One of the perks of being a regional representative for MSBA is to be able to visit and speak to a number of beekeeping clubs. It is interesting to see how these clubs are different. There are clubs that appear formal, with officers, minutes and a bank account; others that are much less structured. All, though, have an obvious similarity. Everyone in the room shares an interest in the honey bee. These groups have something else in common. No matter the formality of the proceedings, there will always be folks behind the scenes, unlocking the doors, bringing refreshments or completing other tasks without fanfare. There will also be a number of experienced beekeepers who show up to enjoy the camaraderie, to provide encouragement and answers to questions from the much more numerous new, and want-to be, beekeepers.

It was at one such meeting in Jackson, Mo last January where I learned of a valuable tool courtesy of Grant Gillard, which has already been put to use in my apiary in Iron County. At the Jackson meeting, Grant came prepared with a copy of a “dead-out” key to handout to participants. With high winter mortality always a concern, we are certainly interested in knowing how many colonies we’ll be able to bring into spring. It is also very true that taking the time to identify what may have caused the death of the colonies we do lose can help us become more knowledgeable and successful beekeepers.

If you are interested in the WINTER DEADOUT DIAGNOSIS KEY, go to Click on the “Resources” tab, then “links” and you’ll find it under the heading “General Beekeeping.”

Gregg Hitchings

MSBA-Southeast Regional Director

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