September Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello everyone,

During last month’s meeting Keith Tignor said, “The bees are prepping for Winter now. You are currently raising Winter bees.” As this newsletter comes, we’re on our last chance to treat varroa mites before Winter. Mid-September is too late. As for my hives, they’re finishing up dose 2 of the Apiguard trays next week and it’ll be time for me to do another mite inspection. I’m feeding 2:1 sugar syrup in a top feeder. I’m also working to spray down my extra frames for wax moths and store away for Winter.

September Meeting

We will have a September meeting on Monday, September 13th at the Rockwood Park Nature Center. However, because it’s on the back of our picnic, the meeting will be structured differently. We will not have a speaker but rather a panel discussion. The topic will be Winter prep. Whether this will be your 1st Winter or you’re a seasoned beekeeper, this is good information to have. How can we raise strong bees to overwinter? What do we need to do to manage the space in the hive? How do we properly store equipment? Mark your calendar now for our meeting. Add to Google Calendar

RPBBA will continue to follow the current CDC recommendation:

  • Not fully vaccinated: You should wear a mask in indoor public places.

  • Fully vaccinated: Wear a mask indoors if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

As of today, September 1st, Chesterfield County has high community transmission. Please bring a mask to wear. The club will have masks on hand to provide if needed. [Source: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view]

Saturday, Sept 11th, RPBBA 2021 Picnic

If you have not already marked your calendar and RSVP’d for our 2021 picnic, now’s the time. Add to Google Calendar We hope all members and their families can join us. A flyer and RSVP will be emailed following this newsletter to RPBBA members. The association will provide fried chicken, soft drinks/water & tableware. Please bring

  1. A side to Share

  2. Lawn Chairs

  3. A Picnic Blanket

Grills will be set up in case anyone needs them. Alcohol is permitted (BYOB) but please keep in mind this is a family-style event. Fishing is allowed from the pond BYOP&B (bring your own pole & bait). If you’ve got other fun outdoor games like cornhole or horse shoes, bring ’em!

Call for Volunteers – Nominating Committee, Board of Directors, & Officers

Our club we all know and love, RPBBA, is successful because of volunteers. It’s the time of year to start the process of seating a new Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors is in need of volunteers to join a Nominating Committee. This committee should have at least 3 members. The purpose of the Nominating Committee is to identify and put forth a slate of candidates for election in October. If you are interested and willing to volunteer as a member of the nominating committee, please email rockwood.beekeepers@gmail.com.

The Board of Directors role is to select Officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Communications) for next year, vote on club business, and oversee the functions of the club. A maximum of 9 members are permitted by our bylaws and Articles of Incorporation to serve on the Board of Directors. Currently we have 5 Board members whose terms are expiring; we are looking to fill those seats which will become vacant at the end of the year.

If you wish to nominate someone else for the Board of Directors or even volunteer yourself, please send an email to rockwood.beekeepers@gmail.com. Each person nominated to serve will be contacted to confirm their interest & willingness to serve.

One of the things about serving on the Board of Directors or as an Officer of the club is the access you will have to experienced beekeepers. You do not have to be a seasoned beekeeper to help. I began my beekeeping journey in 2020 by enrolling in the Beginner Beekeeping course. I brought home my first 2 nucs in May 2020. Last Fall, I volunteered and was elected to the Board of Directors. I subsequently volunteered to handle the club communications. Looking back, I view my choice to serve as a great benefit for myself and my hives. I’ve found no shortage of members willing to chat, answer questions, help me with a swarm, borrow equipment, inspect my hives, extract my 1st season of honey. The list goes on; the pro-guidance I’ve received is an unspoken (till now, lol) and understated benefit. If you are interested in learning more about beekeeping, serving is an excellent way to do that.

Please consider volunteering or, if you are nominated, please consider serving. We need new ideas, new perspectives and can always use more energy from new people helping. Your involvement in the club helps make RPBBA the best it can bee.

Call for Volunteers – 2021 State Fair of Virginia

The Richmond Beekeepers Association will be sponsoring the Virginia Beekeepers Honey Booth. This year as in the past we will need volunteers from all of the bee associations to work the booth. The State Fair of VA runs for 10 days, starting Friday, September 24th thru Sunday, October 3rd. We will need volunteers to fill two shifts a day, first shift 10:00am to 4:00pm and second shift 4:00pm to close. The second shift will close Sunday thru Thursday at 9:00pm and Friday and Saturday at 10:00pm. The volunteer’s bee association will receive a portion of the profits made from the sale of honey and other products of the hive based on the number of shifts worked. This is a great way to earn money for your club and also meet other beekeepers from the central Virginia area.

The State Fair of VA is located at Meadow Farm in Doswell, VA (just past Kings Dominion) in the Meadow Pavilion with other agriculture displays. Admission tickets will be sent to each volunteer for each day worked.

To sign up to work a shift or two you will need to

  1. Go to https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f4ca9a72fa0ffcf8-honey

  2. Find day and time you would like to work and check the Sign Up box

  3. Click Submit and Sign Up at bottom of page

  4. Fill in your contact information

  5. Click on Sign Up Now

You will receive confirmation via email with the name of Nicholas Hayes.

If you would like to volunteer but do not feel comfortable with SignUpGenius you can call

  • Nicholas Hayes at 804-801-2197 (Nicholas may be in class , he will contact you as soon as he is free) or

  • Gay Stapleton at 804-672-8408 or email at rbrtstapleton@yahoo.com.

Just a reminder, if you would like to enter your honey, beeswax or beekeeping gadgets in the open honey competition the deadline to do so is September 3rd. Also, if you have extra honey you would like to sell at the State Fair of VA contact Bob Stapleton at 804-672-8408.

Bee Vocabulary – “Cluster”

In a cluster, a large number of bees cling together in a mass. With honey bees this usually occurs in 2 instances.

  1. A swarm of bees will cluster in a nearby tree or bush when first leaving the hive and before going to their new home.

  2. In Winter, the bee cluster allows the colony to conserve and generate heat. The Winter Cluster technique is how honey bees survive the cold temperatures.

Beekeepers in the News

Beekeeper Invents Trap to Tackle Asian Hornets

After he lost 35 hives to the Asian hornet, a traumatized French beekeeper knew he had to save his bees. He came up with a trap that stops the invasive species, but does no harm to bees or native hornets.

To find out more, and see his trap, you can watch a video here: https://www.reuters.com/video/watch/idPx2t?now=true

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

Next up in the VSBA Speaker Series is Honey Crystallization & Defects with C. Marina Marchese. This talk will be September 23rd at 7pm on Zoom. A link to join the meeting can be found on this page.

Carla Marina Marchese is changing the way people think about honey, this designer turned beekeeper is best known as the visionary behind the beloved brand Red Bee Honey. During a former career as an international designer, Marina was invited to visit a neighbor’s apiary where her first taste of fresh honey would change the course of her life. She quit her job, built a beehive and wrangled some Italian honeybees to become a full – time beekeeper. It was on a visit to Italy that Marina stumbled upon a honey festival in Montalcino (coincidentally called The City of Honey). Compelled by the philosophy of terroir, Marina studied wine tasting in order to transfer those skills to honey tasting which led her to launch the Red Bee Brand. She returned to Italy to complete her formal education as a honey sensory expert, becoming the first US citizen to be accepted as a member of the Italian National Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey. In 2013, she founded the American Honey Tasting Society to bring the Italian program to the US.

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (September)

The hive population is dropping. The queen’s egg laying is significantly reduced, and the drones may begin to disappear at the end of this month. Nectar and pollen sources usually reappear after Labor Day. Frost may occur after September 20, and the bees will begin to cluster when the temperature inside the hive drops below 57 degrees.

