December Newsletter – RPBBA

Good evening beekeepers!

It may be a slow month in the apiary but there is much to share this month. Rockwood Beekeepers, there is much to look forward to. We’ve got a party, study group, speakers for January and February lined up, Beginner Beekeeper classes beginning next month, several signups, a citizen science opportunity, and multiple conferences on the horizon for those interested. I predict a VERY full Spring. Keep your eyes peeled for quite a bit of information and opportunities to bee involved in this months newsletter.

RPBBA Calendar of Events
📅 Monday, Dec 12th – RPBBA Annual Holiday Party @ 7pm
📅 Monday, Dec 19th – Study Group @ 7pm

December Meeting – A Holiday Potluck
In the place of our December meeting we will be having a holiday potluck.

7pm on Monday, December 12th
@Molly’s Bicycle Shop
4515 W Hundred Rd, Chester, VA 23831

The brewery will be closed except for our group. The association will provide fried chicken, tableware, water, & soft drinks. Beer will NOT be available for purchase; this event is BYOB. We plan to have a white elephant gift exchange. To participate please bring a wrapped gift (under $20). Attendees are asked to RSVP and let us know what you plan to bring. To RSVP, go to SignUpGenius. Please leave the dish you intend to bring in a comment. The more the merrier. I hope to see you there! Add to Google Calendar



2023 Beginner Beekeeping Course

The Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers Association (RPBBA) is holding their annual Beginning Beekeeping Course over 4 Saturdays from end of January to beginning of March.

Attendees will receive instruction on the
🐝History, Hive organization & location,
🐝Woodenware and equipment,
🐝Dynamics of the Colony,
🐝Diseases, Pests and Predators,
🐝Getting Started,
🐝The Beekeeping Year,
🐝Floral Sources, and
🐝Bee Field Day (hands-on apiary day)

Class dates will be Jan 28, Feb 11, Feb 25, & Mar 11 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. The course is $100 through Jan 21st and $115 thereafter. We are limited to 40 registrations; enrollment includes a 1-year membership to RPBBA. For more information, including a signup form, please see our website

Club News – 2023 Officers Announcement
The Board of Directors’ met on November 28th over Zoom. 2023 Officers were discussed and selected. The following slate of Officers will be installed January 1st.

Stan Houk, President
Sherry Kelley, Vice President
Theo Hartmann, Treasurer
Don Osborne, Secretary
Hollee Freeman, Communications
John Davis, Membership
Jody Conway, Registered Agent

The Membership role is new. This position was created with the intention of having a club member as a go-to for prospective RPBBA members and new members as well as a familiar face for our more experienced beekeepers to keep in touch. We know there are a lot of questions when you’re new to the club and/or new to beekeeping. Seasoned beekeepers know the learning never ends. Filling in a Membership role will also be a help for our Communications director who is often the first point of contact for many.

The Board of Directors is still on the hunt for a Honey Bee Festival Chair. If you have an interest, or questions, reach out and let us know. The club could use a helping hand to lead the charge. I realize the role is intimidating. Help is available; we promise, we will not let you fail.

Will you be selling nucs, packages or queens this year?R2Ag1Cyz6TenVN1uNXRUjv998sgMqD46MWJPvT8oRYobHa9zK0lBqnvQk8hf8mgbJiqKfuYBOHm3CZUvXoYoez10ut5tRbz4A2SLUgZ1Wnpbi9-wcu4AFdPTwoC7_4BrYJxYEWLYqSmZexTZ2peNWg3duHhyUq8fT7Hkcw5tfGiq_PSEJ2lQ5fcIDrXORQ

Ever so often, the question pops up- how do I get started? Where can I get my bees? We’d like to update the 2022 Resources list for sharing with those who inquire (and our incoming Beginner Beekeeping class).

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

Click here to have your information added to our 2023 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.

