Hello beekeepers and honey bee enthusiasts!
June is going to be very busy for us. Our apiaries are keeping us busy AND it’s crunch time for the Honey Bee Festival and other bee-related events.
Honey Bee Festival – Saturday, June 24th from 10am-2pm at Rockwood Park
and Nature Center Add to Google Calendar
Here are a few things you can do to get involved:
Sign up to volunteer and receive a free shirt rockwoodbeekeepers.com/volunteer-sign-up
Choose something to bake for the Bake Sale
Loan the club canopy or table
Sign up to have some of your honey supers extracted extract your honey supers
Supply drones for the Drone Petting Zoo.Sign up here Drone Petting Zoo
Invite friends on social media
Bumblebee Jamboree will kick off National Pollinator Week on June 17th at Maymont Children’s Farm from 10:30am – 2:30pm. This is a free event hosted by Chesterfield County Master Gardeners of the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Follow the Pollinator Path at Maymont by taking a self-guided stroll through the Children’s Farm. Mark your calendar now and bring the kids out! Click here for more information.
The Virginia State Beekeepers Association Spring Meeting will be held on June 10th & 11th @ Sweet Briar College. Speakers include Brooke Savage, Dr. James Wilson, Bob Wellemyer and more. VSBA will have lots of workshops including a Greenhouse tour, honey show preparation, pollinators tour & discussion, Honey Bee Microscopy, updates from our State Apiarist, testing of the Va State Master Beekeeper Program and much more.
More information about the VSBA programs can be found on their website: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/
Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Beekeeper:
Q: How long have you been a beekeeper and how many hives do you manage?
I started with 2 hives in 2020 and I do my best to keep it at that number. Each year I set out a swarm trap in hopes of catching my own bees should they swarm. I catch one from time to time. I usually give them away. Two hives is perfect for me.
Q: What inspired you to become a beekeeper?
I strive to live more naturally. If I can grow or make something on my own, I will. My interest in beekeeping started as an interest in honey somewhere in the 2015/2016 timeframe. At the time though I lived in a strict HOA, had a 1yr old, and another on the way. It was a few years before we moved, my kids were a little bit older, and I had the time. In January of 2020 I attended a workshop Honey & the Hive hosted at Southern States. During those few hours of learning, I decided beekeeping seemed doable. Soon after that, I signed up for the RPBBA beginner beekeeping class.
Q: What is the best thing about beekeeping for you?
I enjoy watching my hives. I keep them in our backyard close to the house. I watch them from the window above my kitchen sink. Sometimes I’m brave enough to get an up close look without my veil. Is the entrance crowded? Are they bringing home a lot of pollen? What color is the pollen?
Q: What’s challenging about beekeeping for you?
Mistakes are made. It’s a learning curve. When I started, for a while I didn’t realize I needed to push the frames together. That made for a mess. Another time I got bees inside my vail and ended up with 2 stingers hiding among my hair. Last Fall I put 3x the recommended amount of Apiguard in my hives because I thought I remembered the instructions from using it previously. My mind mixed up Apiguard with Apivar. Whoops. My bees hit the trees, quick.
Q: What fun, surprising story would you like to share?
I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. I’ll share two stories.
(1) As some of you already know, and probably many do not, the military brought our family to El Paso over winter. [Yes, I’ll be back for the HBF]. I successfully moved both my hives cross country with tips from John Davis. Thanks John; you’re the best!
(2) I have heard several RPBBA presentations on how to split your hives. This year, I finally did it! For fear of my hives swarming, raising then open mating new queens, and ending up with mixed “Africanized” genetics, I gave splits a go. I made two 5-frame nucs. I sold one; the other I still have. It did so well, so quickly, they swarmed before I realized they’d successfully mated a new queen. I’ve been giving them eggs & larva from my original hive to give them another go at raising a new queen.
Q: In what ways do you feel like you are making an impact on the environment and/or the community?
There’s no denying the reward of pollination our honey bees provide. In our communities though, beekeeping isn’t a common hobby. In El Paso, bees are seen as more of a pest than community helpers. I’m always willing to share the knowledge I have, and a little bit of honey.
Beekeepers Out and About & in the News
There is one more pollinator garden in Richmond thanks to Rick McCormick and RPBBA. Rick designed and installed the garden at the Anna Julia Cooper school in Churchill. RPBBA provided the funds necessary for this task.
