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“Bees and Pollination. How important is it?”


“Bees and Pollination. How important is it?”

 Emma Brasseaux, Beauregard Parish 4-H’er

 Editor’s Note: Emma’s essay is an entry in the 2016 4-H Honey Bee Essay contest, and it posted on this blog. Best Wishes to Emma!

As the honey bee flies along Highway 171 in Beauregard Parish, Crimson Red Clovers cover the median like a soft blanket. Along the backroads, Indian Blanket, Tick Seed Coreopsis, blackberries and dewberries abundantly provide pollen for the honey bees to do their job, which is to pollinate all of our vegetables, flowers and trees.

In additional to pollen being an important part nature’s survival, bee pollen has lots of health benefits as well. It is wonderful for natural allergy relief and is responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey. Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids, making it an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent that strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally. [1]

While our native plants are in bloom, roadsides are not cut or sprayed as to allow the honey bees to gather and spread pollen. The Kisatchie National Forest is also home to many native plants that remain untouched and are a good source of pollen for the honey bees. Also in Southwest Louisiana, beekeeping associations have been formed. These associations provide support and knowledge to veteran beekeepers as well as those interested in just starting the process. A Facebook page has also been set up where people can find out what is going on in the world of beekeeping as well as news relating to the welfare of bees.

In my interviews with local beekeepers, I learned that the honey bees and their habitats need our protection. Some of the things that have been put into action in Louisiana are “Bee Aware” flags to help identify hive locations next to an agriculturally managed crop or area and the exchange of contact information to promote open communication among landowners, farmers, applicators of pesticides and beekeepers. Beekeepers also use hive identification and hive GPS locations as a way of providing information to farmers and pesticide applicators. All of these programs were designed to help all beekeepers to protect the honey bees.

Pastor Langstroth had an instinctive love for bees and was one of the first honey bee protectors. He discovered that the size of the frames needed to be 3/8 of an inch to protect the honey bees from disease and moths. [2] He took the guesswork out of beekeeping and continued to Americanize beekeeping throughout his life. We must continue to work towards protecting the existing habitats and strive to promote the beekeeping industry, not only in our community but in our state and country as well.

We need our honey bees to keep our agricultural economy alive. Are you aware that one of every three mouthfuls of the foods you enjoy depends on pollination by honey bees and other insects? [3]Can you imagine what we would do if we didn’t have those little helpers flying around pollinating all of our plants for us? Without honey bees to spread pollen, the abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts and plants will decline causing prices to go up. This will affect all people throughout our country. We need to make all people aware of how serious this could be if we do not take immediate action to SAVE OUR HONEY BEES AND THEIR HABITATS!





Hawkins, Keith. Personal Interview. 1-20-2016

Hebert, Richard. Hebert Honey Farm. Personal Interview 1-30-2016

Horn, Tammy. Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation. University Press of Kentucky, 2005

LSU AgCenter. Cooperative Standards Adopted by Louisiana Pollinator Cooperative Conservation program (LPCCP) Pub. 3478 November 2015

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SW LA Beekeepers Association: “Common Mistakes of a Beginning Beekeeper & How to Avoid Them”


SW LA Beekeepers Association: “Common Mistakes of a Beginning Beekeeper & How to Avoid Them”

Monday, January 4th, 2016, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th St., DeRidder, LA

          Mr. James Laughlin, East Texas Beekeepers, will be discussing the mistakes that new beekeepers make and how to avoid them.

Another reason to attend this meeting is to learn more about having bees by asking experienced beekeepers for advice. For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain regular “beemail” updates about beekeeping by sending your request by email to


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SW LA Beekeepers Association: Ordering Bees; Local Wax Moth Infestation.



SW LA Beekeepers Association:   Ordering Bees; Local Wax Moth Infestation.

Monday, December 7th , 2015,  7-9 PM, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th St., DeRidder, LA

One of the most important tasks for a beekeeper, beginner or experienced, is obtaining bees. This timely meeting will cover the ways beeks can order their bees in time for the spring nectar flow.

Mr. Jimmy Earl Cooley will talk about his recent infestation of wax moth in one of his hive.

