January 2014 Minutes

Date:  January 16, 2014
Location: Person County Office Building, Room 165

WELCOME TO BEE SCHOOL CLASS-2014.  Mary Dietz welcomed 37 new and returning members who are participants in this year’s Bee School.    15 old members (of 34 paid to date) also rose to welcome the Class.  Mary introduced PCBA officers and noted the PCBA exhibit now up just down the hall.  She encouraged all new members to explore resources available on the PCBA website and Facebook page.    While on the PCBA website page, sign up for the PCBA ListServe to get fast answers to questions about your bee colonies and to get notices about upcoming PCBA events and programs and copies of Minutes.

MINUTES of November and December meetings were approved as distributed online.

FINANCIAL REPORT presented by Amanda Blanks began with the December beginning balance of $2,432.00 and today’s ending balance of $3,343.81.   Mary noted that 2013 successful fundraisers included a Honey-of-the-Month raffle, and sales of PCBA T-shirts and hats.   The club hopes to sponsor a 4-H beekeeper (or 2) by providing them with equipment and mentoring in 2014.

(ACTION:   See Amanda for one of the few hats left!)

BEE SCHOOL 2014 BEGINS.   Mary introduced Inge Kautzman, PCBA VP and Bee School organizer.   Inge noted that tonight’s class is also a PCBA meeting so pick the brains of the older members while they’re here.  Two later classes will also include business sessions with older members present (on the 3rd Thursdays of each month).

(ACTION:    We’d like to encourage partnerships between those with some experience and those with less.   Refreshments after the program may provide get-acquainted time, so if you can provide refreshments for February or March meetings please contact Lynn at wilsonls@esinc.net.  Thanks!)

MASTER BEEKEEPERS.  Inge introduced Todd Walker, formerly PCBA VP and Orange Co. Beekeepers President, who has achieved Journeyman status in the State Association’s  certification program.   She also introduced Randall Austen who is a Master Beekeeper.

Todd noted that if your goal is to become a Certified Beekeeper (the first step toward Journeyman, Master Beekeeper, and Master Craftsman Beekeeper), you will be eligible to take the exam offered at the 10th class.    An opportunity to pass the hands-on part of the test, which includes being able to go into the hive and identify workers, drones, and the queen, among other things, will be offered later after new beekeepers have some experience inspecting their own hives.   He encouraged participants to find a “bee buddy” to learn with (make mistakes together!) and to  find a mentor.  “We want you to succeed.”

(ACTION:   Mary Dietz, Lynn Wilson, Inge Walker and Mac and Amanda Blanks want to seek Journeyman status.  Mary challenges us to be ready to take the test at the July meeting of the NCSBA.    Randall Austen will mentor us.   There will also be a short preparatory course with Dr. Ambrose on March 6 as part of the NCSBA meeting in Wilmington.  A highly-recommended book by Clarence Collison, entitled What Do You Know? is out of print and limited copies are available for prices around $1800 so if anyone has a copy they can loan, please let us know!   A study guide is available at http://www.ncbeekeepers.org/NCSBA-Study-Guide-Journeyman-2013.pdf.  Would you like to join our study group?  Contact Lynn Wilson at wilsonls@esinc.net with suggestions about how this group can help you move up the beekeeping knowhow-leadership ladder.)

PCBA.  Our mission is to promote the best practice of beekeeping and help others become advocates for honeybees.  Ed Johnson and Tim Gentry founded and nurtured the association.  Meetings and events help members keep learning about bees, practice things like honey extraction and wax crafts together in a wonderful facility as guests of Tom and Linda Savage, and purchase equipment such as the extractor that can be rented by members.  PCBA helps others become friends of honeybees thru events like the PC Farmers Market, deploying Orange County’s bee demo gazebo at the Eno River Festival, Ag Day for all Person Co. 5th graders, competition at the NC State Fair (PCBA and its members have been blue ribbon winners!)   Proceeds from this class will help sponsor two young people who want to be beekeepers.

CLASS OVERVIEW.  Todd will present the first three classes, including this intro, bee biology, and bees as social insects, then Lewis Cauble (Master Beekeeper) will cover bee equipment followed by an equipment-building workshop at the Hurdle Mills Fire Department (thanks to Cecil!).

ACTION:   Todd suggests that you buy your HIVE equipment AFTER Lewis’s class, but ORDER YOUR BEES NOW.   Class materials include a list of vendors who are permitted to sell bees in NC.   Buy only from permitted vendors, such as Bailey’s Bees in Hillsborough, because this means the vendor’s apiaries have had a state inspection and won’t be spreading diseases and parasites.   The earlier you order your bees (which will be shipped in April), the greater your chances of getting bees before they are sold out.   Even if bees are available later in May, your bees will have lost the advantage of the tulip poplar flower season.

Geneva Green will offer classes on plants for bees and diseases of the hive.  Inge will talk about hive products, then Todd will bring it all together on a calendar of seasonal management.  The final class is a review and opportunity to take the exam.  A field day at Todd and Inge’s home in Hurdle Mills will be scheduled around the weather to include a dive into the hives and a picnic potluck.

