Designing a Pollinator-Friendly Garden – POSTPONED

This event has been postponed until Fall. An updated date will be posted when available.
-Jamie 4/18/2018

A short course about designing pollinator-friendly gardens will be offered by Person County Beekeepers Association on Saturday, April 21, from 10 AM-12:30 PM. “One of the best ways to help our honey bees and other pollinators is to plant and maintain a pollinator friendly garden. I encourage everyone interested in helping our critical pollinators to attend this class and learn about the best varieties to plant, and how to arrange and maintain them,” said Bob Brauer, President of the Person County Beekeepers Association.

The class will be led by Susan Hodges, designer of the Person County Veterans Memorial landscape. “I would like to include material about basic design elements that apply to all gardens. Then we’ll focus on the pollinator aspect of plant selection and layout,” said Hodges.

The Veterans Memorial garden is registered on NC’s Butterfly Highway. “Since pollinators need ribbons of connected forage, I hope that lots of pollinator patches are planted in Person County,” said PCBA member Lynn Wilson.

The class will meet at the Westwood Baptist Church, 970 Leasburg Road, and conclude with a tour of the Veterans Memorial garden at 304 South Morgan Street. Then participants can head to the Plant Swap at the Person County Library at 1 PM to get started gathering plants.

The class is free and all are welcome, but pre-registration is required. E-mail Lynn Wilson at if you plan to attend.

Person County Beekeepers Association is open to all advocates for honeybees. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month in the County Office auditorium at 7 PM.

Posted in Club News, Events

April Meeting (4/19/2018)

Our speaker for April’s meeting will be David Fruchtenicht a very experienced beekeeper from Durham. He is a member of the DCBA and a great source of knowledge.

He will be discussing swarms and the use of swarm traps. I first heard him speak the summer before I started beekeeping. He did an explanation of beekeeping using a topbar hive; very inspiring and encouraging.
Jamie Latimer

Posted in Club News, Events

2018 Bee School registration Open

Have you ever thought about keeping bees, but never knew where to begin? Are you a current beekeeper who wants to build general beekeeping skills? Do you have an interest in learning about this ancient and environmentally beneficial craft? If so, do we have an opportunity for you!

  • 10-week beekeeping course beginning Thursdays January 18th
  • See Course Outline above for lecture details
  • Knowledgeable instructors will cover the A BEE C’s of beekeeping
  • Hands-on demonstration field day upon conclusion of the course

 Learn More Here

Posted in Bee School, Club News

Bee School Equipment Building Demo

We had a great turn out for the equipment demo. We were able to hold the event again this year at the Hurdle Mills Volunteer Fire Department. Many thanks for their hospitality!

The class built a ten-frame hive from scratch. Building frames, wiring frames for wax, and putting together the brood box. This now assembled hive will be raffled off as a fund raiser for the club at the end of the course.

After spending the morning together and building up an appetite, we headed out across the street for lunch at the Flat River Cafe. Thanks to everyone who came.

Here are a few photos from the day.

Great turn out

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Posted in Bee School

4H Fun Day

4H students look at an observation hive.

4H students search for the queen in the PCBA observation hive.

PCBA teamed with the Person County 4H to host a fun day to teach kids about bees and beekeeping. Eight students attended and participated in presentations on everything from equipment to communication to honey extraction.

Posted in Events

Honey Bee Health Coalition

Caydee Savinelli of Syngenta spoke at PCBA

Caydee Savinelli of SyngentaI like bugs and want to keep most of them. We (she and husband) are the kind of people that move turtles out of roads. Syngenta’s business is agriculture. We need to find better ways to feed the world and we need pollinators.

Agriculture is America’s top export and we lead the world. 97 percent of 2 million farms in America are owned by families or family businesses. US farmers provide 18 percent of the world’s food supply on 10 percent of the world’s farmland. US consumers spend about 10 percent of their income on food while consumers in other countries spend 13-35 percent. The global value of pollinators is estimated to be between 120 and 220 billion dollars while in the US, the value of honey bee pollination alone is estimated to be $15 billion dollars. Native bees and other pollinators provide $3 billion dollars of pollinator services. Of more than 200,000 US beekeepers, 5 percent are commercial and manage 70 percent of US hives. Another 15 percent are sideliners (attempting to make a profit with fewer than 300 colonies) and 80 percent are hobbyists. Most Person County beekeepers are hobbyists.

