Meeting Minutes

Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Curator State Arboretum of Virginia—Diversity, Importance and Threats Facing native Wild Bee Species

Part of Blandy Experimental Farm/State Arboretum of Virginia

Bee Diversity: current estimates—world: 20,000 species; US + Canada: 3500; Eastern USA: 900+; Blandy: 142+

All different kinds of green bees are sweat bees. Wool carding bees strip leaves of their hair to construct their nests.

Most Common Bee Families in Our Area—Apidae (bumble and honey), Megachilidae (Mason and leaf cutter), Andrenidae (mining), Halictidae (sweat—some solitary and some social, it can vary with latitude or altitude), Colletidae (polyester—are a type of bee that excavates soil but then lines it with a substance similar to plastic that they secrete that waterproofs the nest). All carry pollen but it differs among the families. Either corbiculum or scopal brush, or internally through their crop. How they nest in the wild differs among families as well. Most are solitary bees with the outliers of honeybees that have a colony year round.

Basic life cycle of most ground nesting bees: gather all the pollen/nectar they need, lay an egg and then the chamber is sealed and there is no contact between the mother and her offspring. (What about males and mating? Males are all haploid in solitary, social bees, wasps and ants. Females only mate once. Within a solitary nest, males are laid on the outside of the nest. They’re smaller, develop quicker, and have to emerge before females do.)

Another way of making a living: theft, murder and coercion: Coelioxys sayi, Triepeolus sp., Epeolus bufacsciatus (kind of like cuckoo), Bombus citrinus will force their way into another bumble bee nest and bully the queen, lay eggs and the worker bumble bees will care for them and breed more parasitizing bumble bees.

Honey bees are not always necessary in pollination. Honey bees don’t actually like to pollenate squash plants. Almost never the primary pollinator of squash, that instead is the squash bee (usually not out until later in summer), followed by bumble bee (they pollinate earlier season squash blossoms), and only then is the honey bee.

Honey bees are less effective on Alfalfa (alfalfa leaf cutter bee and alkali bee), Tomatoes and Peppers (bumble bees—Bombus impatiens who use buzz pollination or sonification–types of Solanacae plants do not expose their pollen and the blossom has to be shaken to expose pollen through a tiny hole)

Bumble Bees: among the most dominant bee groups ecologically in temperate ecosystems. About 12 species in Virginia. Cycle—queen emerges from the ground in early spring. Look for cavity and start nest. Provision the nest. Raise workers. Nest lasts through August, October. New queen emerges from the nest. Mates. Digs into ground to nest through the winter.

Of 250 species worldwide, 33 extinct or endangered in last 50 years. Steep and recent decline over the last few years. Factors that effect bumblebees: pesticides, lost of certain plants, Nosema bombi–reduces colony growth, reduces individual longevity, reduces colony reproduction, affects different species differently. Spread in North America may be connected to commercial rearing.

Sharply declining: American bumble bee (over 60% of samples had Nosema), rusty patched bumble bee—put on Endangered Species List March 2017 making it the first bee on the list ever. Vulnerable: black and gold bumble and golden northern bumble.  Common: two-spotted, common eastern, brown banded, half black, confusing bumble bee. Species who are most likely to be infected have a really high rate of disease.

Virginia Working Landscapes Program: 49 sites between 2014 and 2017. Tracking distribution of bee species.

Bee Hotels—The Bee Wall, U. Maryland. Do they promote native bees? Three species of mason bees that compete for the same spaces to nest at the same time. Has a study going to measure the proportion of the three species in bee hotels.

What can people do to support pollinators? Get involved with research projects when available. Provide safe habitats. See Xerces Society website for plant lists. (Turtlehead-candy for deer, but good nectar plant in the fall.) Abelia nectar plant along the interstate from June on to August.

Bumble bees forage a radius of 1 mile. Sweat bees a couple hundred yards. Have to think of scale.

Deformed Wing Virus does affect bumble bees. Nosema cerani is shared with honey bees as well. Varroa and Small Hive Beetles are still honey bee exclusive.

Business Meeting:

Volunteer for snack August or past that.

Treasurer’s Report: $11340.23 as our balance currently.

On-going discussion with 4-H for a one-day bee workshop/field trip maybe in the summer. Possibility for a mentorship program with kiddos. If interested, please let Sue know.

Nuc Program: Nine or ten people signed up so far.

Pine needles available if interested.

Intro new members/guests.

June 30th Picnic at Bill Theiss’s barn. Club provides the meat, potluck sides/desserts. Auction to fundraise for the club.

January 18, 2018 Business Meeting

Jason Hallacher standing in for Dave Pugh. Speakers lined up through May. Ty speaking in February on Native Bees.

Need volunteers for Earth Day Staunton, 10-2 in Gypsy Hill Park.

April 28 need help for Riverfest. 9-5 in Waynesboro.

Snack sign up for the year.

4H Mentorship program to encourage younger people to get into beekeeping.  Need a person to help teach classes. Could sponsor kids for equipment.

October 19, 2017. Integrated Pest Management Exploration in VA Cucurbit Production and Honey bee Risk Qualification

James M. Wilson (Extension Apiculturist) & Thomas P. Kuhar V. Tech Department of Entomology

Squash Bugs. Squash/Cucumbers/Melons/Lufas. Pollinators ie honeybees.

60% Extension and 40% Teaching, Bees and Beekeeping and Insects and Human Society.

Squash Bee. More efficient than honey bee. 6 honey bee visits = 1 squash bee work. Honey bees are lazy and wait until temps warm up and there is a better return. Squash bee starts working earlier. Squash bees are native.