Asters, daisies, ragweed, clovers, tickseed, and goldenrod may provide substantial sources of nectar if the month has adequate rainfall (4-6 inches) spread over the entire month. Strong hives may make 20 pounds of honey during September. (In some years, 30 pounds of production has been recorded in September.) In years with drought conditions, September can be disastrous for the hive, with the bees consuming the honey and pollen that should be saved for winter.

The brood nest may be about 10 inches across. The queen is active, but laying less than 400 eggs per day. At the end of the month (when colder weather is likely) the workers cease feeding the drones. A few drones will remain at the end of the month, but not many.

Feeding of syrup and pollen substitutes may be essential if the month is dry. In a good year, it may also be time to do that final harvest for the season. Remember to leave at least 40 pounds of honey for each hive to get through the winter. Remove the queen excluder if you left it on the hives after the harvest. Check on the queen. If you are going to use it, feed and medicate with Fumagillin in syrup to fight nosema towards the end of the month. (Only the first 2 gallons of syrup per hive are medicated if you are using it.) Add chemical mite treatments if you did not do so in August and if you are using those treatments.

Now is the time to use menthol crystals for tracheal mite control, if you are going to do so. Nighttime temperatures are cool enough, and daytime temperatures may fit the instructions. If it is dry, or you made up splits in July, feeding continues until the bees will take no more syrup.

Attend bee meetings and state and local fairs and festivals. Give honey to your bee neighbors, and make sure they understand how good the bees are for gardens, flowers, and the growing environment in general.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

Osmanthus, Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Abelia, Rose, Annuals, Perennials

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

Final Word

If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and bee active. You can join on our website or come to a meeting!

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the picnic and the meeting this month on Sept 11th and Sept 13th.

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

Like us on Facebook!
Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

August Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello fellow beekeepers and honeybee enthusiasts!

The summer dearth is here. The colony’s brood rate is decreasing and they’ll soon tire of feeding the drones. In a dry August, a hive may consume 10 pounds of stored honey. Although chances are lower, swarming can still occur so don’t start spacing out your inspections just yet.

As for my hives, I’m watching for “light” feeling boxes, sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the ground to help curb the small hive beetles, and will soon be mite checking. I’m beginning to think whether I will combine hives for winter to come. I have a weaker hive so I’ll likely end up combining it up with my stronger one later in the season.

📢 August Meeting

Our August meeting will be held Monday August 9th at 7pm in the Rockwood Park Nature Center. Keith Tignor is coming back to visit and speak with us. Keith is the State Apiarist and Central VA Region State Beekeeping Inspector. He will be talking with us this month about mite control. It’s now the time of year to know your mite count and what to do about it. We hope you all can join us for this important talk. Add to Google Calendar

RPBBA will continue to follow the current CDC recommendation: Wear a mask indoors if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. As of today, August 1st, Chesterfield County has high community transmission. Please bring a mask to wear. The club will have masks on hand to provide if needed.

[Source: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view]

Saturday, Sept 11th, RPBBA 2021 Picnic

If you have not already marked your calendar for our 2021 picnic, now’s the time. Add to Google Calendar We hope all members and their families can join us. A flyer and RSVP will be emailed following this newsletter to RPBBA members. The association will provide fried chicken, soft drinks/water & tableware. Please bring

  1. A side to share

  2. Lawn Chairs

  3. A Picnic Blanket

Grills will be set up in case anyone needs them. Alcohol is permitted (BYOB) but please keep in mind this is a family-style event. Fishing is allowed from the pond BYOP&B (bring your own pole & bait). If you’ve got other fun outdoor games like cornhole or horse shoes, bring ’em!

Beehive Distribution Program

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering their Beehive Distribution Program again this year. The time is NOW to apply. Applications for the Beehive Distribution Program can be submitted any time July 20 – August 4, 2021. Applications that were submitted in previous years will not carry over to the current Program. In addition, applications from previous years cannot be resubmitted. Recipients of beehive units will be selected at random from accepted applications.

For more information, including how to apply, visit https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-beehive-distribution-program.shtml.

National Honey Bee Day

Did you know National Honey Bee Day was coming up? It’s Saturday, August 21st. National Honey Bee Day is an awareness day to celebrate honey bees and recognize their contribution to humans’ everyday lives as a means of protecting this critical species. Mark your Calendar and spread the word!

Bee Vocabulary – “bee metamorphosis”

the three stages through which a bee passes before reaching maturity: egg, larva, and pupa. During the pupal stage, large fat reserves are used to transform both the internal and external anatomy of the bee.

Beekeepers in the News

7-year-old Pennsylvania Beekeeper Has Hive With 50,000 Bees

PENN TOWNSHIP, Pa – A 7-year-old is the legal owner of his own bee apiary and one of the youngest members of the Lancaster County Beekeepers Society.

To read more and check out his 10-frame mediums, visit https://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stories/7-year-old-pennsylvania-beekeeper-has-hive-with-50000-bees/SXORB2RPJNEZ3O26G7URC4S7EI/.

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The Virginia State Beekeepers Association speaker series continues August 5th at 7pm with Tim Schuler’s Mite Control Program presentation. Tim worked over 20 years with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture as the former New Jersey State Apiarist. He started keeping bees young in a small Philadelphia suburb. In 1991, Tim started Schuler’s Bees, a side business managing hundreds of colonies, providing pollination services to local farmers, and producing honey. In 2016 he was awarded the Divelbiss award by the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) for his effort in beekeeping education. Tim is a down-to-earth, engaging, and persuasive speaker, especially when it comes to managing varroa in colonies. Add to Google Calendar

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (August)

The colony’s brood growth rate is slowing down. Drones are still around, but the workers will soon lose interest in feeding them. Outside activity slows down as the nectar flow decreases and stops. Much of the flight activity is water-gathering, pollen collection, and orientation of new bees. On hot evenings and nights, the bees may drape the front of the hive, making them especially vulnerable to skunks.

Smartweed, ironweed, Joe Pye weed, milkweed, thistles, heartsease, chicory, clethra, pepperbush, dandelion, blueweed, and some asters and daisies may provide a small nectar flow. Clovers, soybeans, alfalfa, sunflowers, and common vetch continue to offer nectar, but there are few concentrated plantings of these cultivated crops in Northern Virginia. Cucumbers, melons, carrots, and pumpkins need honeybees for pollination this month. Net honey production is unlikely in August due to heat and drought. The hive may consume 10 pounds of stored honey or syrup during a dry August.

Watch for a failing queen, especially a queen that is more than 1 year of age. Egg laying should continue at the rate of 400-500 eggs per day, and the brood nest should be at least 14 inches across. Watch for wasps and hornets attacking the hives to steal away live bees for the purpose of feeding their brood. If you may have harvested too much of the hive’s honey, examine the hive to make certain there is at least 10 pounds of capped honey before you go on vacation.

There is not much chance of swarming this month. Do not expend much energy catching a swarm that escapes in August, as it will not build up enough to survive the winter. Watch out for robbing. Re-queening of all hives with queens from the prior year is done in this month or in early September. Queens may be a little less expensive this time of year, especially if they were reserved in April or May. Watch for wax moths and small hive beetles; ruthlessly combine hives that are too weak to defend against them now. Take losses now, rather than in the winter.

The bees that are born in August will have to carry the hive through the early winter. Make certain that the hive has enough pollen and honey to generously feed new brood. Skinny August bees will not make it to February.

Many chemical mite treatments should be applied in early August, if they are going to be used. Carefully read the instructions and consider the temperature forecast before any treatment is applied, however. Honeybees may not be able to tolerate harsh chemical treatments combined with high temperatures. However, it is also not wise to allow Varroa mites to parasitize the bees that you hope will carry the hive into early winter.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

Crepe Myrtle, Rose, Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, Abelia, Annuals, Perennials

[From https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/]

Final Word

If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website or come to a meeting! We love seeing fresh faces.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, August 9th at 7pm in the Nature Center!

