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Nov. 21, 2022

Chinese Tallow Update with Steven Coy (S5, E23)

Chinese Tallow Update with Steven Coy (S5, E23)

Today, we’ve invited Steven Coy back to the how to provide an update on the Chinese Tallow tree and efforts to eliminate them.  Chinese Tallow was brought to the USA in the 1700’s as an ornamental. They have very successfully invaded much of...

Steven CoyToday, we’ve invited Steven Coy back to the how to provide an update on the Chinese Tallow tree and efforts to eliminate them.  Chinese Tallow was brought to the USA in the 1700’s as an ornamental. They have very successfully invaded much of the Southeast US, and are moving north and west at a slow but steady rate. USDA-APHIS has declared them invasive and have introduced two insects that feast on Tallow trees to slow, and eventually stop that spread.

However, Tallow trees are a valuable source of honey in the spring for US beekeepers, who manage their bees to take advantage of the honey flow to build their colonies to full strength so they can super pollinate a great deal of the crops we eat. No tallow, far, far less pollination.

The American Honey Producers and the National Honey Board have combined to produce a survey to measure the full extent and value of these trees to US beekeepers and to those of us who like to eat Tallow Honey. The intent is to reduce, or better, stop the insects from destroying Tallow trees, maintain the spring honey flow and keep food on the tables of all of us.

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura


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S5, E23 – Chinese Tallow Update with Steven Coy


Jeff: Welcome to Beekeeping Today podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim: I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties: Hey, Jeff, and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.

Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at

Jeff: Thanks, Sherry and thank you Global Patties. You know, each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support, and we know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen. From the transcripts, the hosting piece, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture's been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today. Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Before we get started, just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today podcast and give us a five-star rating. It really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes. Check them out.

You can also leave questions and comments online under each show. You can leave a comment, ask a question, reply to a question ours or listeners, click and leave a comment at the top of the episode's show notes to join the discussion. Have you listened to an episode and thought that person sounds really interesting and I'd like to know more about them? Well, now you can. Each episode links to a guest profile. Each profile has a guest photo, bio, contact information including Instagram and Twitter details if they have them. Check it out. Finally, share the podcast with your beekeeping friends. Email them links or mention it at your next beekeeper meeting.

Hey everybody, thanks again for listening. Did you know that our podcast is now available as audio on YouTube, we know many of you enjoy listening to podcasts on YouTube, and if you do, please look for and subscribe to us there. I'll place a link to our channel in the show notes. It seems that everything these days can be classified as an invasive species. Beekeepers hear this a lot when talking with other folks wanting to protect native pollinators.

What is an invasive species? Well, according to the keeper of all known knowledge, Wikipedia, [laughs] invasive species is defined as an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment. It goes on to state that invasive species adversely affect habitats and bioregions causing ecological, environmental, and/or economic damage.

Wow. Based upon that definition, we humans are definitely an invasive species. Which makes me wonder, at what point does an invasive species become a parasite on its environment or worse, a parasitoid? Well, I'm getting off track. Or was I? Ah, yes, invasive species. In this episode, we've asked Steven Coy, vice president of the American Honey Producers, co-owner of Coy Honey Company, and charter member of the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association to the show.

Steven talked with us previously about the Russian honey bees, along with Dr. Thomas Renderer, and was here in February of 2021, talking about the Chinese tallow Tree. Today Steven is back continuing the discussion about the Chinese tallow Tree. The USDA APHIS has categorized the Chinese tallow Tree, also known as a Popcorn Tree, as an invasive species, and has been working on several means of controlling and eliminating this tree.

However, over the years, since its introduction in the 1700s for its ornamental features and later for making soaps and seed oils, the Chinese tallow has spread extensively across the South, the Southeast, and in pockets of the East Coast. It grows quickly, and if not managed, can choke out native plants. Its sleeves and fruit are toxic to cattle and humans. It is also a primary honey source for beekeepers in the south, and especially important for migratory beekeepers as they build their spring colonies up before taking them north of the Dakotas or other destinations in their summer migration.

