April Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello beekeepers and honey bee enthusiasts!

This is such a beautiful time of year here in Virginia. All the blooms are coming out and that means our happy, healthy honey bees will be preparing to swarm before you know it. We need to step up the frequency of our hive inspections and bee on the lookout for signs of swarming. Manage the space of your hives. This is a good time to make splits. Crowded hives lead to swarming; add another box on top as needed. Colonies in our area are already swarming. Keep the RPBBA Swarm Line handy to share with friends, neighbors, anyone who may need help with a swarm. Discourage the use of pesticides; bees are our friends 💛🖤💛🖤💛

RPBBA Swarm Line

(804) 404-BEE1 or (804) 404-2331

April Calendar of Events

Monday, April 11 – RPBBA Monthly Meeting 7pm at Molly’s Blind Dog Brewery

Tuesday, April 12th – Honey Bee Festival Planning Committee 7pm on Zoom

Monday, April 18th – Master Beekeeping Study Group 7pm on Zoom

Wednesday, April 27th – Honey Bee Festival Planning Committee 7pm on Zoom

April Meeting

Our April meeting 7pm Monday, April 11th at Molly’s Blind Dog Brewery, 4515 W Hundred Rd in Chester. We are planning a fun, interactive, meeting where we’ll have a panel discussion and even a game focused around our beekeeping knowledge. This event will be tailored to all experience levels. If you’re a newbee don’t be afraid to jump right in! Add to Google Calendar

Honey Bee Festival – Saturday, June 25th

The Honey Bee Festival (HBF) is fast approaching. June 25th will be here before we know it. We are currently looking for

  1. Volunteers. Help is needed either Friday evening (June 24th) with setup, or day of the event (June 25th), or both 😁 Volunteers can be anyone, not just RPBBA members. Beekeeping experience/knowledge not required. Those interested can let us know by completed the webform on our website here: https://rockwoodbeekeepers.com/hbf-volunteer-sign-up/

  2. Vendors. Space is available for single or double space and food trucks. Certificate of Liability Insurance required. More details, including fees, and an application form can be found here: https://rockwoodbeekeepers.com/hbf-vendor-info/

Bee Vocabulary – “Brood Nest”

Bees will use the available cells across frames for various purposes. They will use some cells to store pollen or honey. Other cells will be created for worker, drone or queen cells, which are collectively called the brood nest.

LIST: Common Beekeeping Terms You Should Know – Backyard Beekeeping

Beekeepers in the News

Social Patterns That Resist Varroa Mite Seen in Honey Bees for First Time

In the search for new avenues to protect honey bees (Apis mellifera) from Varroa mites, researchers have identified breeds of A. mellifera that show signs of “social apoptosis,” a defense mechanism common in Asian bees that are resistant to Varroa infestation.

If you missed the story, you can read it at: https://entomologytoday.org/2022/02/24/social-apoptosis-varroa-mite-resistance-honey-bees/?fbclid=IwAR2RRjTl0P56d7BvqKvDy2S6tdl_ZGCynEWhF90V1gTX5cNHdi-AUrNdtlA

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

Mark your calendar now for the VSBA Spring/Summer meeting.

8:30 AM – 5:30 PM

Saturday, June 11th

@ Blue Ridge Community College

1 College Lane

Weyers Cave, VA 24486

Speakers will include Dr. Dewey Caron, Monica Schmitt, and Dr. James Wilson. Participants are encouraged to register Here: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/event-4739646

More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org

This Month in the Hive (April)

On cold days, the bees continue to form a cluster. The brood nest may be as much as 10 inches in diameter, however, and all the bees may be needed to prevent brood death due to chilling on the coldest nights. The brood nest continues its slow migration upward into empty honeycomb. The bees continue to bring pollen and nectar into the hive. The queen is laying several hundred eggs per day at the beginning of the month, and the population is growing fast. At the end of the month, the queen will lay 800-1000 eggs per day. The worker population will double this month. Drones will number above 200 by month end.

A congested hive in April will lead to swarms in the last week of April and early May. Congestion exists where the combination of honey, pollen, brood and bees fills 80% or more of the available space. In a congested hive (for reasons about which there is no consensus) the worker bees begin to raise new queens in April. This is done by building “swarm cells” – peanut-like wax cells that often hang down between brood supers, or on the face of brood frames. From egg deposition to hatching is 16 days for a new queen. A hive that is storing honey by April 20 is a hive to watch for swarming.

Henbit, wild mustard, dandelions, redbuds, pears, cherries, “Japanese” magnolias, plums, shadbush, chickweed, and many ornamental shrubs will provide substantial amounts of pollen and sufficient nectar for brood production on sunny days. Many hives that have consumed sugar syrup in March will cease taking it in early April. By mid-April, apples, peaches, crab apples, American holly and autumn olive may begin to supply ample amounts of nectar and some very strong hives will begin to make and cap honey. At the end of the month, nectar flows will be strong from many sources.

Pick up and install packages of bees or nucleus hives. Packages are delivered in Northern Virginia each week during April and early May. Nucleus hives may be available, but they should have been requested or ordered in the prior year.

Generally, it should be understood that swarms are not good for honey production. Hive bodies should be reversed when the likelihood of 4 or more days of consistent cold (45 degrees or less) weather has passed, or around April 1 in most years. This will reduce congestion by encouraging the queen to expand egg-laying upward and outward into empty brood frames.

Remove any feeders where the syrup becomes moldy. Remove a feeder when 1 quart is not consumed in 1 week.

Place a bait hive for swarms nearby if you have decided to use such a hive. Be prepared to place a queen excluder and honey supers on top of the hive by the 4th week in April. On a warm and still day, do a complete inspection of the hive. Can you find any evidence of the queen? Are there plenty of eggs and brood? Is there a compact pattern to her egg laying? If not, locate a new queen and replace any weak or failing queen.

The final touches should be put on new hives and supers that will soon be full of bees and honey. Package bees should be installed as early as possible this month to take advantage of the heavy nectar flows at month end. Watch out for evidence of swarming (queen cells; live queen with no fresh eggs; queen that is reduced in size to fly with swarm). Remove frames with queen cells to a nucleus hive (with at least 2 frames of bees) or cut the queen cells from the frames and use them to requeen weak hives, or destroy them.

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

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

1st Week: Maple, Birch, Oak, Cherry, Pear, Silver Bell, Crabapple, Dogwood, Redbud, Camellia, Pearlbush, Sweet-Breath-of-Spring, Forsythia, Boxwood, Flowering Quince, Barberry, Azalea, Periwinkle, Narcissus, Candy tuft, Violets, Tulip, Pansy, Wildflowers

2nd Week: Crabapple, Silver Bell, Cherry, Dogwood, Redbud, Boxwood, Flowering Quince, Wisteria, Barberry, Lilac, Azalea, Periwinkle, Narcissus, Candy tuft, Violet, Pansy, Tulip, Wildflowers

3rd Week: Azalea, Dogwood, Cherry, wisteria, Violet, Pansy, Tulip, Lilac, Barberry, Periwinkle, Candy tuft, Wildflowers

4th Week: Azalea, Dogwood, Wisteria, Violet, Pansy, Tulip, Lilac, Periwinkle, Candy tuft, Wildflowers


Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, this month’s Zoom links will be emailed following this newsletter. If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and bee active. You can join on our website. Meetings are open to non-members also. Come join us!

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 everyone at the meeting on Monday, April 11th at Molly’s Blind Dog Brewery!

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

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