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

Like us on Facebook!
Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group

July Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello fellow beekeepers and honeybee enthusiasts!

Welcome to July. I hope your colonies are doing well.

Summer is upon us. Continue inspections of your hives to make sure your colonies are healthy. The bees may manage to store honey this month, but they may eat more than they collect. As resources become more sparse, watch for robbing activity at the entrances; take steps to deter robbing as needed. Pay special attention for boxes that begin to feel lightweight. The varroa mite is increasing its population at the expense of the bees; it will require some type of treatment or management, soon.

📢 July Meeting

Our July meeting will be held Monday, July 12h at 7pm at the Nature Center. We will be sharing a presentation entitled Game of Drones by Julia Mahood. Honey bee drones are the Rodney Dangerfields of the bee world, they (often) get no respect! Learn all about the amazing drones and their mysterious drone congregation areas. Julia Mahood is a Georgia Master Beekeeper who has been keeping bees since 2004. She created the citizen science website MapMyDca.com to gather data on drone congregation areas. Julia is passionate about education and teaches beekeeping in Georgia prisons and is active in her local and state bee organizations. Add to Google Calendar

RPBBA does intend to follow CDC recommendations. For all in-person meetings, attendee’s need to be prepared to provide proof of vaccination or wear a mask. The club will have masks on hand to provide if needed.

🐝 Study Group

The study group is open to all members who want to learn. You are not required to take the exam to join; come soak up some knowledge. They will next meet Monday, July 19th at 7pm at the Nature Center. The group will continue to go through the VSBA Apprentice Study Guide questions, provide answers, and discuss. Those interested to attend are encouraged to download the guide in advance and start working through the questions on their own. Still not sure if it’s for you? Come sit in on a session; see what there is to learn about our favorite pollinators.

auahAm2gGUcWDib3V0HMjh6bXSvSmHCF5ohhdtl0B-4H4DNBkrE6dw7125GJ3TAOiir7rVTsvkcL_MxKAoF8kD_zPpYcCpXP4O1Hg-E2Rk8K1Qm7KGjE-xbZG0QH5YgJ7NsYEnpb Save the Date for our RPBBA 2021 Picnic

The board has set a date for our 2021 picnic! Please mark your calendar now for Saturday, September 11th. More information to come as the date nears.

Bee Vocabulary – “Bearding”

When bees congregate on the outside of the hive, usually on the front side. Done to keep the temperature inside the hive down, usually on hot days or when the hive is overcrowded with bees and/or honey stores.

Beekeepers in the News

Honeybee Forage Map

Looking for blooms to help the honeybees during the dearth but don’t know which plants are best? NASA has created a map and divided it into forage regions. You can find out when certain plants begin and end blooming for your region. NASA even highlights whether or not the plant species is considered a very important nectar source within the state and region. To check it out, go here: https://honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Honeybees/Forage.htm

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The Virginia State Beekeepers Association speaker series continues July 21st at 7pm with a presentation from Petra Ahnert titled, Collecting and Using Propolis and Pollen. Petra is best known for authoring the books Beeswax Alchemy and Beehive Alchemy. She runs a small artisan soap, body care, and candle company. She is also a small-scale beekeeper. The bees serve as inspiration not only for her products, but life as well. More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (July)

On hot and humid nights, you may see a curtain of bees cooling themselves on the exterior of the hive. Swarming is still possible, but it becomes less likely as the month advances. The Varroa parasitic mite continues to increase its population at the expense of the bees, and it will require some type of treatment or management soon. The bees continue to raise 3,000-5,000 replacement bees per week in July, and may consume a larger amount of honey and pollen than is collected if the month is dry. The stronger hive populations will peak at 50,000-60,000 worker bees.

Late June and July are harvest times for the Northern Virginia beekeeper. After supers and frames are removed for extraction, the best practice is to return the supers and frames to the hives for cleanup. The bees may manage to store 5 pounds or more of honey during July, but they will eat more than they collect if the month is dry. Continue inspections of the hive to make sure the hive is healthy. Catalpa, bee bee tree, linden, milkweed, butterfly weed, horsemint, fireweed, and globe thistle will bloom. Heartsease and smartweed bloom this month, starting in damp bottomlands. Cucumber, melons, some soybean varieties, sunflowers, some vetches, verbena, and clover will supply supplemental nectar or pollen, where cultivated. If you can find a field of alfalfa, soybean, or buckwheat in bloom, these plants are major nectar sources and produce distinctive honey flavors.

Watch for bees fanning droplets of water to cool the hive. Especially around the harvest, watch for robbing activity near the entrance. Look for a falloff in egg production, as the brood nest shrinks gradually down to about 60-75% of its peak size.

Make sure the water source for the bees is clean and accessible. Harvest honey. Return wet supers to the hives. After the supers are cleaned of honey by the bees, remove excess supers and stack them with moth-repellent PDB crystals. Watch for signs of robbing and take steps to discourage robbing if it starts. Select perfect frames of comb for honey competitions. Attend the club picnic. Learn how to filter and bottle honey for the most competitive local and state fair honey judging. Decide if, when and how you are going to treat for Varroa. Order any supplies or equipment that you need for mite treatments.

If you are going to make splits to overwinter, the first half of July is the last time to do it. You will need to be prepared to feed any split during the dry months of July and August. About half the time, you will need to feed splits in September and October as well.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

Crepe Myrtle, Rose, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Buddleia, Rose of Sharon, Abelia

[From https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/]

Final Word

If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website or come to a meeting! We love seeing fresh faces.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, July 12th at 7pm at the Nature Center!

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

Like us on Facebook!
Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!
Keep up with what RPBBA is doing, see Calendar of Events!

June Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello fellow beekeepers and honeybee enthusiasts!

We have a lot of news this month we are excited to share. This month’s newsletter is full of information and plans to come! Without further adieu,

Hh1pQvZirWJaajAP9pGN0DhVkcvgwPwPyV8_dAtGyvHj28Vr0ffrC1hDHiOstaTL68ObwEOKImkSW9q1z_Ps9jU82QmxsrMoWn8c9oYwXEb8Kn55zMcEcFjOOJipGtZLZ2chPYsFClub News

The Nature Center at Rockwood Park is open and we are ecstatic to be able to resume meetings in-person. Like everywhere around us, RPBBA does have to adapt to the changing times and keep Covid-19 safety in mind for all. It is important to note the clubs insurance policy no longer provides coverage for virus or bacteria related illness’. RPBBA does intend to follow CDC recommendations. For all in-person meetings, attendee’s need to be prepared to provide proof of vaccination or wear a mask. The club will have masks on hand to provide if needed.

June Meeting

Our June meeting will be held Monday, June 14th at 7pm at the Nature Center. John Davis will continue our study into swarming. We will further discuss the behaviors within the hive to look for signs the bees are preparing to swarm. Swarming season is not over. Learn more why removing queen cells is not a good swarm prevention. Following John’s presentation, we will allow time for open discuzzion. Add to Calendar

🐝 Study Group

The study group will next meet Monday, June 21st at 7pm at the Nature Center. The group will continue to go through the VSBA Apprentice Study Guide questions, provide answers, and discuss. Those interested to attend are encouraged to download the guide in advance and start working through the questions on their own. Still not sure if it’s for you? Come sit in on a session; see what there is to learn about our favorite pollinators.

24Lu6s_P6-EkW44YocvFKVQVND8QoJgVxEbzMPGEKHj75Pz1Are9C8HhOmqQAAzgweF0Zc6W3QzrKaLuTT0dGefFkq11TtMOEyiehk-LxP88NbpqOYxr0373O4MPwJ9uQ9j372bV Save the Date for our RPBBA 2021 Picnic

The board has set a date for our 2021 picnic! Please mark your calendar now for Saturday, September 11th. More information to come as the date nears.

