January Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello and Happy New Year fellow beekeepers! It’s time for our 1st Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers update of 2021. We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that your bees are doing well in the hive. Tis the season to cross our fingers and hope our bees are staying warm. It’s a nervous time for all. As a rule of thumb, if it’s not warm enough for the bees to be flying then it’s not warm enough to open the hive.

January’s Meeting

Spring will be here before we know it. For January’s meeting, we will discuss the preparations the bees are making for Spring and what to look for to stay ahead of swarming. Our meeting will be held on Zoom. John Davis has a presentation prepared for us. An invitation will be emailed to RPBBA members closer to the meeting date which is on Monday, January 11th at 7pm. We hope for you to bee there. 🐝 (Add to Google calendar)


Will you be selling nucs, packages or queens this year?

Every so often, the question pops up- how do I get started? Where can I get my bees? We’d like to update the 2020 Resources list for sharing with those who inquire.

If you plan to have bees for sale this year, tell us your plans.

Click here to have your information added to our 2021 Resources*.

*This is simply a list of local suppliers; RPBBA does not endorse or give preference. Buyers are encouraged to do their own research before making their decision to purchase from any supplier.

Bee Vocabulary – “Thorax”

The thorax composes the midsection of the bee. It is the segment between the head and the abdomen where the two pairs of wings and six legs are anchored. The thorax is primarily focused on locomotion. The muscles in the thorax allow the bee to control the movement of the wings during flight. While in the winter cluster, the bees will flex their wing and thorax muscles to generate heat.

Beekeepers in the News

Honeybee Venom Kills Aggressive Breast Cancer Cells


Beekeeping: The Fight Against the Mite


Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

Frank Linton, Ed.D, retired artificial intelligence engineer and Research Associate at Appalachian State U, will be speaking Wednesday, January 6th at 7pm on a virtual webcast about honeybee colony monitoring. Mr. Linton has kept honey bees since 2005. An EAS-Certified Master Beekeeper, one of his main interests is in finding ways to use remote sensing technologies to monitor and improve honey bee colony health and productivity. You can join the Zoom meeting at https://virginiatech.zoom.us/j/98556425722.

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

This Month in the Hive (January)

This month the queen is surrounded by thousands of workers. She is in the midst of the winter cluster, where the temperature at the center is about 88 degrees. At the periphery of the cluster, the temperature will drop to 42 degrees on the coldest nights. The worker bees continuously move in and out of the center of the cluster. The bees in the cluster flex their wing and thorax muscles to generate heat, and they consume honey that was stored in the previous year. The cluster will continuously move upward into new honey if it is available. On a day that reaches 45 degrees or more in the hive, the bees may be able to move the cluster upward or horizontally into new honey, or they may be able to move honey toward the cluster from other parts of the hive. On a warm day (50 degrees or more) the worker bees will leave the hive to take a cleansing flight, during which they defecate away from the hive. The workers will wait weeks for a warm day if necessary before flying. The queen will usually begin laying a small number of worker eggs in the

3rd full week of January (about 28 days after the winter solstice), and some worker rood will begin to appear at the center of the cluster at that time.

A strong hive may consume 15-20 lbs of honey in January if the weather is consistently cold or wet. Stored pollen will be in demand in the hive after brood rearing commences in the third full week. On a warm day, a few bees may fly out and collect small amounts of pollen from witch hazel and winter aconite. Bees may visit a gardenia in bloom in a garden. These pollen sources are miniscule compared to the bounty waiting later in the year.

If there is a heavy snow, make certain the entrance to the hive is cleared to allow for proper ventilation. Check the weight of the hive by placing one hand under the back of the bottom board and lifting it up. If it feels as if most of the honey is gone, you may need to start feeding the hive this month. Once you start feeding, you must continue feeding until the bees are gathering pollen and nectar on their own. Unless you are confident that a hive is starving, do not open a hive at less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (without wind chill.)

This is a great time to catch up on reading those bee books you received as holiday gifts, or that you requested on inter-library loan. Don’t forget to attend your next club meeting and start ordering, assembling, and repairing the equipment you might need for this coming season. If you have not done so, go ahead and order that package of bees or a nucleus hive, if needed, from a reputable supplier.

[From https://buzzwordhoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Northern-Virginia-Honeybee-Annual-Cycle.pdf]

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont) – January & February

Wintersweet, Witch Hazel, Conifers, Holly in Fruit


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 on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, January 11th at 7pm.

Michelle Clark


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