May Newsletter – RPBBA

May Meeting

This month our meeting will be on Monday, May 10th at 7pm on Zoom. Add to Calendar

During our meeting we will share a Virginia State Beekeepers Association presentation from their Speaker Series. The presentation titled Honey Bee Defensive Behavior is provided thanks to Dr. Clare Rittschof. Does the behavior of a hive tell us anything about the health of the colony? Is aggression always bad? Join us to hear what researchers are learning about the connection between aggression and health.

Rockwood Park Observation Hive Update

The observation hive in the Nature Center is doing fantastic. The hive which has 8 frames, 5 in the bottom and 3 in the observation area.

During the first spring inspection, some queen cups were found and 6 of the 8 frames had brood including 2 frames in the observation area. The hive was overflowing with bees. Since this hive has a high tendency to swarm due to its limited space, the queen and 3 frames of bees were removed to make a split. If the hive is unsuccessful in raising a new viable queen the original queen will be returned to the hive.

An inspection was performed 13 days after the queen was removed to reduce queen cells if more than 2 existed. We discovered 2 empty queen cells, one with the cap open and one that appeared to be torn open from the side. No queen was found at the time of this inspection. However, a queen was spotted in the observation area a week later. Another hive inspection will be done in a few weeks to determine if the hive is queen right. If the queen is laying, a mite count will be taken and the hive treated for mites if necessary.

On another note, a feral colony has established a hive in a tree along the roadway between the 2 parking lots at the back of the park near the nature center. The bees were using a large hole at the base of the tree as their entrance. This poses a hazard to walkers as they pass by. Measures will be taken to get the bees to enter the tree at a higher entrance on the opposite side of the tree. The plan is to allow these bees to continue living in the tree.

Bee Vocabulary – “Proboscis”

The tongue of a bee, the proboscis can be extended like a straw to draw up water or nectar from flowers.

Beekeepers in the News

Video: Sting of Climate Change

By comparing bee data to satellite imagery, NASA research scientist Wayne Esaias uses honey bees as tiny data collectors to understand how climate change is affecting pollination and plants. To check out the video, go here: https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/41/video-sting-of-climate-change/

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The Virginia State Beekeepers Association is taking a break in May and will return June 16th with a presentation from Jennifer Homes titled Honey- Extracted, Creamed, and Comb – From Harvest to Preparation for the Honey Show. Mark your calendar now.

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

This Month in the Hive (May)

Now the hive is really buzzing. The nectar and pollen should begin to come into the hive thick and fast. This is the peak of the egg laying season for the queen. The hive should be bursting with bees. The brood nest will extend across 7-8 frames and may reach into 2 full brood boxes in the strongest hives by month end.

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.

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 83-84% sugar. 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 signs of swarming. Look for queen cells. 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. Attend your bee club meetings and useful workshops you can find. Make certain that each hive has more than enough supers to store the honey harvest. Make notes of which flowers/trees/shrubs bloom at which times. Order labels, bottles and caps. Buy, reserve or borrow extracting equipment for late June or July. Order queens for July hive splits. Put out a wax moth trap; for directions, click here. Note however, that a MAAREC publication on wax moths states “so far a trap effective against the wax moth has not been developed”.

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.

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

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)

1st Week: Horse Chestnut, Empress Tree, Tulip Poplar, Amur Honeysuckle, Buckeye, Dogwood, Pearlbush, Azalea, Photinia, Viburnum, Cherry, Cotoneaster, Lilac, Iris, Peony, Candytuft, Violet, Tulip, Pansy, Daylily Wildflowers, Deutzia, Spirea

2nd Week: Tulip Poplar, Empress tree, Horse Chestnut, Amur Honeysuckle, Buckeye, Pearlbush, Cotoneeaster, Iris, Peony, Daylily, Perennials, Annuals, Wildflowers, Deutzia, Spirea, Azalea

3rd Week: Tulip Poplar, European Linden, magnolia, Azalea, Rhododendron, Cotoneaster, Weigelia, Water Iris, Peony, Honeysuckle, Rose, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Wildflowers

4th Week: Tulip Poplar, Magnolia, Tree Lilac, Rhododendron, Smoke Tree, Rose, Azalea, Honeysuckle, Yucca, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Wildflowers, European Linden, Mock Orange, Weigelia, Water Iris, Abelia, Laburnum, Mountain Laurel, Privet, Calycanthus

[From https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/]

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, the Zoom links or May will be emailed following this newsletter. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be 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.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, May 10th at 7pm on Zoom!