As you will hear Steven say, the American Honey Producers see the proposed actions by the USDA APHIS as a threat to their economic livelihoods. To better understand the economic impact of the proposed actions, the American Honey Producers Association and the National Honey Board have teamed up with UC Davis Agricultural economists Daniel Sumner and Antoine Champetier to develop a survey.

The 30-question survey will be used to assess the value of tallow used in forage and the subsequent economic impact that the tallow tree has on pollination and the environment. The assessment will be used for research purposes with the intent of identifying feeding practices, cost, and the use of forage in beekeeping practices. If you are a beekeeper in an area with Chinese tallow or you know a beekeeper who is, today's podcast is one you will not want to miss. We encourage you to complete the survey.

Invasive species are a problem no matter what it is. However, the full impact of the elimination of that invasive species needs to be taken into consideration, especially if that species has been around for 100s of years. When you think of it, the house cat is an invasive species when it's not managed properly and becomes feral or is led outside to come and go as it pleases. Should we consider eliminating it too? [laughs] Okay. Now that I've stirred up the pot, let's get right to our discussion with Steven Coy, but first, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.

StrongMicrobials: Hey, beekeepers, many times during the year, honey bees encounter scarcity of floral sources. As good beekeepers, we feed our bees artificial diets, protein, and carbohydrates to keep them going during those stressful times. What is missing though are key components, the good microbes necessary for a bee to digest the food and convert it into metabolic energy. Only Super DFM Honeybee by Strong Microbials can provide the necessary microbes to optimally convert the artificial diet into energy necessary for improving longevity, reproduction, immunity, and much more. Super DFM Honeybee is an all-natural probiotic supplement for your honey bees. Find it at or at Fine Bee Supply Stores everywhere.

Jeff: While you're at the Strong Microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive. A regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Hey everybody, welcome back. Sitting across the virtual Zoom table right now is Steven Coy of the Coy Bee Company. Steven is on the executive board of the American Honey Producers Association and was on our show back in February of 2021. Steven, welcome back to Beekeeping Today podcast.

Steven: Thanks, Jeff, glad to be here.

Kim: Good to see you again, Steve.


Steven: Yes, good to see you, Kim. I'm glad you're doing great out here.

Kim: Well, I appreciate that. Thanks.

Jeff: I gave a quick bio of who you are, but why don't you introduce yourself to listeners who may not have heard the February release of 2021?

Steven: Yes, so I'm Steven Coy. I'm the co-owner with my wife Angela of Coy Bee Company here in Wiggins, Mississippi. I grew up in the beekeeping industry. My father started it when I was just a little kid, and it's just what I like to do. Currently, I'm the vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, so that's an upgrade from the last time I was here.

Jeff: Congratulations.

Steven: Thank you. I've been involved with the Russian Honeybee Breeding program since the beginning of that. We sell queens and nucs and make a little bit of honey here in South Mississippi.

Jeff: We had you talking about the Russian Queens and Russian Bee business also. That was one of the other shows, which is one of the favorite shows. A lot of questions about Russian Queens. We'll have to have you back in the springtime or maybe January, or February when I'm sure you're not busy and talk.

Steven: Oh, yes. Well, I can make time to be here with you guys.

Jeff: Oh, that'd be great.

Kim: Well, Steve, one of the things we talked about last time also was the Chinese tallow honey crop, honey tree invasive, all of the things that are going on with that particular plant. There are some people, as I understand it, that would like to see Chinese tallow go away because it is an invasive and there are a group of people out there such as yourself who don't want to see that happen. That fight's been going on for a while. Can you shortly sum up what it is and then maybe give us some idea of what's next coming up on this debate?

