November 2013 Minutes

Date:  November 21, 2013
Location: Person County Office Building, Room 165

PROGRAM.  Mary opened the meeting..  Inge introduced Nancy Ruppert,  Apiary Inspector for a 17-county area in southeastern NC.  Nancy donated some pollen patties from Dadant to PCBA.

BEE NUTRITION-NANCY RUPPERT.   For kids and bees, nutrition is critical.   Beekeeping is more challenging than ever and Nancy steps it up:  Why settle for survival when you could strive for a thriving hive?   If you haven’t neglected other good bee management practices, investment in nutrition will more than pay for itself.   Cautions:   Timing is essential, delay costly, and recovery slow  (if at all).   Keep it simple!   While her talk would not cover this topic,  Nancy noted that bees benefit from floral diversity and encouraged beekeepers to plant accordingly.   She referred PCBA to the Chatham County Extension Agent for excellent resources on planting for pollinators.

NUTRITION MATTERS.   While hungry bees are usually a winter problem, this summer’s rain kept bees in hives too long and some colonies starved.  Good nutrition lengthens lifespan, improves queen’s performance, builds healthier immune system, and makes beekeeping economically sustainable.    Recent USDA research supports the importance of good nutrition.

BEES NEED both quality and quantity of carbs, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and water.  The best sources of CARBS are nectar and honey, though cane sugar syrup is acceptable.  High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is better than starvation, but varies in digestibility and may build up toxic Hydroxymethylfurfural, if it gets too hot.   Healthy colonies need about 700 pounds of nectar per year and at least 40-60 pounds to get through winter.    Italian bees are less conservative than other races.   Bees in warmer climates need MORE carbs because they fly more.    First nectar in our calendar year is red maple, but it’s thin and bees use it quickly.

WHEN CARBS?  Feed carbs during nectar shortages, to help build winter stores (Sept-Oct)(also helps insulate hive), when wax foundation needs to be drawn out, to stimulate egg-laying and support brood-rearing.

HOW?   Boardman entrance feeders are easy for beekeeper to see and access, but may be hard for bees to get if it’s cold and promote robbing if it’s hot.  Division board and top hive feeders are in the hive, but find a way to keep bees from drowning.  Fondant or candy board is good in the winter.  (YouTube links are forthcoming from Nancy.)   If fondant is too hard bees can’t take it up.  Sprinkles of moistened sugar may help if nothing else can be done.  Community feeders can create mob scenes where the stronger colonies get stronger and weaker colonies get left out.  Pollen should be available if you’re feeding carbs because bees need it to digest the carbs.

POLLEN helps bees fly farther, faster, produce healthier queens (getting enough royal jelly) and workers, especially nurse bees who are the primary direct consumers of pollen.   Adequate pollen stimulates healthy brood-rearing, stronger immune systems, and better winter survival (due to fat storage and vitellogenin).

Best pollens (like dandelion, canola, and apple) contain about 25% protein; the best substitutes are 15% (or more) protein.  Pine, sunflower and ragweed aren’t very good protein sources.  (Standards for analysis and labeling pollen substitutes are non-existent.)  The average colony collects 50-120 pounds of pollen per year and uses 40-110 pounds annually.   In NC, pollen is available naturally from 9-12 months out of the year.    In March and April, hope to see a RAINBOW of pollen in hive reflecting a diversity of floral sources.

WHEN-POLLEN?   During shortages (especially late winter or when too much rain keeps bees in hive), prior to likely stressors like brood-rearing, pollination, hive splits, raising queens, rearing winter bees, prior to nectar flow), when feeding carbs, and when you want to raise robust crop of small hive beetles.   (A few adults is not too bad, but if you see larvae, your bees can’t cope.)

HOW?  Pollen patties need to be consumable, digestible and offer good nutrition value.   Nancy has seen consistently good results from feeding Mega-Bee and Global brands.   CAUTION:   Bees need adequate microflora in gut to digest pollen.   Are you using antibiotics, etc., to treat other problems that may be destroying microflora?

OTHER SUPPLEMENTS.   There is some research support for use of Honey B Healthy or ProHealth, in sugar syrup, as feeding stimulants and preservatives that contain essential oils.  If bees are not taking pollen, mix Amino-B Booster (amino acid supplement) with sugar syrup and Honey B Healthy.   Nozevit or Nozevit Plus is a combo of plant polyphenols which help bee digestion and may help prevent nosema.

Q&A.   Are powdered pollen substitutes okay?   Yes.  Some people mix with sugar syrup and some hang pollen substitutes in dipper gourds near hives.   When is okay to open hives to feed?  Every NC county has at least one day per month of temperatures above 50 degrees when it’s okay to inspect the hive.  Early January feeding will help queen start laying eggs.  Too much egg-laying too early will result in more brood than workers can keep warm in a cold snap.   Brood are much more sensitive to cold than adult bees.

BEARS.   What to do?  Kim’s neighbors reported seeing bear.   Nancy says heavy voltage electric fence or Nite Guard may work.

FUNDRAISER-HONEY-OF-THE-MONTH.   Inge reported about $840 in ticket sales, with contriubtions of honey from Louis and Geneva, Todd Walker, Calvin Boyd, Tim Harris, Mac and Amanda, and Carol Carter.  Nancy drew the winning ticket #354 belonging to M. Barnette.  Inge will call the winner tomorrow and arrange for delivery.   Todd awarded a jar of award-winning Hurdle Mills Company Honey to Carol for selling the most tickets, more than 200. and to Nancy for her presentation.

ACTION:   PCBA agreed to repeat this fundraiser next year, possibly with two drawings if enough honey is available.

