March RPBBA Update

March, 2020

I’m feeling Spring! Hello, Beekeepers – it is time for the March 2020 Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers Association Newsletter. We have something special planned for this month, but it will require time and location changes to our regular March Meeting.


Meeting date and time: March 9, 2020 @ 6:30 PM

Meeting location: LaPrade Library, 9000 Hull Street Road, N. Chesterfield, VA 23236

Why the change in time and place? Because we have Dr. Dewey Caron speaking on two topics. The first, What is Your Plan? will be about what to do with your colonies from now through the next few months. The second, Bee Necropsy (All Things Autopsy) should also present an interesting topic for us. This will be a joint monthly meeting with our friends at Huguenot Beekeeping Association in Powhatan.

Dr. Dewey M. Caron is Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, Univ of Delaware, & Affiliate Professor, Dept Horticulture, Oregon State University. He spent 40+ years teaching, doing bee extension and bee research at Cornell (1967-70), University of MD, College Park (1970-1981) and University of DE, Newark DE (1981-2009).
Since retirement in 2009, he spends 4-6 months each year in Bolivia, where he keeps Africanized bees and teaches beekeeping (in Spanish). The rest of the year he is in the northern hemisphere; his 5 backyard colonies in Tigard OR are docile European bees. He moved from Newark to Portland, Oregon following retirement to be closer to 5 grandkids. He manages to return to East coast several times each year to give Bee Short Courses and lectures to various bee clubs and state organizations.

Master Beekeeper Study Groups & Program

We continue to have study groups that are free to our members. These study groups are for the apprentice level (first level of the Master Beekeeper program) and the journeyman level (mid-level of the Master Beekeeper program). Apprentice class is on the first Monday of the month and journeyman is on the third Monday of the month. You are welcome to attend, even if you are not interested in taking the exams. We do tend to get off track and just talk bees occasionally, well maybe we do that with some frequency. Please bring your study guides which are found at

If you are an Apprentice or Journeyman Beekeeper, don’t forget your Public Service Credit (PSC) requirements. Apprentice Beekeepers should have five hours per year in volunteer activities and Journeyman Beekeepers should have ten hours per year. Working at the Honey Bee Festival, serving on the Board or public speaking are all approved types of credit. PSCs should be reported to the Virginia State Beekeepers Association by December 15th. Please talk with a Master Beekeeper or a member of the Board of Directors for more information about the Master Beekeeper program.

Looking Towards the Future

June 13, 2020 – the 11th Annual Honey Bee Festival will be held at Rockwood Park. This is our signature event for the year. Committee Chairs are being recruited and volunteers will be sought to help with the festival. It is a ton of fun to work the festival. You really get the opportunity to show the public how amazing bees and pollinators are. I hope you can be there as a volunteer. Keep an ear out for the call for help.

June 26 – 27, 2020 – the Virginia State Beekeepers Spring Meeting will be held in Smithfield, Virginia. The featured speakers are Jennifer Berry from UGA, Jerry Hayes, Editor of Bee Culture and Petra Ahnert, Author of Beeswax Alchemy. These state meetings are worthwhile and have interesting speakers and a large vendor area. Be sure to mark your calendar. More information is at

August 3 – 7, 2020 – Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) presents EAS 2020 at Orono Maine. This is one of the largest beekeeping conferences in the US. More information is at:

Our Deepest Sympathies

Our hearts go out to the family of Wilhilm Gollub following his death. Wilhelm was a long-term active member in RPBBA who delighted in sharing his knowledge of bees. He will be missed.

Also, we extend our sympathies to Carla Adkins Park and Stan Houk following the loss of Carla’s father. Stan and Carla serve on the Board of Directors, host the Master Beekeeper study groups, teach classes and help other beekeepers through out the area. They consider RPBBA as family and asked that we share the news.

Welcome New Members!

On February 22nd, we held the first day of our Beginning Beekeepers Class. It was a full house with 44 people, who are now new members of RPBBA. Please make our new member beekeepers feel welcome. I’m sure some of them may be looking for mentors as we go into Spring.

From the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors met this month and discussed researching a formal mentoring program. In addition, they talked about the status of recruiting the various chairpersons for the Honey Bee Festival. Steve Syrett gave an update on the status of the application to the IRS for 501(c)(3) non-profit status (which is still waiting). Adam Holland gave the Board an update on the association’s finances. The next meeting will be held via zoom video conferencing on Monday, March 23, 2020.

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.

Wet, cold, ice, snow, wind and blowing rain describe those parts of March that are not sunny and over 50 degrees. Make sure the hive tilts slightly forward. This month, the hive may consume as much as 7 lbs per week when cold, rain, snow or icy conditions prevail. Prevent starvation by making certain that food supplies are sufficient.

The brood nest is now six to eight inches across and may extend across several frames. As much as 75-100 cells of drone brood may be seen near the end of the month or sooner. If you have been feeding, you should continue to feed. On a warm day, take a quick look inside the hive. Temperatures near sixty degrees with little wind and when the bees are out would be a good day. Add a pollen patty or feed if needed. Also, it may be a good time to consider reversing the deep brood boxes, if that is your practice. 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.

Volunteer for the Honey Bee Festival. Volunteer to serve as a mentor for a new beekeeper. Attend the RPBBA meeting to learn what to do with your colonies over the next few months. Deploy those swarm traps you built last month.

What’s in Bloom

You may have noticed, that I did not include this section in my last newsletter. With the crazy warm to cold weather we have been having, this year is not typical. I believe we are well ahead of this schedule. Anyway, here is what Maymont says should be in bloom in March:

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

Other Interesting Things

Have you registered your hives with FieldWatch? FieldWatch is founded to develop and provide easy-to-use, reliable, accurate and secure on-line mapping tools intended to enhance communications that promote awareness and stewardship activities between crop producers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators. You can register your hives at:

That is all for this month, I look forward to seeing you at Dr. Caron’s presentation. Please do not forget the change in place and time.

Don Osborne


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