May 2014 Minutes

Date:  May 15, 2014
Location: Person County Office Building, Room 165

WELCOME.  Mary opened the meeting.

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

FINANCIAL REPORT.   Amanda reported a beginning balance of $4560.74, with income, from NCSBA and PCBA dues, fundraisers and donations, of $122.00 and expenses of $89.97 for bee school field day/speaker.  The bank balance is $4592.77 and petty cash balance is $50 for total $4642.77.

JOURNEYMAN STUDY GROUP.  Lynn and Mary reported that the first dinner study group met on May 4.  Lynn said that missing one study session doesn’t keep you from catching the next one on Sunday, June 1 at her house and independent study is also a good way to get ready to take the July test at the NCSBA summer meeting.   Also, she invited PCBA members to come to her house at 8 PM on June 1 to view the bee documentary, “Queen of the Sun”, which she has requested from the NCSBA book and media collection managed by Wayne Community College.

ACTION:   E-mail wilsonls@esinc.net by May 29 if you plan to attend study group/dinner and/or “Queen of the Sun” on Sunday June 1.

FUNDRAISING.   Amanda said Mac had not heard from anyone regarding the remaining T-shirts.  He will bring sweatshirt details to the July meeting so orders can be placed in August.   Honey-of-the-month raffle has already been approved for 2014 fundraising.

ACTION:  Mary requests that Mac get with Inge to arrange printing of honey-of-the-month raffle tickets AND add a space to collect e-mail address for future community outreach efforts.

ACTION:  PCBA will pay beekeepers $10/pound for raffle honey (or they may opt to donate it).

COMMUNITY OUTREACH:   In the absence of committee co-chairs Kolu and Inge, Mary outlined upcoming events for which volunteers are needed, including July 9 4-H Summer Fun Day in the County Building,  August 22-23 Personality Festival and August 16 National Honeybee Day at Person County Farmer’s Market.  Jim Hayward previously accepted responsibility for PC Farmers’ Market and will be recruiting volunteers.   Amanda Blanks is organizing an August exhibit at the PC library.

ACTION:   Todd Walker, Ed Griffin, Mary Deitz and (maybe) Mac and Amanda Blanks Lynn Wilson and Shana Brandon have signed up to help with the 4-H Summer Fun Day.    Calvin Hester, Tim Harris, Kim Buchanan and daughter Gracie also volunteered to help.   Mary asks everyone to attend a May 29 planning meeting and she’ll let you know time and place soon.

LIBRARY BOOKS HAVE ARRIVED…MOSTLY.   Mary reported that the books about bees and beekeeping approved for donation to the Person County Library have all arrived except one.    The librarian has not yet let Mary know if there is interest in a “Products of the Hive” workshop at the library, but if there is, who can present it?

ACTION:   Mary will check with the librarian and (a) find out if a bookplate saying something like “PCBA donated this book” is acceptable and (b) if librarian can attend August meeting to receive books.

ACTION:   Lynn will print bookplates with design acceptable to PCBA Exec Committee and do a follow-up news article to submit to the Courier-Times.

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

ACTION:   Mary will report on the GAP Bee Books, the presentation equipment Todd has purchased for PCBA, and possibly the 4-H Summer Fun event, at the NCSBA meeting July 10-12 at Wilkes Community College.  Sign up online today for the summer meeting!

STATE FAIR PCBA BOOTH.   Committee chair Kim Buchanan shared an idea of creating a human-scale bee world and invites PCBA to share ideas with her.  She’ll convene this committee soon and check State Fair book to get exhibit size and guidelines.

ACTION:   Kim will soon convene committee including, from February minutes posted on PCBA website:  Bob Brauer, Shana Brandon, Carol Carter, Tom and Linda Savage, Michele Warren, Karen McEntee, Jeff Bartlett, and Larry Barnes.

SWARM CONTROL.   Master Beekeeper Lewis Cauble introduced eastern NC Apiary Inspector Adolphus Leonard for a presentation about swarm control.   Adolphus has served as a bee inspector for 20 years, after working as a commercial beekeeper and raising queens.   (Welcome from Mary to our district’s inspector Will Hicks who was also present.)

Adolphus:   The apiary inspectors extend the extension service to help with bee management.  Call if you need a health certificate to sell your bees or honey.

Anyone seen any swarms this year?   Yes!  Lots!  Swarming is the way honeybees reproduce.   Colony numbers decline during the winter, then build-up in the spring.    To demonstrate what swarming is NOT, he shared a trailer from The Swarm. Swarms don’t cause nuclear reactors to explode, etc., but humans fear of swarms can cause lots of things to go wrong.    A friend of a friend told the story of mowing grass, seeing swarm, leaping off still-moving mower which runs into a car.   Two women passing by in high heels start running and one breaks ankle, while the other sprains her ankle.   And how many bee stings in this scenario?   Zero.