RPBBA Membership Fees

July 1st will mark 1 year since RPBBA has sent renewal invoices. Our treasurer will begin to send renewal notices to those members coming due. As previous, membership is $15 per family per year.

Bee Vocabulary – “Dearth”

Okay, so this isn’t necessarily honey bee vocabulary. However to a honey bee, a dearth is a shortage of nectar-producing flowers. A lack of nectar can happen at any time during the growing season but it is more common in mid to late Summer. Remember, you may see blooms but that does not guarantee that nectar is inside. Check the hives food stores periodically; consider feeding if needed.

Beekeepers in the News

Angelina Jolie Embraces Bees—and Female Beekeepers as Environmental Guardians

National Geographic teamed up with superstar and activist Angelina Jolie to raise awareness of bee conservation and empower women beekeepers around the world. To read the full story, go here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/bee-conservation-women-entrepreneurs-angelina-jolie

Would You Bee-lieve It? Two Honeybees Work Together To Lift The Top Off A Bottle Of Fanta

To see their teamwork in action, go here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9616351/Two-honeybees-work-lift-bottle-Fanta.html

In other news, the Bumblebee Jamboree is on for 2021 during National Pollinator Week, June 21-27th at Maymont.. This is a free event hosted by Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension Volunteer Master Gardeners. Follow the Pollinator Path at Maymont by taking a self-guided stroll through the Children’s Farm. Mark your calendar now and bring the kids out! https://linktr.ee/BBJ2021 for more information.

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The Virginia State Beekeepers Association is will return June 16th at 7pm with a presentation from Jennifer Homes titled Honey- Extracted, Creamed, and Comb – From Harvest to Preparation for the Honey Show. Mark your calendar now.

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (June)

Hives that haven’t swarmed will be boiling with bees. The brood nest will extend across two supers. The population of the strongest hives exceeds 50,000 workers. The queen’s rate of egg laying may drop a little this month. The queen is moving around the brood nest, laying eggs in cells that have been cleaned from prior use.

Sumac, clovers, strawberries, wild blackberries, speedwell, linden trees, chestnut, chokeberry, huckleberry, grape, holly, blackhaw, honeysuckle,and many ornamentals will provide nectar flows. June is generally a good month for honey production in Northern Virginia, but most of the nectar flows are over by the end of the month. A strong hive may cap as much as 30-40 pounds of honey in June, if good nectar flows are nearby and moisture is sustained in the soil. If soil moisture persists into July, you may want to plan on a small second harvest later in the summer.

Heat can be a serious challenge for the hive at this time. Look for bees bringing in water and placing it around the hive to evaporate for the cooling effect. Watch for swarm cells. Watch for wax moths, ants, mice and small hive beetles attacking the combs. If a hive is so weak in June that it can not defend itself against beetles, ants or moths, then you should consider combining it with a much stronger hive.

Watch for supers above the queen excluder where all the center frames in the super are full of capped honey. Move the full center frames to the outside edges of the super, and move less full frames to the center. This will assist the bees to fill and cap all the frames completely.

Inspect the hives weekly to make certain the hives are healthy and the queen is doing her job. You do not need to see a queen if you see a good pattern of eggs, wet larvae (or “worms”) and capped brood. Supers full of honey may be removed at any time you are prepared to begin extraction or keep them in the freezer. (You do not want to store supers of honey for more than a day or two at room temperature, due to ants, spiders, wax moths, and dust.)

Make sure your bees have a source of water within 200 feet of the hive. You may increase your hives by splitting strong colonies after the harvest. There is a slight chance of a need to add more honey supers this month. Keep watching for swarming which may still occur.

Decide if your hives are going to have an upper entrance. If so, you may want to drill a 1 inch circular hole in a super (not close to a handle), which hole can be guarded by the bees in summer and plugged with a cork during the winter. Some beekeepers screen over the hand hole in the inner cover, and then prop up the hive cover slightly to provide ventilation, but not enough to permit access to rodents and large insects.

Confirm queen orders for July hive splits.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

1st Week: Magnolia, Tree Lilac, Rhododendron, Azalea, Nandina, Smoke Tree, Rose, Waterlily, Daylily, Yucca, Annuals, Perennials, European Linden, Mock Orange, Weigelia, Laburnum, Calycanthus, Abelia

2nd Week: Magnolia, Golden Raintree, Mimose, Rose, Azalea, Nandina, Hydrangea, Sourwood, Waerlily, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Catalpa, Tree Lilac, Abelia, Calycanthus

3rd Week: Magnolia, Golden Raintree, Mimosa, Sourwood, Rose, Azalea, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Catalpa

4th Week: Magnolia, Golden Raintree, Mimosa, Sourwood, Rose, Azalea, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Catalpa

[From https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/]

Final Word

That’s all for this month! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, June 14th at 7pm at the Nature Center!

Michelle Clark

Communications 🐝

Like us on Facebook!

Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

Keep up with what RPBBA is doing, see Calendar of Events!

2021 Bumblebee Jamboree

The Bumblebee Jamboree is on for this year during 𝙉𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙋𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙤𝙧 𝙒𝙚𝙚𝙠, June 21-27th at Maymont. Follow the Pollinator path at Maymont by taking a self-guided stroll through the Children’s Farm. Mark your calendar now and bring the kids out for this 𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙚 event!

To view more details about the event click here: https://linktr.ee/BBJ2021

Facebook event link: https://fb.me/e/CS2ZtNWv

May Newsletter – RPBBA

May Meeting

This month our meeting will be on Monday, May 10th at 7pm on Zoom. Add to Calendar

During our meeting we will share a Virginia State Beekeepers Association presentation from their Speaker Series. The presentation titled Honey Bee Defensive Behavior is provided thanks to Dr. Clare Rittschof. Does the behavior of a hive tell us anything about the health of the colony? Is aggression always bad? Join us to hear what researchers are learning about the connection between aggression and health.

Rockwood Park Observation Hive Update

The observation hive in the Nature Center is doing fantastic. The hive which has 8 frames, 5 in the bottom and 3 in the observation area.

During the first spring inspection, some queen cups were found and 6 of the 8 frames had brood including 2 frames in the observation area. The hive was overflowing with bees. Since this hive has a high tendency to swarm due to its limited space, the queen and 3 frames of bees were removed to make a split. If the hive is unsuccessful in raising a new viable queen the original queen will be returned to the hive.

An inspection was performed 13 days after the queen was removed to reduce queen cells if more than 2 existed. We discovered 2 empty queen cells, one with the cap open and one that appeared to be torn open from the side. No queen was found at the time of this inspection. However, a queen was spotted in the observation area a week later. Another hive inspection will be done in a few weeks to determine if the hive is queen right. If the queen is laying, a mite count will be taken and the hive treated for mites if necessary.

On another note, a feral colony has established a hive in a tree along the roadway between the 2 parking lots at the back of the park near the nature center. The bees were using a large hole at the base of the tree as their entrance. This poses a hazard to walkers as they pass by. Measures will be taken to get the bees to enter the tree at a higher entrance on the opposite side of the tree. The plan is to allow these bees to continue living in the tree.

Bee Vocabulary – “Proboscis”

The tongue of a bee, the proboscis can be extended like a straw to draw up water or nectar from flowers.

Beekeepers in the News

Video: Sting of Climate Change

By comparing bee data to satellite imagery, NASA research scientist Wayne Esaias uses honey bees as tiny data collectors to understand how climate change is affecting pollination and plants. To check out the video, go here: https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/41/video-sting-of-climate-change/

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The Virginia State Beekeepers Association is taking a break in May and will return June 16th with a presentation from Jennifer Homes titled Honey- Extracted, Creamed, and Comb – From Harvest to Preparation for the Honey Show. Mark your calendar now.