Steven: Yes, so it's been close to five years ago, we got word that APHIS was trying to-- APHIS was interested in releasing a biocontrol agent to control tallow trees in the Southeast United States. We did a bit more digging with that and a couple of years later found out that APHIS actually wanted to release to insects, a moth and a beetle that would feed on the roots and the leaf tissue of the plant and they released a environmental assessment and it basically said how bad the tallow was, it does meet the definition of an invasive species.

If you don't do a good job of controlling the weeds and the trees and stuff on your property, it can get away from you, it can be a problem in certain situations but there are ways to control that through mechanical or chemical or I think flooding is one of the effective ways to control it. There's ways to control it but if you just ignore it, it's going to spread quite a bit.

Kim: Just for those who are not familiar with the tallow tree or the Chinese tallow tree, can you describe it in its geographical range roughly?

Steven: It grows to be about 40 feet tall at maximum maturity, it has a kind of a heart-shaped leaf, it's a real pretty in the fall, the leaves turn a red color and the seeds turn white, it looks like popcorn, this popped popcorn, it's where this name comes from. It was brought into the United States in the 1700s by Benjamin Franklin and planted somewhere in the South Carolina region in the '20s and '30s, USDA brought it to the south and encourage people to plant it as a cash crop in order to make tallow soap. The seeds have tallow, a coating of tallow on them and you can boil that off and you can make tallow soap with that and then it also has a high oil content, the nuts have high all contents and they could be useful for pressing oil out of them.

They just never quite caught on, a lot of people planted for ornamentals in their yards, they spread by the roots so when you cut one down, if you don't do a good job picking up all the little chutes that pop up, you can have several more trees but the environmental assessment that APHIS put out talked about how bad it was, and how expensive it was and how terrible it was and they had one little paragraph that said it might be beneficial to beekeepers but it's extremely beneficial to beekeepers.

It grows from Texas all the way over to South Carolina, it is spreading, there's pockets of it up and around Jackson, Mississippi. I was in Oxford this past weekend and there's a big mature tree there in Oxford, it's all across the Southeast United States and it's probably the number three, it could be the number two, we don't really know, that's part of what the survey is about, a honey producing honey-producing plant in the nation. There's a lot of honey produced off of it across the whole Gulf Coast.

Kim: When does it bloom?

Steven: It starts in Texas in early May, it blooms here in Mississippi and late May through early June, and then progresses over into June over in the South Carolina regions.

Kim: As a beekeeper, then what I'm hearing is that it's a good honey producer and it sounds like it's probably producing at a very important time of the year for you when you're trying to make bees and make queens?

Steven: It's a extremely productive honey plant, you can make over 100 pounds in some years off of it, it's like everything else, if everything's right, you can do really well on it but the most important part about it is the time, in Texas, it blooms early enough that the Texas beekeepers who run their bees in the Dakotas in Montana that they build their bee populations on the tallow so as their hives are growing, they're building their numbers, so they have good strong healthy hives to take to the Dakotas in Montana and Wisconsin North to make those sweet clover alfalfa and basswood crops.

Then it still blooms early enough here in Mississippi that beekeepers can take bees up North, if they get them there towards the-- in the 1st of June but then there's a lot of guys that don't get do that and they just make honey and that's what I do. I raise queens and make honey, I try to stay away from my mating nucs, I try to keep my meeting nucs away from the tallow because the flow is intense that it disrupts clean mating, but I do have other hives where I try to make the honey off of it.

Kim: What's the honey like?

Steven: It's a light amber, it's got a nice body to it. If you've purchased honey from Aunt Sue's brand or if you've purchased honey from Nature Nate in the Southeast United States, it was predominantly tallow honey.

Kim: So it's a good honey crop and it's a good I guess the words would be preparatory crop for moving somewhere else to make even more honey, does it get in the way of anything in terms of beekeeping? You just said maybe not good for some of your queens but anything else?

