A photo album for pictures from our 2014 Kiwanis Art Contest has been started on our Facebook page. Sign up for Facebook, if you haven’t already, to check out some of the amazing elementary art work from the April 11 mall reception!
The Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County’s weekly meeting on April 14 was abuzz with the program of the day: bee-keeping.
Kathy Brinson, co-founder of the Sowega Beekeepers Club, spoke on a topic that is timely now that spring has arrived and honeybees are about their seasonal business. She touched on a number of different areas, including bees’ colony formation and structure, life cycle, function, and importance to humans.
Brinson said bee colonies, or hives, are superorganisms. “It acts as one organism, working together,” she said. The queen bee’s sole purpose is to lay eggs, which she does at a rate of 1500 to 3000 a day. The queen bee is cared for, including cleaning and feeding, by female worker bees. The third category of a hive is the male drone bees, which fertilize the eggs and also help protect against some parasites.
Brinson noted that bees swarming in early spring may be spotted in a tree forming a ball. At this point, she said, people shouldn’t be alarmed; they are not aggressive because they have not yet formed a hive.
“If they don’t have a hive to defend, they are not aggressive,” she said. But later, she cautioned, “If you disturb their hive, they will defend it.” Bees, when disturbed, communicate by emitting an alarm pheromone. “There are the guard bees, the bees that keep peace, and they’re going to send off a pheromone that says, ‘Danger, danger, let’s attack!’” When Brinson goes into her hives, she uses a hand-held smoker that puts out a “cool smoke” which serves to calm the bees, she said. She also wears protective clothing that makes her feel comfortable and calm among the bees, keeping her from making sudden movements or noises that might agitate them.
In feeding bees collect pollen, which provides protein, and nectar, which is a carb source. Nectar mixes with enzymes in a bee’s “honey stomach,” Brinson described, to formulate honey. They bring it back to the hive to deposit it in a comb. Initially it is quite watery, and the moisture must be evaporated to form the consistency of honey. Some bees fan the mixture with their wings to expedite the evaporation process.
The honeycombs are comprised of a wax-like substance called propolis, made from tree and plant resin. “It’s really, really sticky and it helps them knit their hive together,” said Brinson, and it can’t be broken apart without a special tool.
The queen lays eggs that are smaller than a grain of rice. They hatch into larvae, then progress to the pupae stage, and at two to three weeks emerge to begin foraging.
Most beekeepers are hobbyists or home beekeepers - Brinson, with three backyard hives, described herself as a hobbyist - and by definition have less than 25 hives. Commercial beekeepers often have from 25 to 399 hives, said Brinson, and some 1600 across the country have 300 or more, perhaps even thousands. Commercial beekeepers often hire their hives out to help pollinate crops such as watermelons, cantelopes, or blueberries, usually placing two hives per acre.
“One third of all food we eat,” said Brinson, “is directly or indirectly related to pollination by the honeybee. It increases the yield greatly…if we’re smart we need to be sure to help the bees along.”
In addition to crop pollination, honeybees provide honey for food as well as ingredients that may be used in medicines, cosmetics, and candles. She noted that honey has 1.5 times the sweetening power of sugar, so when cooking with it, use a mild-flavored honey, reduce liquid in the recipe by one-fourth per cup of honey, and decrease the cooking temperature by 25 degrees. She also said that due to honey’s acidity, some people add one-fourth teaspoon of baking soda per cup. Recipes using honey can be found online at www.honey.com (National Honey Board) or www.abfnet.org (American B. Federation).
Brinson said she leaves honey in the hive because bees need it to survive the winter. A standard bee hive with tens of thousands of bees requires about 60 pounds of honey for winter nourishment.
Brinson encouraged people who spot a ball of bees to let her know. “It costs about $80 for a three-pound package of bees, so beekeepers like to get swarms.” She added a disclaimer, though: the state Department of Agriculture discourages collecting swarms “if we don’t know where they came from” to prevent the hazard and spread of extremely-aggressive hybrid Africanized bees, also known as “killer bees.” These bees originated in Africa and were brought to Brazil in 1956 as part of an experiment. They migrated from there to Texas by 1990, were reported in Florida in 2005, and were discovered in Albany in 2010.
Brinson invited interested persons to come out for a Sowega Beekeepers Club meeting. They meet on the second Thursday each month at 6:30 p.m. in Chehaw park’s Creekside Center.
