Newsletter – June 2020

June, 2020

Another month passes and we are still social distanced and trying to figure out what the heck our bees are up to! Don’t fear, we are putting together plans to answer your questions. Rockwood park has not yet opened the Nature Center and we are still unable to have in-person meetings. However, the Board has decided to crank up the education by having a virtual meeting this month.

As for my bees, I’m running out of equipment and starting to pull down and put away my swarm traps. I am finally getting to the point where I have too many bees. It has been a great year to grow by catching swarms and splitting strong hives. I hope your colonies are doing as well.

June’s Meeting

Yes! There will be a June meeting! It will be a Zoom video conferencing meeting geared towards our beginner beekeepers. These beekeepers were rudely and abruptly kicked out of class by COVID-19. Many of them have been posting in club’s Facebook page and contacting us offline. So, we believe there are more out there who may not know where to turn for answers. We will have experienced beekeepers on the conference to help you.

We want to be sure that the meeting is secure without outside hackers and other issues that some Zoom conferences have been experiencing. While our meetings have always been open to the public, we will be holding this meeting with members only. A separate email with an invitation and password will be sent to members. Please do not share the invitation with non-members, we will be screening entry into the meeting.

The meeting’s waiting room will open at 6:40 PM on Monday, June 8, 2020. The meeting will start at 7:00 PM. Please login early so we can move you to the conference before it starts.

Also, just a reminder that the Master Beekeeping study groups are still on hold. The testing for the various levels of the program are conducted at the Spring and Fall meetings of the Virginia State Beekeepers Association, which are on hiatus. In addition, Eastern Apicultural Societies Annual Conference has been cancelled this year.

Looking Towards the Future

Penn State is offering a Pollinator Webinar Series starting on June 3, 2020 at 3:00 PM. Registration is required. There are no fees or cost. To register, go to:


June 3, 2020 – Pollinator Health Challenges: A bee perspective

June 10,2020 – The three most important steps to ensuring honey bee colony survival over the long term

June 17,2020 – Queen rearing basics  
June 24,2020 – Bee nutritional ecology: from flowers to landscapes
July 1, 2020 – Mason bee management for backyard and orchard pollination
July 8,2020 – Bumble bee biology and management for pollination  
July 15,2020 – Bee Biodiversity in Pennsylvania

Beehive Distribution Program

There have been some changes to the State’s Beehive Distribution Program. You will no longer have to be up at midnight frantically pushing enter or refresh at the stroke of midnight. The new system opens the application process for fifteen days and individuals will be selected at random from eligible applications. For more information, go to:

Bee Vocabulary

I know, every month I keep changing up the newsletter. Last month, I started using the "Looking Towards the Future" for things to think about in the upcoming months, but this month there were events to report. So, instead of that, we will add a new section to ensure we are all on the same page with our bee language. This month, I reached down into the beekeeping dictionary and came up with Nasonov (also known as Nasanov).

Have you ever looked at your landing board and witnessed bees with their rear ends up in the air fanning their wings? They are doing this to release the Nasonov pheromone. This pheromone helps to orient returning forager bees back to the colony. Bees raise their abdomens, which contain the Nasonov glands and fan their wings to spread the pheromone.

From Wikipedia: Nasonov includes a number of different terpenoids including geraniol, nerolic acid, citral and geranic acid. Bees use these to find the entrance to their colony or hive, and they release them on flowers so other bees know which flowers have nectar. Once the foraging bee leaves the nest it uses its sense from special sensing cells on the antennae to locate and distinguish forage plants, which each give off a unique blend of odor chemicals. When a beekeeper lifts out frames from a hive they disturb the balance of smells within the hive. It can take up to 48 hours for the colony to re-establish its scent equilibrium.

And, if you are looking for things to do to prepare for later in the year, you might want to start to make your candy board frames (not the actual candy yet) and quilt boards to prepare for Fall. Don’t know what candy boards and quilt boards are? You just got some homework! [Hint: if you do a google search, use the term Honeybees in the query to
get to the right things.]

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. 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 cannot 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 (if you use one) 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.

Tasks to Be Performed

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.

[full document can be found at:]

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

Be on the lookout for the Zoom invitation for members. I hope to have it out very soon after this newsletter is distributed. If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know. We are always looking for ways to improve communications.

Don Osborne


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