March 2014 Minutes

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

WELCOME.  Mary thanked Kim and Kolu for stepping up to lead State Fair and Outreach efforts for 2014 and welcomed the excitement about test-taking!

MINUTES of the February 20 meeting were approved as distributed.

GAP FUNDS.  Mary reported that the Executive Committee had met and endorsed Inge’s proposal that PCBA use the NCSBA GAP Award to purchase a projector, case, media cart and jump drives.  Inge explained that we’ve been using Orange County’s projector and there have been some scheduling conflicts.   No 4-H or FFA youth beekeeper could be found.  The cost of the projector will be about $600 and we can spend up to $1000 for projector and peripherals.  Otherwise, we have a good collection of teaching tools.   We may consider purchasing books about beekeeping and donate them to the Person County Library for easier management.

ACTION:   The group agreed to purchase projector and related equipment with GAP funds.

FUNDRAISING.   Inge shared a sweatshirt with PCBA logo that Mac had secured to get the group’s feedback.   We need to order a minimum of 12 at $20 each (multiple color choices) and we’d probably need to charge at least $30.    Thanks to Mac and Amanda for ordering T-shirts and bringing them to this meeting and for organizing the 10-frame-hive raffle.

ACTION:    The sample sweatshirt (size 2XL) will be auctioned at a later date!

ACTION:   Get raffle tickets now for a chance to win hive.  Winner will be announced after class.

ACTION:   Pick up and pay for T-shirts tonight and before May meeting when remaining T-shirts will be sold to other members.

BEE SCHOOL 2014 ENDS.   13 people who plan to take the test must be NCSBA members.   Inge gave a special thanks to Cecil White and Calvin Hester for opening up the building, and setting up and storing chairs.   Cecil says thanks to Bee School members who set-up for this meeting.

ACTION:   Demos at the hive and picnic highlight Saturday’s field day at Todd and Inge’s Hurdle Mills house, two doors up from the HM Market, at 11 AM.  Hotdogs, buns, drinks, plates will be provided.   Bring salads, friends, family, bee partners, desserts, etc.  Several people who previously passed the written test will take the “practical” if weather is good.

SEASONAL MANAGEMENT./REVIEW.   Todd listed these goals for each HIVE INSPECTION:

1.  Is there evidence of a laying queen or do you find capped queen cells?

2.  Are food stores and space adequate (but not too much space!)?

3.  Is the Varroa level acceptable?

Late winter/early spring:   Provide enough food to get bees to nectar flow (20 pounds)

Spring:  Healthy, strong hive

Summer:   Room for brood and honey

Fall: Prepare for winter


Are entrances clear of snow, ice, dead bees?

Is the queen starting to lay?

Clear debris from the bottom board.

Check hive weight.  (Full medium super weighs about 40 pounds.)

Use fondant on top of frames for emergency food.

Feed sugar syrup (2 parts sugar:1 part water)

Check for deadouts.  If there are no bees flying on a warm day, rap the side of the hive and listen for buzz.  If silent, then confirm deadout and do a postmortem.  Did they starve?  Is it American foulbrood (if so, burn equipment.  Terramycin relieves symptoms but doesn’t cure it.)  Is it Nosema?  (Bees don’t often die fromNosema.)

Build equipment.

Read about bees and take classes!


Are bees bringing in greenish putty-colored pollen (red maples) or red pollen (henbit)?

Look for broodnest expansion, particularly drone brood.

Stimulate egglaying by feeding 1:1 syrup (not too much or they’ll swarm or brood will die in a coldsnap) and pollen patties (small pieces or you’ll be raising small hive beetles instead of bees).

FEEDING WITH BOARDMAN FEEDER?   Use the small or medium entrance on your reducer turned so the opening is furthest away from the feeder to help prevent robbing.


Is space ready for rapid broodnest expansion as pollen may be coming in from willows, dandelions and fruit trees?

You may see orientation flights.

If you see queen cells, do a split.  Put the old queen and a few frames of brood and food into a new hive body.   Removing queen cells won’t stop bees from swarming.  They’ll just raise another queen.

NEWSPAPER COMBINE.   Set a queenless weak hive on top of a strong hive, with a layer of newspaper between the two.   Bees will chew through the newspaper giving time for the new bees to acclimate to the pheromones of the strong queen.

Check for Varroa.   In March, the treatment threshold is 3.  If you see 3 or more in sugar shake, treat.

Get supers (for bee’s honey stores) ready and on the hive.  If they’ve been stored with Paramoth crystals, they need to air out for a few days.

Put out a bait hive and catch a swarm.

