February 2014 Minutes

Date:  February 20, 2014
Location: Person County Office Building, Room 165

ACTION:   At the door, Amanda sold raffle tickets for the latest PCBA fundraiser.   A 10-frame hive will be raffled soon!  Bring your dollars to the next meeting.

WELCOME.  Inge introduced Will Hicks, NC Apiary Inspector for the 10-county area from Caswell to Warren and south to Johnston.   (Will.Hicks@ncagrgov or 919-691-0022)

GETTING STARTED.   Will described services available, including inspecting hives when beekeepers want to sell bees, when honey buyers request it, and fumigating old hives (small fee) to eliminate the risk of American Foul Brood.

The task, Will says, is getting the bees from somewhere else (package, nuc, or swarm) into your equipment.  In all cases, the first step is setting up your equipment and the next task after installation is FEED YOUR BEES.   It’s good to have a spray bottle of sugar water handy and spritz the bees in the package.  Your PACKAGE will contain 3 pounds of bees (mostly workers with a few drones)  and a queen in a cage with a few workers.    Knock the box to bring bees to package bottom, then remove the syrup can and the queen cage and replace the syrup can.  Now remove the cork at the candy end of the cage.   This queen has NO attachment to your equipment so she will just fly off if you remove the wrong cork and free her.  Wedge the queen cage in the center of the brood box between the tops of two frames.   Since you will need to check in a few days to be sure the queen has been released, Will likes to place the cage horizontally.   Duct tape works to hold the cage if needed.   The point is to allow the workers to get used to their new queen slowly.  They will chew through the candy to reach her.   You can punch a nail hole in the candy if you want to help.   Next, knock the package again to force bees to the bottom of the box, remove the syrup can, and dump the bees into the hive.   If a few bees remain in the box, just lay it in front of the hive and shortly they will march into the hive.   Ask a partner to help with your installation.

Feed bees!  In 3 or 4 days check to be sure the queen has been released and remove the cage.   The bees may still fly away so don’t do anything noisy (mowing or weedeating around the hive) until after the queen starts laying.   If you want to mark your queen, consider doing it after there are eggs in the hive.   Check in about two weeks to make sure the queen is laying.  If she is not laying in three weeks, get a new queen.  CAUTION:   If the queen was not adequately fertilized, she may lay only drone eggs.   You may need to feed your bees all summer.

WHERE TO PUT HIVES. ..ANYWHERE BUT UNDER  WATER.!  Ideally, hives would face south or southeast to get bees warmed up earlier in the day but be close enough to woods edge to get a little afternoon shade.  They’d be 10 to 25 feet from human or animal paths.  A hedge in front of the hives will force bees to fly UP (out of traffic areas) if needed.   Bees don’t have to be right next to nectar sources as they’ll fly a couple of miles for food.   Unless you have a tractor, you probably can’t plant enough of an annual crop to feed the bees, but clover and buckwheat are favorites if you’ve got acreage.

NUC (for NUCLEUS),   You’ll get a queen, drones, workers, brood on 4 or 5 frames.  Your vendor will let you know whether he expects new frames in exchange.    Nucs from David Bailey will come in a cardboard nuc box and he will help with installation if you buy your equipment from him.   Transfer the nuc frames to the middle of your hive body and fill in with frames of new foundation.   Keep the nuc frames together.    Be sure to purchase only from an apiary that has been inspected.    Feed bees!

SWARM.      A partner can really help!   Cut the branch with the swarm on it and rap it over the hive to knock the bees into your box.   A frame of brood already in the box may entice the swarm to stay as bees don’t abandon babies.   If some bees miss the box, they’ll probably crawl in.   Use a piece of cardboard as a sliding board if you need to guide bees from a fixed location into your box.       Keep a smoker standing by but don’t use it unnecessarily, because you want the bees to smell the queen.   If the swarm starts crawling back out of the box, the queen may be missing.   Look for another small swarm clustering somewhere and dump that into the box too.

TO PREVENT SWARMS making a split is probably the best option.