PCBA STATE FAIR BOOTH “What It takes to Be a Beekeeper” earned SECOND PRIZE and Mary thanked Inge, Louis and everyone who helped.  Todd noted that the prize money almost offsets the cost of doing the exhibit.  Carol volunteered at the State booth and said lots of folks spent some time at the bee exhibits.  PCBA members earning ribbons for honey, observation hive, bee photos and wax crafts included Louis, Carol, Todd, and Inge.

ACTION:  Louis noted that section and cut-comb honey competitions had almost no entries so check the guidelines and plan now to enter next year and win your own premiums.   Mary encouraged members to send ideas for next year’s booth to Inge now.

ACTION:  Kim suggested we construct a human-sized hive with theme “Be a Bee”.   Carol says everyone should visit the NC Zoo Bee exhibit.  Kate noted that’s where she first heard about PCBA.

MINUTES of October meeting were approved as distributed online.

FUNDRAISER-HATS are in so see Amanda to pay ($12) or purchase one of the four remaining unsold.

FUNDRAISER-T-SHIRTS will be sold to participants in next bee school.

ACTION:   The group agreed to support all three fundraisers (Honey-of-the-Month, T-shirt and hat (or some other apparel) sales again next year.  Mac Blanks and fundraising committee will be responsible for managing these projects.

YOUTH BEEKEEPER SPONSORSHIP.   Inge received the $700 check from NCSBA to add to the $300 already received for this project.   The FFA-Farmer’s Market connection is going nowhere so she and Todd visited the 4-H agent and asked her to try to identify a prospective beekeeper.

FINANCE.  Amanda Blanks submitted her report showing a beginning balance of $2485.33, with income from dues and raffle ticket sales of $299.   Reimbursements and transferring of NCSBA dues resulted in expenses of $401.92.   The petty cash balance continues to be $50 and the ending balance is $2432 (not counting raffle ticket and hat sales and the $700 grant money).

MEMBERSHIP.    Lynn reported that 31 PCBA members have paid dues for 2014 and, of those, 19 also joined the State organization.

NOMINATIONS.  Tom Savage reported that current officers have agreed to serve another year if no others volunteer and asked for nominations from the floor.  In the absence of additional nominations, Amanda (Treasurer), Lynn (Secretary), Inge (VP), and Mary (Prez) agreed to serve one more year.  Inge noted that she’d like someone to help her with some projects this year so she can be out of the VP’s job next year.   Lynn noted that the workload could be better shared if some committee chairs were appointed, such as a Hospitality Chair to coordinate refreshments.

ACTION:  Mary asked everyone to volunteer for a project/committee in 2014.

NCSBA WEBSITE.    Louis says updates are a state priority but hinges on volunteers so don’t expect anything to get fixed soon.

PCBA-COOPERATIVE EXTENSION DISPLAY will be mounted at Extension Building soon and will need continual updates.  Carol, Kim and Mary offered to help Inge though Carol cautioned she’ll be out of commission for several weeks.   Mary reported 153 hives owned by PCBA members to Extension Director Woods in 2013.

ACTION:   Secretary was directed to create PCBA Attendance Sheets in March, June and September that ask members to report their current number of hives, and the range of  Varroa mite counts in their apiary.

OUTREACH.   Ag Day for Person County school children was cancelled because of rainy cold weather but may be rescheduled for spring (affording better prospects for bringing live bees).

ACTION:   To consider for next year:   Be represented on the Farm Tour (the Savages confirmed that PCBA would be welcomed on their farm) and at the old farmers’ market.   Sponsor a float in Christmas and 4th of July parades.

BEE SCHOOL begins on Thursday, January 16.    Maximum is 45 participants and cost of $40 includes materials.   Carol reported that her sister has signed up for bee school in Washington as a result of her PCBA visit!

ACTION:   Todd and Inge will market school, including community service channel 10.

ACTION:  Kim will post notice on Facebook.

ACTION:   PCBA members are asked to download flyer from website (as soon as Todd posts it!) and share with friends and post in stores, etc.

MEETING ADJOURNED.  Mary invited folks to refreshments provided by Lynn Wilson and adjourned the meeting.

HOLIDAY POTLUCK.   Come early!   Dinner begins at 6:30 PM on Thursday, December 19 in Room 165, Person Co. Office Bldg.    PCBA provides plates, cups, utensils and drinks.

ACTION:   Bring a potluck dish, a guest, and a gift for a beekeeper to play “Dirty Santa”.

ACTION:  Visit Carol in the hospital!   Her knee surgery is December 18.


POSTSCRIPT FROM NANCY VIA INGE.  Our guest speaker, state inspector Nancy Ruppert, cited several videos and references in her talk last night about bee nutrition. Below is that information.-Inge

Making Fondant

Here are the links for the videos; the first one listed shows how to make a very functional but simple/inexpensive candy board, the second has a great recipe and reviews how to make the candy, and the third shows a good basic recipe but also clearly illustrates how to make candy and has a fun/catchy tune playing while the video rolls.

Research paper on bee nutrition and its impact on queen productivity

References from her talk

Collison, C. and Sheridan, A. A closer look: microflora. Bee Culture (138) 11, 15-17

Conrad, Ross. The skinny on high fructose corn syrup and hydroxymethylfurfural. Bee Culture (138) 1, 42-44

Huang, Zachary. Honey bee nutrition. Bee Culture (138) 9, 22-26

Tipton, Steve. Make a candy board. Bee Culture (138) 11, 44-45

P.S. If you have a subscription to Bee Culture and you get it electronically I believe you have access to back issues.

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