RPBBA – July 2020 Newsletter

July 2020

We are still unable to hold in-person meetings because of COVID-19. Rockwood Park’s Nature Center is still closed and until we can relax social distancing, it looks like we will continue to hold video meetings. Because of our speaker’s schedule, our July meeting will be held on July 16, 2020. Please note the change of date.

July’s Meeting

The club will hold a Zoom video conference meeting at 7:00 PM on Thursday, July 16, 2020. This month Dr. Jay Evans will be our guest speaker. Dr. Evans is the Research Leader of the Bee Research Laboratory in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Dr. Evans has published more than 120 research papers and was an early proponent of the Honey Bee Genome Project. Dr. Evans holds an AB in Biology from Princeton University and a PhD in Biology from the University of Utah.

Dr. Evans will be talking to us about Honey Bee Diseases and I’ve asked him to cover what happens when you send a sample to the Beltsville Laboratory. It will be a very interesting conversation and is one you don’t want to miss!

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 6:45 PM on the meeting date. 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.

Board of Directors Meeting

The Board held a zoom conference meeting on June 15, 2020 at 7:00 PM.

There has been no further action by the IRS since the club filed for 501c3 status.

Rockwood Park has not made any announcements yet about the nature center reopening.

The Board discussed restarting a mentoring program. Don volunteered to review other club’s documents and tools to assign mentors and mentees.

Virginia State Beekeepers Association

Even though the Summer and Fall meetings have been cancelled, it is important that we continue to support the Virginia State Beekeepers Association. This organization provides us with educational materials, standards for the Master Beekeeper Programs, club listings, events and has a wealth of information on beekeeping. Please remember to renew your dues to support our passion at the state level. If you are not a member, I highly recommend it. Dues are only $10 per year. VSBA membership information can be found at https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/Member-Guide

Bee Vocabulary

This month let’s talk about propolis. Most propolis comes from the sap on needle-leaved trees or evergreens. When bees combine the sap with their own discharges and beeswax, it makes a sticky greenish-brown product used as a coating to build their hives. Propolis has been used for thousands of years by ancient civilizations for its medical properties. Greeks used it to treat abscesses. Assyrians put it on wounds and tumors to fight infections. Egyptians used it to embalm mummies.

There are not a lot of published studies on propolis, but we do know that it provides some protection from some bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Propolis has pinocembrin, a flavonoid that acts as an antifungal. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make it useful in healing wounds. There is some research and lots of anecdotal evidence and historical use that propolis can help with many illnesses from cold sores to cancer.

Be careful though, some people develop allergies to propolis. The most common cited allergic reaction is an eczema-like skin rash.

Looking to the Future

Well, maybe not a future event but a past event for this month. An excellent video being circulated around beekeeping clubs is Randy Oliver’s latest YouTube on his work concerning varroa mites. It is worth a watch and can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXjDSD92ILs The description of the video on YouTube:

June 17, 2020; Lots of new research. A more user-friendly version of Randy’s Varroa Model, the most current mite monitoring and testing of various solutions for mite wash (some surprising findings!), and an update on his selective breeding for varroa resistance, among many other items of interest! ScientificBeekeeping.com

Finding the Queen

I was listening to a podcast recently describe how to find the queen in a colony. One of the suggested methods was to look at a picture of a queen on a crowded frame before going to your hives. The theory is that when you look at the picture you help your mind zero in on what to look for during your inspection. Then, I came across the book "Queen Spotting" by Hilary Kearney. The book includes 48 queen spotting exercises rated from easy to difficult. The book is well written and geared towards those who are interested in beekeeping or in their first few years of beekeeping. Here is a short excerpt from a sidebar:

A pale yellow Volkswagen Squareback pulls up alongside me as we drive down the highway in a rural part of San Diego. The occupants gesture wildly to me as their car paces mine for speed. I roll down my window to better hear them shouting, "Do you want a queen?"

The lack of context for this question throws me off. "What?" I yell back in confusion.

"A queen bee! We saw your plate holder," they explain. I had just recently bought a license plate holder that read: MY HEART BELONGS TO A HONEY BEE.

I smiled at the absurdity of the situation.

"Where did you get her?" I ask.

The bearded man in the passenger seat answers, "A guy at a beekeeping meeting gave her to us. We don’t know where he got her."

For one ludicrous moment, I am tempted to accept, but then I reconsider. Two men, in the middle of nowhere, their old car filled to the brim with junk.

"No, thanks," I tell them and drive off, pondering how close I just came to what must be the beekeeper equivalent of accepting candy from strangers.

If you have difficulty finding queens or want some light reading during the pandemic, I recommend the book. It can be found on Amazon or at her site www.girlnextdoorhoney.com.

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 3000-5000 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.

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.

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.

[Full calendar can be found at:  https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

Tasks to be Performed

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. [See the RPBBA May 2020's newsletter for storing
drawn comb with para-dichlorobenzene (Para-moth) crystals.]

Watch for signs of robbing and take steps to discourage robbing if it starts. There was a recent post on the club’s FaceBook page on how to make robber screens (see YouTube video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi–pJsee30 from the North West New Jersey Beekeepers Association). 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.

What’s in Bloom (According to Maymont)

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

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 the club on our website.

As I’ve said before, I am always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know. Or, if you are really interested in helping, you can do so by guest writing something of value for the club to include in this newsletter.

That is it for July. Stay safe, wear a mask and don’t overheat when working your colonies!

Don Osborne

Communications