436+ native bees to Virginia according to Natural History Museum out of Martinsville.

What about growing cucurbits—how can that affect bees?

Squash bug life cycle: Overwinter in mulch in gardens. Anywhere they can avoid the frost. They come out in the spring. Lay eggs and start to feed on the plant. Hatch out in summer. Molt and get uglier. Each stage feeds on the plant. Can bring disease/bacteria (CYVD-Cucurbit Yellow Vine Decline), which we don’t have here. Mostly we deal with the sucking mouth parts that cause wilt. Eggs are watertight so spraying doesn’t really work unless you’re spraying pyrethroids (big hammer insecticide).

Parasitoid Wasps (Gryon pennslyvanicum), which are native, would use their ovipositor to prey on the eggs and not let squash bugs hatch out. 2014-15 Mountain of VA # of masses 416–72.4% are parasitized. Looking at the effects of using a narrow spectrum insecticide to make sure it doesn’t harm the parasitoid wasps.

Looked at sub-lethal effects on bees. Long term effects. Used high tunnel system and nucleus colony to enclose them. Trained bees to a “nectar” source at a given time interval with no other food sources.

Saw that bees when exposed to the sublethal dosage in only food source available—the bees will take themselves out of the equation and not visit that food source. The pesticide was there for a field test and had already been tested on their queens/brood/etc. (Done by EPA).

Election? Floor open for nominations for officers. All current officers are still willing to run. Move to close nominations. Motion seconded. Motion passed.

Need plenty of volunteers for Saturday, November 4th, beekeeper meeting. 630 to help start coffee. Can online register for the meeting. Need help for lunch.

May 18, 2017. European Beekeeping

Varroa present in Europe since 1977. 10 years longer than Americas. Jan/Feb hive pop. dips and then height at June. When population dips is when varroa population explodes and viral transmission explodes. Big colonies breed lots and lots of mites and they sometimes crash in August. If you don’t do anything, then there will be issues. Hives are rearing winter bees in August and that’s the worst possible time. They need to be as healthy as possible. Less than the 3 per 100 threshold.

Varroa are actually feeding on fat body, they are feeding on exactly the thing that allows honeybees to live long. 70-80% of brood are hiding in brood comb. Varroa like warmth. By the time you see them on adults, because they should be on the belly, on their back, it means that it may be too late.

The mother lays eggs on the pupae, the first is always a male, who will mate with his sisters in the communal fecal pile that is in cell. Varroa go through four molting stages before being an adult. Male varroa are teardrop shape and females are oval shape. Daughter comes out of cells, rides around on bees for a week, then starts laying on her own. They produce every 21 days/24 days. More generations in a shorter reproduction cycle quick resistance is bred.

Warm weather. Rainy weather. Then hot. Produces swarms. Lots of swarms. The rain forces everybody inside and they finish out swarm cells.

European’s do drone comb removal in the winter. Wooden frame. No foundation. Natural beehive is like a hard boiled egg. If you put this frame at the very edge of the brood nest right where there is frame that is almost straight bee-bread. Drone brood is dispensable. Mark it drone. Early March.  They work as an insulator. All the early varroa that survived will gravitate to the drone brood. 3 weeks later. Cut it out. Otherwise you are breeding drones. In drone brood you are breeding 2 and a half daughters. One drone brood frame for every brood chamber. Alternate sides.

Monitor your varroa numbers in July. Use an alcohol wash.

In the winter when they are broodless. Dribble oxalic acid method. Only where the bees are. Be very, very, very careful with oxalic acid vaporization. It can be risky to the applicator and lead to kidney failure.

When the comb is getting narrow toward the bottom of drone comb as a swarm indicator. Raising drones damps down the need to swarm because they have too much food otherwise. When the comb is nice and fat and rounded at the bottom, they are not likely to swarm.

Once you see larvae in a queen cup, you have about 3 days. Once it capped, the next nice day, they are out of there.

Can render the drone comb and create your own foundation.

The bigger colony will actually use less honey in the winter because they are better able to thermoregulate. Better to combine weak hives in the fall with strong ones than to try to nurse the weaker hives through the winter.

Don’t do screened bottom boards. Monitor 48-72 hours to get a more accurate count. Deformed Wing Virus is only when the virus makes it way to the brain. If heavily parasitized, they have a shortened abdomen.

Lactic acid and formic acid are also treatments that can be used. Amatraz is also used.

One way to tell how well a queen is doing is how many attendants she has.

Business Meeting.

June 25 Picnic. Bring something to auction. Bring a side. Sign up. At Bill Theiss’s home.

No meeting in July unless otherwise notified. Next meeting in August.

Sign up to help with fairs. Augusta County and Rockingham.

Treasurer’s Report.