Another reason to attend this meeting is to learn more about having bees by asking experienced beekeepers for advice. For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain regular “beemail” updates about beekeeping by sending your request by email to

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Big Find in the Bug world at Giltner Tree Farm


Big Find in the Bug world at Giltner Tree Farm

by George Giltner, LA Master Gardeners & Tree Farmer

On this rainy day, Microscopy was in order, and a big discovery was made here at the Treefarm.  A ten flower sampling of Tickweed Sunflowers (the yellow flowers similar to Swamp Sunflowers) revealed that they were occupied with Minute Pirate Bugs (Orius insidiosus).  OK, the big deal is that on the micro level these predators are indicated to be in heavy levels to control two spotted spider mites, European Red mites, most aphids, thrips, white flies, European corn borers, and even small caterpillars.

minute pirate bug

Minute Pirate Bug on Tickweed Sunflower, photo by George Giltner

To the average farm this is good info. Don’t mow all of those pretty yellow flowers that are blooming everywhere now.  They are loaded with beneficial wasps, bees, and micro pirate bugs, that all consume pests.

George Giltner wears several hats. He is a Tree Farmer and manages his trees sustainably. He is also a Louisiana Master Gardeners and a self-taught entomologist.

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Yellow-Necked Caterpillars: Fall Landscape Pest

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Yellow-Necked Caterpillars

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener

Fall is the time of year to notice yellow-necked caterpillars, Datana spp. The head is black followed with a yellow to orange neck. The body is black with 4 longitudinal yellow lines on each side. White long hairs cover the 2-inch mature caterpillar body. A behavior characteristic, which also helps to ID this caterpillar, is the “C” or “U” shaped arching of the body when it is disturbed. Another behavioral characteristic is their group feeding, as large numbers are found on individual branches.

Check your blueberry bushes at least every two weeks from August till late fall. Treat bushes with Bt or Spinosad, or mechanically remove, or prune for control. These voracious feeders can entirely defoliate small bushes. This extensive defoliation will retard the growth of the blueberry bush, but it usually does not kill it due to late season leaf fall anyway. However if repeated yearly defoliations are allowed to occur, the bushes may die. In late fall the caterpillars leave the foliage, enter the soil and pupate for the winter.

Other trees and bushes affected include pecans, hickories, walnuts, apple, maple, elm, cherry, witch-hazel, and azalea. Usually no treatment is required for these trees and bushes due to natural predators including birds and predatory insects. Tachinid flies, especially Winthemia datanae, is the most common predator (Craighead, F.C. 1949. Insect Enemies of Eastern Forests. USDA Misc. Publ. #657. 679pp.).

2016 YNC 1

Image 1: The “C” or “U” shaped posture when disturbed helps to identify yellow-necked caterpillar.


2106 YNC 2

Image 2: Yellow necked caterpillars on Blueberry, Photo by George Giltner (August – 2015).


2016 YNC 3

Image 3: Remains of yellow necked caterpillars after predatory insect control.



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WaspWatch – Early Warning for Invasive Destructive Beetles

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WaspWatch – Early Warning for Invasive Destructive Beetles

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener

Most of us have heard about the destructive effects of the Emerald Ash Borer. This pest is metallic green, ½ inch long and 1/8 inch wide. It lays eggs on the bark of ash trees in spring, which hatch into larvae that invade the cambium, between the bark and the wood. This inner bark feeding essentially cuts off the nutrient supply to the tree’s root system. Ash trees will die within two years of an invasion. EAB is now labeled as the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America.

We have a wasp on our side that is providing an early warning system for detection of the EAB. This native ground-nesting wasp, Cerceris fumipennis uses EAB and native beetles called buprestids as paralyzed food for its larvae in underground nests. Since the wasp will not sting us, even when handled, you can capture the paralyzed beetles. You may even capture other newly-arrived buprestids, like the European Oak Borer. Contact the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum thru Also go to for more information on this Bio-surveillance program.

Identification of Cerceris fumipennis:

  1. It is about the size of common yellow jacket wasps, however these are not the aggressive social wasps like ground yellow jackets that attack intruders in mass.
  2. It has dark blue/black wings.
  3. Unlike yellow jackets, the body is primarily black with only a few yellow markings.
  4. A conspicuous single broad yellow band encircles the front of the abdomen.
  5. It is a solitary ground-nesting wasp. A neighborhood of single entry nests will occupy an informal colony of nests. Entrance holes are about the size of a pencil.
2015 cerceris

Left: Cerceris fumipennis , Right: Emerald Ash Borer (U. Conn. Photos)

Mr. George Giltner is an Advanced Master Gardener and Tree Farmer in Beauregard Parish, LA. George is also a self-taught entomologist and write about insects in his “Battle of the Bugs” Series.

