July Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello fellow beekeepers and honeybee enthusiasts!

Welcome to July. I hope your colonies are doing well.

Summer is upon us. Continue inspections of your hives to make sure your colonies are healthy. The bees may manage to store honey this month, but they may eat more than they collect. As resources become more sparse, watch for robbing activity at the entrances; take steps to deter robbing as needed. Pay special attention for boxes that begin to feel lightweight. The varroa mite is increasing its population at the expense of the bees; it will require some type of treatment or management, soon.

📢 July Meeting

Our July meeting will be held Monday, July 12h at 7pm at the Nature Center. We will be sharing a presentation entitled Game of Drones by Julia Mahood. Honey bee drones are the Rodney Dangerfields of the bee world, they (often) get no respect! Learn all about the amazing drones and their mysterious drone congregation areas. Julia Mahood is a Georgia Master Beekeeper who has been keeping bees since 2004. She created the citizen science website MapMyDca.com to gather data on drone congregation areas. Julia is passionate about education and teaches beekeeping in Georgia prisons and is active in her local and state bee organizations. Add to Google Calendar

RPBBA does intend to follow CDC recommendations. For all in-person meetings, attendee’s need to be prepared to provide proof of vaccination or wear a mask. The club will have masks on hand to provide if needed.

🐝 Study Group

The study group is open to all members who want to learn. You are not required to take the exam to join; come soak up some knowledge. They will next meet Monday, July 19th at 7pm at the Nature Center. The group will continue to go through the VSBA Apprentice Study Guide questions, provide answers, and discuss. Those interested to attend are encouraged to download the guide in advance and start working through the questions on their own. Still not sure if it’s for you? Come sit in on a session; see what there is to learn about our favorite pollinators.

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The board has set a date for our 2021 picnic! Please mark your calendar now for Saturday, September 11th. More information to come as the date nears.

Bee Vocabulary – “Bearding”

When bees congregate on the outside of the hive, usually on the front side. Done to keep the temperature inside the hive down, usually on hot days or when the hive is overcrowded with bees and/or honey stores.

Beekeepers in the News

Honeybee Forage Map

Looking for blooms to help the honeybees during the dearth but don’t know which plants are best? NASA has created a map and divided it into forage regions. You can find out when certain plants begin and end blooming for your region. NASA even highlights whether or not the plant species is considered a very important nectar source within the state and region. To check it out, go here: https://honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Honeybees/Forage.htm

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The Virginia State Beekeepers Association speaker series continues July 21st at 7pm with a presentation from Petra Ahnert titled, Collecting and Using Propolis and Pollen. Petra is best known for authoring the books Beeswax Alchemy and Beehive Alchemy. She runs a small artisan soap, body care, and candle company. She is also a small-scale beekeeper. The bees serve as inspiration not only for her products, but life as well. More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/

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 3,000-5,000 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.

Late June and July are harvest times for the Northern Virginia beekeeper. After supers and frames are removed for extraction, the best practice is to return the supers and frames to the hives for cleanup. 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. Catalpa, bee bee tree, linden, milkweed, butterfly weed, horsemint, fireweed, and globe thistle will bloom. Heartsease and smartweed bloom this month, starting in damp bottomlands. Cucumber, melons, some soybean varieties, sunflowers, some vetches, verbena, and clover will supply supplemental nectar or pollen, where cultivated. If you can find a field of alfalfa, soybean, or buckwheat in bloom, these plants are major nectar sources and produce distinctive honey flavors.

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.

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. Watch for signs of robbing and take steps to discourage robbing if it starts. Select perfect frames of comb for honey competitions. Attend the club picnic. Learn how to filter and bottle honey for the most competitive local and state fair honey judging. 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.

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

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

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

[From https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/]

Final Word

If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website or come to a meeting! We love seeing fresh faces.

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, July 12th at 7pm at the Nature Center!

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

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