The pollinator garden has marigolds and cherry tomato starts, as well as other flowers. The kindergarteners, along with some helpers from 2nd and 3rd grades, did a lot of the planting along with Master Gardeners, Dennis and Mary Lloyd. The installation took over 3 hours and it’s DONE. Great job Rick.
Bee Vocabulary – “Bee Space”
Ever wonder why beekeepers push their frames tightly together in their hives? Our old friend, Lorenzo Langstroth, discovered that bees will build excess comb in any space larger than ⅜ inch. Any space less than ⅜ inch, bees will fill with propolis and/or wax. Proper bee space allows bees to move around in the colony (back to back) and allows you, as the beekeeper, to inspect the hive without destroying carefully built comb.
This Month in the Hive (June)
Hives that haven’t swarmed will be running over with bees and the brood nest may very well extend across two supers. The population of youE strongest hives may exceed 50,000 workers. The queen’s rate of egg laying may drop a little this month. However, she should be moving around the brood nest, laying eggs in cells that have been cleaned from prior use.
Sumac, clovers, strawberries, wild blackberries, speedwell, linden trees, chestnut, chokeberry, huckleberry, grape, holly, blackhaw, honeysuckle,and many ornamentals will provide nectar flows. June is generally a good month for honey production in Northern Virginia, but most of the nectar flows are over by the end of the month. A strong hive may cap as much as 30-40 pounds of honey in June, if good nectar flows are nearby and moisture is sustained in the soil. If soil moisture persists into July, you may want to plan on a small second harvest later in the summer.
Heat can be a serious challenge for the hive at this time. Look for bees bringing in water and placing it around the hive to evaporate for the cooling effect. Watch for swarm cells, wax moths, ants, mice and small hive beetles attacking the combs. If a hive is so weak in June that it can not defend itself against beetles, ants or moths, then you should consider combining it with a much stronger hive.
Watch for supers above the queen excluder where all the center frames in the super are full of capped honey. Move the full center frames to the outside edges of the super, and move less full frames to the center. This will assist the bees to fill and cap all the frames completely.
Inspect the hives weekly to make certain your hives are healthy and the queen is doing her job. You do not need to see a queen if you see a good pattern of eggs, wet larvae (or “worms”) and capped brood. Supers full of honey may be removed at any time you are prepared to begin extraction or keep them in the freezer. (You do not want to store supers of honey for more than a day or two at room temperature, due to ants, spiders, wax moths, and dust.)
Make sure your bees have a source of water within 200 feet of the hive. You may increase your hives by splitting strong colonies after the harvest. There is a slight chance of a need to add more honey supers this month. Keep watching for swarming which may still occur.
Decide if your hives are going to have an upper entrance. If so, you may want to drill a 1 inch circular hole in a super (not close to a handle), which hole can be guarded by the bees in summer and plugged with a cork during the winter. Some beekeepers screen over the hand hole in the inner cover, and then prop up the hive cover slightly to provide ventilation, but not enough to permit access to rodents and large insects.
Confirm queen orders for July hive splits.
What’s in Bloom (according to Maymont)
1st Week: Magnolia, Tree Lilac, Rhododendron, Azalea, Nandina, Smoke Tree, Rose, Waterlily, Daylily, Yucca, Annuals, Perennials, European Linden, Mock Orange, Weigelia, Laburnum, Calycanthus, Abelia
2nd Week: Magnolia, Golden Raintree, Mimose, Rose, Azalea, Nandina, Hydrangea, Sourwood, Waerlily, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Catalpa, Tree Lilac, Abelia, Calycanthus
3rd Week: Magnolia, Golden Raintree, Mimosa, Sourwood, Rose, Azalea, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Catalpa
4th Week: Magnolia, Golden Raintree, Mimosa, Sourwood, Rose, Azalea, Daylily, Annuals, Perennials, Catalpa
If you are not a member of RPBBA, we encourage you to join and be active. You can join on our website. Meetings are open to non-members also. Come meet some other beekeepers and find out what RPBBA is all about.
If you have not volunteered for the Honey Bee Festival, please do so. This is a major (and fun) even for our bee club.
We are always looking for ways to improve communications in the club. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.
Check us out at rockwoodbeekeepers.com!
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Join our Facebook RPBBA Practical Beekeeping Group!
Keep up with what RPBBA is doing, see Calendar of Events!
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