Michelle Clark

Communications 🐝

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

April Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello Beekeepers,

As we come into April, we are beginning to see the pollen in the air as well as the beauty of Virginia. The honeybees and us are happy to be coming out of Winter. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we can still lose our colonies to starvation as the weather starts to warm up but the occasional cold snap comes through. On warmer days, do a hive inspection to check on your girls food storage, have a look at the brood pattern, replace a few old frames, and watch for signs of swarming.

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April Meeting

April’s meeting is one you won’t want to miss. John Davis will be giving a presentation on Swarming. What efforts can we make to prevent swarming? Supercedure cells v Queen cells v queen cups. What can be done once a hive is already exhibiting swarming behavior? My hive swarmed, now what? Join us Monday, April 12th at 7pm on Zoom. Add to Calendar The Zoom link to join will be emailed to all RPBBA members shortly following the newsletter.

🐝 Zoom Study Group

For members of all knowledge levels looking to learn, and those working on certification, the Study Group is back up and meeting on Zoom. The group will next meet Monday, April 5th at 7pm on Zoom. Add to Calendar As a group, we will read through the VSBA Apprentice Study Guide questions, provide answers, and discuss. Attendee’s are encouraged to download the guide in advance and start working through the questions on their own. Still not sure if it’s for you? Come sit in on a session; see what there is to learn about our favorite pollinators. The Zoom link to join will be sent following this newsletter to all RPBBA members with the monthly meeting link.

Bee Vocabulary – “Neonicotinoids”

Globally, neonicotinoids are the most used insecticides, despite their well-documented sub-lethal effects on beneficial insects. Neonicotinoids are a nicotine like pest control put on the soil or sprayed on plants. It gives colony insects, like our honeybees, effects similar to altzimers where the bees go out foraging and pollinating but cannot remember where the hive is to come back. You can help protect the bee population by using neonicotinoid free plants and seeds as well as planting native flowers. Avoid acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.

Beekeepers in the News

Our very own, Theo Hartmann recently had the spotlight shone on him by Broodminder. Here’s what they had to say.

There are not enough words to articulate how grateful we are for Theo Hartmann, the People’s Drone here at BroodMinder. He is our #1 Quality Assurance tester running over 75 devices in his apiary, Dandelion Springs Apiary, in Virginia. With a background in mechanical engineering, he is always figuring out how to make things work better for the user. If you’ve been lucky enough to hear one of his many BroodMinder presentations, you know that he loves data and bees. When he joined up with us in our early days, he said it was “a dream come true”. The feeling is mutual, Theo!

If you’re interested in checking out a presentation by Theo here’s one on Swarm Monitoring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtHOhzNy89o

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

This month VSBA will have Products of the Hive Part 1 with Jennifer Holmes. April 7th at 7pm on Zoom, she will be talking about Rendering Beeswax and Candles. Add to Calendar Jennifer Holmes and the Holmes Family run the Hani Honey Company, based in Stuart Florida. Jennifer is a speaker on many beekeeping topics and has traveled world-wide continuing to learn and contribute positively to the beekeeping industry. Products of the hive and honey shows are of particular interest to Jennifer. She is engaged with producing ferments from locally foraged, locally grown foods, and has a deep passion for food and farmers.

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

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation closer to the meeting date. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be 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.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, April 12th at 7pm on Zoom.

Michelle Clark

Communications

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Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

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

March Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello fellow beekeepers! Are you feeling ready for Spring? If not, we’ve got a speaker for our March meeting that’ll help guide you to get prepped.

March Meeting

Our March meeting will be Monday, March 8th at 7pm over Zoom. (Add to Google Calendar) We will have Keith Tignor from the Virginia Department of Agriculture joining us to give his presentation on Setting Your Hives Up for Spring and Early Swarm Prevention. Keith is the State Apiarist and Central VA Region State Beekeeping Inspector. Keith has given many presentations to our club; his Spring one is the best! Don’t miss the buzz; join us Monday on Zoom. An invite will be emailed to RPBBA members following this newsletter.

🐝 Are You Looking to Learn? Stuck Somewhere Between Beginning Beekeeper and Master?

The Apprentice and Journeyman Study Groups aren’t just for those looking to gain certification through VSBA. In fact, most attendees never take the VBSA exam. The Study Groups are for any members that want to learn. RPBBA is putting together a virtual study group while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. If you are interested, please let us know by signing up here. Not sure if it’s for you? Join in for a few sessions, you will be a better beekeeper. We’re here to share knowledge.

