Honey Bee Genetics and Characteristics:
Glen L. Stanley
Iowa State Apiarist (emeritus)
2615 Aspen Road
Ames, Iowa 50014
It was in the late 1930’s and up until the declaration of war that a young fellow by the name of Gladstone H. (Bud) Cale from Illinois enrolled as a student at Iowa State College. He majored in entomology which included the study of Honey Bee Genetics.
He earned his degree under the supervision of Dr. O. Wallace Park who for many years directed the investigations of Honey Bee research at Iowa State College. He also enrolled in classes on beekeeping taught by Professor Floyd B. Paddock who was Iowa’s State Apiarist from 1919 until his retirement in 1960.
I had the good fortune and the great privilege of getting to know Bud Cale while he was at Iowa State. Occasionally we would get together for short visits. Then came the declaration of WW II and we both entered the military service.
A short time later after serving in the military Dr. G. H. (Bud) Cale was employed by Dadant & Sons bee supply company to direct their beekeeping operation. While serving in that capacity I made it a point to occasionally visit Dr. Cale and the Dadants. During the ensuing years Dr. Cale developed a strain of Honey Bees called the Star Line which were somewhat resistant to American Foul Brood. That strain became widely used throughout the country.
It was always a pleasure to get information about bees and beekeeping from Dr. Cale and he was always straight forward and willing to pass along a bit of his knowledge.
It was during one of those visits that he told me that whether bees are kept in Louisiana or in Minnesota along the Canadian border the bees were inclined to swarm during the months of May and June. After keeping bees from that day until the present I find that to be so true.
Dr. Cale also told me and even demonstrated how to determine the age of larvae that was ideal for grafting. Dr. G. H. Bud Cale had become one of the outstanding Geneticist of that era.
The major problem among beekeepers today, particularly in the Midwest is wintering of colonies. Far to many are having to deal with tremendous losses. Those that do winter their colonies well tend to split them apart in small units to eliminate swarming. This can be done but in doing so they are also eliminating an even reasonable honey crop. Prof. Paddock once said in that regard, “Bottom boards do not make Honey.”
No matter where you reside throughout the Midwest just SIX weeks before you anticipate the main honey flow to begin, colonies should be equalized and have four combs of brood or approximately 400 square inches of brood. Certainly, such colonies will be inclined to swarm but most can be prevented in doing so by the elimination of swarm cells. This can be accomplished and fairly quick and easy. Our swarming was reduced to less than two percent. Any colony that has no tendency to swarm is not up to par and certainly not up to average or above in honey production.
Dr. Cale’s teachings as well as those of DR. O. W. Park and Professor Paddock have likely been the difference between success and failure in my many years of beekeeping beginning in 1938 to the present.
Glen L. Stanley