April 20, 2017—Jason Hallacher—Queen Rearing

Business Meeting.
Need help with Earth Day and Riverfest.
Treasurer’s Report.
May 18th Kristen Trainor from Fall Meeting will be speaking on European beekeeping.
June 24th spring picnic @ Bill’s. 2-6pm. There’s an auction.
State newsletter will be out this weekend (we hope).
Spring state meeting at Ferrum College this June. Friday and Saturday.
Backyard Beekeeping Rearing: Creating a Sustainable Apiary
Buying an Apiary: Southern packages/Nucs/Designer Queens
Creating Sustainability: Save $, new challenge, propagate local genetics/treatment free beekeeping which relies upon local bees (Packages have to be treated).
Splits: dividing an existing colony into 2 or more parts—reasons: create more colonies, produce nucs, raise queens, prevent swarms, control mites through brood breaks.
Types: even splits/queen-rite and queenless split/on the spot queen rearing method (OTS), infinite possibilities. (Don’t be afraid! It can relatively simple.)
What you need: 2-3 frames of brood, frame of honey, frame with pollen. Think: food and brood. Splitting too light can cause problems-chilled brood. Feeding nucs isn’t a bad idea when they are first starting out.
Know your gestation rates: queens 16. Workers: 21. Drones: 24s. Look at queen calendars—+/- 28 days for a mated queen.
Even split: perfect for new beekeepers. It’s low risk, done in a single location, simple concept, creates more colonies, helps you learn about honey bee gestations, hurts honey production. (Source: Michael Bush’s The Practical Beekeeper). Can place your new entrances adjacent to one another at a diagonal with entrances forced to make a choice between the two hives. Go back a week later and move the boxes further apart and can inspect. If there are eggs, you’ve got the queen in that hive, other one will be working to raise the new queen.
Queen-right Split/Queenless Split: (Doesn’t hurt honey production as much.) Queen-right: 3 frames of brood/food. 2 frames of foundation for them to draw out. Queen-less: 3 frames brood/food, 2 frames foundation, open brood.
Real-world example: splitting a grumpy hive.
On-the-Spot-Queen-Rearing (OTS). Mel Disselkoen. (Slightly more advanced.) “Strives to identify the natural behaviors and seasonal reproductive cycles of the honeybee and then direct those behaviors toward a profitable outcome”. Grafting w/o grafting. Harness the traits that are favorable—need to find aging larvae. “Notching technique” breaks lower third of cells near the right aged larvae to give them the opportunity to let the bee draw a nice queen cell as opposed to something more emergency-like. Step 1: Remove queen. Step 2: Notch your cells, mark your frames so you know where to expect the queen-cells. Step 3: Wait—monitor the queen right nuc, prep equipment. Step 4: Inspect and can make more than one split. Step 5: Monitor mating success—keep notes!
Late Summer Brood Break: process the removing the queen and letting colony go quenelles and raise a new queen interrupts the Varroa Mite reproductive cycle. Late summer brood breaks help bees overwinter. June-July is peak bee population. Varroa peak August/September and lead to late fall crash. July 1 remove the queen and then she can overwinter in a nuc. The hive will raise a new one—will reduce honey production but worth it for their health.
Preventing after-swarming: only allow 2 really nice queen cells at a time.
Small Scale Sustainable Grafting: J-C’s bees. YouTube channel about grafting bees.

February 16, 2017. Anne Harmond

The Winter Hive.
Bees prefer to live vertically. They don’t heat the hive. They heat their cluster/themselves. Food over brood, so they move up. Started from the bottom now we’re here.
Thermal chimney action. Not possible in a top bar hive. Can make overwintering hard. Brood in the front, honey in the back.
Styrofoam hives? Nope. Wood is good.
Snow is good insulation. Wax acts as an insulator. So does honey. Bees themselves are insulators.
Wings/legs attached to the thorax have to move and that is important to the winter cluster. Bee blood (hemolymph—bug juice)—doesn’t work like ours, lots in the thorax and head. Heart is located in the abdomen. Thorax is jammed with muscle that operate the wings and legs. Wings aren’t attached to the muscles and so bee can use them without flapping the wings-generate heat. But to move need fuel aka honey. Need to make sure they have honey for the winter.
Heater bees. Deep down in the cells, can see the tips of the abdomen. They go headfirst into empty cells. Will shiver their muscles to generate heat. Do this during brood raising
Don’t break the winter cluster!! Even if it is warm outside. Don’t pull frames.
Filling station bees. Transport the fuel. Travel to stored honey and back to heater bees. Use their antennae to determine who has cooled off and needs the fuel. Bring to the core bees. They have to work fast.
No age requirement on being heater or storage bees. Jobs are interchangeable. Are changed throughout the day as their individual temperatures rise and fall. A very dynamic cluster.
Cluster is a sphere. Has comb running though it which insulates them. Ventilating bees circulate warm air in the core. There is an outer insulating shell made of bees facing inward-each thorax touches the other and their pile traps warm air. Abdomens are sticking outward because they can be cooler.
64 degrees outside. The cluster starts to form—is loose. Not tightly organized.
54 degrees. A bee will fly and stays warm enough as long as she has enough fuel.
50 degrees. Abdomen’s lowest temp on the outer core. If below will work their way to the inner cluster.
If no brood, no point in wasting heat. Won’t be above 68 degrees in the cluster.
93-94 degrees for brood rearing. (Brood being laid starting in February, continuing through March.) Needs plenty of fuel, plenty of heater bees. Filling station bees are really working hard b/c to maintain that temp requires a lot of fuel.
Most densely packed together occurs at 23 degrees or below.
46 degrees air temp. If a single bee’s body temp drops to 46 or below it will freeze.
 Bees can cook a yellow jacket to death by balling it and shivering their muscles because a yellow jacket can only tolerate 112 degrees while a bee can withstand
114 degrees will kill a bee by cooking it.
For wintering success….
A large amount of bees and a large amount of fuel in the right place.
Business Meeting.
Treasurer’s Report.
Nuc Program Report-Jason. Getting organized to supply. See Sue’s email if interested in buying-priority given to new beekeepers. Hoping to produce 20-30. Mutts from VA. Bred from survivors, non-treated hives. Mostly deeps. A few mediums.

January 19, 2017. Business Meeting and Nuc Program Presentation. 