Steven: No, it's great. The pollen is really good. The fact that the bees collect much pollen down here that there'll be pollen bound, so they have a huge store of pollen to get them through the dearth because after the-- at least in Mississippi, well, it's the same in Texas, because all those people leave Texas because there's nothing after tallow and that gives them a good base of pollen and nectar to build their populations through the rest of the summer.

Kim: Davis wants to get rid of it because it's an invasive and it's doing something to the environment down there that they don't like. It's either crowding out something or preventing something else from growing because of its habitat or something in the roots or something and you guys want to keep it, the American Honey Producers want to keep it, beekeepers in the Southeast want to keep it, what are you doing to work with APHIS to not make that happen?

Steven: Yes, we hired an environmental consultant to write a rebuttal to their environmental assessment and that turned out to be 73 pages long because they just did a terrible job of actually trying to find the balance between the value of tallow and the cost of tallow. We have since then hired Dr. Dan Sumner from UC Davis, and Dr. Antoine Champetier from somewhere in France to do economic analysis and they have put together a survey that you can fill out on your phone, it takes about 20 minutes and the purpose of the survey is to find out exactly how many beekeepers make honey from tallow?

How much tallow honey they do make, how many beekeepers and how many colonies use tallow to build on before they go to a honey crop in the Northeast or North out in the Midwest or and then eventually pollinate almonds and then if there are beekeepers in the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina area that make talent honey and then go pollinate fruits and vegetables in New England.

Because I know I have a good friend in Massachusetts that he pollinates squash, and he has to compete with beekeepers from Georgia that pollinate up there. The assessment is to determine exactly what the value of tallow is to the bee industry. Because the value in honey production is pretty small compared to the value of pollination, and the health of the bees, and all the jobs associated with the almond industry, and all the downstream effects of beekeeping.

Kim: I see real value in measuring the pumpkin crop in Massachusetts with and without bees. There's a definite number that you can and you say, okay, I got this many bees that come in from tallow country at the right time in the spring, we put them on my pumpkins, my squash, my cranberries, whatever and they pollinate that and then they go someplace else but without them, there are not enough bees to pollinate those crops. So I've got growers that are going to have a hard problem, I've got retail and wholesale sellers that are going to have a hard time supplying orders for that food later in the season. I got to take a half-step back here and say this is going to be a pretty easy thing to measure?

Steven: Right, it is pretty easy, but nobody's actually brought up the tape measure and tried to measure exactly what we've got and that's what this survey is about is we don't really know how much tallow honey is produced, we could find out through some of the packers how much they buy, but they don't buy all the honey that's out there, the side liners and the hobbyist might go out of tallow honey, and they'll sell it in their farmers' markets and to their friends and family, that's what we're trying to capture.

Kim: Does APHIS have a number to say, "If it's this much or more, we're going to leave it be and if it's this much or less, we're going to get rid of it"?

Steven: Well, that's a really good question, Kim because APHIS has us working in a-- well, they're working in a black box, we don't know what they're doing. We just know they're working on it. I do know that they've put together and APHIS hasn't told us this, I found this out through other people that they put together a working group of some university and USDA scientists to try to find out exactly how nutritional the pollen and nectar are and what other insects are on that but APHIS no, they don't-- if they have that number, they've not told us.

Kim: Okay, well, somehow that doesn't surprise me at the moment. I would guess that there's some level of we're right and you're wrong in here someplace and it's the beekeepers who are going to pay the price of however that answer comes out either good or bad, but there's a survey out there you said that I can take and where can I find this survey. If I'm someplace in the area that produces tallow honey and I want to take the survey, how can I do this?

Steven: You can go to the American Honey Producers website, it's and there'll be a link there. If you're on the Commercial Beekeepers Facebook group, it's all over that. It's on the Mississippi Beekeepers Facebook group and you can email me directly and I can get you the link.

Jeff: We'll have the links in our show notes as well.

Steven: Also, Bee Culture Magazine has already published out in their, oh, what do they call it?

