Decline of Honey Bees Means Higher Prices at Grocery Stores – Channel 8 Interview June 25, 2014

Click here to see the video

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) –Your favorite produce could get pricier as the number of honeybees declines drastically across the nation. Honey bees are vital insects, and not just for their honey.

“We’ve actually built our agriculture around using the honeybees as pollinators,” said Robert Wokaty, a beekeeper and president of the Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers Association.

One-third of the food on your dinner table depends on them, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture says their hard work pays off.

“The honeybee pollination attributes to about $110 million to the Virginia economy,” said Keith Tignor with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

But honey bees face more and more threats including disease, parasites, pesticides and habitat destruction.

“Our annual loss over the winter is at about 30 percent,” said Tignor.

If the population continues to drop, food sold at groceries stores– like blueberries, avocados, cucumbers and almonds– may become limited or disappear altogether.

“That means we’re going to have lower production, we’re going to have less quality fruit, and so it’s going to affect the nutrition as well as the price at the market is going to be going up because of the lack of availability of food in some cases,” said Tignor.

Local beekeepers like Rob Wokaty are doing their part to make sure that never happens, caring for 10 hives in his backyard.

“We actually try to breed honeybees that are resistant to these environmental factors such as mites and diseases and so we’ll actually collect bees or take them out of houses. And I’ll pull the genetics in and take a look at the bees and make sure they’re healthy, and if they are healthy I’ll breed those and then make them available to members of the club,” said Wokaty.

The Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers Association is hosting its annual Honey Bee Festival on Saturday in Chesterfield.

July 14, 2014 Meeting Agenda & Minutes

RPBBA-logo-jpgThe Rockwood Beekeepers July meeting will be on Monday, July 14, 2014 from 6:30 to 8:30.  We’re looking forward to having several new visitors as a result of this year’s Honeybee Festival.  Fortunately, the nature center just received over 30 brand new, comfortable chairs just in time!  If you’d like to show up a little early to help us unpack these chairs and set them up, it would be greatly appreciated.

Refreshment Request if you can: We should have a lot of new faces Monday as a result of the Honeybee festival and I would like to ask if members could please bring snacks to share.  If you can’t it’s not a problem – we still want you there!

Our agenda for this meeting will include some review of the festival’s highpoints, an educational piece on bee biology, and an in-depth review of Top Bar hives – best practices, demonstrations, benefits and challenges.  We will also show you a “poor man’s” honey extraction if you only have a hive or 2.

We’re looking forward to seeing you Monday night!

Upcoming Calendar Items:

Rockwood’s annual picnic:

This year’s picnic will be Saturday, August 23rd starting at 4:00pm

The club will provide: drinks, hot dogs/ hamburgers, buns, and condiments.

Members are encouraged to bring side dish and/or dessert.

Beekeeping Class this Fall:

Introduction to Beekeeping Saturday-Sunday October 11-12 9 a.m. -4 p.m. course # 28874 Chesterfield

Fall Program guide:  Introduction to Bee Keeping – Join the Rockwood Backyard Bee Keepers Association for a fascinating foray into the world of beekeeping. Beekeeping is an exciting and interesting hobby with delicious results. If you’re thinking about starting a bee hive or are just curious about what’s involved with keeping bees, then this is a great introductory program for you. This workshop is designed for absolute beginners so no prerequisite knowledge is required. The program instructors will teach you how the honey bee lives, discuss different hive designs, seasonal hive management, pests and diseases, and tell you how to get started with your own hive. The class will be held at the Rockwood Nature Center. Class size is limited to 20 people so register early to ensure your spot. The program cost includes all educational materials. The cost for the two days of instruction is $150/person, or $180/per couple (family member, friend, child, etc.).

Annual Membership fee for Rockwood Beekeepers is only $15 per household.

Meeting Minutes:

Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers
Rockwood Park Nature Center, Chesterfield, VA
July 14, 2014
6:30 – 8:30 pm


–Meeting opened by – Rob Wokaty

Meet & Greet-Welcome visitors and new members – Attendance-50+


a. Bee club educational tools/materials is available to all members for use at meetings and festivals, home school, etc. (Chris Buck is keeping until closet is available at the Nature Center call 804 590 9863)

b. Honey bee Festival– headed up by Gene Disalvo and Kristy Orcuit- June 28th @Rockwood Nature Center-was a success this year.  Rob W. read some of the lessons learned to group.  Stressed the need for more volunteers and need to start planning for the event in the fall/winter.

Copy of lessons learned will be posted on web site for access by planning team next year.