ISO RPBBA Members Willing to Bee a Mentor
A Mentor’s purpose is to help other members with things like installing packages/nucs, in-hive help, capturing swarms or general questions.

With the 2023 Beginner Beekeeping course kicking off in January,well soon have new-bee’s looking for assistance. 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.

The goal is to create a current list of willing mentors, with their general location, to share with those ISO a Mentor near them.

Bee Vocabulary – “waggle dance”
A series of figure-eight movements performed by a bee to indicate the direction and abundance of a distant food source. In this dance, the bee walks in a circle, turns around, then walks the same circle in the opposite direction. She repeats this many times. Sometimes, the bee includes a little waggle as she’s turning around.

Beekeepers in the News
Could Carbon Dioxide Be a New Tool Against Varroa Mites?
If you missed the story, you can read it at:

Citizen Science: Predicting Varroa Infestation in Virginia
Dr. Zac Lamas and Dr. James Wilson are working together and with Virginia beekeepers in 2023 to see if a new sampling methodology can predict mite infestations months before they actually occur. The project is simple, easily adoptable, and can be done by beekeepers of all skill levels. They need hobbyist beekeepers across Virginia to join in.

More information and a signup form below👇👇👇

Varroa is the leading cause of death of honey bee colonies. Despite years of research there is much we still don’t know about mites. New findings from the University of Maryland and USDA-ARS suggest an alternative sampling method may allow beekeepers to detect Varroa earlier than current sampling methods, nor does the new method require beekeepers to sacrifice handfuls of worker bees in the process. But we need your help!

Here is your chance to be a scientist! Beekeepers across Virginia are invited to join a citizen science project in 2023. Your participation will provide valuable data. We want to know if our new method works in Virginia, and if it in fact, can predict fall mite infestations months beforehand.

You do not need to provide much to participate. All you need is to sample a few of your own colonies each month, and then submit the results on a monthly questionnaire. Our team at Virginia Tech will provide instruction material, monthly zoom sessions, and Q&A support via e-mail.

Signup to bee involved: 🐝🐝🐝

Heart of Virginia Beekeepers 1st Annual Conference

The Heart of Virginia Beekeepers are hosting their FIRST annual beekeeping conference for the central region! The conference will feature two seminars from keynote speaker, Dr. David Tarpy, professor and extension specialist of honey bee biology and beekeeping at NC State University. His seminars will delve into diagnosing queen problems and coming out of winter. There will also be a selection of breakout sessions from which to choose, including integrated pest management, varroa treatments, reading the frame, commercial beekeeping, Slovenian style beekeeping, a forum on swarm prevention, and the indispensable nuc.

Sat, January 14th, 8:30am – 4:00pm
@Longwood University 201 High Street Farmville, VA 23909

For more information, including registration, visit

There are early admission tickets available though Dec 15th.

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)
Save the Date: Spring Meeting
June 10th 8:30am – 5pm &
June 11th 8:30am – 2pm
@Sweet Briar College 134 Chapel Dr Sweet Briar, VA24595

This Month in the Hive (December)
The bees are in a tight cluster now. Egg laying has halted. There will be flights on sunny days with temperatures over 50 degrees. Weeks after the winter solstice, the queen’s egg laying will recommence, but not this month.

The hive may consume 10-12 pounds of honey during this month, depending on the weather. Mild weather may actually cause more honey consumption due to increased movement.

You should stay out of the hive this month. Make sure the entrance and ventilation holes are not blocked. Make sure the mouse guard is not chewed through. Plug any large holes in the brood boxes to prevent drafts.

Read a good book on beekeeping; study the latest research reports on bee health. Review what worked well and what you might want to change next year. Request catalogs.


What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)
Holly in fruit, Wintersweet, Winter Tree Silhouettes


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. This is where I got my start. 😀

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 holiday party on Monday, December 12th at 7pm.

Michelle Clark
Communications 🐝

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Keep up with what RPBBA is doing, see Calendar of Events!

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