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Beekeeping is different from what it was 30 years ago, and bees seem to need a lot more “babysitting.”

Beekeeping expert and author Jim Tew made that point at the beginning of his second presentation to the Blount County Beekeepers Association on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. (Read our article published just after his presentation.)

Below is a short video of that presentation. (The video is not high quality, but the audio is more than sufficient.)

In the introduction made the following points:

  • Maybe we’re looking in the wrong places as we are trying to figure out what’s wrong with today’s bees.
  • We may need to re-think our equipment and management techniques.
  • Bees seem to need a lot more attention from beekeepers than they used to.



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Jim Tew told Blount County beekeepers that the environment for bees is a complicated one, and not every plant a bee visits is good for it — and some plants can be downright dangerous.

“So much of this (the environment for bees) is so complicated, that it’s a wonder that bees can do anything at all,” he said.

Tew went on to describe some of the many factors and decisions bees much make in feeding themselves and keeping their hives alive. “Outside the front door of your hive, life is tough,” he said.

He spoke to the August meeting of the Blount County Beekeepers Association on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014in the Blount County Library.

Tew is the beekeeping specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service.

Jim Tew speaks to the Blount County Beekeepers Association

Jim Tew speaks to the Blount County Beekeepers Association

Tew also said that . . .

  • People on “the outside” of beekeeping don’t understand the commitment beekeepers have made.
  • Not all plants that produce nectar and pollen welcome the bees being there.
  • There are more “nectaries” in a plant than those around the flower. They occur around stems and leaf nodes. Bees might indeed get nectar from those.
  • Honey is concentrated sugars from the flowers the bees visit. Some sugars from some flowers are of no use to the bees.
  • The bees hold the nectar in their throats while they process this sugar-water nectar they’ve gathered.
  • A typical colony needs 265 pounds of honey a year and 155 pounds during the summer. Beekeepers can take the excess honey.
  • Bees eat propolis more than we realize.

“Every plant is negotiating and bargaining” for visits from the bees, he said.

Tew asked how many people were dealing with varroa and did not get much response from those in the audience. He said the varroa problem seemed to be “calming down,” and a new generation of beekeepers was coming into this realm who weren’t as afraid of varroa as older beekeepers. Consequently, fewer beekeepers are as obsessed with it now or even thinking about it very much.


Jim Tew demonstrates the dangerous environment for bees by taking about the toxic nectars in azaleas.
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If you're interested in joining the Blount County Beekeepers Association, call

Chuck Davis


Mark Ford


Welcome to the web site of the Blount County Beekeepers Association in Maryville, Tennessee.

This site will tell you a little about the association and how to become a member. It will also tell you a little about beekeeping.

Bees are an important part of our environment and particularly our agricultural system. They are also fascinating creatures.

We hope you will be interested enough to join us at some point, even if you're not interested in keeping bees. There are lots of ways you can join in with what we do.

Follow us on Twitter at @blountbees.

Schedule of BCBA meetings for 2018

The Blount County Beekeepers Association meets on the second Monday of every month, except for September and December, at 6:30 p.m. at the Maryville Church of Christ, 611 Sherwood Drive in Maryville.

All of the meetings are open to the public, and anyone interested in learning more about beekeeping is welcome and encouraged to attend.

The following is the schedule of meetings and activities for 2018:

January 8 – regular meeting

February 12 – regular meeting

February 17 – BCBA short course for new beekeepers

March 10– New Beekeepers class

March 12 – regular meeting

March 17 -Wooden Ware class

April 9 – regular meeting

April  TBA-Field Day for new beekeepers

May 14 – regular meeting

June 11 – regular meeting

July 9 – regular meeting

August 13 – regular meeting

October 8 – regular meeting

November 12 – regular meeting

December 10 – Christmas dinner

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