FRAME STORAGE.  Avoid the need for Paramoth by hanging your frames in light, airy place under a shed.  Wax moths thrive in  dark, airless places.


Bees may be bringing pollen from clover, blackberries, black locus, hollies and tulip poplar at month end.

Watch for swarm signs and swarms.  Sign up for PCBA swarm patrol.   (Calvin Boyd caught 25 swarms between April 19 and 25 one year.)

Remove entrance reducer.

If you find swarm queen cells (along the bottom of frames), do a split.

Add supers for the honey you will harvest above a queen excluder.

Near month end, check brood nest and equalize frames/colonies.

STRONG HIVE?/WEAK HIVE?   Switch the position of the two hives so stronger foragers will return to the weaker hive._  CUT-OUT?   April is a good time to remove a colony from a building … before there’s too much honey to make the job even messier.


Bees will be foraging tulip poplar and privet.

Add another honey super if in-place supers are 70 percent capped.

Supers can be added above or below existing supers.

Don’t go in hives during flow to maximize honey production.


Sourwood and clover will be blooming.

Look for frames of capped honey.  Moisture content of capped honey (to be eligible for State Fair contest) must be 18.6% or lower.

Extract honey using fume board, bee escapes (one-way gates) or brush bees off the frames of capped honey.  Secure honey with spare hive top underneath and above supers you are using to collect your frames.   Don’t use much smoke or your honey will be smoke-flavored.   Rent extractor from PCBA for small fee.   Stack the empty supers away from the hive (so robbing isn’t stimulated) and the bees will clean them up.  Let honey sit for 24-48 hours before bottling.


Honey harvest may be done now instead of June.

Take your hive to the mountains for sourwood honey.  Local hives may be foraging buckwheat.  Other nectar sources are drying up.

Watch for robbing.

Add a shim between inner and outer covers to add ventilation.


Goldenrod may be blooming.

If days are hot and dry, you may find bees bearding at the entrance.

Less drone brood and bees may eat larva if times get tough.

Feed if needed.

How’s the brood pattern?   Need to re-queen?

Do a sugar shake and treat if you find 15 or more Varroa in sample.   (15 mites on adult bees probably indicates 15 more on larvae.)   Treatments may include fluvalinate (Apistan) or coumophos (Checkmite) or formic acid or thymol.  Coumophos also kills Small Hive Beetles, but the first two leave residues in the wax.   Formic acid is temperature sensitive and August may be too hot to use it.   If you treat, do another sugar shake after treatment to be sure the treatment worked.


Goldenrod and asters are blooming.  This honey is good for bees but smells bad to humans.

If there’s too much brood, the colony could still swarm … and a fall swarm probably won’t make it because they don’t have time to build up winter resources.

Varroa peaks while brood nest shrinks so consider a second Varroa test (and post-test if you treat.)

Feed the bees that will feed the bees that must survive the winter.


Move poor frames to the outside so they’ll be empty at winter’s end and you can remove them from the hive.  (Certified Naturally Grown recommends leaving frames in the hive from 3-5 years because pesticide residues build up.)

Is your colony healthy and ready for winter?  Take your losses in the fall and combine weak hives with strong hives.   A larger cluster means fewer bees on the surface of the cluster in proportion to the number of protected bees inside the cluster.  Your cluster should cross at least 5 frames.

A 5-inch cluster has a Surface Area/Volume ratio of 1.2.

A 7.5-inch cluster has a Surface Area/Volume ratio of .8.

Feed the bees that will feed the bees.   Switch to 2:1 syrup.

Ventilate the hive to control moisture.

Reduce the entry BEFORE the mice move in.

Help out at the State Fair Bee Exhibit.


Queen’s laying is tapering off.

Feed with 2:1 syrup.

Are bees below with food above?  (They’ll move up in the hive during the winter.)

VICE PRESIDENT REPORTS.   Call Todd or use the Listserv with your beekeeping questions.   Master Beekeeper Randall Austin will speak on Bee Viruses at the April 17 meeting.   Sugar shake jars will be available at Saturday’s Field Day.  See you there.

David Warren won the hive raffle and Amanda and Mac say “thanks” for participating to raise about $100 for PCBA.

Thanks to Jim Heyward for providing refreshments and Carol Carter for bringing them.

ACTION:   Tokso Pak is bringing April refreshments and following members are signed up:

May 15      Judy Lee and Donna Henderson

June 19    Karen McEntee

July 17     Michele Warren

Sept 18    Tom and Linda Savage

ACTION:  If you can help with August, October or November, e-mail

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED by Lynn S. Wilson, March 21, 2014

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