January Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello beekeepers and honeybee enthusiasts,

Welcome to the New Year. I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season. We had several warm days. I was able to get out and take a peek in my hives on Christmas eve and enjoy seeing the honeybees coming and going on Christmas day. I am happy to report I have not yet had any winter losses this season. Yay! I am keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way. For those wondering when it’s okay to pop open the hive: 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 Meeting

Due to the ongoing renovation at the Rockwood Park Nature Center, our meeting this month will be at 6:30pm in the North Courthouse Library. Our group has a conference room reserved. The library closes at 8pm, thus the earlier start time.

6:30pm on Monday, January 10th

@ the North Courthouse Library

325 Courthouse Rd, Richmond, VA 23236

We will have Frank Walker join us as a guest speaker to discuss the VSBA Master Beekeeping program. Frank is the originator and director of the VSBA Master Beekeeping program. He is also club President of the Norfolk Beekeepers. We hope you can join us to hear his talk on Monday, Jan 10th at 6:30pm. Add to Google Calendar

2022 Honeybee Festival Planning

It is festival planning time once again. We have a lot to do. Rick Beaudet is gathering troops for a planning committee to begin meeting. The first meeting will be Tuesday, January 11th at 7pm on Zoom. If you are interested to help out planning and have not already volunteered please email Rick at rick@beaudets.org to share your interest. Rick will be sending the Zoom invitation to those interested here at the start of January. Please mark your calendar now for the Zoom meeting. Add to Google Calendar

🐝 2022 Beginner Beekeeping Course

It’s almost time for our annual Beginner Beekeeping course to begin. Enrollment is still open; we do have space for additional participants. The course is $100 through Jan 8th and $115 thereafter.

Class dates are Jan 22, Feb 5, Feb 19, & Mar 5th alternating Saturday’s with the Huguenot Beekeepers Association (HBA). Participants who are unable to make a class at RPBBA, may attend and receive the same instruction at HBA.

Attendees will receive instruction on the basics of beekeeping, the various equipment including hive components and tools, diseases and pests, what to expect in the first year, how to purchase and install your bees, sources of pollen and nectar, and (weather permitting) a hands on field day in the club’s apiary.

We are limited to 40 participants; enrollment includes a 1-year membership to RPBBA.

For more information, including a signup form, please see our website rockwoodbeekeepers.com/beginner-beekeeping.

ISO RPBBA Members Willing to Bee a Mentor

It’s been a while since the club has renewed our list of willing mentors. With the 2022 Beginner Beekeeping course starting in a few short weeks, we need willing mentors. A mentor’s purpose is to help other members with things like installing packages/nucs, in-hive help, capturing swarms or general questions.

If you are a RPBBA member and willing to bee a mentor, please sign up here. You must be willing to have your contact information shared with other RPBBA members.


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

Ever so often, the question pops up- how do I get started? Where can I get my bees? We’d like to update the 2021 Resources list for sharing with those who inquire (and our incoming Beginner Beekeeping class).

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

Click here to have your information added to our 2022 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 – “Invertase”

An enzyme produced by the honey bee which helps to transform sucrose to dextrose and levulose.

Beekeepers in the News

Life Lessons From Beekeepers – Stop Mowing The Lawn, Don’t Pave The Driveway And Get Used To Bugs In Your Salad

Beekeepers talk of “seeing like a bee”. “Part of the psyche of people who work with insects is that they are very observant, and passionate about their environment”. This passion leads many beekeepers to change parts of their lives to better help bees and the wider environment. Here are the main lessons learned from time spent researching and working with beekeepers.


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 brood 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 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)

Wintersweet, Witch Hazel, Conifers, Holly in Fruit


Final Word

If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and bee active. You can join on our website. If you are a honeybee enthusiast looking to get started, check out the Beginner Beekeeping course. There is still space. This is where I got my start; I highly recommend it.

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

While we’re on the topic of feedback: RPBBA leadership is also interested to hear from some of our less active members. We know Covid-19 changed things for many of us. If there are other factors that have impacted your participation within the club, we’d love to hear from you. We want RPBBA to bee the best it can bee for all of our members. Whatever the feedback, let us hear it, please.

I hope to see you at our 1st meeting of 2022 on Monday, January 10th at 6:30pm in the North Courthouse Library.

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

Like us on Facebook!
Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!
Keep up with what RPBBA is doing, see Calendar of Events!

%d bloggers like this: