Beekeeping Class Begins January 22nd

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!

  • 9-week beekeeping course beginning Thursdays January 22nd
  • 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
  • Registration fee for entire course is just $45 ($60 for couples)

Pre-registration is not required but is recommended, as space is limited. To reserve a spot in class, complete the online pre-registration form.

Where: Person County Office Building, Room 165, 304 S. Morgan St, Roxboro NC 27573

Times: Thursday for 9 weeks beginning January 22, 2015, 7-9pm

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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.
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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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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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Honey Fundraiser Success

Person County Beekeepers sure do make pretty honey!

For three months club members have been selling raffle tickets for one lucky winner to receive 12 jars of honey from 6 different beekeepers in Person County. This is the first time the club has done a fundraiser like this and it was a huge success. The tickets were just a dollar and considered a great deal when most single one pound jars of local honey sell for $8 to $10.

The color and taste of honey is greatly influenced by the type of nectar the bees are able to forage from. This year the color range and taste varied widely even though all the honey was harvested in Person County. While most honey in our area is considered wildflower, one of the beekeepers harvested his honey from hives that were located on a blueberry farm. This honey as a result may have some blueberry influence in how it tastes. It is also a blue ribbon winner from the 2013 NC State Fair! Another club member harvested his honey from hives on a certified organic farm and the darkest honey comes from a beekeeper near the Virginia border where the honey was greatly influenced by tulip poplar trees. This honey will have a rich taste that some compare to molasses.

At the club’s November meeting the winning ticket was drawn from more than 800 entries. The winner (shown below) quickly came to pick up his honey. Looks like someone’s holiday shopping is already done!

The club will use the money raised from this effort to continue to enrich the beekeeping experience for its members. Thank you to everyone who sold and bought tickets, and a special thanks to those beekeepers who donated their honey for the cause.

Posted in Club News

Honey Bee Nutrition

State Apiary Inspector, Nancy Ruppert spoke at our monthly meeting about bee nutrition. The following details from her talk were submitted by Secretary Lynn Wilson.

For kids and bees, nutrition is critical. Beekeeping is more challenging than ever. Why settle for survival when you could strive for a thriving hive? If you haven’t neglected other good bee management practices, investment in nutrition will more than pay for itself. Some things to keep in mind are that timing is essential, delay costly, and recovery slow  (if at all).

NUTRITION MATTERS
While hungry bees are usually a winter problem, this summer’s rain kept bees in hives too long and some colonies starved. Good nutrition lengthens lifespan, improves queen’s performance, builds a healthier immune system, and makes beekeeping economically sustainable.

WHAT DO BEES NEED
Both quality and quantity of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and water. The best sources of carbs are nectar and honey, though cane sugar syrup is acceptable. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is better than starvation, but varies in digestibility and may build up toxic Hydroxymethylfurfural if it gets too hot. Healthy colonies need about 700 pounds of nectar per year and at least 40-60 pounds of honey to get through winter. Italian bees are less conservative than other races and bees in warmer climates need more carbs because they fly more. First nectar flow in our calendar year is red maple, but it’s thin and bees use it quickly.

WHEN TO CARB UP

  • Feed carbs during nectar shortages
  • To help build winter stores (Sept-Oct also helps insulate hive)
  • When wax foundation needs to be drawn out
  • To stimulate egg-laying and support brood-rearing

HOW TO FEED
Boardman entrance feeders are easy for beekeeper to see and access, but may be hard for bees to get to if it’s cold and promote robbing if it’s hot. Division board and top hive feeders are in the hive, but you may need to find a way to keep bees from drowning. Fondant or candy board is good in the winter. If fondant is too hard bees can’t take it up. Sprinkles of moistened sugar may help if nothing else can be done. Community feeders can create mob scenes where the stronger colonies get stronger and weaker colonies get left out. Pollen should be available if you’re feeding carbs because bees need it to digest the carbs.

IMPORTANCE OF POLLEN
Pollen helps bees fly farther, faster, produce healthier queens and workers, especially nurse bees who are the primary direct consumers of pollen. Adequate pollen stimulates healthy brood-rearing, stronger immune systems and better winter survival due to fat storage and vitellogenin.

Best pollens (like dandelion, canola, and apple) contain about 25% protein; the best substitutes are 15% (or more) protein.  Pine, sunflower and ragweed aren’t very good protein sources. The average colony collects 50-120 pounds of pollen per year and uses 40-110 pounds annually. In NC, pollen is available naturally from 9-12 months out of the year. In March and April you hope to see a rainbow of pollen in the hive reflecting a diversity of floral sources.

WHEN TO FEED POLLEN

  • During shortages, especially late winter or when too much rain keeps bees in the hive
  • Prior to likely stressors such as brood-rearing, pollination, hive splits, raising queens
  • Rearing winter bees
  • Prior to nectar flow
  • When feeding carbs

Be careful though, feeding pollen can result in raising a robust crop of small hive beetles. A few adults is not too bad, but if you see larvae, your bees can’t cope.