Had members sign up for snack.
March Meeting with Solomon Parker. BRCC. Saturday, March 11th. Can sign up on BRCC website. Treatment free beekeeping. Can find out more about him on YouTube. Bill will post talk topics on our webpage.
Survivor Nuc Program – Jason Hallacher
Motion to approve the budget. Voted to approve the budget that Sue outlined.
Motion to approve $2000 for the nuc program.
No new business.
No business from the previous meeting.
February’s speaker is Ann Harmond.
Dues are due.


October 20, 2016 Dave Pugh, Bait Hives

Leo Sherlotski (Cornell) — deep good chamber is what swarm of bees is typically looking for. With a small hole akin to an entrance reducer. Put in comb that isn’t built out since if the bees don’t come, you won’t mind too much losing it to wax moth. With a little comb on the side so about 8 frames wide. (Disclaimer—“his process”) Make sure level from left to right. Level back to front is less important)
Keep off ground a good ways – . 80 – 100 yards from his hives. Pheromone of queen extract, draws in the scout bees.. Lemongrass works too and is cheaper. (Drops can last for weeks and weeks, contain it in an opened ziploc bag to keep it going a little bit longer) Put two drops on cotton ball, roll it in. Rachett strap it.
Then you move the bait hive around 2 miles if you can.
“Fish where the fish are” Bait hives where there are feral hives. Genetics are on your side. But don’t be misled by bees coming in and out/they may just be inspecting b/c of the pheromone/wax. Have to be sure by lifting lid—bees will stick to an area, couple of frames and built it out. Or if you see pollen coming in. If spread out all over the place, just scout bees/robber bees. If lots of scout bees, keep waiting, they have to reach consensus.
Moving a bait hive, either at night or crack of dawn. Or if it is cold.
Set it out 3-4 weeks and then will hopefully see results.
Dorn—35/40 cubic liter box made out of plywood and 1/4” board that has space for six frames that was successful. Referenced Cornell Bee Lab.
“Swarm in May is worth a bale of hay,
Swarm in June is worth a silver spoon,
Swarm in July isn’t worth a fly.”
Two frames/Five frames/Six frames/even Ten works as a bait hive. Smaller bait hive attracts a smaller hive. Or could stack two five frames. Five frames at the top and space at the bottom. Don’t have to check on it as often b/c they have the space. Open frame/foundation frame/open frame to help keep wax built out
Queen commander as a lure.
Or make a queen tincture. If you cull a queen or have a dead hive, recover the queen, smash her up and put her in alcohol.
Business Meeting
2 more slots for volunteers for State Fall Meeting. Fred took one. $8 to Sue for lunch.
Need about 5 people in the morning to help with coffee, chill drinks, get snacks out. Need another person to help at the registration table.
Christmas basket. Need items!! Can bring to the State Meeting.
Visitors from Fred’s class but not Bill’s. Wah wah waaaaah
Sharon and Dorne are the people to contact if you are interested in being on the board for the club. Other ways to help if you don’t want to be on the board. Mentoring someone or suggestions for projects.
Dave Pugh is placing an order for Russian queens. $40 a pop.
Treasurer’s Report.
No unfinished business from last month.
No new business.
Christmas party on Saturday, December 10th. Party from 2-6. At Tinkling Springs.

September 15, 2016 Alex Hausrath, Mead Making

Great use of cappings, wet comb b/c it utilizes less that ideal honey. Alex started because of attempted rescue of tree bees that were taking down during the derecho.
Things to have: carboy, hygrometer. Good to use a commercial yeast. Notebook, good to have a record of what you’ve done. Thermometer. Postal gram scale. pH meter for beginning testing and endpoint acidity. Pipettes, sodium hydroxide.
Yeast:  (Lalvin 71b) When re-hydrating dried yeast, it can be very particular and take up to 90 minutes, but will yield a healthy yeast for a clean ferment. Beer yeast. Don’t use champagne yeast, will give it a acidic flavor.
Sulfites: Eliminates bacteria, shuts down the fermentation process. Hops will also do that. Fairly reactive. Some discussion about the necessity. Some people react to them—headaches/rash.
When fermenting, use steel spoon, tray to stir once a day to reduce acid. Important to keep equipment sterilized (kind of like beer). 12 – 15 days to get through the ferment.
Honey has a relatively low pH compared to fruit wines and it is recommended to add some calcium carbonate to give the yeast a foothold.
Possible to do without equipment, but might not taste great.
Resources:  — knows his yeast — recipes/techniques —good discounted source
Valley Bee Supply —if you’re looking for a simple, getting started sort of kit.
Primary ferment: can be done in buckets or a carboy. Buckets are better since it is easier.
Racking: not as critical to control oxygen. (Racking = going from the bucket to the carboy.) First racking in a glass carboy. Easier to clean than plastic. Puts in the freezer if still cloudy after several weeks.
Secondary ferment: 6 gallon carboy. 3-6 months. After yeast have settled in the carboy, remove it since it can alter the flavor. Introduces crystalline acids to mix.
Uses oak cubes after boiling them in water and adds them. Has tried using tannin powder. Doesn’t use barrels. In second or third rack when he makes adjustments.
16 lbs of honey to 6 gallons of water.
Fermenting in a cool place is recommended.
Bottling is next.
2 cases from 6 gallon carboy.
50% of the nutrients in up front with yeast. 60% of sugar remaining is when he introduces nutrients.
Uses a filler wand with a spring loaded nozzle. Valve on bottom that introduces mead to bottle with oxidizing it.
Start up investment: $200-ish for kit. But doesn’t have to be nearly that expensive. Could be less than $15.
Can’t sell. No more than 250 gallons/year to run afoul of ABC, but whose checking.
Business Meeting.
4 new folks—Tuesday night at BRCC Fred’s class starts. Hands on apiary experience.
Bill is teaching at Staunton Rec Center first two weekends.
Dues are $10 for the local club and $10 for the state. (State is optional, but the fall state meeting is discounted or free if you volunteer at the meeting).
Need volunteers for Self-Reliance Expo. 9-5 at Augusta Expo.
October 9th, Sunday, Farming in the Valley, behind the Purple Cow on 340. 9-4. Set up around 8.
Treasurer’s Report. Mac cable.
Nominating Committee for coming up with a ballot for October, voting in November. Constitution and bylaws have description of each position. Are located on the webpage. 2 people. Just asking for volunteers. Volunteers? Dorn and Sharon. Thanks!
Speaker next month: Charles Walther—Russian bees. Keith Tignor in November.
Volunteers for Fall meeting?
Calling for donations for the Christmas basket. Two items that are the same. Please bring items in October.