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The Internal Garden 2 – A good diet for the Microbial Symbiote and Yourself


The Internal Garden 2 – A good diet for the Microbial Symbiote and Yourself

By George Giltner, Advanced MG

Overwhelming evidence from numerous researchers is now showing a connection between better health, and a complex and diverse microbial symbiote in the large intestine. Garden vegetables play a major role in driving the “symbiote” toward a healthy composition (1). Eat big MAC’s (Microbiota Accessible Carbohydrates) which are dietary fiber to feed the beneficial bacteria, Bacteroides (2).

The gut bugs love the soluble dietary fiber, oligosaccharides (3 – 9 sugar unit molecules) that come from garden vegetables, fruits, beans and peas, and nuts. Colon bacteria rapidly ferment this food into smaller units for absorption. The longer non-starch polysaccharides (10 -100 sugar unit molecules) come from pectin in fruits, inulin in onions, and other plant-manufactured sources. These are converted into important Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA’s) like vinegar, which lowers inflammation, reduces risks of infection, stabilizes blood sugar, and lowers triglycerides and LDL’s. The indigestible polysaccharides and 100+ sugar unit molecules like cellulose keep us regular by passing thru the digestive system.

The prevailing theory of microbial research is that lack of dietary fiber has shifted man’s colon microbes toward Fermicutes (fat-producing bacteria) that has resulted in an increase in modern Western diseases (3). An example – In 1992-94, the U.S. government, American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association (AHA) endorsed a high-carb, low–fat diet. Soon after, the rate of diabetes has exploded between 1997 – 2007, by doubling (CDC, Diabetes Report Card, 2012).

Oops, now the AHA recommends a pro-vegetarian diet. It is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy, skinless chicken, and fish. It encourages low saturated fats and trans fats (none is better), low sodium and limited added sugar and red meat ( March, 2015).

If you eat the SAD (standard American diet) of hamburgers, French fries, and high carbs, the symbiote drifts toward fat-producing bacteria, Fermicutes. These bacterial types and their products lead toward inflammation, weight gain, and “Western” diseases like heart disease, diabetes, neurological diseases, etc.

A National Institute of Health funded study (4) with nearly 60,000 participants, stated that “Increasing evidence suggests that nutrients from fruits and vegetables have chemo-protective effects on various cancers including hematologic malignancies”. They observed that use of grape seed supplements and garlic supplements are associated with lower incidence of several types of blood cancers. Grape seeds have proanthocyanidins, potent antioxidants that also lower the risks of prostate cancer and some types of skin cancer. Garlic has organic sulfur compounds that prevent cancer through various mechanisms.

Early man had a diet similar to the Mediterranean and traditional Japanese diets of Modern culture. Both of these diets have demonstrated exceptional health and longevity. What they have in common is high fiber content, fermented foods, low saturated fats, and low red meat consumption. Now, we are finally uncovering how these facets support our health.

The American diet is unfortunately loaded with Omega-6 fats, which are from corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. However our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats in a ratio of 1:1 (5). Omega-3 oils are found in olive, flaxseed, and walnut oil, which help to reach a more balanced ratio. Seafood is an excellent source of Omega-3 along with grass-fed animals like beef, lamb, and buffalo (6). However if animals are feed-lot fed corn and soybeans, they will not have adequate Omega-3’s for the equal ratio with Omega-6’s.

A 2015 Mayo Clinic report (7) linked high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids to increased risk for heart disease and depression. Omega-3’s are thought to provide lower risks of coronary heart disease and improvements in cholesterol. Also studies are reporting promising results for lower risks of cancer, depression and ADHD (hyperactivity in children). The DHA and ERA of fish oil lowers triglycerides and reduces risks of heart attack, abnormal heartbeat, and stroke in people with heart disease. Fish oil may also benefit people with hardening of arteries and high blood pressure. However it is best to skip the fish at the end of the food chain like Mackerel, swordfish, tilefish, and albacore tuna due to high mercury levels. Instead use certified fish oil from cold-water fish like a krill blend.

As with any dietary change, seek medical guidance and discuss this subject with your health provider. Example – High doses of fish oil may be problematic with people with heart disease, sugar control problems, and bleeding issues.

Another serious issue with the SAD (American diet) is the glut of gluten in modern processed foods like wheat breads, cake, doughnuts, breakfast cereals, condiments, ice cream, soups, etc. The range of gluten problems ranges from slight gluten intolerance to Celiac Disease. David Perlmutter, MD, says “When I watch people devour gluten-laden carbohydrates, it’s like watching them pour themselves a cocktail of gasoline” (6).

