty awesome display, unlike anything you’ll see here.

Take a look if you get a chance. But because of that travel and some complicated IT communication issues, we missed getting Toni Burnam’s Interview articles into this issue. She has two that we’ll get in the January issue, and they are special. She had a chance to talk to Sam Ramsey, from the University of Maryland, who, as a grad student there, discovered that Varroa aren’t feeding on the hemolymph of our bees, but rather the fat body, comprised of lipids and proteins, primarily the proteins that get bees through winter. This has changed how we look at Varroa, and especially Varroa control, so don’t miss that interview in January.

But Toni had another session that we missed. She was able to talk to Marina Marchese, the Champion of The American Honey Tasting Society, and the lead author of the book The Honey Connoisseur that I helped out with a little bit. Marina has studied honey tasting in Italy several times, conducts very professional honey tasting classes here in the states, and in my opinion is the lead person in this country regarding this specialized skill. I’d put her up against any of those snobby wine tasters any day as a matter of fact. Check Marina out next month too for a very tasteful interview. 

I spent most of yesterday sorting the photos we’ve received for our 2018 Calendar that you will get next month. And everybody who gets a hard copy will get one – subscribers, newsstand issues will have one, BEEKeeping readers will get one, and we’ll have lots to give to associations who want to share with their members unfortunate enough to not get their own. We’ll have packs of 50 for groups, meetings and the like, free for the asking until we run out. We hope that everybody will know the date all year long next year using our calendar. And, after sorting those photos, we know you won’t be disappointed any month of the year. Beeyards at sunset was the theme and you all did a good job of capturing that moment in time when the light is right, the scene is golden and the bees are on their best behavior.

“The National. 2019 Calendar. Helping Beekeepers. Honey.”

Of course this means that the contest for the best 13 photos for 2019 begins now, so get out your cameras (you still have a camera?), or your cell phones (they take fantastic photos and they are always handy, though getting propolis off the screen is sometimes a challenge), and start peeking inside for the next contest. Next year, the theme is QUEENS, EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING ROYAL.

We want to see queens being fed, laying eggs, being surrounded by attentive workers, alone on the comb, head in a cell, legs in a cell, anything and everything Royal. Gold queens, black queens, striped queens, small queens, big queens, fat queens skinny queens, emerging queens, two queens at the same time and what about three at a time? Queens. Get the picture? Good.

It’s been a tough year for bees and beekeepers almost everywhere. You’ll see some of that in Jessica’s interview with Randy Verhoek and the drought in the Midwest chewing on his honey crop this year, and you saw some last month with a recap of hurricane damage and flooding in Texas and Florida, and again this month in our article on the California fires eating up beeyards by the dozen and leaving little for the bees to eat. Plus, what happens to a colony after 14 days of smoke? Nobody knows, yet. There are groups working to help the affected beekeepers in all those states and even in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where the storms flooded beeyards, winds damaged beehives, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s essentially no forage left since it all was destroyed.

From the press release by the Pollinator Partnership people who are leading this –

The Pollinator Partnership has announced a disaster relief campaign designed to provide immediate assistance to help beekeepers on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) recover from the devastating impacts of recent hurricanes.   

“When we first learned about the desperate challenges faced by these Caribbean beekeepers, we moved quickly to help,” said Val Dolcini, President and CEO of the Pollinator Partnership, which is spearheading the campaign.  “We are gratified by the tremendous response and are pleased to report that the first relief package of protein patties landed on Puerto Rico and are now being delivered to beekeepers.  Relief will also reach the US Virgin Islands soon.”

The hurricanes resulted in colony losses of up to 80% as most of the Langstroth wooden hives used by beekeepers to house their bees were destroyed. In addition, natural tree cavities housing feral bees were also destroyed due to the hurricane’s damaging winds.  Bees that survived the hurricanes and the destruction of their homes have swarmed, taking up residence in houses, schools, electrical utility poles and other structures, creating health and safety concerns.

