Wintering Bees in Cold Climates
This article is not Virginia specific, but contains a lot of good information. Supplied to us by John Davis:
Beginner Beekeeping Class
January around RPBBA….
Happy New Year Beekeepers! We hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and that your bees are doing well through this off and on warm weather.
Have you ever wondered why we are required by state law to have a warning label on raw honey that we sell? Please mark your calendar for Monday, January 13, 2020 for our first meeting of the New Year. Our speaker will be Joshua Jakum and he will be speaking on Botulism and Honey. Even if you do not plan on selling honey, this will be an informative program. I hope to see you there.
Meetings start at 7:00 PM, with doors opening at 6:30 PM.
In February, the Virginia State Apiarist, Keith Tignor will be talking to us about the Spring nectar flow. Our bees may be dealing with the cold Winter temperatures, but as beekeepers we need to be prepared for when things warm up.
Welcome Newly Elected Board of Directors
The election has ended, and the votes have all been counted. The following are your new Board of Directors in alphabetical order: Jody Conway, John Davis, Bruce Hammond, Stan Hauk, Adam Holland, Rick McCormick, Carla Park, Sam Rorabaugh and Steve Syrett.
Thank you for voting and a big thank you to the new Board for volunteering to serve. During their first meeting, our new Board of Directors will be electing officers. Remember, we are under new bylaws which can be found on the RPBBA website. We will make an announcement once the new Board has selected officers with the February communications.
Master Beekeeper Study Groups
Becoming a Master Beekeeper is a worthy and challenging goal for some members in our club. For others, we just want to continue to learn and progress in this fascinating endeavor. Regardless of why you want to learn, one of the best places to continue your education is by attending the RPBBA Master Beekeeper Study Groups. There are two levels, the Apprentice and Journeyman. The study groups meet on the first (Apprentice) and third (Journeyman) Mondays of the month. All members are welcome and there is no cost for attendance. Please be sure to print off a copy of the study guides at https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/Master-Beekeeper-Program and come with all of your questions. Who knows, you might want to become a Master Beekeeper after taking a deeper study into beekeeping. These study groups are designed to help you study for the exams on the way to becoming a Master Beekeeper.
Beginners Beekeepers Classes
Are you a beginner beekeeper? Don’t yet have bees? Tried in the past but just couldn’t get your colonies to survive? We are here to help. There are still a few spots available in the RPBBA Beginner Beekeepers Class. The classes are held beginning February 22, 2020 and continue through April 4, 2020. The course is a tremendous value at $100 (price increases to $115 after February 1st). Details can be found on the club’s website. Or, you can register using this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1tC0LKFAj9P7L-zSBvi8-ezmEJIjZDP1E-vU83I3ohBU/edit
This Month (January):
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 brood will begin to appear at the center of the cluster at that time.
Food Consumption & Storage
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.
Events to Watch For in the Hive
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.)
Tasks to Be Performed
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.
What’s in Bloom?
According to Maymont, in January and February Wintersweet, Witch Hazel and Holly is in fruit.
Happy New Year! Also, be on the lookout for volunteer opportunities. The Honey Bee Festival committee will be gearing up and we need lots of help to make this event a success. In addition, the Education Committee will be looking for new volunteers. Please consider giving back to the community with your skills and enthusiasm.
That is it for January! I hope to see you at the meetings, study groups or beginner classes.