February Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello beekeepers and honeybee enthusiasts,

February is a busy month full of events for Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers. We have the Beginner Beekeeping Class meeting twice this month, Honey Bee Festival planning, our monthly meeting, and the Study Group all happening this month. Even though it’s cold out, our bees are clustering, and we’re all sheltering from Omicon, there is much to do. Several of our events are on Zoom. The newsletter may seem out of order this month, however I’ve got it in order by event date. I encourage everyone to check out our Calendar of Events.

🐝 2022 Beginner Beekeeping Course

With the first class date completed, the course will continue on Saturday, February 5th at 9am at Dandelion Springs Apiary. The address for Dandelion Springs is:

11011 Beaver Bridge Rd

Chesterfield, VA 23838

Registration for the course is closed. For those enrolled, if you do not have your calendar marked already, you can Add to Google Calendar now. The class meets twice this month, Saturday, February 5th and 19th.

As a reminder, RPBBA practices reciprocity with the Huguenot Beekeeping Association (HBA). Participants who are unable to make a class at RPBBA, may attend and receive the same instruction at HBA. Both clubs offer the same course on alternating Saturday’s.

2022 Honey Bee Festival Planning

Planning has begun. The committee met in January on Zoom. Much was discussed including fresh ideas for the festival, a date (spoiler Jun 25th), how to incorporate the 400 year anniversary of honey bees coming to America, committees, a theme and more. The HBF planning committee will continue meeting monthly on the 2nd Tuesday each month. This means the committee will be on Zoom Tuesday, February 8th at 7pm. The link to join the HBF meeting will be emailed to all RPBBA members following this newsletter. Please be on the lookout. Add to Google Calendar

February Meeting

This month our meeting will be Monday, February 14th at 7pm on Zoom. Petra Ahnert will be our Guest Presenter. Petra is owner of Beehive Alchemy, a skin product company, and also the title of a series of books she wrote. She is part of the VSBA Guest Speaker Series. Petra will be speaking about something all hives have, but we don’t know much about: propolis and also a little about pollen. We also will be talking about the 11th Annual Honey Bee Festival, plus discussing late winter prep and taking your questions. Please join us Monday, February 14th at 7pm on Zoom! Add to Google Calendar All RPBBA members will receive an email following this newsletter with Zoom links for the month.

VSBA Master Beekeeping Study Group

As you may have guessed, the study group meeting will also be on Zoom. For those who have never checked it out, the study group is a great way for RPBBA members to further their beekeeping knowledge. Several members are studying for the annual VSBA Apprentice and Journeyman exams. However there is no requirement for attendees to be pursuing certification. The study group is open to all members who want to learn. During the study group sessions, questions from the VSBA Apprentice Study Guide are posed for the group to discuss and answer together. There is much to learn during open discussion with our peers!

The study group meets monthly on the 3rd Monday of each month. They’ll next be meeting Monday, February 21st at 7pm on Zoom. RPBBA members, look for the Zoom link in email following this newsletter. 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. Add to Google Calendar


Have You Reserved Your Bees For 2022?

Whether you’re a 1st time beekeeper, or looking to replace a colony that didn’t make it through Winter, there are resources for you to source live bees locally.

For those looking to purchase Nucs, Packages or Queen’s check out our 2022 Resources*. The time is now to start reserving your order(s).

*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 – “Requeening”

Requeening is when the beekeeper ‘disposes’ of the previous queen and replaces her with a new one. There are several situations in which requeening is needed or can be beneficial. Elderly or poor performing queen, overly defensive “hot” hive, brood disease, and splitting a hive are all reasons a beekeeper may requeen.

Beekeepers in the News

Size Matters For Bee ‘superorganism’ Colonies

Like neurological systems and human social groups, new research on bees offers clues to how biological collectives make choices under dynamic conditions.

You can read the full article here: https://americanbeejournal.com/size-matters-for-bee-superorganism-colonies/

This Month in the Hive (February)

The cluster is still tight on most days. The cluster will break and move on those days where the temperature exceeds 57 degrees in the hive. The queen remains in the cluster, and as the days lengthen, she will begin to lay a few more eggs each day. There are still no drones in the hive. Workers will take cleansing flights on mild days. About the 20th of February, maples begin to blossom and to supply nectar and fresh pollen that are extraordinarily valuable to the growth of the hive. The maple blossom continues to mid-March. In areas of higher elevation, the maple blossoms start and end 7-14 days later. Alders may bloom in some locations and provide valuable variety in pollen proteins.

The cluster will remain centered around the small brood nest, which migrates upward as the lowest rows of capped brood hatch. The cluster will not quickly move up into new areas of honey after the brood nest forms, and mild days are important to the bees’ ability to move honey/pollen toward the cluster.

The bees will consume about 20 pounds of honey stores and nectar from maples.

On a day that exceeds 55 degrees, open the hive and quickly check for sufficient food supplies, for signs of disease, and to see if the queen is laying. Place a pollen patty near (but not directly on top of) the brood nest. More colonies are probably lost during this time of year than during all other winter months. A colony that is rearing brood will consume about 7 pounds of honey and nectar per week, and if the weather turns bad, a colony with small food reserves can quickly starve to death. Never allow the food stores to drop below 15 pounds. If they have less than 15 pounds of honey, start feeding stored honey or thick sugar syrup (one part sugar to one part water.) Remember, once you start feeding, you need to continue feeding until the bees no longer consume the syrup, or until the end of April.

Consider whether to sign up for that “Advanced Beekeeper Course.” Attend bee club meetings and get equipment ready for spring. At this time of year, you may be advised to “reverse” the brood boxes on a hive with two brood boxes. It is too early in the year to perform this task with safety, so delay this task until you are confident that warmer weather has arrived. The first week of February may be a good time to add a pollen patty or candy board to a hive that is raising brood. If you enter the hive, you may consider moving a frame of honey from the outside of the hive to an area much closer to the brood nest. Do not place a frame of frozen honey immediately adjacent to the brood nest, however.

Decide now how you are going to deal with the issue of swarms in April, May and June. Read and study the options, and seek advice. Prepare a bait hive now if you are going to use it later in the spring. If you are going to use more equipment to hold queen cells and deal with swarms, then take steps to obtain that equipment.

[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. Please bee on the lookout for the Zoom links this month. I will bee sending the link for the HBF Planning committee, our monthly meeting, and the study group altogether following this newsletter.

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

With February full of events, I hope to see everyone several times this month on Zoom!

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

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