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 with Dr. Zac Lamas, and the Study Group all happening in February!

🐝 2023 Beginner Beekeeping Course

The first session of the 2023 Beginner Beekeeping Course was chock-full of information (and people). It truly was “like drinking from a firehose”. For those of you in the class, don’t stress, there are plenty of people and resources to support you on your beekeeping journey.

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The next session will be held on Saturday, February 11th at 9am at Dandelion Springs Apiary. The address for Dandelion Springs is:

11011 Beaver Bridge Rd

Chesterfield, VA 23838

The course is full and registration 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 11th and 25th.

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.

2023 Honey Bee Festival Planning

Planning has begun and the date has been set for June 24th at Rockwood Park. We are finalizing team leads and then we ask for volunteers. As you know, we will need a lot of volunteers to make the HBF a success! Beeeeeeee prepared to get involved, it’s great fun!

February Meeting

This month our meeting will be held in conjunction with the Huguenot Beekeepers Association @7pm at the Powhatan Village Building Auditorium located at 3910 Old Buckingham Road, Powhatan, VA 23139. Dr. Zac Lamas will discuss Varroa Mites. This is a presentation that you do not want to miss.

Add to Google Calendar


VSBA Master Beekeeping Study Group

The study group will be held on Feb 21st at the Chesterfield Library located at 325 Courthouse Road at 6:30pm.

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 pursue 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!

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 2023?

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 2023 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 – “Pheromones”

Did you know that the Queen gives off pheromones to prevent workers from developing ovaries?!

The queen regulates the goings-on of the colony by emitting chemical blends (pheromones) from her mandibular glands (saclike glands located inside the head above the base of the mandible). The queen’s pheromones are often called the ‘queen signal’. The queen signal is a primer pheromone that keeps the colony in homeostasis (e.g. worker cohesion, inhibition of worker reproduction, and stimulation of worker activities).

When the queen is weak or dies, the low/no pheromonal signal drives workers to rear new queens. If there’s no young brood present in the colony, the workers become disorganized, stop doing their tasks and begin laying unfertilized eggs. The colony becomes unclean and more susceptible to diseases and prey. The hive population dwindles and in most cases, is doomed.


Beekeepers in the News

Gene DiSalvo and Rick McCormick buzzed into the Anna Julia Cooper School (AJCS) at the end of January to speak with students about the importance of bees. AJCS is a K-8, independent, faith-based, full-tuition scholarship school serving students from limited financial resources in Richmond’s East End.

Rick led 50 minute sessions with Kindergarten, First Grade, Sixth Grade girls and Sixth Grade boys classes. The informal learning discussions featured lots of questions back and forth from both Rick and the students. The students were fully engaged and even the classroom teachers commented about what they were learning about bees! Rick was assisted in these discussions by Buzz, his loyal hand puppet, and Gene DiSalvo, who coordinated these sessions with the AJCS staff.

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AJCS requested that Rick and his bees return to the school in the Springtime. The school is also interested in getting support with their school garden. RPBBA is happy to help them with a Pollinator Garden Starter pack! It’s great to have beekeepers that are also Master Gardeners 🙂

Hollee Freeman gave a presentation to close to 200 people at Creative Mornings Richmond where she talked about finding sanctuary when working with bees.

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Thanks to everyone who talks with individuals, as well as, in small and large groups about beekeeping. Every little bit helps people understand the importance of honeybees in our ecosystem and just may encourage folks to become part of the beekeeping community or become bee-friendly in their gardens.

This Month in the Hive (February)

The cluster is still tight on most days. The cluster will break and move on 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. At this point, there are still no drones in the hive and workers will take cleansing flights on mild days.

As the cluster remains centered around the small brood nest, it will migrate 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.

Around mid-February, maples begin to blossom and supply nectar and fresh pollen that are extraordinarily valuable to the growth of the hive. The maple blossom continues through mid-March. In areas of higher elevation, the maple blossoms start and end 7-14 days later. The bees will consume about 20 pounds of honey stores and nectar from maples. Alders may bloom in some locations and provide valuable variety in pollen proteins.

Tip: On a day that exceeds 55 degrees, open the hive and quickly check for sufficient food supplies, 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. 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. 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,we will probably see a lot of each other!

Don’t forget to check out our Calendar of Events to keep up to date.

Hollee Freeman
Communications 🐝

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

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