May 2023 newsletter

Hello Hello beekeepers and honey bee enthusiasts!

April has proven to be quite busy in many apiaries. We are into the thick of the season with flowers blooming and the temperature stabilizing a bit. Your hive inspections are probably focused on watching for signs of swarming, looking for eggs, making sure the queen has space to lay, and adding boxes for honey production.

Calendar of Events

Monday, May 8th – RPBBA Monthly Meeting, 7pm RPNC

Monday, May 15th – Beekeeping Study Group, 7pm RPNC

Monday, May 22th – Honey Bee Festival Planning Committee, 7pm RPNC

May Meeting- During the May meeting we will discuss what to do in the hive this month and going into summer. We will also have a short report-out from the HBF committee leads. Add to Google Calendar

Honey Bee Festival – Saturday, June 24th Add to Google Calendar

The swarm is coming on June 24th from 10 am-2 pm! Leading up to the festival, please consider the following:

  1. Volunteering on the day of the festival (and/or the Friday before) The festival is larger this year and therefore, we need more volunteers:)

You can sign up for the following committee(s):




•Guest Experiences (plantings/club table)


•Children’s Area

•Bake Sale

You do not have to be a beekeeper or a member of a bee club to volunteer. Volunteers can be kids, family, friends, co-workers, etc. The only requirement is a smile, flexibility and a willingness to help. All volunteers receive a free HBF tee-shirt, learn a lot and have a ton of fun!

If interested in volunteering, please complete this form The lead for the committee that you select will contact you with further information.

  1. Other Ways to Pitch In We have several sign-up’s open to support our committee’s. Here’s how you can help

👉Choose something to bake for the Bake Sale

👉Loan the club a canopy or table

👉Allow RPBBA to extract your honey supers

👉Supply drones for the Drone Petting Zoo

  1. Spread the Word What fun is a festival without attendees? Word of mouth and social media are helpful tools to invite others. We have information about the festival on our website, a flier, and an event setup on Facebook. All can be shared. Please help to spread the buzz so we can make this year’s festival a success.

Beekeeping Study Group

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 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. The next meeting will be held on Monday, May 15th at 7pm at the Rockwood Park Nature Center.

Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Beekeeper: Mr. C

Q: How long have you been a beekeeper and how many hives do you manage?

I’ve been a beekeeper for 2 years. I have 4 beehives now.

Q: What inspired you to become a beekeeper?

I watched a beekeeper work a beehive and I found it to be very interesting. I wanted to learn more about it. After watching a lot of YouTube videos, I decided that I wanted to try it.

Q: What is the best thing about beekeeping for you?

For me, it’s watching the honeybees work. They go in and out of the hive with purpose.

Q: What’s challenging about beekeeping for you?

I still find it hard to read the bees. They do things that tell you what’s on their minds. I sometimes miss their clues, such as when they are preparing to swarm or when an emerging queen will return.

Q: What fun, surprising story would you like to share?

During the first year of beekeeping when I had a hive in my yard, one of my neighbors delivered a note letting me know how much she appreciated me keeping bees. The note said that she hadn’t seen honeybees pollinating her flowers in years. I thought that was pretty cool.

Q: In what ways do you feel like you are making an impact on the environment and/or the community?

I know I have contributed to the pollination of the flowers in my urban area. I have also shared what I have learned about beekeeping to my neighbors who have stopped and asked questions about what I was doing.

Beekeepers Out and About & in the News

Rick McCormick was selected as the 2023 Chesterfield Community Champion in the senior category and recognized by the Board of Supervisors on April 26th! Rick is always willing to lend a hand to novice and more experienced beekeepers. He is friendly, flexible and is always in “teacher-mode”. We are happy to have him in the RPBBA as he lends his time and expertise to work with novice beekeepers and Master Gardeners using the Chesterfield Cooperative Extension hive. Rick also works with students and staff at Maymont, Peter Paul Development Center, and a host of other schools and organizations.

Way to go, Rick !! We salute you.

Gene DiSalvo presented at Career Day at David A. Kaechele Elementary School on April 14th There was a great deal of enthusiasm about the bees. The observation hive was a big hit and held its own against some pretty cool construction equipment and emergency vehicles that were also present. Gene was impressed by the students’ knowledge about the importance of bees and the challenges they are facing. Huge thanks to Rick McCormick, Stan Houk and Carla Parks for loaning the educational supplies used at the event.