Kim: Catch The Buzz.

Steven: Yes, Catch The Buzz. They've published that at the Catch The Buzz. I know they've had an article where all-- I can't forget that we're doing this partially funded through the National Honey Board and they should have a link somewhere on their website and they're putting out a press release soon to have that information out there. American Bee Journal is going to publish the link also.

Kim: I got to think that if I'm a beekeeper living in that country that produces that honey belonging to the American Honey Producers probably would be a really good thing to do right about now.

Steven: Yes, I think so. We need as much help as we can on this issue and other issues facing the industry. Tallow is just one piece of that puzzle. It's one cog in the wheel of what makes the honey industry go round.

Kim: Exactly right. Jeff, you're going to have that link to the American Honey Producers on the show notes, right?

Jeff: I will. Let's take this quick opportunity to hear from one of our sponsors.

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Jeff: The survey sounds like it'll collect some very valuable information from the beekeepers the tallow honey issue affects the most. When is that survey due?

Steven: The survey needs to be completed by the 10th of January.

Jeff: All right. They have some time after this podcast comes out to actually go out and complete the survey. Folks, if you live in the Southeast area and Texas, you want to make sure you complete that survey, especially if you're collecting tallow honey and/or use that to build your colonies before the spring migration.

Kim: Another quick question on this, Steve, just related. That survey's done and you've looked at it and APHIS has looked at it and American Honey Producers have studied it and they've come up with a conclusion. Is the data from that survey going to be available to the general public like me?

Steven: Yes, I think so. It's a joint venture with the National Honey Board, so I'm sure we'll have it out there available.

Kim: It would be good, I think coming down the road here when all of this is said and done or getting said and done is to have somebody come back and take a look at the data that you've accumulated and paint a better picture of what's going on.

Steven: That's what we hope. You don't know how it's going to turn out until it's all over with but-

Kim: Exactly.

Steven: - we expect to get good results because we know tallow is very good for the bees and it's important to the bee industry.

Jeff: You mentioned you've been promoted to Vice President of the American Honey Producers Association, a great beekeeping organization for beekeepers and honey producers. What's the latest and greatest there at AHPA?

Steven: Ah, well the latest and greatest is our annual conventions coming up November the 29th through December the 3rd in Tucson.

Jeff: Tucson's a great town

Steven: That'll keep us busy. On a somewhat related note, my son introduced me to the game of golf back almost a year ago and I don't have enough other things to do. I started playing golf and I got all excited about it. Where we're staying is at a golf resort basically. It's a resort and spa. They've got five swimming pools and they got a pickleball court and they got a three nine-hole golf courses designed by Jack Nicholas. They have a lot of other amenities. It's going to be great. I put together a golf tournament, so we got about 50 players. The hole-in-one prize is your choice of a Hummer Bee Classic or a Bobcat S450.

Kim: Wow.

Steven: I've been practicing that hole-in-one, so-

Jeff: Good.

Kim: Wow.

Steven: -we'll see.

Jeff: With prizes like that on the line, I was about ready to joke about no drinking while in the golf game, but I don't think so with that kind of stuff going on, people will be serious.

Steven: I think the lady driving the beer cart around is going to be plenty busy, I'm pretty sure.


It was actually put together to raise money for our anti-dumping suit and that's what's really going on. The AHPA has filed and we won the anti-dumping suit against India and Brazil, Vietnam, and Argentina. That just means that we won the initial suit and now we've got to pay the lawyers for the appeals process. We're still short about almost $200,000. We were $500,000 short. We've raised almost 300,000, so we're still about $200,000 short. If you can donate to the anti-dumping fund, you could please do that at the AHPA website.

Kim: I was going to say there's a link there. Just quickly when I looked, it looked as if you were still looking to raise some of the fees against some of the countries because they weren't high enough.

