March Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello beekeepers and honeybee enthusiasts,

Are you ready for Spring yet? It won’t bee long before the nectar flow is on and swarm season begins. On warm days like today, my hives are steady bringing in fresh pollen. I often see honey bees around the garden drinking water where there’s dew. If you do not have your equipment for Spring ready to go, it’s crunch time. Pull boxes from storage; assemble extra frames. Apply a fresh coat of paint to the outside of boxes as needed. You do not want to be in the middle of a hive inspection and realize you need equipment that’s not ready to go.

Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers Calendar of Events

Saturday, March 5th – Beginner Beekeeping class day 4 at Dandelion Springs Apiary

Monday, March 7th – Board of Directors Meeting on Zoom

Tuesday, March 8th – Honey Bee Festival Planning 7pm on Zoom

Monday, March 14th – RPBBA Monthly Meeting 7pm on Zoom

Monday, March 21st – Study Group meeting 7pm on Zoom

📢 March Meeting

This month Keith Tignor will be joining us for a Spring setup talk. Keith is the State Apiarist and Central VA Region State Beekeeping Inspector. He has come to talk to our club many times and always has great information to share. In this month’s talk he will also discuss swarm prevention & splits. We hope you can join us Monday, March 14th at 7pm on Zoom! Add to Google Calendar

Call for Volunteers – Honey Bee Festival

We have set the date for this year’s Honey Bee Festival. Mark your calendar now for Saturday, June 25th. Add to Google Calendar The Honey Bee festival requires a lot of hands leading up to the festival for planning, the Friday night before for setup, during, & after the festival for takedown. Day of, we need about 50 volunteers to lend a helpful hand. Volunteers do not have to be beekeepers or a member of our club. Volunteers can be kids, family, friends, etc. The only requirement is a willingness to help. We can certainly find a way to use our volunteers and are thankful for all the help we can get. Volunteers are provided a free Honey Bee Festival t-shirt.

Anyone willing to volunteer, please let us know by emailing us at rockwood.beekeepers. Thank you in advance!

📢 Calling All Swarm Chasers

On, the club has a form which receives requests to remove a swarm. Sometimes swarms can be easily removed; other times it requires an extensive cut-out. Emails are routed to active members in the club who have expressed interest. These are immediate and you should have the flexibility to drop everything and help on short notice. If you are not already on the swarm list and would like to be, signup here. Even if you do not have the experience to go get the swarm yourself, you might want to tag along with an experienced beekeeper to see how it is done.

Beehive Distribution Program – Beekeeping Classes

The Virginia Cooperative Extension and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are sponsoring in-person lectures at the VSU Randolph Farm Pavilion large classroom, followed by hands-on demonstrations at the VSU Randolph Farm Bee Yard.

Topics for the first class will include honey bee biology, getting started in beekeeping, hive components and construction, beekeeping equipment, and feeding and caring for bees. The second class will cover how to open a hive for inspection, how to install package bees in a hive, and methods for collecting swarms to start a new hive. Additional topics covered in the two classes include nucleus hives, queen management, and integrated pest management. The workshops are intended for individuals with no beekeeping experience up to 5 years of experience.

Classes will run from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm on March 23 and April 27. Class size is limited and registration is required. There is no charge for participating in the classes. Further information and registration is available at:

March 23 – Preparing For Honeybees:

April 27 Hive Inspection And Expansion:

Bee Vocabulary – “Split”

If you have a large, healthy hive, it is possible to create a new colony from it by making what is called a split. The basic concept of making a split is that you take a portion of an established colony and transfer it to a separate hive thereby creating two colonies. There are many reasons for making a split. Some beekeepers make splits to increase their apiary or to sell to other beekeepers. Others use splits as a form of swarm control, mite control or to reduce the size of a large colony.

Beekeepers in the News

Wild Weather Leaves Virginia Beekeepers In Sticky Situation

Virginia beekeeper, Maureen Anderson, addresses the stinging impact of temperature change. Check out the full story here:

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) Divelbiss Award – 2022 Nominations Open

At each annual conference, the Eastern Apicultural Society presents the Charles and Evelyn Divelbiss Education Award. This award is presented to that person or couple who has—over a period of years—reached out to the non-beekeeping public to explain the value of honey bees in our lives. The nomination process is easy. Write a letter outlining how the candidate has reached the public over the years. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2022. Nominations and letters of support should be emailed to Secretary. More information can be found here:

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 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. Board members will receive a separate emailed link for their Board of Directors meeting.

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

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

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

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