March Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello fellow beekeepers! Are you feeling ready for Spring? If not, we’ve got a speaker for our March meeting that’ll help guide you to get prepped.

March Meeting

Our March meeting will be Monday, March 8th at 7pm over Zoom. (Add to Google Calendar) We will have Keith Tignor from the Virginia Department of Agriculture joining us to give his presentation on Setting Your Hives Up for Spring and Early Swarm Prevention. Keith is the State Apiarist and Central VA Region State Beekeeping Inspector. Keith has given many presentations to our club; his Spring one is the best! Don’t miss the buzz; join us Monday on Zoom. An invite will be emailed to RPBBA members following this newsletter.

🐝 Are You Looking to Learn? Stuck Somewhere Between Beginning Beekeeper and Master?

The Apprentice and Journeyman Study Groups aren’t just for those looking to gain certification through VSBA. In fact, most attendees never take the VBSA exam. The Study Groups are for any members that want to learn. RPBBA is putting together a virtual study group while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. If you are interested, please let us know by signing up here. Not sure if it’s for you? Join in for a few sessions, you will be a better beekeeper. We’re here to share knowledge.

Bee Vocabulary – “Brood”

A large section of a working beehive is dedicated to raising new bees. The queen will lay eggs in cells within this area. These eggs hatch into tiny little larvae. Over time, the larvae grow large enough to pupate and, eventually, emerge as new adult honey bees. From egg through pupae, so long as these young bees occupy a wax cell we refer to them as “brood.”

Beekeepers in the News

Veterans Use Beekeeping to Improve Well Being

Catch the full story at:

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

On March 10th at 7pm the VSBA Speaker Series hosted by Virginia Tech continues. (Add to Google Calendar) Frank Linton will be speaking about Observation Hives.

You cannot be a good beekeeper if you don’t know much about bees. And it is hard to learn much about bees when they are hidden away in an opaque wooden box on the far side of the yard. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to learn – French, air guitar, or beekeeping – if you don’t do it three times a week, you won’t get anywhere. But if you inspect your colonies three times a week… no, not a good idea. So, what to do? One possibility, one I learned a lot from, is to keep a small colony in a glass hive in your house, an observation hive. I kept an observation hive in the room where I spent a lot of time and every time their tone changed, I took a look. I saw more in a year than many backyard beekeepers see in a lifetime. And every year is different. In this talk I will show you how to keep bees in an observation hive and learn from them.

For more information, including the Zoom details to sit in and future speakers, visit

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.

The hive may consume as much as 7 lbs per week (net of inflow) when cold, rain, snow, or icy conditions prevail. Prevent starvation by making certain that food supplies are sufficient. Maple nectar and pollen continue to be very important to population buildup. Willows may bloom in wet, sheltered valleys. In some parts of Northern Virginia, plantings of ornamental and exotic shrubs will supply small amounts of pollen. Crocus, daffodil, and other flowering bulbs will supply some pollen. Boxwood, quince, hackberries, forsythia, and elms will supply variety in the pollen sources. Some early dandelions may bloom at the end of the month.

Wet, cold, ice, snow, wind and blowing rain describe those parts of March that are not sunny and 50 degrees. Make sure the hive does not tilt backward. It should slightly tilt forward to shed rain from the bottom board.

The brood nest is now 6-8 inches across, and may extend across several frames. As much as 75- 100 cells of drone brood may be seen at the end of the month.

If using a screened bottom board, you should resist the urge to remove the insert. Leave it in until consistent warmer weather arrives in late April. In late March, you may consider reversing the deep brood supers, or the medium supers that some beekeepers use for brood. This will allow for a better distribution of the brood, and stimulate the growth of the colony. 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.

On a sunny day early in the month, when there is little wind and the bees are flying, have a quick look inside the hive. A temperature above 54 degrees should do for this task. Remove frames for a quick inspection. Inspect for disease and see that the queen is laying. Eggs laid in January and February will all be hatched into new workers by March 20, and the population will be much higher than in January. Add a pollen patty if you have not yet done so.

Look for drone brood along the bottom edges of frames with brood. Remove some drone brood with a cappings scratcher and look for Varroa mites. If you find Varroa in 30% or more of the drone brood cells, then research how to perform a mite count, and whether to treat for mites. Check for remaining honey and pollen stores. Food stores can run dangerously low until a heavy nectar flow starts. It may be necessary to continue feeding the hive.


What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

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

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation following this newsletter. 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, March 8th at 7pm on Zoom.

Michelle Clark

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