Bee Vocabulary – “Brood”

A large section of a working beehive is dedicated to raising new bees. The queen will lay eggs in cells within this area. These eggs hatch into tiny little larvae. Over time, the larvae grow large enough to pupate and, eventually, emerge as new adult honey bees. From egg through pupae, so long as these young bees occupy a wax cell we refer to them as “brood.”

Beekeepers in the News

Veterans Use Beekeeping to Improve Well Being

Catch the full story at: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/84440/veterans-use-beekeeping-to-improve-well-being/

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

On March 10th at 7pm the VSBA Speaker Series hosted by Virginia Tech continues. (Add to Google Calendar) Frank Linton will be speaking about Observation Hives.

You cannot be a good beekeeper if you don’t know much about bees. And it is hard to learn much about bees when they are hidden away in an opaque wooden box on the far side of the yard. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to learn – French, air guitar, or beekeeping – if you don’t do it three times a week, you won’t get anywhere. But if you inspect your colonies three times a week… no, not a good idea. So, what to do? One possibility, one I learned a lot from, is to keep a small colony in a glass hive in your house, an observation hive. I kept an observation hive in the room where I spent a lot of time and every time their tone changed, I took a look. I saw more in a year than many backyard beekeepers see in a lifetime. And every year is different. In this talk I will show you how to keep bees in an observation hive and learn from them.

For more information, including the Zoom details to sit in and future speakers, visit https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/VSBA-Speaker-Series.

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.

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

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

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation following this newsletter. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be 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.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, March 8th at 7pm on Zoom.

Michelle Clark
Communications

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Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

February Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello Beekeepers! It’s time for our February newsletter. This month’s issue is packed with information, links to explore and opportunities to get involved. While the bees are huddled close to stay warm, we have a lot to do to prepare for Spring. To stay ahead of the bees, think about what equipment you’re going to need for Spring and start prepping it now. This month, look for warmer days to take an occasional peek in the hive to check on your girls and give them some food. Come armed with your smoker and be quick: 10-15 seconds max for the hive to be open.

 

February Meeting

For February’s meeting, we will share a presentation from the Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA) Speaker Series. The presentation entitled Flower Power: Pollinator Habitat and Honey was given by Tammy Horn Potter.

Tammy is a State Apiarist for Kentucky and author. She grew up on a farm and decided to help her grandfather with his bees in 1997. She immediately became smitten with them. Balancing her career as an English professor and hobbyist, Potter wrote Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation, Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Can Teach Us about Local Trade and the Global Market, and most recently, Flower Power: Establishing Pollinator Habitat.

Following the presentation, which includes a short Q&A, we will have time for questions from club attendees and general chat.

An invitation will be emailed to RPBBA members following this newsletter. The meeting is on Monday, February 8th at 7pm. We hope for you to bee there. 🐝 (Add to Google calendar)

 

RPBBA Membership Fees

The association has stopped sending out membership renewal invoices starting with the third quarter of 2020. This was done in light of the ongoing uncertainty with Covid-19 pandemic and the inability to regularly meet in person. The Board of Directors has decided to give all members a one-year grace period and make the membership dues voluntary from the third quarter 2020 until the third quarter 2021.

Anyone wishing to make a voluntary dues payment to help offset the association’s running cost, feel free to do so here: https://rockwoodbeekeepers.com/join-or-donate/.

 

🐝 Spring 2021 Beginner Beekeeping Class

The Board of Directors met to discuss the Beginner Beekeeping course which traditionally is held in early Spring; the course normally draws a large group. The course is set up to be very interactive with students in the classroom with hands on time also; it’s not suited for a virtual environment. The Rockwood Park Nature Center is closed to groups of our size due to Covid-19. As a result, the decision has been made that RPBBA will not be hosting the course this Spring. However this does not mean Beginner Beekeeping courses are unavailable. For those interested in taking a Beginner Beekeeping course the below alternate options are available.

  • Dandelion Springs Apiary is offering small, in-person, classes at their space in Chesterfield. They do in-hive sessions also, free of charge, on an appointment basis for those that want to come out and learn. Dandelion Springs Apiary also has beekeeping equipment for those that would like to see the equipment, hands-on, and talk through the pro’s and con’s of all the different pieces.

