The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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The Classroom

The Classroom April 2015

- April 1, 2015 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)

Apiary Inspectors are the unsung support network of successful beekeepers in many states. I think they are sometimes taken for granted because they fill both the roles of Extension and Regulatory and this is a confusing combination. But, I wanted to take a closer look at State Apiary Inspectors and so from time to time I will highlight one to give them the credit they are due. So, here goes:

Barbara Bloetscher, Ohio State
Entomologist /Apiarist

“Ohio’s Apiary Program seeks to sustain a healthy honey bee population and support the beekeepers of the state. As the State Apiarist/Entomologist I am responsible for overseeing the program.  This includes registration of apiaries, inspection of all queen production businesses, and monitoring honey bee colonies moving in and out of the state.  Most of my time is spent managing the County Apiary Inspectors regarding the 4,440 registered beekeepers tending 6,053 apiaries totaling an estimated 40,000 colonies. Ohio has a unique inspection program because each county appoints and pays their County Inspector to check the apiaries in that county.  County inspectors can have a positive impact on the health of the hives in their county by helping to promote good pest management, identifying queen problems and finding pest problems before they spread. If a county has not appointed an apiary inspector, I conduct needed inspections, primarily focusing on apiaries from which queens, nucs, and colonies are sold.

“In 2009, a task force was formed to define the problems facing the Ohio beekeeping industry and make recommendations. Key issues identified were the general lack of education on beekeeping and agriculture, reduced forage for pollinators, and higher costs to maintain bees along with a malady of bee diseases and pests. Recommendations were to improve access to education, augment habitat and provide sources for hearty bees.
“I work with Ohio State University Extension and various groups to tackle the goals of the task force, which includes teaching beekeeping and pollinator topics and staying current on research.  As the State Entomologist, I also identify insects and insect damage submitted by nursery inspectors and other agencies, and monitor invasive insect reports.

During the last four years we have participated in the National Honey Bee Health Survey.   Based on survey results and conversations with inspectors and beekeepers, it is obvious that varroa mite control continues to be a struggle.  The incidence of Nosema ceranae has also affected some colonies in Ohio.

“Like other states, Ohio has seen a reduction in lands where plants grow wild to provide season-long sources of pollen, nectar and cover for pollinators, avian and other animal families.  It has been estimated that each honey bee colony requires an acre of flowering plants which is lacking in many areas of Ohio.  Fortunately, many groups are now focused on remedying this issue in Ohio and elsewhere.

As a proponent of a strong Ohio Beekeeping Industry, my goal is to increase education for beekeepers and non-beekeepers about honey bees and their importance as well as to improve the health and vigor of our bees. Enhancing the ability of beekeepers to maintain their bees successfully and restricting impaired bees from entering the state are steps to be taken to attain these goals.  New beekeepers require good instruction and training on honey bee biology, behavior, and management, however it is equally important to continually enrich all beekeepers’ knowledge of new research and best management practices, so that we can maintain healthy, vigorous honey bees. If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you,

Barbara Bloetscher, Ohio State Entomologist/ Apiarist,

Q Liquefying Granulated Honey with Ultrasound

I am writing today to ask about crystallized honey and the conversion back to a liquid state. We all know that a nice slow and gentle process of warming the crystallized honey can bring it back to a liquid state.  However, in a recent online search I found someone stating that ultrasonic sound can liquefy the honey in seconds and prevent crystallization from happening again. Curious, I looked online for home ultrasonic machines and found some intended for cleaning jewelry and silver and such.

Is this indeed a viable means to liquefy crystallized honey?  Does it indeed work in seconds/minutes? It seems like this would be a great service to offer customers at a farm stand or farmers market to keep them coming back. The machines aren’t cheap but just imagine… “Sure I can liquefy your honey for you while you wait, just give me two minutes.  While you are waiting you really ought to try this just harvested comb honey, and did you see our new candles…”

Thank you for your help and your



Hello Dan,
First, I really like well prepared and crystallized honey ‘spread’ and so does most of the rest of the world.  But, it hasn’t been marketed efficiently here in North America. But as you may have noticed, I digress!

Ultrasonic treatment of crystallized honey can reduce crystal size without using heat which degrades honey flavor, odors and enzymes. Ultrasound will keep honey from re-crystallization for quite a while. It does have a place I think if you can justify the initial cost of the equipment needed since it is a much better way to keep honey from forming sugar crystals and stopping it from crystallizing first and then after the fact it can re-liquefy better than a heat

The $59.99 Jewelry cleaners do not have the strength /capacity to do what you want Dan.
Here are a few websites that mention using ultrasound to liquefy honey in case you haven’t already looked them up: 

Thanks for the info!  Shucks, it won’t work!

Q Nucs

I’m making some 5-frame nucs by splitting a few hives this year, and plan to keep a few nucs for myself just in case I need to replace a queen somewhere in the apiary later in the year. I can pull a queen from a nuc. If a queen is restricted to only 5 frames within a nuc, I presume her egg laying rate will slow way down due to limited number of frames and cells. What happens if she becomes re-introduced into a full size colony after several months in a nuc? Will she resume egg laying at the same “slow” rate she has been accustomed to in the nuc, or will she increase her speed to “normal” queen egg laying rates as if she were never restricted to a 5 frame nuc?

I love your “classroom” and look forward to your thoughts.

Chris Beeson
St. Louis, MO


Thanks for the Classroom compliment. Queens regulate laying in a variety of ways because there is a lot of necessary synergism within a colony that has to be on balance. It takes enough bees to regulate temperature and humidity, forage for nectar and pollen which then allows feeding developing brood, few stresses from secondary predators like wax moths or small hive beetles and lots of other small things. The queen’s egg-laying rate, even in a full-sized colony, goes up and down based on some of those things mentioned above. In a perfect world she can lay 2000 eggs a day in June because conditions are right to feed and care for that many. In January, in the north, she may not be laying at all, but in Florida it might be somewhere in between.

All that to say she is very flexible. A 5-frame nuc allows her to lay some and keep in practice awaiting the circumstances and timing to increase and expand if given the opportunity.
I think keeping nucs around, not only for queen insurance, but to have access to bees and frames of brood to move around is a great management tool. Do it.

Q Diatomaceous Earth

I appreciate  your Q & A in The Classroom of American Bee Journal. I was reading about the use of diatomaceous earth in a chicken supply company catalog. We have used it in horse feed for control of intestinal parasites. In this catalog, they sell diatomaceous earth in feed for intestinal parasites and to dust in the coop to control mites. Has anybody to your knowledge ever dusted their hives with diatomaceous earth to control varroa mites. Do you think it would work and do you think it would kill bees?

Thanks for your advice,


After 30 years of varroa, just about everything has been tried. Diatomaceous earth is the silica (glass) shells of organisms (Diatoms) from millions of years ago. When they died, they created huge deposits of diatomaceous earth.
These glass shells are broken and smashed and have incredibly sharp edges. When used as a pest control agent in your garden, these glass shards actually cut the insect skin/cuticle and their hemolymph (blood) starts leaking out. But insects don’t have a method for their blood to coagulate, form a scab and stop the leak like we do. So, all their fluids drain out and they die.

Honey bees are an insect. Dust it on them to try to…