Are bees going extinct? Most present agreed with speaker that honey bees are not going extinct though lots of others are worried about it. It’s much harder to study the native bees. Keeping bees healthy IS getting harder pushing up beekeeper costs. Many interacting factors affect bee health: Parasites, diseases, poor bee nutrition (lack of variety in diet and lack of suitable habitat), changing weather patterns, pesticides (both those used in the hive and those used in agriculture), beekeeper management, lack of genetic diversity (weakening resistance to pest and disease), and queen failure. Crop protection products are produced in response to Americans’ need for perfect (not bug-eaten, not even bug-touched) food. Product development, including synthesis and biological screening, field screening and toxicology studies, government and scientific review, launch, marketing and continuing stewardship, takes 9 to 14 years and may cost 250 to 300 million dollars for ONE product.

Neonicotinoids are safer for the people who apply them than the alternatives and they are a good IPM tool, but they are highly toxic to bees so label directions … which are the LAW … prohibit their use during bloom periods when bees might be in the area. And soil-applied neonicotinoids are safer for bees than aerial sprays, for instance. Honey bee venom itself is pretty toxic … at high doses. Too much of anything, from nicotine to caffeine, aspirin, table salt and sugar, can kill you.

The dose makes the poison. Neonicotinoids are helping the Florida citrus growers who are battling the citrus greening diseases carried by introduced Asian Citrus Psyllid. The disease can kill a tree in 7 years that otherwise might be productive for 15 or more years. Canola is the most important crop in western Canada and there is no evidence that neonicotinoid treatments are putting bees at risk. Syngenta considers continuing education about their product an important part of their mission, encouraging users to follow label instructions (which must be approved by EPA) and to consider pollinator health … for instance by spraying late in the day after pollinators quit flying. Their Operation Pollinator tries to create habitat and forage for honeybees and other pollinators. As a result of this project to encourage people to plant more bee forage they have helped create pollinator gardens at AT&T, UNC-G, NC State, the Glencoe Mill Village near Burlington and on more than 100 golf courses in 26 states.

Syngenta is one of the founding members of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, with work groups on nutrition and forage, hive management, crop pest management and cross-industry collaboration. Syngenta is also helping to support the Bee Informed Partnership, working directly with beekeepers to identify best management practices.

Posted in Club News

Dr. Mike Simone-Finstrom of NCSU Addresses Club

Dr. Mike Simone-Finstrom met with Person County Beekeepers to share his latest research.Dr. Mike Simone-FinstromThe beekeeping industry has reported that winter colony losses of about 15 percent annually are sustainable, though beekeepers expect that percentage to rise slightly if the winter is particularly harsh. However, since 2006 annual colony losses have been around 30 percent due to parasites, viruses, poor nutrition, agrochemicals, management, and queen health/genetics. He encouraged us to keep our focus on the bee and promoting bee health. His efforts focus on understanding how bees defend themselves and using that understanding as part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy.

He is especially interested in the interplay between individual immunity and the immunity of the colony, the superorganism. He is curious about how changes in the defense strategies of a dense population of close relatives might impact the genes devoted to individual immune defense strategies. Individual strategies include physical characteristics …like the “skin” and physiological … like the production of antimicrobial peptides that attack bacteria (like our white blood cells). Social strategies include traits like grooming behavior and the use of propolis. In one test, he found that a propolis-enriched environment reduced hive bacteria which in turn reduced the immune function in individual bees.

His continuing research explores ways that colonies invest in multiple defenses ….both social and individual immunity. He built on prior research in which four characteristics were shown to be effective against some maladies: Multiple mating of queens…queens may mate with 4 to 40 drones, but the average is 12. Grooming both alo-grooming (nest-mates) and self-grooming which knocks down Varroa. Hygienic behavior in which workers sense sick larva and remove them from the hive before their contagious Use of resin/propolis.