April Meeting 4/21/16 Anne Harmond Yes you can be a mentor!

“Bee Keeping” by Bee Culture is a quarterly publication for first, second, and third year beekeepers. Can get it at Tractor Supply or order online. Let Anne know if you’re interested.
“To teach is to learn”
Mentor: to teach, a counselor or guide.
Learn to use the correct terms. Supers get their name from being superimposed on top of the brood chamber. Hive body = box. A bit general. Don’t call everything a box or everything a super. Doesn’t help newbies figure out where things go.
Don’t do all the work. Demonstrate and then make them do it.
Use safe practice. Optimal time and weather.
Propolis will come off clothing with alcohol.
Business Meeting
Sympathy card for Joyce Moore. Garrett Moore’s memorial service is June 25th at 11.
May meeting at Lake Shenandoah.
June meeting is at Bill’s farm for a picnic on the 25th. Garrett’s memorial is at 11 and the picnic is at 3. Potluck and BBQ chicken provided. Serve food at 4. Auction to raise $ for the club. Bring an item-it can be bee related or not.
July is hive inspection day at Sue’s. Usually around 10. Date to be determined.
August we will be back at Tinkling Springs.
Marcel Durieux “Appropriate Technology” to “Balanced Beekeeping”: The curious history of the versatile top-bar hive
Introduction of new visitors.
  • Has both kinds and doesn’t prefer one over the other.
  • Development: 16th c. movement from appropriate tech to balanced beekeeping.
  • Most throughout history was done using fixed comb hives. Providing a container and then bees will afix comb wherever they chose.
  • Types of fixed comb hives, horizontal (a little more work to make-easier to cut out the comb than in the vertical), some made of wood (Can last up to 10 years) or clay (put a plug in the back end because that is where they will store the honey and easier to extract the honey without destroying the whole thing) and vertical (gums) (tree beekeeping-northern Europe, think Germany, where there are dense forests, mark trees as their property, cut part of tree to extract—has pretty much died out, but has made a bit of a comeback in recent years)
  •  Horizontal tend to be found in tropical, vertical in temperate zones perhaps because greater need for increased honey storage and need to conserve heat, less surface area exposed as roof that would allow for heat to escape
  • Skeps: Can’t be managed realistic.
  • Pros of fixed comb: easy to build-except may deplete large trees, inexpensive, “natural”
  • Cons: difficult to harvest, no management possible, no disease inspection possible
  • Eva Crane “In an area of movable comb hives, beekeeping with fixed-comb hives is anti-social.”
  • Movable comb hives: earliest known use is from Greece. Round basket with flat tops sticks across that can be moved. George Wheeler documented it, but had probably been used for hundreds of years prior (1682)
  • Wooden rectangular box design published in 1683 by J.A.(British naturalist) because then frames could be exchanged throughout the width of the box contrary to the round which could not
  • Then for 100s of years. No change.
  • Pros: easy construction from local materials, inexpensive, allows colony management, easier harvesting
  • Cons: still requires cutting comb for management, comb typically is attached to sides. (When inspecting, limit yourself to the brood nest because it is lighter and don’t run the risk of honeycomb detaching itself after inspection).
  • Langstroth, 1853 published about his hives. Didn’t publish a picture of his original design just like JA. Within 50 years became the standard.
  • Jump from 1680 to 1960…need for a cheap and simple hive for managing colonies of African bees (Apis mellifiera scutellata)
  • Why not Langstroth? They do allow for larger colonies, and give higher honey yields, but complex to build because of precision measures, expensive to build and maintain-needs to be high quality wood because will warp in the tropical heat and humidity, management involves taking apart the hive, which is problematic with defensive bees, not easily protected from predators (honey badger) As a result, need to hoist in the air, but hard to do with a Langstroth.
  • Appropriate technology: as applied to developing countries: technological choice and application that is: small-scale, decentralized, energy-efficient, environmentally sound, locally controlled. It may be labor intensive.
  • 1965 Penelope Papadopoulo, from Greece, experiments with the Grecian top-bar hive, constructed from local materials.
  • Tredwell-Paterson hive built and looks identical to what we have today. Until 1982 they experimented, and were finally satisfied.
  • 1967: Kenya Beekeeping Pilot Program
  • 1971: Kenya-Canada Beekeeping Project yields Kenya Top-bar Hive, runs through 182 at University of Guelph.
  • Most complex piece is the place where the bees attach the comb onto the bar, wedge-shaped.
  • Top-bar hives in Africa: simple and inexpensive to build and maintain, easier to handle defensive bees, better adapted to harvesting cycle: allows harvesting of a few combs at a time, allows more wax harvesting, builds on familiarity with horizontal hives in tropical areas, can be suspended to be out of reach of enemies
  • Top bar hives in the north: over the past 25 years have become more popular, i.e. Wyatt A. Mangum, one of the best resources on the subject.
  • Why do it? The idea of it being more natural (PJ Chandler) or a better way to practice  “balanced beekeeping” 2013.
  • What does it offer: natural comb, bee-determined cell size, no foundation. (Small cell size doesn’t necessarily prevent varroa the way that it has claimed to do—look at feral colonies survival rates compared to managed bee survival rates) Berry, J. Bee Culture 2009; 11: 49-51.
  • Foundationless argument: may contain pesticides and level of contamination may be decreased BUT not natural, brood combs are not harvested, so pesticide accumulation may affect brood. Can be done in a Langstroth hive not just in a top bar hive
-Fun to build your own, no lifting, few parts, less storage space required, inexpensive, non-violent toward bees.
Business Meeting. 
Check list to make sure most up to date address.
May meeting at Lake Shenandoah at 630.
Need a person to volunteer to bring snack.
Thanks for volunteers for the Saturday meeting.
Volunteers for: Earth Day for April 16th, Saturday at the Wharf in Staunton.
Riverfest, April 30th in Waynesboro. All-day. Interested in helping out, let Sue and Bill know.
Dave Pugh: VCC, April 17th in the afternoon at the Moore Farm outside of Staunton.
Fred: Shirts-talk to him. He’s getting an order together.
No left-over business.
No new business.
Treasurer’s Report. (Doesn’t include anything from the Michael Bush seminar-didn’t lose money)
Motion to adjourn.

