April 2014 Minutes

Date:  April 17, 2014
Location: Person County Office Building, Room 165

WELCOME.  Mary opened the meeting by sharing a thank you note for our participation in 4-H’s Ag Day.   Todd noted that one more person would take the Certified Beekeeper written test after the meeting.

MINUTES of the March meeting were approved as distributed by e-mail.

FINANCIAL REPORT.   Amanda reported a beginning balance of $4792.74, income of $738.00 and expenses of $970.  The ending bank balance is $4560.74 and the petty cash balance is $50, totaling $4610.74.

JOURNEYMAN STUDY GROUP.  Lynn asked everyone to think about their own objectives for bees, selves, PCBA and community and make a note of objectives on the backs of their new name tags (to be turned in after each meeting).   Todd noted that our current “queens” are running out of gas!  Members present who want to take the journeyman test in July are Carol Carter, Mary Dietz and Lynn Wilson.  ( Tom Savage also hopes to take the test and John Harrell may take it again if results from his last test can’t be located.)  Carol Carter noted that she and Lynn enjoyed Saturday’s training in Asheboro to become bee exhibit volunteers at the NC Zoo to earn public service units for Journeyman status.  Mentor and Master Beekeeper Randall Austin has forwarded suggested reading materials to the study group.

FUNDRAISING.   Mac shared results:   Hats cost $341 and sales were $396, with $60 still owed and extra hats still available.   T-shirts cost $563 and sales were $690 with $24 still owed.  The hive raffle cost $92.55 and sales were $232, yielding $140.   He mentioned that last year’s honey raffle raised $897.   Hooded sweatshirts will be offered and ordered at $20 each for possible resale at $30 if minimum of 12 are ordered.  Advance payment may be considered.

ACTION:    Mary asked Lynn to consult with Mac and send notice to members about paying for items ordered and possible hooded sweatshirt sales.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH:   Todd reported that Inge visited Donna Henderson’s first grade class.   Inge, Kolu, Lynn and Mary staffed a 4-H Ag Day station for Person County 5th graders in March.  Mary mentioned several upcoming options including the Personality Festival on August 22-23, Farmers’ Market and Bailey’s Bees event in Raleigh on August 16 (National Honeybee Day),  4-H Summer Fun day for 5-9 year-olds on July 9 and circulated a sign-up sheet.   Also Amanda and Mary secured August exhibit space at the library and Amanda will set it up.

ACTION:   Todd Walker, Ed Griffin, Mary Deitz and (maybe) Mac and Amanda Blanks signed up to help with the 4-H Summer Fun Day.

ACTION:   Mary requested that 4-H Summer Fun Day participants meet in advance to plan the morning.  (Lynn Wilson and Shana Brandon had previously signed up via e-mail.)

ACTION:   Jim Hayward volunteered to coordinate Person County Farmers’ Market event and Mac and Amanda offered to help.   He reminds everyone that the Farmers’ Market opens on Saturday and is open every summer Saturday from 8-12 noon and Wednesdays from 3-6 pm.

Mary presented a list of books about bees and beekeeping costing a total of about $270 and recommended that we purchase and donate them to the Person County Library.    Lynn requested that the documentary “Queen of the Sun” be considered later.  The librarian is also polling for interest in a PCBA presentation on products of the hive.

ACTION:   The group endorsed Mary’s proposal and she will confer with the librarian about whether digital or paper editions are preferred.

ACTION:    The group will consider donating additional volumes annually, especially good children’s books about bees.

ACTION:   Let Mary know ASAP if you can present “Products of the Hive” at the Library.

NINJAS IN THE HIVE.   Todd introduced Randall Austen’s presentation about bee viruses.  There being no virologists among us, Randall described his amazement, from his reading, that all those little bees aren’t dead, given the number of viruses, and numerous ways the viruses are transmitted.  Too often, it’s the visible threats, like bears and small hive beetles that get lots of misguided attention, not the most damaging threats, like viruses and the Varroa that vector them.    Viruses are like Ninjas in the hive…unseen, unheard, stealthy and deadly.  Their threat isn’t apparent before the damage is eminent … like tornados and car breakdowns.

We’ve only known about viruses since the 1880s because they’re too small to be seen with ordinary microscopes.   They’re simple, just RNA wrapped in a bag and they spread.   RNA directs specific protein synthesis and viruses hijack that process.