Each person received a copy of Delaplane’s First Lessons in Beekeeping and more course materials will be available on the website weekly.   Be aware that 10,000 beekeepers will have 10,000 ideas about best beekeeping practices so there are lots of weeds on the way to discovering YOUR way.  Books may be better resources than wading through lots of blogs.

ACTION:   Check the PCBA website weekly.  Also download (for free) Handbook for Natural Beekeeping from www.naturallygrown.org for the nearest thing to organic beekeeping.   Since you can’t control where bees forage, no certified organic standards are available.

#1 QUESTION:  HOW MUCH IS THIS GONNA COST?  Todd strongly recommends starting with two hives because resources from a strong hive can help a weaker one.

ONE HIVE, smoker, hive tool, veil $150    TWO HIVES, smoker, hive tool, veil  $215
ONE Pkg-BEES                                     100                                    TWO Pkgs                 200
2 HONEY SUPERS                               75 FOUR HONEY SUPERS                       150

$325                                                                      $565

You may not need 2 supers per hive during the first year because the bees have to draw out the wax comb first.   If 2 supers are filled with honey, the bees get the first one for winter food and the beekeeper gets the second!

#2 QUESTION:   HOW MUCH TIME IS INVOLVED?   Go into your hives when YOU need to go into hives is Randall’s suggestion (not daily!)  You need the digging around time to get acquainted.  Todd suggests every couple of weeks depending on the season, for instance, not now because it’s too cold and not during the honey flow because the bees are busy.

#3 QUESTION:  HOW MUCH HONEY DO THEY MAKE?   A full super is about 40 pounds of honey.  Honeybees are the only bees that make this much honey.

#4 QUESTION:   DO YOU GET STUNG?   Yes, occasionally, but it’s not too serious unless you are allergic (ie., your throat starts swelling up).  If you decide to become a beekeeper in spite of an allergy, your are brave.   Todd keeps an Epi-Pen available for visitors who may not know they’re allergic and get too close.   The stinger keeps pumping venom so don’t squeeze to remove.  Scrape it away with a credit card (or hive tool?), use your smoker to mask the smell which will attract more bees.

How do you tame bees?  You don’t.

MULTIFACETED BEEKEEPING WILL COMPEL YOUR INTEREST in taking care of the livestock (60,000 head!), entomology, woodworking, art (any paint job except black which makes hives too hot), baking with honey as a sweetener, wax crafts.

WHY ARE HONEYBEES IMPORTANT?   NC is an agricultural state and many crops such as apples and blueberries rely entirely on pollinators to set fruit.  Honeybees are so good at it because there are so many of them (about 60,000 per colony); other bees like mason bees and bumble bees may be better at it but there aren’t enough of them.    Adult honeybees are out foraging (on warm days) throughout the year and they can be moved around.   For instance, almond trees in California bloom for only two weeks and bees can be moved from around the nation to meet those pollination needs …and then moved elsewhere to pollinate other crops … like cucumbers which require 12 visits per blossom to set one cuke fruit.

WHY ARE NEW BEEKEEPERS IMPORTANT?  Right now NC needs 240,000 colonies to meet pollination needs and we don’t have that many so contractors from outside the state bring us their bees.    And, as Dick Rogers, Entomologist with Bayer Crop Sciences says:  “There are no healthy honeybee colonies.  Honeybees cannot survive without beekeepers.”

BEES NEED SHELTER, FOOD and SAFETY.

Shelter-ventilation, space (too little and queen won’t have space for egg-laying, too much and they’ll be unable to defend it), warm and dry.

Food-water (also enables bees to cool hive when it gets too hot), pollen for protein to raise brood and for gland development, and nectar for energy (or sugar syrup when nothing’s blooming)

Safety-from vandals, toxins, diseases, parasites, toxins (from farmer or homeowner spraying, and predators like bears and skunks.   An electric fence may be necessary to keep bears away and skunks can be dissuaded by bees if the hive is raised enough that skunks have to bare their bellies to reach landing.   YOU may need to change your gardening practices too …examples, choosing different horticultural chemicals, not spraying when the bees are flying and planting more pollinator-friendly plants.

Todd encouraged everyone to join the NCSBA (required for participation in their Certification program) and to find ways to help other beekeepers and to spread the word about the need for friends for honeybees.

GROUP QUESTIONS.

Is Small Hive Beetle a problem?  Yes, in a weak hive!

Can you re-use equipment if your last colony died?  Yes, but fumigate if you don’t know WHY.

How fast do colonies grow (how soon will you need more equipment)?   This takes watching, but you will probably need a second brood box before the end of the second summer!

MEETING ADJOURNED.  Mary invited folks to introduce themselves and enjoy chocolate chips made by Amanda and beverages provided by Lynn Wilson and adjourned the meeting.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED by Lynn S. Wilson, January 17, 2014

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