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (May)

Now the hive is really buzzing. The nectar and pollen should begin to come into the hive thick and fast. This is the peak of the egg laying season for the queen. The hive should be bursting with bees. The brood nest will extend across 7-8 frames and may reach into 2 full brood boxes in the strongest hives by month end.

This month Tulip Poplar, Black Locust, Wild Blackberry, Privet, Persimmon, yellow rocket, and Sweet Clover will bloom. Alsike Clover, Crimson Clover, Ladino (White Clover), Black Gum, poison ivy, Vetch, Holly, and Raspberries will also bloom this month. At the end of the month, hawthorn hedges will add their nectar.

A strong hive may collect and store as much as 7 lbs of nectar per sunny, bright day. The bees will combine the nectar with enzymes they produce, and place the nectar in honeycomb cells to evaporate the nectar and age it into honey. Honey will be capped when it reaches 83-84% sugar. A strong hive working on a good nectar flow in May can cap as much as 80 pounds of mature honey during this month.

If the queen has over-wintered with the hive, then watch for signs of swarming. Look for queen cells. Make certain that the queen has enough room to lay 800-1000 eggs per day, and that she may do so for the entire 21 day cycle for production of a worker. This will mean that a queen in peak fertility will need at least 1 deep and 1 medium super for brood production. (Many beekeepers provide 2 deep brood boxes for this purpose.) If the brood production area has become honey-bound (more than ½ the brood frames are more than ½ full of honey), then provide a larger brood nest or remove honey frames and substitute foundation.

Watch for a failing or disappeared queen. If all the brood is drone brood, then the queen is failing, or has disappeared and been replaced by laying workers. If this occurs, you should combine the queenless hive with a queenright hive or take other steps to requeen the hive.

At the end of May, look out for wax moths. These 1/2 inch wide, gray moths sneak into the hive at night and lay eggs in corners and other places where the bees are unable to remove the eggs. The adult moths will be harassed and forced to leave a strong hive, and eggs will be covered with propolis if not removed. In a weak hive, the eggs will hatch and begin a path of destructive chewing and defecating through the brood combs. Combine weak hives, reduce the size of the brood box, or reduce the entrance to discourage moth entry to weak hives.

Inspect the hive weekly. If you reversed the brood boxes earlier in the year, you may need to do so a second time in May or June. Consider doing so if the lower brood box is nearly empty of brood and the upper brood box is crowded. Attend your bee club meetings and useful workshops you can find. Make certain that each hive has more than enough supers to store the honey harvest. Make notes of which flowers/trees/shrubs bloom at which times. Order labels, bottles and caps. Buy, reserve or borrow extracting equipment for late June or July. Order queens for July hive splits. Put out a wax moth trap; for directions, click here. Note however, that a MAAREC publication on wax moths states “so far a trap effective against the wax moth has not been developed”.

On strong hives, remove the mouse guard if you have not yet done so, unless you are using a mouse guard made of 1/2 inch hardware cloth, which does not obstruct air or bee movement.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

1st Week: Horse Chestnut, Empress Tree, Tulip Poplar, Amur Honeysuckle, Buckeye, Dogwood, Pearlbush, Azalea, Photinia, Viburnum, Cherry, Cotoneaster, Lilac, Iris, Peony, Candytuft, Violet, Tulip, Pansy, Daylily Wildflowers, Deutzia, Spirea

2nd Week: Tulip Poplar, Empress tree, Horse Chestnut, Amur Honeysuckle, Buckeye, Pearlbush, Cotoneeaster, Iris, Peony, Daylily, Perennials, Annuals, Wildflowers, Deutzia, Spirea, Azalea

3rd Week: Tulip Poplar, European Linden, magnolia, Azalea, Rhododendron, Cotoneaster, Weigelia, Water Iris, Peony, Honeysuckle, Rose, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Wildflowers

4th Week: Tulip Poplar, Magnolia, Tree Lilac, Rhododendron, Smoke Tree, Rose, Azalea, Honeysuckle, Yucca, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Wildflowers, European Linden, Mock Orange, Weigelia, Water Iris, Abelia, Laburnum, Mountain Laurel, Privet, Calycanthus

[From https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/]

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, the Zoom links or May will be emailed following this newsletter. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, May 10th at 7pm on Zoom!

Michelle Clark

Communications 🐝

Like us on Facebook!

Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

Keep up with what RPBBA is doing, see Calendar of Events!

April Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello Beekeepers,

As we come into April, we are beginning to see the pollen in the air as well as the beauty of Virginia. The honeybees and us are happy to be coming out of Winter. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we can still lose our colonies to starvation as the weather starts to warm up but the occasional cold snap comes through. On warmer days, do a hive inspection to check on your girls food storage, have a look at the brood pattern, replace a few old frames, and watch for signs of swarming.

VRpbO6CpRRs6byrcgw-zhvplYDw5HoNgr2Laaq7SfS3BsgCG9C-xesY0HniY6Cufj9GkdB_zssLaLZ8nu8tqA4L_0XCI8K6if2XC5vPEwYfLej72Jv3rK9ibvp9GBiZrQCZXOPNr

April Meeting

April’s meeting is one you won’t want to miss. John Davis will be giving a presentation on Swarming. What efforts can we make to prevent swarming? Supercedure cells v Queen cells v queen cups. What can be done once a hive is already exhibiting swarming behavior? My hive swarmed, now what? Join us Monday, April 12th at 7pm on Zoom. Add to Calendar The Zoom link to join will be emailed to all RPBBA members shortly following the newsletter.

🐝 Zoom Study Group

For members of all knowledge levels looking to learn, and those working on certification, the Study Group is back up and meeting on Zoom. The group will next meet Monday, April 5th at 7pm on Zoom. Add to Calendar As a group, we will read through the VSBA Apprentice Study Guide questions, provide answers, and discuss. Attendee’s are encouraged to download the guide in advance and start working through the questions on their own. Still not sure if it’s for you? Come sit in on a session; see what there is to learn about our favorite pollinators. The Zoom link to join will be sent following this newsletter to all RPBBA members with the monthly meeting link.

Bee Vocabulary – “Neonicotinoids”

Globally, neonicotinoids are the most used insecticides, despite their well-documented sub-lethal effects on beneficial insects. Neonicotinoids are a nicotine like pest control put on the soil or sprayed on plants. It gives colony insects, like our honeybees, effects similar to altzimers where the bees go out foraging and pollinating but cannot remember where the hive is to come back. You can help protect the bee population by using neonicotinoid free plants and seeds as well as planting native flowers. Avoid acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.

Beekeepers in the News

Our very own, Theo Hartmann recently had the spotlight shone on him by Broodminder. Here’s what they had to say.

There are not enough words to articulate how grateful we are for Theo Hartmann, the People’s Drone here at BroodMinder. He is our #1 Quality Assurance tester running over 75 devices in his apiary, Dandelion Springs Apiary, in Virginia. With a background in mechanical engineering, he is always figuring out how to make things work better for the user. If you’ve been lucky enough to hear one of his many BroodMinder presentations, you know that he loves data and bees. When he joined up with us in our early days, he said it was “a dream come true”. The feeling is mutual, Theo!

If you’re interested in checking out a presentation by Theo here’s one on Swarm Monitoring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtHOhzNy89o

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

This month VSBA will have Products of the Hive Part 1 with Jennifer Holmes. April 7th at 7pm on Zoom, she will be talking about Rendering Beeswax and Candles. Add to Calendar Jennifer Holmes and the Holmes Family run the Hani Honey Company, based in Stuart Florida. Jennifer is a speaker on many beekeeping topics and has traveled world-wide continuing to learn and contribute positively to the beekeeping industry. Products of the hive and honey shows are of particular interest to Jennifer. She is engaged with producing ferments from locally foraged, locally grown foods, and has a deep passion for food and farmers.