February Meeting. February 18, 2016. Native Bee Friendly Plants

Karl Shank and Marly Reish
Michael Bush talk on March 12. Don’t forget to sign up.
Introduction of visitors.
Sign up for snack!!
Membership dues are due.
Karl: Stumbled into starting this company. Started as doing stonework and then developed into native plant nursery five years ago.
There are plant lists on online or they are coming out with a catalog soon. Sue has gone through and gave them the bloom progression which will be very relevant for our area.
Doug Tallamay. “Bringing Nature Home” Case for using native plants in landscaping. 7 year study. Started to rank how butterflies/moths respond to trees/shrubs/plants.
 Landscape that has natives v. nonnatives will host 80% more life.
Native plants: pre-adapted, stabilize soil, ecosystem. Created shade and shelter.
Boneset good pollinator attractor
Early spring food sources: see handout.
Business meeting:
Pay your dues!
Check out the pollinator sign either on the website or at Lake Shenandoah. Meet there in May to tour the pollinator garden. Could be one way to attract new members.
Michael Bush. Need volunteers to help with lunch. Can pay at the gate. Don’t have to register.
Treasurer’s Report: Nothing has changed since January.
Sign up for snack.
Announcements/Questions: Beeswax candles? Anybody else make them? Bill shared some tips.
160 ft electric net for bear fence will enclose 10-15 hives. Brand new. $100.
Plug for the Pollinator Protection Plan make comments.
June 25 summer picnic. BBQ Chicken.
Can order shirts and hats through Fred.

January Business Meeting

Meeting Called to Order.
Don’t forget to renew membership.
Only one change from last year’s budget.  Will go line by line for approval.
Increased printing expenses.
Decreased office supplies.
Increased postage.
No other changes.
Budget approved.
No deadline for sign finishing up at Lake Shenandoah.
 Waiting on Shane for speakers for next year.
Treasurer’s report.
Any other suggestions for worthy endeavors for our club.
Michael Bush seminar March 12 at BRCC
Will need volunteers to help with lunch.
Feel free to put up fliers.
Club apiary: may invest money in this spring.
May need a new location for the spring picnic.
Have we considered reclaiming a section of a park to refurbish to make pollinator friendly as possible investment/project?
How do we encourage more beekeepers and what’s the possibility of raising bees to sell or for club members?  If there was someone willing to spearhead that effort, we could make club funds available.  BRCC being open to the possibility of it being the club apiary? Norfolk/Chesapeake/Tidewater might be good models. If selling, have to be state inspected and one member coordinates selling.
Meeting adjourned.


