Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers – February

Hello Beekeepers, it is time for the February 2020 Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers update. I hope you have been able to get outside in the seventy-degree weather and check on your bees! We may be getting warm weather now, but Winter isn’t done with us yet.

While it is February one can taste the full joys of anticipation. Spring stands at the gate with her finger on the latch.

Patience Strong

February’s Meeting

As the poet Patience Strong (real name Winifred Emma May) said, we are now waiting on Spring. So, it is a great time for you to attend the RPBBA February meeting where the Virginia State Apiarist, Keith Tignor will talk with us about the Spring Nectar Flow.

Keith Tignor is the State Apiarist for Virginia and whose love of honey bees is evident to anyone who knows him. Through his association with Virginia Tech and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services over the past 25 years, Keith has worked closely with the agriculture community to promote beekeeping and the health of honey bees. His VDACS responsibilities include supervision of apiculture initiatives to promote the science of beekeeping, prevent the spread of diseases, and encourage the pollination of crops. Keith regularly speaks to local, state, and national organizations and groups. He is also active in several apiculture organizations such as the Apiary Inspectors of America, Virginia State Beekeepers’ Association and beekeeping groups in central Virginia region.

Meetings start at 7:00 PM on Monday, February 10, 2020, with doors opening at 6:30 PM.

Newly Installed Officers

The newly elected Board of Directors met on January 27, 2020 and elected officers from the Board of Directors. Below is the Board of Directors and Officers of RPBBA for 2020:

Steve Syrett, President and Chair of the Board of Directors

Bruce Hamon, Vice President and Chair Honey Bee Festival

Adam Holland, Treasurer (assisted and backed up by Theo Hartmann as non-Board member)

Rick McCormick, Secretary (assisted and backed up by Don Osborne as non-Board member)

John Davis, Chair Education Committee

Carla Park, Member at Large

Sam Rorabaugh, Member at Large

Stan Houk, Member at Large

Non-Board Member Positions Appointed:

Don Osborne, Communications Director

Thank you to the Board of Directors and Officers who have volunteered their service towards our Association. There is a lot of work that happens in the background and these folks are the ones who are pulling on the oars. Be sure to thank them next time you see them.

Master Beekeeper Study Groups

Remember, we have study groups for Apprentice Beekeepers on the first Monday of the month and Journeyman Beekeepers on the third Monday. The study groups are free for all members and even if you are not studying for one of the exams, this is an excellent way to learn more about beekeeping. Be sure to bring a copy of the study guide for the group, which can be found at www.VirginiaBeekeepers.org/Master-Beekeeper-Program.

Looking Towards the Future or Things to Calendar

The 11thAnnual Honey Bee Festival will be on June 13, 2020. This is the signature event for our Association, and we need lots of volunteers to make it happen. When you get a call or are asked to help, please consider lending your many talents, skills and abilities to the cause. We can use everyone. There are jobs setting up, breaking down, manning tables, etc. We will also be making a call for tent canopies and folding tables. There are a thousand little details and we need your assistance to attend to them. Let’s act like worker bees and grab a task and get it done!

Mark your calendars for the Virginia State Beekeepers Spring Meeting in Smithfield, Virginia. The meeting is from June 26, 2020 through June 27, 2020. These meetings are not very far away and usually have some very impressive presentations and vendor areas. More information can be found at www.VirginiaBeekeepers.org/events.

The Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) will present "The Art and Science of Beekeeping" in Orono, Maine from August 3, 2020 – August 7, 2020. This is one of the biggest honey bee events on the East coast. Be sure to start planning now by visiting their website at WWW.EasternApiculture.org.

New Beekeepers Classes

Our Beginning Beekeeping Class this year is a big success. We will have forty-four students who will be joining us on February 22nd to begin their journey into beekeeping. Books have been ordered, materials prepared, instructors are working on preparing and all students have been added to the club’s membership rolls. Be sure to give them a great welcome into RPBBA. I’m sure many of them will be looking for mentors.

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.

Events to Watch for in the Hive

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. Remember, once you start feeding, you need to continue feeding until the bees no longer consume the food, or until the end of April.

Tasks to Be Performed

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. 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 or build that equipment.

How About Some Trivia: One Word or Two?

Finally, is it honey bees or honeybees? One word or two? It depends. Here is what Rowan Jacobsen said in his 2008 book Fruitless Fall:

"Copyeditors of the world beware. The spelling of insect names in this book follows the rules of the Entomological Society of America, not Merriam-Webster’s. When a species is a true example of a particular taxon, that taxon is written separately. Honey bees and bumble bees are true bees, and black flies are true flies. A yellowjacket, however, is not a true jacket. Entomologists, who have to read the names of bugs a lot more than the rest of us do, would appreciate it if we all followed these rules."

I still make the error occasionally of using one word because Microsoft’s grammar and spelling dictionaries follow Merriam-Webster. But beekeepers use two words!

That is all for now,

Don Osborne

Communications