Neurologist, Dr. Aristo Vojdani (6), has stated that the incidence of gluten sensitivity in Western countries may be as high as 30%. Dr. Rodney Ford (8) emphasizes “Evidence points to the nervous system as the site of gluten damage”. Therefore, if you are gluten sensitive, look for gluten-free products to avoid and reduce bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, headaches, neurological problems, and allergies. “Gluten-free” is in your home-grown garden and in the produce department of grocery stores.

Dietary fiber and anti-oxidants from organic vegetables, balanced Omega fatty acids, and gluten-free products along with exercise are important dietary factors that lead to a healthier you and your microbial symbiote.

  3. Environmental and Gut Bacteriodetes: The Food Connection
  4. Vitamin, Mineral, Specialty Supplements and Risks of Hematologic Malignancies in the Prospective Vitamins and Lifestyles Study (July 29, 2011).
  5. P.M. Kris-Etherton, et al., “Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Food Chain in the United States,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 71, no. 1 (January 2000) S179-S188.
  6. David Perlmutter, MD, “Grain Brain” (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013) p.76, 64, 60.
  7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Fish Oil, and Alpha Linolenic Acid (2015).
  8. Rodney P. Ford, “The Gluten Syndrome: A Neurological Disease,” Medical Hypotheses 73, no.3 (September 2009): p. 438-40.









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SW LA Forestry Association Board Meeting – April 22, 2015

SWLAFA Board Meeting – April 22, 2015


Attendees: Keith Hawkins, David Meaux, George Crain, George Giltner, Jeff Peterson, and Harvey Kieffer.

David Meaux stepped up to President to conduct the meeting in the absence of Dick Meaux who was still recovering  from health issues.

Two members of the board are retiring from their positions, Dick Meaux, President, and George Crain, Treasurer.  George Crain received a Burl Pin from David Meaux for his many years of service to the Forestry Associations that he has served with.

Treasurer’s report:  The present total was $3967.50.  Future checks were approved for 2 teachers to attend the annual Forestry Teachers Tour at a cost of $800.  Jackie Cantrell and Debbie Callaway of Pinewood Elementary will represent our forestry association.  Also a $500 contribution to the Beauregard LSU AgCenter was approved.

A critique of the 2015 meeting, and planning for next year’s agenda were discussed.  The War Memorial Civic Center was selected as the site for the 2016 Annual meeting. A topic discussed was invasive weed control.  Keith suggested having a weed scientist as a main speaker.  A second topic was forest invasive insects like the emerald ash borer.

Forest stumpage prices were discussed along with all the variables that have to be considered in pricing.  Keith provided a website as a global guide,

The next SWLAFA Board Meeting will be August 5 at the War Memorial Civic Center, in the Gun Room, at 0900.  David Meaux will review the election of officers based on By-Laws.  David will also report on the tax exemption legal work of the organization that he has been engaged with.

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THE Internal Garden 1 – the Symbiote

THE Internal Garden 1 – the Symbiote

By:  George Giltner, Advanced Master Gardener

Growing all of those fantastic varieties of veggies is an enjoyable and rewarding task of Spring.  All of those diverse varieties bring in multiple flavors and nutrient levels into our diet.  Now let’s follow all of these nutrients into the “Internal Garden” where the microbes function in a symphony of symbiosis within our bodies.  Our health, sleep, behavior, moods, and mind are affected by microbial chemicals which have an astounding impact on our lives.

Our knowledge of personalized medicine took a springboard leap back in the late 1980’s with the beginning of the Human Genome Project. One of the unexpected outcomes was innovation in DNA sequencing technologies.  This led to the realization that humans are more than the product of their human genes.  We also needed to sequence the genomes of our bacterial inhabitants.  In 2008 the National Institutes of Health began working on the Human Microbiome Project.

In the past 7 years, scientists have been sequencing our gut bacteria, and are investigating the ocean of chemicals produced by these bacterial inhabitants.  Within the next ten years, we are expected to have a higher level of understanding of relationships with disease prevention and treatment. You can even participate.  Contact the American Gut Project, and send $99 with a stool sample for a personalized list of bacteria in your colon.  Obviously, there aren’t overwhelming contributions other than those of neuroscientists, cardiologist, immunologists, and other researchers. But, you are invited to participate by Dr. Rob Knight, professor of pediatrics and computer science and engineering, and director of the Microbiome Initiative (R.Knight, 2015).

Some physicians are acting on information gathered from numerous studies already completed.  Graham Rook (2014) at University College London suggests that the absence of our “Old Friend-Soil Microbes” could explain the increases in inflammatory diseases, as diabetes, arthritis, and even depression.  Our granddaughter’s pediatrician recommends “dirt and dog contact” to expose her to microbes that have been with man through history.