DIY Nematode Rearing for Small Hive Beetle Control—Izzy Hill 11/19/15

Center for Urban Bee Research—small scale beekeeping.
How to rear beneficial nematodes…groundworm (non-segmented), 25000 known types.  They’re everywhere.
Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) 2 types: Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis indica (only discussing this one)
88-100% efficacy agains pupae and larvae in the soil.
EPNs naturally occur in the soil. Type of parasitoid.
Infective juveniles (Nematode larvae) enter through mouth, anus, spiracles. Release bacteria—symbiotic that IJ pukes up, host dies and turns into mush and IJ eats the mush and becomes an adult until there is no more mush to digest.
The bacteria is Photorhabdus luminescent. They light up in the IJ and produce anti-biotics. The anti-biotics produced/nematicides make it so one kind of nematode can’t infect the same host as another nematode.  Produce compounds that deter scavenging insects.
Life cycle of SHB: Female lays eggs inside the hive.  The larvae will eat anything available until they are full.  They leave the hive to pupate in the soil.  They have amazing olfactory abilities and know how to return to the hive.  They can go through wandering larvae stage and can last up to six months before they find a spot to pupate. They can fly up to nine miles.
No action thresholds set for SHB in IPM.
Using political sign inserts during August (when pop. tends to be higher) can help you check your numbers.
Rearing your own nematodes–
Step 1: Culture.
Step 2: Harvest.
Step 3: Storage.
Buy from a trusted source: Southeastern Isectaries Bugs for Growers.
Request Heterorhabditis indica.
Need a host. Wax Moth Larvae (Galleria). i.e. Greater Wax Moth Larvae. MUST be alive. (Can get from a bait store). Store at 50 F in animal bedding to prolong life.
Petri Dish or Substitute (4” lids) 2” ones too. Wash it well so no residue.
Use 2 unbleached coffee filters cut to needed size of container.
Use pipette to collect ~0.1 ml or less of nematode suspension.
Add 1 ml of distilled water, gently mix. (You are thinking 20 nematodes to one wax worm—so barely a drop. Don’t want too many nematodes early on.  Reduces yield.)
Place in coffee filter. Barely saturate the filter. No drops coming off the filter when upside down.
Use 10-15 wax worms.  (Helps if they’re cold and immobile. Make sure they’re alive.)
Cover loosely with another lid.  (Let air in, don’t let worms out). Put culture in a partially unzipped Ziploc bag to maintain humidity and prevent filters from drying out.
Keep out of sunlight because nematodes are sensitive to UV radiation.
Put in a culture at room temp in a dark place.
After 2-3 days infected cadavers turns a rusty red color.
Total culture time = 5-7 days.
Step 1: Set 2 inch lids inverted inside 4 inch. Wax worm island. Nematode moat. Drape the 2 coffee filters over the island and edges go into nematode moat.
Fill the bottom lid with ~20 ml of distilled water. (If more water than that can kill the nematodes-anoxia.)  Let water wick up.
Arrange the wax worms radially. Only use the infected ones.  Don’t pour water over cadavers.
Put a perforated lid on it. Then half-open ziploc bag. Cool, dark place.
After 14-15 days check if they’ve emerged.
Pull out the island and dump into a clear glass jar. If you let it sit for 20 minutes, they’ll sink to the bottom, but don’t let them sit for longer. If you don’t see them, put them back in the bag and wait a few more days.  Swish the coffee filter in the island to get the nematodes and there is usually some that have collected between the filter and the lid.  Careful not to use too much water.
Double Check Infectivity.
Take a small amount of newly reared nematodes.  Repeat the culturing process but with just a few wax worms. Check to see if the infected worms turn rusty red color.
Tetra-pak with aluminum and polyetherine don’t allow the nematodes to get stuck.
Relatively short lifespan. 2 weeks max in fridge.
Rate of Application.
3 successfully infected wax worms = enough for one hive when applying 1 ft out (3:1 ratio) Most effective between 68-75F soil temperatures (mid-late June) Use NRCS’s Soil Climate Analysis Network to determine local soil temperatures in your area.
Mix a portion of nematodes with 1/2 to 1 gallon of water (distilled or well). Sprinkling watering can. Want to be gentle.  Swirl as you’re going to keep them dissipated and avoid overly sunny, bare, dry, hot areas.  Apply after sundown.  Some sort of ground cover (grass, weeds) may help support a good moist microclimate.  Remove deep thatch so they can get down in the soil.
Soldier beetles are affected by them, which are beneficial and eat aphids. Direct application instead of broadcast.
Business Meeting.
Voting for Club Officers. All on ballot approved.
Visitors: 2 recognized.
Call for more items for the xmas basket.  Sell your tickets.
Shirts or Apparel ask Fred for the catalog. ~$25.
Xmas party Saturday, December 12, 2-5 pm at Tinkling Springs. If anyone wants to help out, please contact Beth. RSVP to Sue. Honey dessert contest. Bring your recipe to share.  Side dish for potluck. Club will provide drinks.
Treasurer’s Report. Made ~$750 off the lunch.
Check out the sign on the website for the pollinators.
No unfinished business from last month.
No new business for this month.
Questions? Any suggestions for club speakers for next year. Leads or just wish-list.


January 15, 2015 Business Meeting

Meeting opened at 6:32

Jason from the department of game and fishery. Lake Shenandoah. Proposal of pollinator garden along trails w/ informative signage. Would club be interested in sponsoring a sign or participating workdays? In total, four signs, club would do the pollinator sign—examples on interwebs.  Very early stages—possibly not even this year.  Club either pays for a sign and/or creates the wording for a sign.  ~$500-$1000. Vote on wording: passed. Vote on $ donation toward sign: tabled until February.  Jason will present at Feb meeting about sign.

Introduction of new members/visitors.

Approved budget

Mostly the same, but equipment is less due to not needing a club extractor.  Need more for books, Christmas basket, meeting place fee b/c of additional meeting,

Speaker fee @ $1000 for Michael Bush. (April 18th, afternoon 1-4ish—should know by Feb meeting—look for meeting topics and decide)

Need quorum for Charity donations.  Hold to Feb meeting.

Chicken or BBQ for the June picnic? Sue is calling for prices.

Went over speakers for 2015

Treasurer’s Report

Fairs—Augusta County Fair—have more volunteers.  Fair goers requesting honey, but not secure and vendors at the fair are charged vendor fee. So if a volunteer wanted to bring their own, and sell it.   Club honey?

Motion carries except for particular line items that need to carry over until Feb.


17 April 2014, Amanda Rose–Small Hive Beetle Controls

The use of nematodes as a control for small hive beetles.

