RPBBA – October 2020 Newsletter

October, 2020

There is a lot of information to cover this month. Even though we are all still social distancing and masking up, the bees continue to do their thing. Winter is coming, so you should have a good plan on how you plan to get the bees through the cold season.

October’s Meeting

Unfortunately, this month’s speaker fell through and we have been unable to secure another. The meeting this month is cancelled. However, don’t worry, this newsletter is packed full of information. And, the VSBA has a great program on October 8th, which is described below. So, if you want to keep up with the bees, we’ve got you covered.

Board Election

Members should have received an email calling for nominations for the Board of Directors of the club. We have four positions to fill on the Board of Directors as some members terms are expiring. If you wish to nominate someone for the Board of Directors, you can email Don Osborne at Rockwood.Beekeepers.

Once a new Board of Directors is elected and installed, they will select the Officer’s of the club. The deadline for submitting nominations is October 16, 2020. Once the nominations are closed, the Board will call a Special Meeting (electronically) to submit electronic ballots.

I encourage you to volunteer to serve the club. You do not have to be an experienced beekeeper to help with the business of the club. Please be on the lookout for the electronic ballots and take a minute to cast your ballot.

Winter Workshop – Dandelion Springs Farm

Do you know how to make a sugar board or a quilt box? If not, this is a great workshop to attend. Dandelion Springs will be having limited social distanced workshops on four different dates (11/7, 11/8, 11/14 and 11/15 with two different time options each day (10:00 – 12:00 or 1:00 – 3:00)). Cost is $7 per sugar board form filled. Bring your own super to make your own quilt box. If you don’t have extra supers, you can purchase one at the workshop. Space is limited and you should pre-order any needed equipment before October 24th.

To register, call (804) 818-2761. Masks will be required to attend.

Bee Vocabulary

Honey Stomach – This is a special organ bees have at the end of their esophagus that allows them to store the fruits of their foraging labor. Large amounts of nectar collecting on foraging flights can be kept in this stomach and returned to the hive for processing.

Beekeepers in the News

Two teenagers in Newport News made national news for their efforts to rally their neighbors to make the city more habitable for bees and other pollinators. If you missed the story, you can read it at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/teens-saving-city-bees_n_5f3e8068c5b609f4f675af89

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The VSBA is working with Virginia Tech to bring Samuel Ramsey to members in a Zoom meeting on October 8, 2020 at 7:00 PM. The topic will be on Tropilaelaps Mites. Here is a description of the program:

Samuel Ramsey’s enduring interest in insect biology started 23 years ago and shows no signs of waning. Having earned his doctorate from Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp’s lab at the University of Maryland; Dr. Ramsey maintains a focus on how insect research can benefit the public through the development of IPM strategies and STEM-based outreach initiatives. His award-winning research on Varroa biology has changed the standing paradigm on how this parasite ultimately kills honey bees leading to opportunities to share his work nationally and internationally. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Entomology from Cornell University in 2011 focusing his research on predator/parasite behavior. His current work, aptly named the Fight the Mite Initiative, was funded largely by the beekeeping community. It focuses on the poorly understood Tropilaelaps mite which is rapidly establishing itself as the next threat to apiculture globally. He is now based in Thailand studying the biology and behavior of this pest and what it will ultimately take to kill it, ensuring in the event of its arrival in the US, will have the knowledge and resources to respond effectively.

You can join the Zoom Meeting at https://virginiatech.zoom.us/j/98556425722

Meeting ID: 985 5642 5722

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Meeting ID: 985 5642 5722
Find your local number: https://virginiatech.zoom.us/u/acKkaPlWGH

[NOTE:  VSBA Membership may be required to attend and
view Speaker Series.]

Eastern Apicultural Society’s (EAS) 66th Annual Short Course and Conference

EAS of North America is the largest non-commercial beekeeping organization in the United States and one of the largest in the world. I encourage you to check out their website and programs at: https://www.easternapiculture.org/

EAS MA 2021 is scheduled for July 26-30, 2021 in Amherst, Maine. You can review the flyer for the conference at the club’s website: http://www.Rockwoodbeekeepers.com, or on the EAS website(https://www.easternapiculture.org/images/Conference/2021/Promotional_Material/EAS%20MA%202021%20Flyer%20v8.pdf) This conference is one of the largest in the US and if you have an interest in honey bees or other pollinators a great source of education.

This Month in the Hive (October)

The bees are settling down for the Winter. Varroa mites should be under control. The bees are reducing entrances and drafts with propolis and consolidating stored honey from the outer reaches of the hive to the center. The brood nest is about 8 inches across, and egg laying has slowed to 200-300 per day. On cold nights, the cluster forms around the queen, and may remain tight until temperatures rise. Drones are gone by month end in almost all hives.

It is unlikely that the frost will hold off enough to permit much nectar-gathering. In some years, the frost does not come until after mid-October and some gathering of nectar may occur.

Watch for robbing on warm days. Wax moths work diligently to enter the hives at night and lay eggs until a hard frost kills the adult moths. Look for continued egg production and capped brood, as new bees are needed to keep the population strong for the Winter.

Combine weak hives. Watch out for robbing this month. Finish feeding for the Winter. Remove all honey supers not intended as a source of honey for the Winter. Remove Apistan or other chemical strips if you used them, assuming you have had them in for the duration listed in the package instructions for use. Install mouse guards, after making sure there is no mouse inside the brood boxes. Reserve packages or nucleus hives for next April. Install the plastic insert on the bottom of the screened bottom board if you use screened bottom boards.

[adapted from: 

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

Osmanthus, Elaeagnus, Rose, Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus, Abelia, Fall Crocus, Sternbergia, Annuals and Perennials, Fall Foliage

Final Word

If you are not a member of RPBBA, I encourage you to join. In addition, the Virginia State Beekeepers Association is another great source of education and speakers.

I hope you are not experiencing COVID fatigue and are spending some time observing your colonies and the amazing things they do. As always, if you have any ideas on ways to improve communications in the club, please let me know.

Don Osborne


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