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (April)

On cold days, the bees continue to form a cluster. The brood nest may be as much as 10 inches in diameter, however, and all the bees may be needed to prevent brood death due to chilling on the coldest nights. The brood nest continues its slow migration upward into empty honeycomb. The bees continue to bring pollen and nectar into the hive. The queen is laying several hundred eggs per day at the beginning of the month, and the population is growing fast. At the end of the month, the queen will lay 800-1000 eggs per day. The worker population will double this month. Drones will number above 200 by month end.

A congested hive in April will lead to swarms in the last week of April and early May. Congestion exists where the combination of honey, pollen, brood and bees fills 80% or more of the available space. In a congested hive (for reasons about which there is no consensus) the worker bees begin to raise new queens in April. This is done by building “swarm cells” – peanut-like wax cells that often hang down between brood supers, or on the face of brood frames. From egg deposition to hatching is 16 days for a new queen. A hive that is storing honey by April 20 is a hive to watch for swarming.

Henbit, wild mustard, dandelions, redbuds, pears, cherries, “Japanese” magnolias, plums, shadbush, chickweed, and many ornamental shrubs will provide substantial amounts of pollen and sufficient nectar for brood production on sunny days. Many hives that have consumed sugar syrup in March will cease taking it in early April. By mid-April, apples, peaches, crab apples, American holly and autumn olive may begin to supply ample amounts of nectar and some very strong hives will begin to make and cap honey. At the end of the month, nectar flows will be strong from many

sources.

Pick up and install packages of bees or nucleus hives. Packages are delivered in Northern Virginia each week during April and early May. Nucleus hives may be available, but they should have been requested or ordered in the prior year.

Generally, it should be understood that swarms are not good for honey production. Hive bodies should be reversed when the likelihood of 4 or more days of consistent cold (45 degrees or less) weather has passed, or around April 1 in most years. This will reduce congestion by encouraging the queen to expand egg-laying upward and outward into empty brood frames.

Remove any feeders where the syrup becomes moldy. Remove a feeder when 1 quart is not consumed in 1 week. Place a bait hive for swarms nearby if you have decided to use such a hive. Be prepared to place a queen excluder and honey supers on top of the hive by the 4th week in April. On a warm and still day, do a complete inspection of the hive. Can you find any evidence of the queen? Are there plenty of eggs and brood? Is there a compact pattern to her egg laying? If not, locate a new queen and replace any weak or failing queen.

The final touches should be put on new hives and supers that will soon be full of bees and honey. Package bees should be installed as early as possible this month to take advantage of the heavy nectar flows at month end. Watch out for evidence of swarming (queen cells; live queen with no fresh eggs; queen that is reduced in size to fly with swarm). Remove frames with queen cells to a nucleus hive (with at least 2 frames of bees) or cut the queen cells from the frames and use them to requeen weak hives, or destroy them.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

1st Week: Maple, Birch, Oak, Cherry, Pear, Silver Bell, Crabapple, Dogwood, Redbud, Camellia, Pearlbush, Sweet-Breath-of-Spring, Forsythia, Boxwood, Flowering Quince, Barberry, Azalea, Periwinkle, Narcissus, Candy tuft, Violets, Tulip, Pansy, Wildflowers

2nd Week: Crabapple, Silver Bell, Cherry, Dogwood, Redbud, Boxwood, Flowering Quince, Wisteria, Barberry, Lilac, Azalea, Periwinkle, Narcissus, Candy tuft, Violet, Pansy, Tulip, Wildflowers

3rd Week: Azalea, Dogwood, Cherry, wisteria, Violet, Pansy, Tulip, Lilac, Barberry, Periwinkle, Candy tuft, Wildflowers

4th Week: Azalea, Dogwood, Wisteria, Violet, Pansy, Tulip, Lilac, Periwinkle, Candy tuft, Wildflowers

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation closer to the meeting date. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, April 12th at 7pm on Zoom.

Michelle Clark

Communications

Like us on Facebook!

Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

Keep up with what RPBBA is doing, see Calendar of Events!

March Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello fellow beekeepers! Are you feeling ready for Spring? If not, we’ve got a speaker for our March meeting that’ll help guide you to get prepped.

March Meeting

Our March meeting will be Monday, March 8th at 7pm over Zoom. (Add to Google Calendar) We will have Keith Tignor from the Virginia Department of Agriculture joining us to give his presentation on Setting Your Hives Up for Spring and Early Swarm Prevention. Keith is the State Apiarist and Central VA Region State Beekeeping Inspector. Keith has given many presentations to our club; his Spring one is the best! Don’t miss the buzz; join us Monday on Zoom. An invite will be emailed to RPBBA members following this newsletter.

🐝 Are You Looking to Learn? Stuck Somewhere Between Beginning Beekeeper and Master?

The Apprentice and Journeyman Study Groups aren’t just for those looking to gain certification through VSBA. In fact, most attendees never take the VBSA exam. The Study Groups are for any members that want to learn. RPBBA is putting together a virtual study group while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. If you are interested, please let us know by signing up here. Not sure if it’s for you? Join in for a few sessions, you will be a better beekeeper. We’re here to share knowledge.

Bee Vocabulary – “Brood”

A large section of a working beehive is dedicated to raising new bees. The queen will lay eggs in cells within this area. These eggs hatch into tiny little larvae. Over time, the larvae grow large enough to pupate and, eventually, emerge as new adult honey bees. From egg through pupae, so long as these young bees occupy a wax cell we refer to them as “brood.”

Beekeepers in the News

Veterans Use Beekeeping to Improve Well Being

Catch the full story at: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/84440/veterans-use-beekeeping-to-improve-well-being/

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

On March 10th at 7pm the VSBA Speaker Series hosted by Virginia Tech continues. (Add to Google Calendar) Frank Linton will be speaking about Observation Hives.

You cannot be a good beekeeper if you don’t know much about bees. And it is hard to learn much about bees when they are hidden away in an opaque wooden box on the far side of the yard. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to learn – French, air guitar, or beekeeping – if you don’t do it three times a week, you won’t get anywhere. But if you inspect your colonies three times a week… no, not a good idea. So, what to do? One possibility, one I learned a lot from, is to keep a small colony in a glass hive in your house, an observation hive. I kept an observation hive in the room where I spent a lot of time and every time their tone changed, I took a look. I saw more in a year than many backyard beekeepers see in a lifetime. And every year is different. In this talk I will show you how to keep bees in an observation hive and learn from them.

For more information, including the Zoom details to sit in and future speakers, visit https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/VSBA-Speaker-Series.

This Month in the Hive (March)

The days become longer and the queen steadily increases her rate of egg laying. The brood nest will expand and very slowly migrate upward into areas where honey has been consumed. More brood means more honey, nectar and pollen are consumed. A few drones begin to appear at the end of the month. The bees will continue to consume honey stores. They will also bring in a fair amount of nectar and pollen, but not as much as is consumed.

The hive may consume as much as 7 lbs per week (net of inflow) when cold, rain, snow, or icy conditions prevail. Prevent starvation by making certain that food supplies are sufficient. Maple nectar and pollen continue to be very important to population buildup. Willows may bloom in wet, sheltered valleys. In some parts of Northern Virginia, plantings of ornamental and exotic shrubs will supply small amounts of pollen. Crocus, daffodil, and other flowering bulbs will supply some pollen. Boxwood, quince, hackberries, forsythia, and elms will supply variety in the pollen sources. Some early dandelions may bloom at the end of the month.

Wet, cold, ice, snow, wind and blowing rain describe those parts of March that are not sunny and 50 degrees. Make sure the hive does not tilt backward. It should slightly tilt forward to shed rain from the bottom board.

The brood nest is now 6-8 inches across, and may extend across several frames. As much as 75- 100 cells of drone brood may be seen at the end of the month.