Steven: Yes, that's part of the appeals process. We have appealed the ruling against India. It was too low and of course, Vietnam appealed their ruling. They said theirs was too high. We won't find out the answer to that until sometime in January.

Kim: Good luck with that. I hope it pays off for you. I know it's got to help no matter what.

Steven: It's already made a difference. Currently, 70% of all the imports coming into the US are under this anti-dumping order. As a result, the price of honey has gone up to anywhere from $2.70 to $3.25 per pound. A year ago it was a dollar less than that or even more in some cases.

Kim: That's $3.25, you could almost make a living doing that. Almost.

Steven: Almost.


Yes, $2.70 is pretty close to break even for us, for most guys. It came at a good time but with the way the rest of the economy is going, we haven't made a whole lot of gains.

Kim: It's always something.

Steven: Yes, but that's farming.

Jeff: Besides the anti-dumping suits and the tallow honey issue, what is the other benefits of being a member of the American Honey Producers Association?

Steven: Well, I can tell you what's been the biggest benefit for me is membership is as I go to the annual meetings and I have met some really good people, I've met some really smart people and they've turned out to be really good. Friendships, business relationships, networking, has helped me be more successful as a beekeeper and I've been able to help some other people be more successful. That's all because of-- You get out there, you're talking with beekeepers, and, hey, how do you have your extracting room set up? Or what truck are you running? What tires are you running on your bee truck? How's it that you make splits?

Learning different techniques and different ways to do things, just building those friendships, that's as valuable as the anti dumping, is raising a price for the honey, as if you're a sideline or commercial guy, you can take part of the ELAP program, the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program. We've worked really hard to get that usable and more usable for more beekeepers. We're working on honey adulteration. Honey is the number two or number three most adulterated product in the world. We spent a lot of time talking to Congress and getting money. In fact, we got money appropriated, money available for customs and board protection to do more inspections of more honey coming in. They're looking for adulterated honey. If you're in the bee business for the business' sake of it, the Honey Producers Association, we're working to help you be more profitable.

Jeff: You are so involved with the Russian Bee program. Can you just give us a quick update on that and how the season has been and the growth of the Russian bees?

Steven: We had our annual meeting just a couple of weeks ago and we have a couple of new members coming on. We had a couple of-- Some of the original members have retired. It's a group of bee breeders and the benefit for me is I get to use these bees in my operation and then I do sell queens and nucs. There are no mite-proof bees, but there are resistant stocks and Russian bees are one of the first resistant stocks. We're just keep trying to improve and make the bees better.

Jeff: One of the first comments people make about Russian bees is they tend to be a little bit more ornery than the standard bees that are out there now. I know you've been faced with that question many times. How do you respond to that?

Steven: Sometimes I backpedal real fast, but most of the time, no, they are not the most gentle bee out there, that's true but they are no more aggressive, no more sting prone than any other generic mutt or Italian bee. There's a lot of variation in the line. There's a lot of genetic variation in in our program. Yes, sometimes the bees that are the best at surviving and the best at controlling mites, they have stingers and they have stingers for a reason. Honestly though, if you dig into it most of the problems are actual beekeeper error. If you do stupid stuff, you're going to get stung.

Kim: Sums it up nicely.

Jeff: That sums it up.

Steven: Not politically correct, but neither am I.

Jeff: Well that's all right. That sums it up pretty good for life in general.

Steven: If you're going to be stupid, you better be tough.

Jeff: There you go. Is there anything that we haven't covered that you would like to bring to our listeners attention.

Steven: Bee Culture Magazine and this podcast, especially Kim Flottum has always been exceptionally helpful. He's gone out of his way to help the bee industry, the Russian Bees and the Honey Producers Association and I thank Kim especially for that.

Kim: Appreciate that Steve. Thank you very much.

Jeff: Very nice, agree.

Steven: I thank you too Jeff, but Kim's been around longer.

Jeff: That's absolutely true.

Kim: Seniority.