Rob expressed a heartfelt thank you to all the volunteers who stayed at their post during the entire event and did so with enthusiasm.  It was professional well organized.

Next year would like to have a key/map that shows the different sources of honey where they come from and color.  (ex. Buckwheat, thistle, blackberry, etc.)

Book signer next year, more flyers, kids dress up:  give honey sticks to all children who come dressed up.  Stressed need for more volunteers. .

Profits from the event was $1,155.80 .  Visitor attendance grew to 788 by 5 p.m.

C.  Cedar Hive:  Karen Abel will sell raffle tickets during meeting for the cedar Langstroth hive ($5/ticket).  Karen will hold raffle tickets.  (they were in closet at Nature Center, first closet on right as you enter door to classroom)

d. Bumblebee Jamboree- June 14th Maymont Children’s Farm thank you note from Virginia Cooperative Extension was passed around.  Rick McCormick sent to Rockwood Park via email.  Will keep on file for future reference.

E.  New Website for RPBBA created by Jill Reid- more interaction.please visit:

F.  Library is in the closet:  some magazines and one book on plants in there.  Where are all the books?

G.  Closet:  Rockwood Park Nature Center plans on moving archery equipment out of closet soon so RPBBA can have the whole closet.

H.  August meeting:  Having a picnic instead of meeting.  August 23rd.  @ 4 p.m.  Club providing drinks, meat, buns, condiments, etc.  Club members asked to bring side dish.  In event of rain picnic will be held in nature center.  Was suggested if you have anything to sell/trade bring it to picnic.

I.  Request to have hives put on property or places to put your hives discussed.  Put on the web. .request are sent to members via Rockwood email. . .

Education:  no education portion

Speaker: Rob Wokaty on Tanzania and Kenya top bar hives

(could not find projector:  found in closet-Rob had a great PP Presentation with videos)

Top bar hives started as fallen logs then to baskets with removable bars.

Tanzanian – long box –hung from trees to keep animals out-28 combs-split lids

Kenyan- can be made out of scrap wood  frames 12” high 30 degree angle.

Best if make as long as langstroth

Top bar problems:  cross comb (can use follow board), slumping, double comb, nucs, feeding, supplements

TB observation hive:  showed picture can see sides of comb in hive –

Honey extraction:  showed how to videos- crush and strain method-  5 gallon paint strainer from Lowes can be used.  Use honey gauge on buckets best gates prevents leaking.

Showed video using heat gun to melt cappings on honey frames before extracting. .

Showed slideshow of honeybee festival. .

Q & A on top bar hives

–          Social- lots of items brought in . .watermelon bowl, big glass skep of lemon aid, cookies, hummus etc.  . .thanks to all who brought goodies.



June 9, 2014 Meeting Agenda & Minutes

RPBBA-logo-jpgGood Evening Folks,

Our next meeting will be Monday, June 9th from 6:30pm-8:30pm


6:30-7:00 Meet and Greet and announcements, Rockwood calendar for upcoming training and activities

7:00-7:45 Education topic to assist with training for qualified beekeeper testing – Dale Buck

7:45-8:15 Additional Education on pollinators and beekeeping plants – Chris Buck

8:15-8:30 Open mic for questions/comments.

Additionally, we will be discussing the development of a nuc program and what to expect when buying nucs.

Upcoming Events:

5th Annual Honeybee Festival

Saturday, June 28, noon-4 p.m., Rockwood Park Nature Center, 3401 Courthouse Road, Richmond. Enjoy music, face-painting, arts and crafts, honey and other bee items for sale, refreshments, games, nature activities and more. Learn about backyard beekeeping, gardening for beesand more. Sponsored by RockwoodPark Backyard Beekeepers.    This year we will be having Joey’s hot dogs, Gelati Celesti Ice Cream truck with a featured honey ice-cream, and Adbibo coffee serving drinks.  Please invite your friends!

Meeting Minutes

Rockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers

Rockwood Park Nature Center, Chesterfield, VA
June 9, 2014
6:30 – 8:30 pm


–Meeting opened by – Rob Wokaty

Meet & Greet-Welcome visitors and new members – Attendance-36+



Honey bee Festival– headed up by Gene Disalvo and Kristy Orcuit- June 28th @Rockwood Nature Center-12-5 p.m.  Promoting sustainable, chemical-free beekeeping practices; cultivating community awareness of bees and their important role in our well-being.  Buzz Talks with Keith Tignor, Mark Kraemer (VA State) & Cath Cowan Culinary & Medicinal purposes, demonstrations, vendors: coffee, Galati Celesti, Jadean’s smoking six 0 BQ, Rae Pottery, RPBBA soda/water

Hurray for honeybees—Hurray for Honeybees, July 19-10:30-11:30 a.m., Midlothian Library, 521 Coalfield Road, Midlothian. Learn how to take care of bees, taste honey made from three types of flowers, try on a beekeeper’s suit and see products from the hive including wax, pollen and honey. Registration required. 751-CCPL.-Chesterfield Library. Several Saturday morning during summer headed up by Kristy Orcuit.   Volunteers’ names were emailed to Kristy. .