  • University of Florida is offering virtual Bee College, suited for all skill levels. It’s being held over 4 Saturday mornings in March. Attendee’s can choose to register for 1 class or all 4. The classes are going to be live, held through Zoom.

  • Penn State offers an online Beekeeping 101 course. It’s a self paced course with videos presented by their instructors, interactive questions, and a final quiz to test your knowledge.

  • North Carolina State University offers Beekeeper Education & Engagement System (BEES) which is an online resource for beekeepers at all levels. The system is entirely internet based. Their structure is broken into 3 levels of difficulty (Beginner, Advanced, and Ambassador) and 3 areas of content (honey bee biology, honey bee management, and the honey bee industry).

 

🐝 Apprentice and Journeyman Study Groups

Is anyone out there looking for a study group to prepare for the VSBA exam? RPBBA is looking to gauge interest at this time for a virtual study group while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. Depending on interest, we would begin with a combined session for the Apprentice and Journeyman levels with one meeting per month. If you are interested, please let us know by signing up here. We will use this signup to discuss further with the group of interested individuals. The VSBA meeting is currently scheduled for Oct 22-24th in Smithfield. This is the only time testing will be available for any of the Master Beekeeper exams.

 

4Z3xsHBAM7-GNMptXtb7BQDBGcH1nLcFV4ok8elrK0wfuAQvNZs4fagHM1JhpSG0pFir2uOla_8u56zo0KrX1jvN8FazBaIGR3JPAMpC1TBLRtiUgyYiv45mXzxIsdV4gkX5lCfGCalling All Swarm Chasers

The club has a hotline, 804-404-BEE1(2331), which receives requests to remove a swarm. Sometimes swarms can be easily removed; other times it requires an extensive cut-out. Swarm calls are routed to a group of experienced beekeepers who are active in the club. These are immediate calls and you should have the flexibility to drop everything and help on short notice. If you would like to be on the list to receive swarm calls for 2021, 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.

 

UOZg43BG6MoqZ2WgFxOfg-EmiYUYZX3_92YZXVLbTAin5Bqq0-EuyYI4W_dZJhjLDbrC_TDq9pZt-m3z8mLSYPCTneeTuxXK1y9Ux7uPBJKE43uIn6d13qe-z2McotFYVyzs6bsi Have you reserved your bees for 2021?

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 get live bees locally.

For those looking to purchase Nucs, Packages or Queen’s check out our 2021 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 – “Nuc”

Nucs, or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. Nucs often compose of 5 frames and can be medium’s or deep’s. Nucs are a better way to start new hives than package bees since a nucleus hive is functioning with brood hatching, a laying queen, drawn comb, and honey/pollen stores.

 

Beekeepers in the News

Shedding Light on the Secret Reproductive Lives of Honey Bees

Research at NC State and the University of British Columbia shows that there are trade-offs between sperm viability and the expression of a protein involved in the insect’s immune response.

Checkout the full story here: https://cals.ncsu.edu/news/shedding-light-on-the-secret-reproductive-lives-of-honey-bees/

 

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

The VSBA Speaker Series continues. The month, Toni Burnham will be speaking on the Challenges of Urban Beekeeping. Toni Burnham is an urban beekeeper in Washington, DC. He will be providing tips for keeping bees and developing a responsible beekeeping ordinance in an urban/suburban environment. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, the 17th from 7-8pm over Zoom. Click here to locate the Zoom information.

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

 

This Month in the Hive (February)

The cluster is still tight on most days. The cluster will break and move on those 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. There are still no drones in the hive. Workers will take cleansing flights on mild days. About the 20th of February, maples begin to blossom and to supply nectar and fresh pollen that are extraordinarily valuable to the growth of the hive. The maple blossom continues to mid-March. In areas of higher elevation, the maple blossoms start and end 7-14 days later. Alders may bloom in some locations and provide valuable variety in pollen proteins.

The cluster will remain centered around the small brood nest, which migrates 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.

The bees will consume about 20 pounds of honey stores and nectar from maples.

On a day that exceeds 55 degrees, open the hive and quickly check for sufficient food supplies, for 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.

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

 

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont) – January & February

Wintersweet, Witch Hazel, Conifers, Holly in Fruit

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

 

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation closer to the meeting date. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be 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.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, February 8, 2021 at 7pm.

Michelle Clark

Communications

Like us on Facebook!

Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!

