March 2015 Minutes

March 19 2015
County Office Building

WELCOME/INVITATION TO NCSBA SUMMER MEETING. Mary Deitz opened the meeting. She encouraged members to attend NCSBA’s summer conference and shared copies of the early registration form. The conference will be July 9-12 at Lake Junaluska near Waynesville, NC. Hotel and food reservations must be made by June 8. Early conference registration ($35 for individuals) ends on June 20 and walk-in registration costs $10 more.

JOURNEYMEN. Lewis Cauble announced that three Person County Beekeepers have achieved Journeyman rank in the NCSBA’s Master Beekeeper Program: Carol Carter, Tom Savage and Lynn Wilson. Paul Neubold is now chairing the NCSBA Master Beekeeper program. Todd Walker explained that this program of continuing education and public service begins with passing a written and practical test to become a Certified Beekeeper. The next steps are Journeyman, Master Beekeeper and Master Craftsman Beekeeper.

ACTION: 25 members of the 2015 Bee School plan to take the Certified Test after next week’s final class on Seasonal Management. ACTION: Let Todd know when you are ready to take the Practical Test after you’ve gained some experience with your bees.

MINUTES. January meeting minutes were approved as distributed by e-mail and the February business session was cancelled due to bad weather.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH. Whitney Barnes announced that sign up sheets for PCBA committees and for 4-H Summer Fun Day Volunteers (August 4) were being circulated.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH-Durham Council of Garden Clubs. Lynn Wilson shared podium with Leigh-Kathryn Bonner of Durham Beekeepers and Bee Downtown for this March 3 event. She learned that creating an “anticipatory set” (ie., setting the stage) can create an audience-full of bee questions. She shared the props created by the Council: a dough-made honey bee skep centerpiece for each of 12 tables with forced forsythia blossoms, paper napkin rings with honey bee, beribboned scrolls of honey bee facts, a game requiring answers to honey bee questions to advance to the honey, handmade soaps with bee mold for everyone and a greeter in full beekeeper suit and veil. She also learned that you have to talk a lot slower if you’re using a microphone (her first experience with mic)!

FINANCIAL REPORT. Amanda Blanks reported a balance at the beginning of February of $4371.78, with income of $1640.00 and expenses of $866.16, leaving a bank balance of $5145.62 and a petty cash balance of $50 for an ending balance of $5445.61. March income of $452 and expenses of $420.16, left a bank balance of $5177. 46 and a petty cash balance of $50 for a March end balance of $5227.46. Amanda shared thank you notes from Dr. Ambrose’s family, Dr. David Tarpy and the NC Agricultural Foundation for PCBA’s donation of $500 to the Apiculture Science Fund in memory of Dr. John T. Ambrose. Amanda reminded that the drawing for the class-built hive will follow tonight’s program and encouraged folks to order PCBA T-shirts and hats. Wearing the honey gold PCBA t-shirt helps identify you as a beekeeper at public service events. The 2014 PCBA Financial Report was distributed by e-mail in February. Let Amanda know if you missed it and would like a copy. ACTION: Members are taking these committee responsibilities, and new committee members are welcomed! All PCBA members are encouraged to sign up for committees and specify with which projects/events you can help.

NOMINATING COMMITTEE–Mary Dietz, Amanda Blanks, and Executive Committee;  BUILDING & FACILITIES–Cecil White, Calvin Hester, Amanda Blanks; FUNDRAISING–Mack and Amanda Blanks, Kathryn Barnes and Mary Dietz; STATE FAIR–Kim Buchanan, Larry Barnes, Kathryn Barnes , Calvin Hester and Carol Carter, Daphine and Danny Gooch, Whitney Barnes; FACEBOOK–Kim Buchanan, Carol Carter, Whitney Barnes; WEBSITE–Todd Walker, Inge Kautzmann, Whitney Barnes; BEE SCHOOL–Inge Kautzmann, Todd Walker, Mary Florence, Cecil White;  COMMUNITY OUTREACH–Michele Warren, Ben Brodfuehrer, Jim Hayward, Calvin Hester, Amanda Blanks (Library display). Whitney Barnes will facilitate until a chairperson is elected.

OUTREACH/4-H SUMMER FUN DAY (August 4) Daphine and Danny Gooch, Whitney Barnes, Mary Dietz, Mary Florence, Tim Harris and Amanda Blanks.

REFRESHMENTS–January 15–Amanda Blanks, February 19–Cecil White, March 19–Jim Hayward, April 16–Tom and Linda Savage, May 21–Bob Brauer, June 18–Eddie Burton, July 16–Michele Mosco Warren, August 20–Mary Florence, September 17–_______, October 15–Lynn Wilson, November 19–_______ and December 18 will be the Holiday Potluck. (E-mail if you would like to offer refreshments for the September or November meetings.)

DISEASES and PESTS OF HONEYBEES–GENEVA GREEN. Geneva focused on the biggest pest Varroa Mites and described its life cycle. You will have Varroa she says, but the goal is to keep their numbers down. They come in the package. The adult females ride on adult bees, especially nurse bees and slide into cells right before larvae are capped, then feed on the hemolymph of the developing pupae. In 60 hours she lays the first egg, a male; then every 30 hours, she lays a female egg. Females hatch and mate with brother; then emerge when the adult bee emerges. Drone cells are preferred because drones are larger and take longer to hatch offering more time for more Varroa production. During the winter, mite populations stabilize because the queen bee isn’t laying eggs, but in the spring the Varroa cranks up again and peaks when bee population starts to drop in the fall. One of the beekeeper’s highest priorities must be to MONITOR Varroa, checking levels at least once (in late summer) or twice (late summer and early spring before supering the colony) and after every treatment to determine if the treatment worked. Sugar shakes, alcohol wash or sticky board methods can be used, but sugar shake is reliable and relatively easy on the bees. Alcohol allows you to count the exact number of bees and mites in your sample, but bees are killed in the process. Sticky board isn’t so helpful because you have to relay on guestimates of bee population at the time of test.