His goal for PCBA members? Be awed by the strength and resilience of the bees. To help beekeepers who breed queens for these characteristics, Michael wanted to show whether there were positive or negative associations among these defense strategies. A prior study showed that multiple matings of queen, resulting in higher genetic diversity in the colony, both (a) reduced the prevalence and intensity of infections AND (b) increased the overwintering survival rate. In his test, he weighted queens with a “top hat” amounting to about 15 percent of their body weight to increase the effort required on the mating flight and therefore (hopefully) reducing the number of matings. This resulted in two groups of hives: one with low genetic diversity (queen mated with 4-7 males) and one group with high genetic diversity (queens mated with 14-30 males). Queens were only permitted ONE mating flight.

The result? A significantly higher level of chalkbrood infection in the hives with LOW diversity. To test the impact on resin foraging (the number of bees returning to the hive with resin on hind legs), he counted resin-foragers before and after “the challenge”-infection with chalkbrood. To test the impact on hygienic behavior, a heritable trait, he freeze-killed brood, then checked in 24 hours to see how many larvae had been removed. In his colonies, the range was from 100 percent to 0 percent removal. (A beekeeper could cut out a section of comb, freeze it, and re-insert it in the “hole” to determine whether his queen carried the trait for significant hygienic behavior.) To test the impact on grooming behavior, instead of tediously collecting mites on sticky board and counting how many had been bee-bitten, he coated bees with flour and measured flour-removal in pixils as the bee bodies were digitally-scanned.

The result? He found that the colonies with higher genetic diversity did do more grooming, but he found no relationship with the other defense strategies. To measure individual immunity, he grafted 1st instar larvae, put them on an artificial diet and gave AFB to half of the test group, then analyzed immune response. He found no relationship between the individual response and social resin-gathering or grooming behaviors. In the colonies with higher genetic diversity, he found decreased variance in the individual immune response. He was intrigued that the colony response was driven by larval response because the olfactory function is the basis for hygienic behavior so… how did the larvae sense the maladies?

What’s a beekeeper to do? Use resistant, local stocks. Select for hygienic behavior in your own bees, encourage bees to enrich the hive with propolis by roughing up the interior walls, and continuously monitor colony health.

Posted in Uncategorized

Annual Club Honey Extraction

We had two club members extract honey from their own bees for the first time! Congrats to Tom Savage and Janet Marron.

Our honey extraction workshop started out with a great pot luck. We had between 80 to 90 frames of honey to uncap and we needed to fuel up. With seven uncapping stations and three 9-frame extractors going we made short work of those honey frames. Here are some photos from the day.

Honey extractions always start with good food

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Thanks again to Tom and Linda Savage for hosting the workshop. And a special thanks to President Mary Deitz and club member Lewis Cauble for letting us borrow their extractors.

Some Lessons Learned:

  • The fancy uncapping knives don’t always do the best job. A long serrated knife works just as well if not better.
  • Using a capping scratcher can be faster than a knife. You don’t have to be gentle with it but you have to make sure you get the cappings off.
  • Extracting honey from deep frames is much harder than extracting from super frames or shallows.
  • If pulling a frame in the honey super (ie going from 10 frames to 9) be sure to wait until all the comb is drawn out and that you space them evenly. Otherwise you will have a mess on your hands.
  • Extracting honey is sticky business a bucket of water with a dish towel makes intermittent clean ups easy. For example when going from uncapping to spinning the extractor.
  • A paint strainer that you can buy from the hardware store works great for filtering honey. When you are done you can string it up to allow the remaining honey to filter through the unavoidable wax and bee bits.
Posted in Events

Equipment Building Demo

We had a great turn out at the bee school equipment building demo. We held the event this year at the Hurdle Mills Volunteer Fire Department. What a great venue and many thanks for your hospitality!

We spent the morning together and demonstrated a 9 frame honey extractor, showed how a solar wax melter works and got down to business building frames, brood boxes and supers. Then we headed out across the street for lunch at the Flat River Cafe. Thanks to everyone who came.

Here are a few photos from the day.

Great Turn Out!

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Posted in Club News

2014 Bee School in Full Swing

We’ve had another great start to our bee school. This year we welcomed 43 students!

Amanda at Registration

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Posted in Club News