HOW TO FEED POLLEN
Pollen patties need to be consumable, digestible and offer good nutrition value. Nancy has seen consistently good results from feeding Mega-Bee and Global brands. It’s important to note that bees need adequate microflora in their gut to digest pollen. If you are using antibiotics, etc., to treat other problems that may be destroying microflora. As a result your bees may not be able to digest the pollen.

OTHER SUPPLEMENTS
There is some research support for use of Honey B Healthy or ProHealth, in sugar syrup, as feeding stimulants and preservatives that contain essential oils. If bees are not taking pollen, mix Amino-B Booster (amino acid supplement) with sugar syrup and Honey B Healthy. Nozevit or Nozevit Plus is a combination of plant polyphenols which help bee digestion and may help prevent nosema.

QUESTION AND ANSWER
Q: Are powdered pollen substitutes okay?
A: Yes. Some people mix with sugar syrup and some hang pollen substitutes in dipper gourds near hives.

Q: When is it okay to open hives to feed?
A: Every NC county has at least one day per month of temperatures above 50 degrees when it’s okay to inspect the hive. Early January feeding will help the queen to start laying eggs. Too much egg-laying too early will result in more brood than workers can keep warm in a cold snap. Brood are much more sensitive to cold than adult bees.

Posted in Club News

PCBA Named Chapter Of The Year!

The Person County Beekeepers Association is honored to have been named Chapter Of The Year by the North Carolina Beekeepers Association.

Each year the NCSBA Golden Achievement Program recognizes chapters that have made significant accomplishments in support of North Carolina beekeeping. Every one of the 92 chapters is eligible for recognition.

The program is based on a point system. To qualify as a Golden Achievement Program (GAP) chapter a club must meet the minimum thresholds in a number of categories such as community outreach and member services. The total minimum threshold is 775 points. The Person County Beekeepers Association was awarded more than 2600 points making them the North Carolina Beekeepers Association Chapter Of The Year!

“The PCBA chapter has really got it together with list serve communication, a calendar of speakers on their website, a cool logo, over 25 community presentations and even a facebook page. Their chapter is so deserving of this award”, said GAP Committee Chairperson, Janet Peterson.

Along with the recognition, PCBA received a cash award of $300 and are eligible for another $700 in grant monies toward a project that furthers beekeeping in Person County. The club also received $275 worth of gift certificates from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, a popular supplier of beekeeping equipment and supplies in the state of North Carolina.

The club plans to use the award money and apply for the additional $700 grant to help continue their efforts of promoting beekeeping in Person County.

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PCBA Bee School Was a Great Success

We ended our 10 week bee school course with a hands-on field day in an apiary. We conducted demos and everyone got the opportunity to inspect a hive and handle frames of bees.

Here are some photos from the day. Thanks to Geneva Green, the album includes a great series of photos on how to conduct a sugar shake test for Varroa.

Finally we had a sunny and warm day for the field day

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NCSBA/SCSBA Spring Meeting, Rock Hill SC

Several of us attended the Spring Meeting this past weekend in Rock Hill, South Carolina. As a joint meeting it was well attended with over 600 people from the Carolinas. The guest speakers came from all over, Jamie Ellis from the University of Florida, Gainsville, Bart Smith from the USDA/ARS Bee Lab in Beltsville, MD, and Sue Cobey from Washington State University, Pullman just to name a few.

There was much to learn over the course of a day and a half. Some of the topics included

  • Honey bee health
  • Genetic diversity
  • How worker to drone interactions can improve drone quality
  • The Carniolan honey bee
  • Pesticide impacts on honey bees
  • Recognition and treatment of diseases
  • Africanized honey bees
  • Rearing high quality queens
  • Value of pesticides in beekeeping
  • SHB management

Did you know?

  • That one of the only ways to tell an Africanized honey bee from a European honey bee is to measure their wings. Africanized honey bee wings are shorter.
  • That in commercial beekeeping there are only about 400-500 mother queens to produce 1.5 billion bees annually.
  • That in the last 10 years there has been a 25% decline in genetic diversity in the US.
  • From 2011-2012 the honey bee mortality rate was 25%.
  • RNAi is a technology that is being developed as a treatment for Varroa Mites.
  • Worker bees can improve the care and feeding of underdeveloped drones by performing a vibration signal.
  • EPA testing for pesticide approval is based only on the “Active” ingredients in that pesticide.
  • Africanized bees will nest anywhere, even in the ground.
  • Up to 20% of store bought honey contains AFB spores. This is why you shouldn’t feed your bees honey from an unknown source.
  • If you have a hard time visually telling the difference between a small hive beetle larvae and a wax moth larvae, try squishing it. SHB larvae are tougher whereas wax moth larvae are soft and easy to squish with your fingers.
Posted in Club News

2013 Bee School Off to a Great Start

The Person County Beekeepers Association 2013 Bee School has had a great first few weeks, (despite the weather). We have over 30 students who at the end of the class will be ready to begin their first season keeping bees. The course, covers bee biology, their impact on pollination and the economy, the pests and diseases that affect them and of course getting started and seasonal management.

The 10 week course will end with an apiary field day where the students will have the opportunity to practice lighting their smokers and inspecting a living hive.

Here are some photos from class so far.

Great turnout

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