Hollee Freeman talked with students and faculty at the University of Richmond about beekeeping and urban ecology. It was an informative experience for all. We briefly talked about getting the UR apiary going again!

Save the Date: Virginia State Beekeepers Association Spring Meeting

Registration is open for the spring meeting of the Virginia State Beekeepers Association. Register at

2023 Bumblebee Jamboree

Contact Rick McCormick is heading up this fun family event sponsored by the Chesterfield Master Gardeners of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Come on out to volunteer and encourage your friends, family and neighborhood to volunteer as well.

This Month in the Hive (May)

This month, hives should be buzzing. You may be able to see pollen being brought into the hive since this is peak egg laying season for the queen. Your hives may be bursting with bees. The brood nest will extend across 7-8 frames and may reach into 2 full brood boxes in your stronger hives by the end of the month.

A strong hive may collect and store as much as 7 lbs of nectar per sunny, bright day. The bees will combine the nectar with enzymes they produce, and place the nectar in honeycomb cells to evaporate the nectar and age it into honey. Honey will be capped when it reaches under 18% water content. A strong hive working on a good nectar flow in May can cap as much as 80 pounds of mature honey during this month.

If the queen has over-wintered with the hive, then watch for queen cells/signs of swarming. Make certain that the queen has enough room to lay 800-1000 eggs per day, and that she may do so for the entire 21 day cycle for production of a worker. This will mean that a queen in peak fertility will need at least 1 deep and 1 medium super for brood production. (Many beekeepers provide 2 deep brood boxes for this purpose.) If the brood production area has become honey-bound (more than ½ the brood frames are more than ½ full of honey), then provide a larger brood nest or remove honey frames and substitute foundation.

Watch for a failing or disappeared queen. If all the brood is drone brood, then the queen is failing, or has disappeared and been replaced by laying workers. If this occurs, you should combine the queenless hive with a queenright hive or take other steps to requeen the hive.

At the end of May, look out for wax moths. These 1/2 inch wide, gray moths sneak into the hive at night and lay eggs in corners and other places where the bees are unable to remove the eggs. The adult moths will be harassed and forced to leave a strong hive, and eggs will be covered with propolis if not removed. In a weak hive, the eggs will hatch and begin a path of destructive chewing and defecating through the brood combs. Combine weak hives, reduce the size of the brood box, or reduce the entrance to discourage moth entry to weak hives.

Inspect the hive weekly. If you reversed the brood boxes earlier in the year, you may need to do so a second time in May or June. Consider doing so if the lower brood box is nearly empty of brood and the upper brood box is crowded. Make certain that each hive has more than enough supers to store the honey harvest.

Attend your bee club meetings and useful workshops. Make notes of which flowers/trees/shrubs bloom at which times. Order labels, bottles and caps, if needed. Buy, reserve or borrow extracting equipment for late June or July. Order queens for July hive splits. On strong hives, remove the mouse guard if you have not yet done so, unless you are using a mouse guard made of 1/2 inch hardware cloth, which does not obstruct air or bee movement.


Bee Vocabulary – “Wax Scales”

The wax glands are located in the lower part of the young worker’s abdomen, and release wax when the worker is about 12 days old. About six days later, the gland degenerates and the worker stops comb-building. The wax is discharged as a liquid and hardens to small flakes or scales and sits in wax pockets.

Looking To Expand Your Pollinator Garden?

This month Tulip Poplar, Black Locust, Wild Blackberry, Privet, Persimmon, yellow rocket, and Sweet Clover will bloom. Alsike Clover, Crimson Clover, Ladino (White Clover), Black Gum, poison ivy, Vetch, Holly, and Raspberries will also bloom this month. At the end of the month, hawthorn hedges will add their nectar.

Regional native plant guides are available that highlight the beautiful variety of Virginia’s native plants. PDF versions are free. Virginia Capital Region native plants provide visual beauty year round. Local native plants support more wildlife species than non-native plants. Native trees, shrubs, and vines that feed the insects, birds, and animals are essential for maintaining biodiversity. Local native plants are adapted to local temperature and rainfall fluctuations. Spraying pesticides for insects or diseases is generally not necessary for native Plants. The guide for RVA area natives can be viewed here:

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

The bees are busy and we are busy. Please make time to come out to meetings and to our festivals. You can join the RPBBA on our website. Meetings are open to non-members. Come meet some other beekeepers and find out what RPBBA is all about.

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

Enjoy your bees!


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

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