Viruses must be transmitted AND activated for organisms to show symptoms.  Transmission can occur vertically (from parent to offspring) which requires long-lived host and results are less virulent OR horizontally from individual to individual (queen to brood, nurse to brood, bee to bee, or vector to bee) which means a large number of replicants in large populations.   Bees can transfer viruses by trophylaxis (transfer of food and liquids), exposure to feces, exchange of vectors, physical contact.

Viruses are activated by (1) stress (induced by poor nutrition, environmental factors like chill or drought, situations like robbing or moving the hive, and other diseases, and (2) the viral load.   Bees don’t have antibodies, they have RNAi (RNA interference) that disrupts viral replication.  Immunity can be passed from bee to bee via feeding.

Eighteen (18) viruses are economically significant and Randall described five.  Deformed wing virus symptoms include shrunken, crumpled wings and small, discolored body.   One study found that 100 % of studied hives were infected, nearly 100% of the bees were infected and 100% of the mites were infected.  (Note:  research studies prior to 2000 identified Varroa jacobsoni, but later mites were identified as Varroa destructor.)

Chronic Bee Paralysis causes the condition called Black Hairless Syndrome because one set of symptoms includes shiny, black and hairless abdomens.  Symptomatic bees are thrown out by the guard bees.   Another set of symptoms includes abnormal trembling, crawling on the ground and not flying,  and bloated abs.   Spread from bee-to-bee contact, this virus is most apparent in crowded colonies.

Sacbrood Virus attacks brood and adults.  Nurse bees pass it to brood and it’s spread by contaminated pollen.   The infected larvae turns pale yellow after the brood cell is capped and the skin of the larvae becomes leathery.  The larvae can’t pupate because it can’t digest the old cuticle.  Affected larvae appear to be in a waterfilled sac.   The dead larvae have a dark brittle scale that comes off easily (compared with American Foulbrood scale that does not come off.)

Black Queen Cell Virus affects the developing queen larvae and pupae.  Larvae is pale yellow with saclike skin and pupae turn dark and die.  Wall of queen cell becomes dark.  Workers can be infected but don’t exhibit symptoms.

Kashmir Bee Virus are vectored by mites and replicate rapidly in the hemolymph.

WHAT TO DO?   Antibiotics don’t work.  Reduce mite load, keep hive strong and healthy.  Re-queen if needed.   For more information, see Randy Oliver’s article on bee viruses at ScientificBeekeeping.com.   One study shows that honeybees may get viruses from bumble bees when they pollinate the same flowers.   Some beekeepers move “sick” hives out of the apiary, but it has to be miles away to keep bees from sharing the virus.

ANNOUNCEMENTS.       Lewis previewed new NCSBA website which should be up in the next couple of weeks.  Better, he says, but data files are still not included.  Michelle introduced her guest, prospective beekeeper Stephanie Regan.   No swarms have been reported to the swarm patrol but a couple of members have seen swarms.   See Todd to get on the Swarm Patrol list.   Check with Amanda to get your NCSBA membership cards.

Tokso regrets that he was unable to attend due to out-of-town business trips and hopes to provide refreshments at a later date.

ACTION:    Judy Lee and Donna Henderson will bring May refreshments

ACTION:  If you can help with August, October or November refreshments, e-mail wilsonls@esinc.net.

ATTENDANCE SUMMARY:   22 members and 1 guest.  Three members reported spring sugar shake results:  a total of 8 hives exceeded the spring threshold of 3 or more Varroa per sample.

SUMMARY OF OBJECTIVES:  6 members participated in this survey.  When asked whether their objectives relating to bees aligned most closely with “pets, pollinators or honey”, 5 people reported that “honey” is their primary objective, 1 said “pets” and 1 said “pollination”.   When asked about NCSBA Master Beekeeper aspirations for 2014,  3 aspire to “Certified” status, 2 to “Journeyman”, and 1 to Master Craftsman.   All 6 participants see themselves as “worker” bees for PCBA (as opposed to drones or queens!). 5 participants chose 5 different months as the best time for them to help with community outreach efforts:   May, June, July, August, November.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED by Lynn S. Wilson, April 18, 2014

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