Animals provide numerous microbes to counterbalance the ultraclean lifestyles of modern homes and “clean-wipe” mindsets. Also she is encouraged to have soil contact by planting a small garden and containers with pesticide-free and chemical fertilizer-free soil.

At LSU School of Medicine, Dr. James M. Hill (Senior scientific investigator and professor of neuroscience) is studying the relationship between the gut’s microbiome and the risk for brain disease.  His recent report (J.M. Hill, 2014) demonstrates multiple ways in which the brain and its functioning are influenced by activity in the gut.  He’s explored how good gut bacteria produce important brain chemicals (Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), and glutamate).  Low levels of these chemicals are observed in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients.  GABA allows the nervous system to weather stress better.  Glutamine is a neurotransmitter involved with cognition, learning, and memory.  BDNF is a critical brain growth protein for thinking and learning, and higher brain functions.

Actually hundreds of scientists are researching and exploring the many interactions between man and microbes.  This exciting field of studies offers a better life for man with the understanding of numerous diseases (cancer, autism, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.).  So far it appears that gardening, farming, and animals increases our own diversity of bacteria – that leads to a healthier and happier life.

In the next article, the Internal Garden 2, we’ll look at how to feed a healthy “symbiote”, your own personal bacterial composite.

A. Rook, C. L. Raison, and C. A. Lowry, “Microbiota, Immunoregulatory Old Friends and Pyschiatric Disorders”, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 817(2014): 319-56.

M. Hill et al., “The Gastrointestinal Tract Microbiome and Potential Link to Alzheimer’s Disease,” Front. Neuro.5 (April 14, 2014): 43,doi: 10.3389/fneur.2014.00043, eCollection2014.


  1. Knight, “Follow Your Gut”, TED, 2015.


  1. Sonnenburg and E. Sonnenburg. “The Good Gut, Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health”, New York: Penguin Press. 2015.

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“Comparison Between Leaf-Footed Bug and Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymphs”


Comparison Between Leaf-Footed Bug and Milkweed Assassin Bug Nymphs

 By George  Giltner,  Advanced. Master Gardener

Probably the last thing a gardener would want to do is kill off a beneficial insect, like the milkweed assassin bug, that is controlling pests ( flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars, cucumber beetles, the Asian  citrus psyllid, aphids, army worms, and other prey 6x their size).  The milkweed assassin bug is the common predator that is effective in our landscape and vegetable gardens.  Therefore its similar identity in the nymph stages to leaf-footed bug nymphs needs to be distinguished.

2015 leaf footed bug nymph

Harmful insect: a nymph of the leaf-footed bug, Photo by Lyle J. Buss, U. Florida

2015 MW Assassin bug

Beneficial Insect: a nymph of the milkweed assassin bug, Megha Kalsi, U. Florida

From looking at the above photos, the casual observer probably will not be able to distinguish between the two nymphs.  The juvenile insect in the top image will attack apples, blueberries, blackberries, cowpeas, cucurbits, eggplants, okra, tomatoes, pecans, hibiscus, etc.

The MW assassin bug nymph in the bottom image is a desirable predator to have in the garden.  Therefore you would definitely not want to bring out a broad range pesticide to kill what may or may not be a harmful bug, unless you are certain of the identification.

There are a few behavioral characteristics that may help.  The assassin bugs are usually loners that are observed sneaking up and “assassinating” their prey.  If you get near them, they may rare-up on long thin legs and extend their proboscis (nose) forward.  Also carefully observe the surrounding vegetation for assassin bugs that have captured prey.  Their proboscis has injected digestive enzymes into the prey for liquefaction, which does take time. Handling the latter nymphs and adults can result in a nasty bite.  So, be careful in capturing these bugs for children. A positive ID at the LSU AgCenter is recommended.  The preferable method is to take a close-up photo with a digital camera or a newer cell phone.

The nymphs of the leaf-footed bugs usually stay together to attack plants in packs that may include adults, and other pest-bugs.  A joint pest-effort in overcoming the plants defense system is typically seen on unhealthy plants. The proboscis will be kept under the belly of the bug. It never goes forward like the assassin bug’s exhibit.

The message is to make an effort to ID and keep the beneficial bugs, for they are the balance in the ecosystem of your garden or ornamentals.  Killing all bugs in a wide-spread area throws this system out of balance in favor of the pests that have the quicker and more abundant reproductive cycles.


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