What happens?   Bees build lots of swarm cells generally near the bottom of the comb.  Just pick up the brood box and look at the bottom if you want a quick check.  Supercedure cells are fewer and usually in the middle or upper part of the frame.

Why?   Bees are aggravated by overcrowding and an old queen.  Solutions?  Usually beekeeper should provide more room (more room than you think is needed in the spring), but it can mean reversing the supers if the bees have moved up for the winter and left the bottom brood box nearly empty.  Supering early in the year with just foundation (no drawn comb) won’t solve the problem so bait the new super with some drawn comb to get bees interested.  NEVER use a queen excluder under a box with just foundation.   If there are capped brood cells on the frame, the bees will emerge and go below and bees will fill the cell with honey.   Another option is to make a split.

Old queens swarm more than young ones.    The aging queen lays less, produces less pheromones, making swarming more likely.   Two years old is approaching too old.   Requeening every year is expensive, but so is swarming.    One study suggests that queens are naturally superceded about once a year.

It’s hard to stay ahead of the exponential bee population growth in the spring, but do it!   Once the swarm trigger is pulled, it can’t be undone.

Swarm control methods abound and some can be used together.    Shook Swarm control involves shaking the bees on the ground in front of the hive body containing the queen and foundation.   Queen excluder may be used to cover entrance to keep queen from absconding.

Demaree method separates queen from most brood by an excluder.   The queen is kept in the bottom hive body with empty comb and brood above excluder.  Queen cells must be removed from the brood super regularly.  Many manipulations and trips to the apiary are a disadvantage.

Splits can be made using the swarm queen cells.   The old queen is used for the new colony.   Leaving the swarm cells in the old location reduces drifting.

Things that won’t work or won’t work well:  clipping the queen’s wings (she’ll try to fly with swarm and fall to the ground to her detriment), excluders over the entrance, confining the queen in a cage inside the colony (reduces the brood but it’s not good bee management), cutting out swarm cells by hand (unless you do it once a week and NEVER, never miss a cell).

Prevention is key:   avoid overcrowding and requeen with young queens.

CATCHING SWARMS.   The low ones are easy.  Let the high ones go.  One fellow put his ladder in pick-up truck. fell, breaking two arms and a leg.   Bee vacuums work.  Swarm bait boxes may work with lure (lemongrass oil) inside and placed about 6-10 feet up. at the beginning of swarm season.   Use supers with dark comb.   Put bait boxes at least 100 yards from apiary.   Think like a bee.

SPACE REQUIRED IS THE TOUGH PART.   There’s no danger of having too much space in the spring, but in the fall, extra supers will be over-run by Small Hive Beetles and bees won’t be able to defend their space.   Bees could fill two supers with nectar in ONE week if all conditions are perfect.   Nectar is 85% moisture while honey is 15-18% so bees need lots of space to store the nectar and reduce the moisture.

PART TWO-VARROA CONTROL.   If you have Varroa in your hive you don’t have to worry abut swarms, or supers or any other equipment.    To get the scale of the problem, imagine how functional you would be if you had something the size of a small, blood-sucking turtle crawling around on your body.   And Varroa vector viruses like deformed wing, IAPV, CPV, KBV, ABV, SBV, BQCV.   Bees had viruses before Varroa invaded, but Varroa spread the diseases so now you’ve get 30,000 sick bees instead of the 300 sick bees you might have had before Varroa hit.

VARROA DETECTION.   Use a capping scratcher to get into drone brood to examine visible mites. (You’ll need to view 300 cells to get a valid sample.)  Or use the sugar shake and/or sticky board to measure Varroa infestation.)   A screened bottom board may help with Varroa control.

MOST CONSERVATIVE THRESHOLDS TRIGGERING  VARROA TREATMENT.

Spring sugar shake 1 mite per 100
Fall sugar shake 2 mites per 100
Spring sticky board 9 mites in 24 hours
Fall sticky board 12 mites per 24 hours

Nosema ceranae can be a big problem all year round while Nosema apis is not quite so serious.  Fumadil is the treatment for both.   Keep bottom boards clean.

MORE INFORMATION.   Be wary of the internet.   Check your sources.   University and peer-reviewed journals are the best journal.   If studies aren’t cited, be skeptical.   Correlation is not causation and bias is always present.   Think critically.

ANNOUNCEMENTS.      Thanks to Judy Lee and Donna Henderson for May refreshments.

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

ATTENDANCE SUMMARY:   24 members and 3 guests. plus speaker.   Four members reported sugar shakes in the last three months.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED by Lynn S. Wilson,  May 19, 2014

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