Reyah Carlson “ An Evening of Apitherapy”  hosted by Richmond Beekeepers @ science museum Friday night July 27 from 7-9 p.m.  Workshop Saturday June 28th 10-12 a.m. at RBA meeting house

Items for Sale:

Ten Frame deeps for sale, hive tools, smoker fuel by Rob  (brought to club meeting)

Nuc program:

Rob Wokaty would like to start Nuc program with club (club would be producing):  need to look at logistics, standardizing nucs. A. insecticide free nucs b. deep vs med etc.  also who would sell.  Plans for nucs can be found on bee . .Rob said he made 40 nucs. .

August meeting:  Having a picnic instead of meeting.  August 23rd.  @ 4 p.m.  Club providing drinks, meat, buns, condiments, etc.  Club members asked to bring side dish.  In event of rain picnic will be held in nature center.  Was suggested if you have anything to sell/trade bring it to picnic.

Current cost for queens $25-$30 each . .good time to set up nucs. .price $150/nuc 5 full frames

Education:  taking measures to prevent swarming:   growing bees

Q & A



May 12, 2014 Meeting Minutes

RPBBA-logo-jpgRockwood Park Backyard Beekeepers
Rockwood Park Nature Center, Chesterfield, VA
May 12, 2014
6:30 – 8:30 pm


–Meeting opened by – Sara Buckley

Meet & Greet-Welcome visitors and new members – Attendance-35+


a. Bee club purchase of educational tools/materials for use at meetings and festivals.

Purchase the following materials. Teaching hive “live demonstration hive with the bees frozen in place by the camera.  Each side of the eight frames have a photograph of real  bees in actual size.  Photographs include pictures of brood-honey-pollen, etc.  In 8 frame hive body.  Comes with CD for pp presentation.

Teaching hive                                                 $90.00

Lifecycle poster                                              $15.00

Beekeeper’s year chart                                  $35.00

Bees facts bookmark  (Qty 500)                    $60.00

Stickers                                                           $10.00

b. Motion was made to purchase educational tools and seconded.   Club voted yes to purchase educational tools.  Chris Buck will purchase and club will reimburse for cost.  Plan to have available by June meeting.

c. Honey bee Festival- Gene Disalvo- June 28th noon-5 p.m.  @Rockwood Nature Center-Admission free.  Karen Abel will raffle off cedar Langstroth hive ($5/ticket).  Learn how to create a bee-friendly yard, choose bee-friendly plants, and how to get started as a backyard beekeeper.  Music, face-painting, arts, and crafts.  Club has flyers to pass out.

d. Bumblebee Jamboree- June 14th Maymont Children’s Farm 11 a.m. -3 p.m. Rick McCormick heading up for club

e. Hives from Wilhelm will not be available so people who purchased them will be given refund.  Email him @

f. nucs @ $125 are available from Kenny Roberts

g. Valerie West from Richmond Beekeepers Association  greeted people and sold tickets for

“ A Evening of Apitherapy” with Reyah Carlson at the Science Museum of Virginia Friday June 27th 7-9 p.m.  Also, an intensive hands-on workshop is being offered for $20 Saturday June 28th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (limit 20 people)  In addition, they are looking for volunteers to pull 2 hour shifts at the Science Museum to cover their new observation hive.  The RBA club hopes to hive installed by May 18th.  If interested in helping go to

Education:  What to expect in May. .by Dale Buck-

Check hives make sure have solid brood pattern and hive is queen right

Swarming season- take steps to prevent swarming – choose what works for you

Supply crowded colonies with additional hive bodies

Cross level

Get honey supers on for nectar flow

Speaker: Jones Tyler- Special l talk about what he’s doing now in the bee yard and general methodology.  He has 70 hives.

Every beekeeper should have nucs-best to buy local bees that are untreated-

Have a goal before you inspect your hives. Ex. Count frames of brood

Make notes-what’s blooming etc

Best to have two hives

Water: cools hive off- good to have a source. . bees like mud or wet soil

Feeding- do not feed established hive –feed packages


–          Social