January Newsletter – RPBBA

Hello and Happy New Year fellow beekeepers! It’s time for our 1st Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers update of 2021. We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that your bees are doing well in the hive. Tis the season to cross our fingers and hope our bees are staying warm. It’s a nervous time for all. As a rule of thumb, if it’s not warm enough for the bees to be flying then it’s not warm enough to open the hive.

January’s Meeting

Spring will be here before we know it. For January’s meeting, we will discuss the preparations the bees are making for Spring and what to look for to stay ahead of swarming. Our meeting will be held on Zoom. John Davis has a presentation prepared for us. An invitation will be emailed to RPBBA members closer to the meeting date which is on Monday, January 11th at 7pm. We hope for you to bee there. 🐝 (Add to Google calendar)

Capture

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

Every so often, the question pops up- how do I get started? Where can I get my bees? We’d like to update the 2020 Resources list for sharing with those who inquire.

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

Click here to have your information added to our 2021 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.

Bee Vocabulary – “Thorax”

The thorax composes the midsection of the bee. It is the segment between the head and the abdomen where the two pairs of wings and six legs are anchored. The thorax is primarily focused on locomotion. The muscles in the thorax allow the bee to control the movement of the wings during flight. While in the winter cluster, the bees will flex their wing and thorax muscles to generate heat.

Beekeepers in the News

Honeybee Venom Kills Aggressive Breast Cancer Cells

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/honeybee-venom-kills-aggressive-breast-cancer-cells

Beekeeping: The Fight Against the Mite

https://www.wdbj7.com/2020/10/19/beekeeping-the-fight-against-the-mite/

Virginia State Beekeepers Association (VSBA)

Frank Linton, Ed.D, retired artificial intelligence engineer and Research Associate at Appalachian State U, will be speaking Wednesday, January 6th at 7pm on a virtual webcast about honeybee colony monitoring. Mr. Linton has kept honey bees since 2005. An EAS-Certified Master Beekeeper, one of his main interests is in finding ways to use remote sensing technologies to monitor and improve honey bee colony health and productivity. You can join the Zoom meeting at https://virginiatech.zoom.us/j/98556425722.

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

This Month in the Hive (January)

This month the queen is surrounded by thousands of workers. She is in the midst of the winter cluster, where the temperature at the center is about 88 degrees. At the periphery of the cluster, the temperature will drop to 42 degrees on the coldest nights. The worker bees continuously move in and out of the center of the cluster. The bees in the cluster flex their wing and thorax muscles to generate heat, and they consume honey that was stored in the previous year. The cluster will continuously move upward into new honey if it is available. On a day that reaches 45 degrees or more in the hive, the bees may be able to move the cluster upward or horizontally into new honey, or they may be able to move honey toward the cluster from other parts of the hive. On a warm day (50 degrees or more) the worker bees will leave the hive to take a cleansing flight, during which they defecate away from the hive. The workers will wait weeks for a warm day if necessary before flying. The queen will usually begin laying a small number of worker eggs in the

3rd full week of January (about 28 days after the winter solstice), and some worker rood will begin to appear at the center of the cluster at that time.

A strong hive may consume 15-20 lbs of honey in January if the weather is consistently cold or wet. Stored pollen will be in demand in the hive after brood rearing commences in the third full week. On a warm day, a few bees may fly out and collect small amounts of pollen from witch hazel and winter aconite. Bees may visit a gardenia in bloom in a garden. These pollen sources are miniscule compared to the bounty waiting later in the year.

If there is a heavy snow, make certain the entrance to the hive is cleared to allow for proper ventilation. Check the weight of the hive by placing one hand under the back of the bottom board and lifting it up. If it feels as if most of the honey is gone, you may need to start feeding the hive this month. Once you start feeding, you must continue feeding until the bees are gathering pollen and nectar on their own. Unless you are confident that a hive is starving, do not open a hive at less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (without wind chill.)

This is a great time to catch up on reading those bee books you received as holiday gifts, or that you requested on inter-library loan. Don’t forget to attend your next club meeting and start ordering, assembling, and repairing the equipment you might need for this coming season. If you have not done so, go ahead and order that package of bees or a nucleus hive, if needed, from a reputable supplier.

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

What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont) – January & February

Wintersweet, Witch Hazel, Conifers, Holly in Fruit

https://maymont.org/explore/gardens/whats-in-bloom/

Final Word

If you are a member of RPBBA, you will receive a Zoom invitation closer to the meeting date. Please bee on the lookout for it! If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be 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.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Monday, January 11th at 7pm.

Michelle Clark

Communications

Like us on Facebook!

Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!