Jeff: [laughs] That's right. Steven, it's been great having you back on the show and learning about the updates to the tallow honey issue and I look forward to having you back to talk about what is learned through the survey and the next steps.

Steven: Great. I appreciate y'all having me. I encourage everyone to come to Tucson if they can. If not, you can contact me if you need more information or you an find the links through the Honey Producers website.

Kim: I expect to hear about a couple of hole-in-ones, Steve.

Steven: We'll see, we're going to try.

Jeff: Good. Best luck to you, take care.

Steven: Thanks, Jeff. Thanks, Kim.

Kim: Take care, Steve.

Jeff: American Honey Producers Association's doing a lot of good work for the beekeepers. It's fun having Steve back on talking about the tallow honey issue.

Kim: Well, not only is it fun having him talking about it but boy it's got to do everybody everywhere some kind of good to make this turn out good for beekeepers, and what he brought up really brought home the connection between bees and beekeepers. I want to eat supper right now because without the tallow honey crop, you're not going to have all that pollination going up. He isn't nearly generous enough of where tallow grows up the East coast, it goes all the way to Maine. One of the things that if you take a look at where tallow grows, he was talking about down in the tight and Southeast corner of the US and that's where it's really an invasive plant.

However, it's not invasive all the way up to Maine and all the way over to West Texas. It grows in that area and there are bees who are taking advantage of it although it's not invasive. If it's gone suddenly you got bees that got no lunch anymore. People in Vermont have a, I'm going to say a responsibility to look out for the bees that are in Mississippi because if the towel goes away, all those bees go away.

Jeff: Did not realize that. I thought it was just the kudzu or something like that. It's only to the limit-- to the Southeast. You're saying it's all the way up the East Coast in pockets.

Kim: It's not invasive in Massachusetts but it's there. If there's one tree there, it's going to feed one swarm and that's what you need.

Jeff: The point that he made about the migratory beekeepers who build their colonies on tallow in Texas before they take them North that's really important. That needs to be taken into consideration when people think about the tallow tree and whether it's invasive or not it's damaging or not because it's not just the honey, it's pollen.

Kim: It's the bees. They're feeding on that honey in Mississippi that now go to the Dakotas and the Midwest that are pollinating those crops. If they go up they're empty and hungry, how long before they get full and ready to pollinate before those crops are gone? Timing of tallow in the South is going to coincide really nicely with the bloom that occurs in the Midwest. Without Mississippi bees, you got less Midwest honey.

Jeff: It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Kim: Yes, I'm glad he could make it. Closing word, if you got anything to do with anywhere close to that tallow business, fill out the survey and get it back in so they can use your information.

Jeff: Well that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast. Wherever you download and stream the show, your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage.

As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American Beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor Global Patties, check them out at

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at We want to thank Better Bee for their longtime support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of Bee Books Old New with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you the Beekeeping Today podcast listener for joining us on the show. Feel free to leave us comments and questions that leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:35:51] [END OF AUDIO]

Steven CoyProfile Photo

Steven Coy

Queen Breeder/ Beekeeper/ Author

Steven Coy is a second-generation commercial beekeeper where he learned how to manage bees in the soybean and cotton fields of Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. In 2007 he moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help his family manage a 12,000 hives multi state honey production operation. In 2014 he started Coy Bee Company, LLC so that he could focus on producing Russian queens and nucs.

He is a charter member of the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association and has been breeding Russian bees since 2001. He co-authored the book Russian Honey Bees with Dr. Thomas Rinderer.

He is the past President of the Mississippi Beekeepers Association and currently serves as the Vice-president of the American Honey Producers Association and has served on the Executive Board since 2010.

He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Science and a Master’s Degree in Biology from Arkansas State University. In addition to his work as a beekeeper, he worked as a Research Assistant at Arkansas State University then as a Research Technician at the USDA Biological Control Research Unit in Stoneville, MS.