Bottom photo: Kiwanians Tommy Gay and Greg Fullerton (foreground) examine a display frame of bees at work brought by Kathy Brinson to the Kiwanis DoCo meeting. (Photo by David Shivers)
Top: Kathy Brinson ponders “to bee or not to bee”, with acknowledgment to Shakespeare, for her Kiwanis DoCo audience.
Larry Price was honored today by the presentation of a plaque denoting him as the recipient of a George F. Hixson Award from Kiwanis International. Larry has been a dedicated Kiwanian in Albany for almost 40 years. Congratulations, Larry!
The Rev. Jim Bullion delivered a thoughtful devotional on the significance of Easter and the Passover for our April 7 meeting. Thank you, Father Jim!
With spring underway, Dougherty County Extension Agent James Morgan spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on April 7 about “what’s going on right now in the landscape.” Morgan offered tips on fertilizing, weed and pest control, best products for particular situations, and watering. He recommended a couple of products for fire ants, but cautioned that certain insecticides should not be used in or around a vegetable garden. For fire ants among food plants Morgan recommended using an organic product. Vegetable-garden planting should be done after the last frost date, which hopefully will happen by mid-April. He also noted ph level soil testing is offered through the Extension office, located downtown at 125 Pine Avenue. Cost is $6 per sample and testing should be done in fall so that if lime needs to be applied it will have the winter months to act on soil acidity. Anyone with questions can contact Morgan at Cooperative Extension at 436-7216 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Morgan has been with Extension in Dougherty County for about 10 years and previously served in Stewart County and Orangeburg County, SC.
The federal Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare, as it is often derisively referred to – continues to have an unclear future for both patients and care providers, the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County heard from a local medical-care administrator on March 31.
Bruce Trickle, CEO of Albany Internal Medicine, told club members at their weekly luncheon meeting that he was neither for nor against the ACA, but his comments veered more toward a negative perception of the controversial legislation.
Over the last five to 10 years, he said, there has been a change “from what I call the practice of medicine, taking care of patients, to more of a business of medicine, which includes taking care of patients, but we have to be very attuned to what’s going on in our business world, or we just don’t survive to take care of you. It’s kind of scary to me. I’m not sure where we’re headed with the Affordable Care Act, or as we jokingly refer to it as the Unaffordable Care Act in the office.”
According to Trickler, under the law insurance companies can’t arbitrarily cancel policies but can raise rates by up to 350 percent, and “I don’t know too many small businesses that can afford that.”
As an alternative to the federal exchanges, some insurance carriers in the state such as Aetna, United Healthcare, or Humana are offering plans that have “some reasonable premiums as an alternative to Obamacare and general exchange plans,” said Trickle. “It’s advisable to check those plans out closely. Make sure it provides the physician you (want) to see and that the deductibles and co-insurance are acceptable to you.”
Albany Internal Medicine is not accepting “Obamacare plans due to business risks and it’s nothing to do with taking care of patients,” Trickle added. “We want to take care of patients, to continue to see the patients we currently are seeing who come to us for good care. But, we also are a business and we can’t afford the risk involved with some of these plans.” Many people who previously couldn’t afford insurance could end up with a premium-affordable but high-deductible plan and then be “less likely to cover their bills, and that’s a risk for a healthcare group like us.”
Another reason they decided against it, he added, is the administrative load that would be involved, which he estimated at 30 to 40 percent higher than present but with no added remuneration.
The ACA does have some good things, Trickle said, noting 100 percent coverage of preventive care visits and being able to see your physician, “though that is not always the case.”
“It’s change, but I guess we have to be accustomed to change. I’m not for or against the Affordable Care Act, but it’s got some change in it that’s going to be difficult,” said Trickle.
Top: Albany Internal Medicine CEO Bruce Trickle speaks to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County about businesses posed by the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by David Shivers)
Bottom: Bruce Trickle (right) is greeted by Judge Baxter Howell (left) as Glenn Dowling looks on. (Photo by David Shivers)
The Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County awarded its fourth George F. Hixson Award of the club year on March 31, with long-time member Dr. Doug Lorber as the proud recipient. The Hixson Fellowship was created in 1983 by the Kiwanis International Foundation in honor of the first Kiwanis International president, who served from 1916-18. The award was presented by club president Lance Barnes. Other recipients since the new club year started October 1, 2013, are Todd Butler, Bill McDaniel, and Gail Carter. (Photo by David Shivers)
Immediate Past President Gail Carter was honored at the March 24 meeting with a presentation announcing her as the recipient of the George Hixson Award from Kiwanis International. The award represents a donation to the Kiwanis International Foundation in her name honoring her service to the Kiwanis of Dougherty Club and the community.