TO MOVE A COLONY, just do it (you may lose some foragers but you may not have other options), do it incrementally or move it at least two miles away at night when foragers are at home.

Will plans to attend the PCBA Field Day on March 22 so come and see more demos.   Sign up for David Bailey’s newsletter to get details on demos for people buying packages from him.

BUSINESS.   Mary welcomed the group and asked for volunteers for Community Outreach and State Fair Booth committees, especially chairpersons!   She circulated a sign-up sheet for both committees, with reminder that Outreach Committee’s first assignment is March 28 Ag Day when PCBA joins others to let Person County 5th graders know about farming options.

ACTION:   Kolu Roth volunteered to lead the community outreach group and Inge agreed to help.  Committee members are Lynn Wilson, Tokso Pak, Carol Carter, and Michele Warren.

ACTION:   Inge will ask Kim Buchanan to lead State Fair group.  Committee members are Bob Brauer, Shan Brandon, Carol Carter, Tom and Linda Savage, Michele Warren, Karen McEntee, Jeff Bartlett, and Larry Barnes.

MINUTES of January meeting were approved as distributed online.

ANNOUNCEMENT.   Amanda shared that Person County Cooperative Extension is offering a March 6 workshop on high tunnels and asparagus production.

FINANCIAL REPORT presented by Amanda Blanks showed a beginning balance of $3398.81.  Income from PCBA dues, NCSBA dues, hat sales, and bee school added up to $1360.   Expenses included forwarding NCSBA dues to the state organization and reimbursing Todd Walker for bee school books and business cards and totaled $170.45.   With a bank balance of $4637.36 and a petty cash balance of $50, the total balance is $4687.36.

REFRESHMENTS may help us get better acquainted and find beekeeping partners.  Thanks to Jeff Bartlett for providing ice and beverages for the February meeting and to the following folks who signed up:

March 20 Jim Hayward
April 17 Tokso Pak
May 15 Judy Lee and Donna Henderson
June 19 Karen McEntee
July 17 Michele Warren
Sept 18 Tom and Linda Savage

ACTION:   That just leaves August, October, and November!  If you can help, e-mail Lynn Wilson at wilsonls@esinc.net.

JOURNEYMAN STUDY GROUP.    To help PCBA members be confident beekeeping partners, Lynn Wilson encourages certified beekeepers to take it to the next level on the trail to Master Beekeeper. Mary Dietz has challenged the journeyman study group to pass the test at the summer NCSBA meeting beginning on July 10.    Master Beekeeper Randall Austin has volunteered to mentor the group.   Send your questions to him at s.randall.austin@gmail.com.   Find the Study Guide at the NCSBA website (www.ncbeekeepers.org/NCSBA-Study-Guide-Journeyman-2013.pdf).  Jump start your study with a short course with Dr.  John Ambrose at the spring meeting in Wilmington on March 6.   To give us some shorter-term objectives, Lynn proposes three study group meetings as TARGET DATES.   For Sunday, May 4 study parts of the flower, honey labeling/scoring, and bee biology.     For Sunday, June 1, study honey bee diseases and pests and treatments.   On Sunday, July 6,  we’ll review.   On each Sunday afternoon, study group is invited to supper at Lynn’s house, 244 Myrtle J Drive, Hurdle Mills at 5 PM.   E-mail wilsonls@esinc.net on the Tuesday before to let me know you’re coming for supper and study.  Send an e-mail to Lynn to confirm that “journeyman in July!” is your goal.    Sign up to help with five PCBA outreach projects to earn public service credits

USE LISTSERVE.   Sign up today (from the link on the PCBA website) and use the listserve to post your questions.

NCSBA SPRING MEETING.   Several members plan to attend the March 6-8 meeting in Wilmington.

MEETING ADJOURNED.  Mary adjourned the meeting and invited folks to introduce themselves, find beekeeping partners and enjoy refreshments provided by Jeff Bartlett and Lynn Wilson.

ACTION:   March refreshments will be provided by Jim Hayward.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED by Lynn S. Wilson, March 20, 2014

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