To do a SUGAR shake, fill a plastic jar with 100 ml of water and mark the fill line. Add a screened mesh of #8 hardware cloth (instead of lid) secured by jar band. You’ll also need al bottle of water, a white tray (like a bucket top) that will hold water. Tilt frame forward so it rests over hive and scoop your sample to the fill line (300 bees). Shaking the jar periodically knocks bees to the bottom until you get your sample and screw on the top. Add about a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar through the screened mesh and roll the bees in sugar then set aside for about 5 minutes in shady spot. Now shake out the Varroa mites onto the water-filled tray (makes it easier to see the mites) and count. In the early spring, you’ll need to treat if you see more than 3 mites from sample of 300 bees. Other times, treat if you find 9 mites or more. Varroa weaken your bees causing weight loss, shorter lives and reduced learning skills. Multiplying those losses times the number of foragers means significant food supply losses for the colony. Varroa mites vector diseases like Acute Bee Paralysis Virus, Chronic Bee Paralysis, Deformed Wing Virus, and Sacbrood. Imagine a good-sized turtle riding around on you for an idea of the proportional size of mite to adult bee.

VARROA TREATMENTS begin with MONITORING, then use a hierarchy of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies. Some say just let the colony die, but the recommended treatments (also permitted by Certified Naturally Grown Guidelines) are Formic Acid, sold as Mite-Away Quickstrips and Thymol Essential Oils, formulated in Apiguard and ApiLifeVar. Avoid prophylactic treatments (like an annual dose just for the heck of it). Instead, use treatment that responds to the level of the problem. Both recommended treatments have temperature limitations and formic acid fumes will kill even mites in capped cells, but thymol treatment requires more than one application to kill emerging mites. IPM strategy begins with treatments LEAST likely to injure the large bug (bee) on which the small bug (mite) is riding around: CULTURAL CONTROLS include site selection, hygienic bees; PHYSICAL OR MECHANICAL CONTROLS like screened bottom boards, drone brood removal, or breaking the brood cycle by replacing the queen or doing a split. No BIOLOGICAL CONTROLS currently exist but are being explored. Then consider CHEMICAL CONTROLS, either “biorational pesticides” like formic acid and thymol or conventional chemicals like coumophos and fluvalinate. These conventional chemicals saved the bees when Varroa first entered the US, but mites developed resistance. Also these chemicals linger in the wax creating a cumulative and synergistic toxic environment. Drone brood cells are larger and prepared drone foundation can be purchased, but pay attention if you use this method. If you forget to count days and allow the drones to hatch, you will have dramatically increased your mite population. Are hygienic queens worthwhile since queens mate with multiple drones from other lineages? Oxalic acid has recently been approved and more info will be forthcoming about its efficacy.

THE LABEL IS THE LAW. Read the pesticide label and follow it to find out about temperature requirements and how long after a treatment you must wait before supering. Why not treat the package when it arrives? Bees are already stressed by travels and packaging process. Further, as soon as drones start flying and congregating, they’ll bring Varroa home.

OTHER DISEASES AND PESTS. Healthy larva is pearly white in a good brood pattern … with most bees at the same stage together beginning at the lower center of the frame.

AMERICAN FOULBROOD is very rare, especially in NC (only 3-5% occurrence rate) because of apiary inspectors, but very contagious. Symptoms include a spotty brood pattern, sunken caps, ropy larva, foul odor, shny black scales on lower side of cells, and pupal tongues. View frames with the sun behind you, and look from the top of the frame down at a slight angle to see the black scales. If you think your bees have AFB (or anything else) call Will Hicks, state apiary inspector for our region. He will help you burn your equipment or you can pay a small fee to get it irradiated but that may take awhile. EUROPEAN FOULBROOD is also diagnosed by sunken caps, but larva dies younger than when affected by AFB. Treatment may include re-queening. CLEAN HIVE TOOLS (clean enough to eat with, says Don Hopson) between hives.

NOSEMA APIS and CERANAE affect the midgut and result in dysentery. You may see brown marks all over the hive body or weak colony. Generally no treatment is required. TRACHEAL MITES infect airways and can be diagnosed by dissecting bee. Varroa treatments usually kill tracheal mites, too. CHALKBROOD is a fungal disease, usually not too serious, may be caused by poor hive ventilation. You may see mummified chalky larva on the bottom board or hear a rattle when you hold the frame. Solutions include re-queening, using hygienic bees, and screened bottom board or other method for improving ventilation. WAX MOTHS are common and can destroy wax if you have too much space in hive and bees can’t defend it. Store frames where they can get light and air to prevent problems.

SMALL HIVE BEETLES (SHB) are common in weak hives. You will often see adult beetles, but if you see larva you’ve got a problem because they’ll mess up wax and stored honey. Use beetle traps, avoid leaving too much space in the hive, and place hives in full sun. Combine weak hives with a stronger hive. SHB and wax moths are the vultures that finish off a colony that was already weak usually because of Varroa and Varroa-vectored viruses. DON”T PANIC. Get on the list serve, call Will Hicks, get help!

HIVE RAFFLE. The winner is Michele Warren. Amanda estimates that about 200 tickets were sold making this both an equipment-building and fundraising success. Thanks to Jim Hayward for providing refreshments!

ACTION: Tom and Linda Savage offered to provide refreshments for the April meeting.

ATTENDANCE. 20 members plus bee school participants plus three guests, reported 24 colonies (compared with 29 members reporting 82 hives in November 2014.) 61 current members includes 4 life members and 30 members who also joined NCSBA through PCBA.


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