If using a screened bottom board, you should resist the urge to remove the insert. Leave it in until consistent warmer weather arrives in late April. In late March, you may consider reversing the deep brood supers, or the medium supers that some beekeepers use for brood. This will allow for a better distribution of the brood, and stimulate the growth of the colony. If the brood nest extends across the brood supers, do not reverse until there is a large enough population to keep both halves of the brood nest from death due to chilling.

On a sunny day early in the month, when there is little wind and the bees are flying, have a quick look inside the hive. A temperature above 54 degrees should do for this task. Remove frames for a quick inspection. Inspect for disease and see that the queen is laying. Eggs laid in January and February will all be hatched into new workers by March 20, and the population will be much higher than in January. Add a pollen patty if you have not yet done so.

Look for drone brood along the bottom edges of frames with brood. Remove some drone brood with a cappings scratcher and look for Varroa mites. If you find Varroa in 30% or more of the drone brood cells, then research how to perform a mite count, and whether to treat for mites. Check for remaining honey and pollen stores. Food stores can run dangerously low until a heavy nectar flow starts. It may be necessary to continue feeding the hive.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

2nd Week: Maple, Elm, Star Magnolia, Cornelean Cherry, Mahonia, Forsythia Pieris, Sweet-Breath-of-Spring, Crocus, Jonquil, Periwinkle, Pansy, Wildflowers

3rd Week: Maple, Elm, Star Magnolia, Cornelian Cherry, Mahonia, Forsythia, Flowering Quince, Sweet-Breath-of-Spring, Pieris, Crocus, Jonquil, Pansy, Periwinkle, Wildflowers

4th Week: Maple, Elm, Magnolia, Callery Pear, Cornelian Cherry, Sweet-Breath-of-Spring, Mahonia, Pieris, Forsythia, Boxwood, Flowering Quince, Crocus, Periwinkle, Narcissus, Pansy, Candytuft, Wildflowers

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation following this newsletter. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, March 8th at 7pm on Zoom.

Michelle Clark
Communications

Like us on Facebook!
Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

February Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello Beekeepers! It’s time for our February newsletter. This month’s issue is packed with information, links to explore and opportunities to get involved. While the bees are huddled close to stay warm, we have a lot to do to prepare for Spring. To stay ahead of the bees, think about what equipment you’re going to need for Spring and start prepping it now. This month, look for warmer days to take an occasional peek in the hive to check on your girls and give them some food. Come armed with your smoker and be quick: 10-15 seconds max for the hive to be open.

 

February Meeting

For February’s meeting, we will share a presentation from the Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA) Speaker Series. The presentation entitled Flower Power: Pollinator Habitat and Honey was given by Tammy Horn Potter.

Tammy is a State Apiarist for Kentucky and author. She grew up on a farm and decided to help her grandfather with his bees in 1997. She immediately became smitten with them. Balancing her career as an English professor and hobbyist, Potter wrote Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation, Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Can Teach Us about Local Trade and the Global Market, and most recently, Flower Power: Establishing Pollinator Habitat.

Following the presentation, which includes a short Q&A, we will have time for questions from club attendees and general chat.

An invitation will be emailed to RPBBA members following this newsletter. The meeting is on Monday, February 8th at 7pm. We hope for you to bee there. 🐝 (Add to Google calendar)

 

RPBBA Membership Fees

The association has stopped sending out membership renewal invoices starting with the third quarter of 2020. This was done in light of the ongoing uncertainty with Covid-19 pandemic and the inability to regularly meet in person. The Board of Directors has decided to give all members a one-year grace period and make the membership dues voluntary from the third quarter 2020 until the third quarter 2021.

Anyone wishing to make a voluntary dues payment to help offset the association’s running cost, feel free to do so here: https://rockwoodbeekeepers.com/join-or-donate/.

 

🐝 Spring 2021 Beginner Beekeeping Class

The Board of Directors met to discuss the Beginner Beekeeping course which traditionally is held in early Spring; the course normally draws a large group. The course is set up to be very interactive with students in the classroom with hands on time also; it’s not suited for a virtual environment. The Rockwood Park Nature Center is closed to groups of our size due to Covid-19. As a result, the decision has been made that RPBBA will not be hosting the course this Spring. However this does not mean Beginner Beekeeping courses are unavailable. For those interested in taking a Beginner Beekeeping course the below alternate options are available.

  • Dandelion Springs Apiary is offering small, in-person, classes at their space in Chesterfield. They do in-hive sessions also, free of charge, on an appointment basis for those that want to come out and learn. Dandelion Springs Apiary also has beekeeping equipment for those that would like to see the equipment, hands-on, and talk through the pro’s and con’s of all the different pieces.

  • University of Florida is offering virtual Bee College, suited for all skill levels. It’s being held over 4 Saturday mornings in March. Attendee’s can choose to register for 1 class or all 4. The classes are going to be live, held through Zoom.

  • Penn State offers an online Beekeeping 101 course. It’s a self paced course with videos presented by their instructors, interactive questions, and a final quiz to test your knowledge.

  • North Carolina State University offers Beekeeper Education & Engagement System (BEES) which is an online resource for beekeepers at all levels. The system is entirely internet based. Their structure is broken into 3 levels of difficulty (Beginner, Advanced, and Ambassador) and 3 areas of content (honey bee biology, honey bee management, and the honey bee industry).

 

🐝 Apprentice and Journeyman Study Groups

Is anyone out there looking for a study group to prepare for the VSBA exam? RPBBA is looking to gauge interest at this time for a virtual study group while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. Depending on interest, we would begin with a combined session for the Apprentice and Journeyman levels with one meeting per month. If you are interested, please let us know by signing up here. We will use this signup to discuss further with the group of interested individuals. The VSBA meeting is currently scheduled for Oct 22-24th in Smithfield. This is the only time testing will be available for any of the Master Beekeeper exams.

 

4Z3xsHBAM7-GNMptXtb7BQDBGcH1nLcFV4ok8elrK0wfuAQvNZs4fagHM1JhpSG0pFir2uOla_8u56zo0KrX1jvN8FazBaIGR3JPAMpC1TBLRtiUgyYiv45mXzxIsdV4gkX5lCfGCalling All Swarm Chasers

The club has a hotline, 804-404-BEE1(2331), which receives requests to remove a swarm. Sometimes swarms can be easily removed; other times it requires an extensive cut-out. Swarm calls are routed to a group of experienced beekeepers who are active in the club. These are immediate calls and you should have the flexibility to drop everything and help on short notice. If you would like to be on the list to receive swarm calls for 2021, signup here. Even if you do not have the experience to go get the swarm yourself, you might want to tag along with an experienced beekeeper to see how it is done.

 

UOZg43BG6MoqZ2WgFxOfg-EmiYUYZX3_92YZXVLbTAin5Bqq0-EuyYI4W_dZJhjLDbrC_TDq9pZt-m3z8mLSYPCTneeTuxXK1y9Ux7uPBJKE43uIn6d13qe-z2McotFYVyzs6bsi Have you reserved your bees for 2021?

Whether you’re a 1st time beekeeper, or looking to replace a colony that didn’t make it through Winter, there are resources for you to get live bees locally.

For those looking to purchase Nucs, Packages or Queen’s check out our 2021 Resources*. The time is now to start reserving your order(s).

*This is simply a list of local suppliers; RPBBA does not endorse or give preference. Buyers are encouraged to do their own research before making their decision to purchase from any supplier.

 

Bee Vocabulary – “Nuc”

Nucs, or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. Nucs often compose of 5 frames and can be medium’s or deep’s. Nucs are a better way to start new hives than package bees since a nucleus hive is functioning with brood hatching, a laying queen, drawn comb, and honey/pollen stores.