In addition to generous financial and in-kind contributions, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched at to give citizens, beekeepers, and others the opportunity to help.

The Caribbean Bee Rescue Campaign seeks to help by:

  1. Providing immediate relief and support for PR and USVI beekeepers;
  2. Raising funds ($50,000 goal) to purchase and deliver supplemental protein for 3,000 hives and 1,000 replacement hives over the next six months, while the ecosystems and floral resources recover;
  3. Helping strengthen beekeeping and pollination services on the islands;
  4. Assessing the impacts of the hurricanes on the islands’ other pollinating species to determine how help can be provided. 


Pollinator Partnership, ABF, AHPA, Bayer, Blue Diamond, Dadant, Dupont, FL State Beekeepers, Honey Bee Health, Mann Lake, Monsanto, National Honey Board, PR Dept Ag, Sweet Virginia Fdn., Syngenta, Univ PR and Wonderful Bees.

For additional information, contact Val Dolcini at or Tom Van Arsdall at

There’s lots more information available on the P2 web page at if you want to learn more, see how the gofundme campaign is doing or view the list of donors so far and what they have contributed. And the entire news release was sent out as a CATCH THE BUZZ in November and if you missed it you can find that on Bee Culture’s web page.

No place to live and nothing to eat. That’s about as bad as it gets for humans or for honey bees. Take a look. See what you and your group can do to help fellow beekeepers in all those places.

Take a look at the Regional Honey Price Report. It is a comparison of the December report for 2016 to December 2017. And if you look close, you’ll see that there’s actually average data there from 2015 across all regions in the far right hand column, so you can do a three year comparison of average bulk, wholesale and retail prices over that time. Just so you know, you can’t find this kind of data collection anywhere. We try to make it as easy as possible when looking at what the honey market is for the country, and in your region.

When you compare the all-region data for 2015 – 2017, a three year period, what you’ll see is that bulk prices have been flat all that time, but not surprisingly, both wholesale and retail prices have all gone up, for every unit on the chart. Import prices seem to be keeping down those bulk prices, but the smaller containers seem to be inching up. Not much it seems, but better than down.

When you compare 2016 with 2017 the story changes a bit. Average bulk prices are still flat. That’s three years without a price increase. But the wholesale averages are mixed this time. Some up, more down. Interestingly, retail prices are following a different drummer. East coast retail prices this year are higher than in 2016, but generally, regions 3 – 7 are all lower than last year. Yet, the average across all regions is higher this year compared to last. The prices in regions 1 and 2 really skew the annual data, and, without careful examination could lead you to some false assumptions.

An interesting comparison, perhaps more interesting, is the range column, fourth from the right side of the charts. Bulk prices from 2016 through 2017, for the range of prices reported by all reporters across all regions are across the board down. For wholesale there’s little change, except the bigger containers, the five pound and quarts, are up a bit, but the rest are down.  Retail, however is mostly flat, with a few up and down bumps, but not enough to make note of.

Average prices aren’t the best predictor of what your honey should be selling for, but the value of our monthly honey report is monitoring the trends you see, both short term month to month and long term, across the year, and across years.

Have you seen the newest beverage in your local grocery store? Honey water. Honey plus water plus a flavoring like ginger, lemon, blueberry, vanilla citrus and others. Honey and water. It doesn’t say how much honey, but it is 100% Bee Friendly honey, and when some of the contents settle, it’s Nature taking a nap. Really. And if the next bottle of water is a slightly different color or flavor it’s because that’s the beauty of nature – it’s always changing. Really. It said so on the label. Look for it in your neighborhood grocery. Cheers.

We’ve saved the best for last we think. All of us here at Bee Culture, BEEKeeping, and Root Candles wish you and all of your friends and family the very best of the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all the other best wishes we can send. May your bees be happy, your honey sweet and your beeyards blessed. And thank you for being here this year. We hope next year is even better.