 

Beekeepers in the News

Shedding Light on the Secret Reproductive Lives of Honey Bees

Research at NC State and the University of British Columbia shows that there are trade-offs between sperm viability and the expression of a protein involved in the insect’s immune response.

Checkout the full story here: https://cals.ncsu.edu/news/shedding-light-on-the-secret-reproductive-lives-of-honey-bees/

 

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The VSBA Speaker Series continues. The month, Toni Burnham will be speaking on the Challenges of Urban Beekeeping. Toni Burnham is an urban beekeeper in Washington, DC. He will be providing tips for keeping bees and developing a responsible beekeeping ordinance in an urban/suburban environment. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, the 17th from 7-8pm over Zoom. Click here to locate the Zoom information.

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

 

This Month in the Hive (February)

The cluster is still tight on most days. The cluster will break and move on those days where the temperature exceeds 57 degrees in the hive. The queen remains in the cluster, and as the days lengthen, she will begin to lay a few more eggs each day. There are still no drones in the hive. Workers will take cleansing flights on mild days. About the 20th of February, maples begin to blossom and to supply nectar and fresh pollen that are extraordinarily valuable to the growth of the hive. The maple blossom continues to mid-March. In areas of higher elevation, the maple blossoms start and end 7-14 days later. Alders may bloom in some locations and provide valuable variety in pollen proteins.

The cluster will remain centered around the small brood nest, which migrates upward as the lowest rows of capped brood hatch. The cluster will not quickly move up into new areas of honey after the brood nest forms, and mild days are important to the bees’ ability to move honey/pollen toward the cluster.

The bees will consume about 20 pounds of honey stores and nectar from maples.

On a day that exceeds 55 degrees, open the hive and quickly check for sufficient food supplies, for signs of disease, and to see if the queen is laying. Place a pollen patty near (but not directly on top of) the brood nest. More colonies are probably lost during this time of year than during all other winter months. A colony that is rearing brood will consume about 7 pounds of honey and nectar per week, and if the weather turns bad, a colony with small food reserves can quickly starve to death. Never allow the food stores to drop below 15 pounds. If they have less than 15 pounds of honey, start feeding stored honey or thick sugar syrup (one part sugar to one part water). Remember, once you start feeding, you need to continue feeding until the bees no longer consume the syrup, or until the end of April.

Consider whether to sign up for that “Advanced Beekeeper Course.” Attend bee club meetings and get equipment ready for spring. At this time of year, you may be advised to “reverse” the brood boxes on a hive with two brood boxes. It is too early in the year to perform this task with safety, so delay this task until you are confident that warmer weather has arrived. The first week of February may be a good time to add a pollen patty or candy board to a hive that is raising brood. If you enter the hive, you may consider moving a frame of honey from the outside of the hive to an area much closer to the brood nest. Do not place a frame of frozen honey immediately adjacent to the brood nest, however.

Decide now how you are going to deal with the issue of swarms in April, May and June. Read and study the options, and seek advice. Prepare a bait hive now if you are going to use it later in the spring. If you are going to use more equipment to hold queen cells and deal with swarms, then take steps to obtain that equipment.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

 

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont) – January & February

Wintersweet, Witch Hazel, Conifers, Holly in Fruit

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

 

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation closer to the meeting date. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, February 8, 2021 at 7pm.

Michelle Clark

Communications

Like us on Facebook!

Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

January Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello and Happy New Year fellow beekeepers! It’s time for our 1st Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers update of 2021. We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that your bees are doing well in the hive. Tis the season to cross our fingers and hope our bees are staying warm. It’s a nervous time for all. As a rule of thumb, if it’s not warm enough for the bees to be flying then it’s not warm enough to open the hive.

January’s Meeting

Spring will be here before we know it. For January’s meeting, we will discuss the preparations the bees are making for Spring and what to look for to stay ahead of swarming. Our meeting will be held on Zoom. John Davis has a presentation prepared for us. An invitation will be emailed to RPBBA members closer to the meeting date which is on Monday, January 11th at 7pm. We hope for you to bee there. 🐝 (Add to Google calendar)

Capture

Will you be selling nucs, packages or queens this year?

Every so often, the question pops up- how do I get started? Where can I get my bees? We’d like to update the 2020 Resources list for sharing with those who inquire.

If you plan to have bees for sale this year, tell us your plans.

Click here to have your information added to our 2021 Resources*.

*This is simply a list of local suppliers; RPBBA does not endorse or give preference. Buyers are encouraged to do their own research before making their decision to purchase from any supplier.

Bee Vocabulary – “Thorax”

The thorax composes the midsection of the bee. It is the segment between the head and the abdomen where the two pairs of wings and six legs are anchored. The thorax is primarily focused on locomotion. The muscles in the thorax allow the bee to control the movement of the wings during flight. While in the winter cluster, the bees will flex their wing and thorax muscles to generate heat.

Beekeepers in the News

Honeybee Venom Kills Aggressive Breast Cancer Cells

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/honeybee-venom-kills-aggressive-breast-cancer-cells

Beekeeping: The Fight Against the Mite

https://www.wdbj7.com/2020/10/19/beekeeping-the-fight-against-the-mite/

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

Frank Linton, Ed.D, retired artificial intelligence engineer and Research Associate at Appalachian State U, will be speaking Wednesday, January 6th at 7pm on a virtual webcast about honeybee colony monitoring. Mr. Linton has kept honey bees since 2005. An EAS-Certified Master Beekeeper, one of his main interests is in finding ways to use remote sensing technologies to monitor and improve honey bee colony health and productivity. You can join the Zoom meeting at https://virginiatech.zoom.us/j/98556425722.

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (January)

This month the queen is surrounded by thousands of workers. She is in the midst of the winter cluster, where the temperature at the center is about 88 degrees. At the periphery of the cluster, the temperature will drop to 42 degrees on the coldest nights. The worker bees continuously move in and out of the center of the cluster. The bees in the cluster flex their wing and thorax muscles to generate heat, and they consume honey that was stored in the previous year. The cluster will continuously move upward into new honey if it is available. On a day that reaches 45 degrees or more in the hive, the bees may be able to move the cluster upward or horizontally into new honey, or they may be able to move honey toward the cluster from other parts of the hive. On a warm day (50 degrees or more) the worker bees will leave the hive to take a cleansing flight, during which they defecate away from the hive. The workers will wait weeks for a warm day if necessary before flying. The queen will usually begin laying a small number of worker eggs in the

3rd full week of January (about 28 days after the winter solstice), and some worker rood will begin to appear at the center of the cluster at that time.

A strong hive may consume 15-20 lbs of honey in January if the weather is consistently cold or wet. Stored pollen will be in demand in the hive after brood rearing commences in the third full week. On a warm day, a few bees may fly out and collect small amounts of pollen from witch hazel and winter aconite. Bees may visit a gardenia in bloom in a garden. These pollen sources are miniscule compared to the bounty waiting later in the year.

If there is a heavy snow, make certain the entrance to the hive is cleared to allow for proper ventilation. Check the weight of the hive by placing one hand under the back of the bottom board and lifting it up. If it feels as if most of the honey is gone, you may need to start feeding the hive this month. Once you start feeding, you must continue feeding until the bees are gathering pollen and nectar on their own. Unless you are confident that a hive is starving, do not open a hive at less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (without wind chill.)

This is a great time to catch up on reading those bee books you received as holiday gifts, or that you requested on inter-library loan. Don’t forget to attend your next club meeting and start ordering, assembling, and repairing the equipment you might need for this coming season. If you have not done so, go ahead and order that package of bees or a nucleus hive, if needed, from a reputable supplier.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont) – January & February

Wintersweet, Witch Hazel, Conifers, Holly in Fruit

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation closer to the meeting date. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, January 11th at 7pm.

Michelle Clark

Communications

Like us on Facebook!

Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!