  • Nematodes are arthropods–they can be beneficial or damaging–used as a bio-control since the 1960s on things like Japanese Beetles and slugs.
  • Small Hive Beetles are originally from South African and came to South America in a plant shipment and have worked their way north.  They overwinter as a grub.
  • Lifecycle: 1. Adult moves into a honeybee colony. 2. Build up their population within a hive. 3. Mates and lays eggs in the hive.  4. Larvae hatch in 2-3 days and then feed on honey, pollen, and brood. 5. Larvae leave the hive to finish metamorphosing into adults in the soil surrounding the hive.
  • SHB are extremely destructive within a hive.  They discolor honey with fecal matter, causing the honey to spoil, changing its flavor, and making it unsaleable.
  • There are several kinds of traps used at the base of the hive that are effective for adults but not for the larval stage.  Some chemical are being used as well.
  • Using the nematodes as a biocontrol targets the SHB before it reaches its most destructive phase.  The nematodes act by consuming the larvae.
  • Amanda Rose has a three year grant to study nematodes, which began in 2012.  She is testing 2 kinds of nematodes, H. indica and S. carpocapsae.  The latter being a broad spectrum nematode that also attack white grubs and gnats.  Heat and cold tolerant.
  • Put into use by being injecting into a water can, watering the soil around a hive, and they will immediately seek out their hosts.  They are not visible to the naked eye and are hard to monitor.
  • Available to buy on the internet in packages for $35 and will treat 10 hives.


  • No visitors.
  • Earth Day was a success.  RiverFest in Waynesboro is up next.
  • Swarm/Removal lists have been updates.
  • Club apaiary–hives look good despite a bear attack in Verona.  Bill was able to make 2 splits in Bridgewater.
  • June picnic is approaching and need number of people planning to attend.
  • Planning on purchasing an extractor for club use.
  • Treasurer’s Report.
  • No unfinished business.
  • Meeting adjourned at 8:21.



20 March 2014, Ann Harman–Reducing Stress for Honey Bees

Stress is a buzz word in our lives, but what are causes of stress for our honey bees?

  • Clumsy or the meddlesome beekeeper (it can take several days to a week for a hive to recover from a beekeeper putting frames back in the incorrect order)
  • Lack of pollen and nectar especially if raising brood.  Need both to produce beebread.  Some concern with pollen sources currently due to the snow and ice clobbering the skunk cabbage.
  • Too many bees for available pasture.  Bees will forage a 3 mile radius from their hive.
  • Weather: too much rain, too little rain (feed them during drought because plants produce fewer flowers and less nectar), too warm at the wrong time, too cold at the wrong time (queen is laying workers now for the honey crop in May, and the cold right now will be detrimental)
  • Bad location (damp and windy)
  • Moving hives for pollination and honey
  • Wax contamination
  • Nosema
  • Chalkbrood: a few cells are not a disaster.  Signs of it include black or white mummified bees in front of hive.  When observing this, check if hive is in a damp area and move.  If it persists, change the comb.  If it continues to persist, replace the queen.
  • Viruses: there are up to 21 different ones that affect honey bees.  Varroa is a vector.  Best defense is to keep hives strong!
  • Bacteria: European Foulbrood reports are up.  American Foulbrood too.
  • Critters: small hive beetles.  Kent Williams, a Kentucky pollinator, has a solution, but you must do it to every hive, and you must follow the directions.  Use a pressed paper coaster, the kind you’d find at a bar that absorbs condensation.  Place one in each hive at the top of the brood chamber in the center.  Put three drops of wintergreen oil on the coaster.  It will repel the small hive beetle.  Too much oil will repel the bees.  Not putting them in each hive will drive them into the hive lacking a coaster.  Replace them when the bees chew the coaster up or when there is very little of the wintergreen smell left. One of the problems beekeepers face with small hive beetles is that by opening up the hive it releases the small hive beetles from the propolis prisons the bees have created.  The female beetles, when feeling threatened, will lay far more eggs.  Chickens will eat the migrating hive beetle larvae.
  • Bears are in every county in Virginia.
  • If you want to prevent skunk damage, keep hives 12 to 15 inches off the ground.
  • Incompetent queens.  It is a worldwide issue and so far there are no answers.  Supercedure is more rapid.  Package queens are superceded in a few months.  Within the US, it is possible that inbreeding is playing a role with a loss of genetic diversity.
  • What can YOU do in response to all the stressors? Consider the issues.  Make decisions!  Take action!


  • Upcoming events:  RiverFest in Waynesboro on May 3rd from 10-4.  Heritage Day at Grand Caverns on June 7 from 10-4.  Email Sue if available to help volunteer!
  • Club beeyard update:  Verona bees looking strong and will split soon.  Bridgewater bees have 3 surviving hives.  Fred is still waiting to hear back from BRCC about possibly establishing a yard there.
  • Treasurer’s report: plan on purchasing an extractor from Shane before June.  Will be purchasing tent to be used for events by Earth Day.
  • If interested in joining a committee, there are descriptions of them on the website.
  • No new or actionable business.

20 February 2014, Garrett Moore–How to Crank Your Bees Up for Spring

The following are notes taken during Garrett Moore’s talk.  Some of the bullet points are responses to questions.  At the bottom of the section is an overview of what was brought up during the business meeting.

  • If your bees are alive right now, then if the hive fails at this point, it is the beekeeper’s fault. The bees will not leave the brood that the queen has already started to lay, and the beekeepers is going to be much better off if he starts to feed sugar water.  The sugar water will provide food in the immediate vicinity to the bees keeping the brood warm because they will not leave to get the honey that may be a few frames over.  If you are finding bees in the with their abdomen sticking out of a cell that are dead, they are starving.  By feeding the bees you are encouraging them to draw out their comb and promoting steady reproduction.  If the bees suddenly lack nectar, they will shut down production, causing hive population to drop and be strained.
  • By the 1st of March, Garrett recommends putting pollen patties on your hives.  The queen has started to lay and this will help increase the resources available to the bees as the maples and willows have not started to bud out yet.  This is a measure to be done cautiously since if applied too early, you may encourage the queen to be out on a mating flight earlier than other hives around her, decreasing the frequency she is able to mate.
  • Garrett recommends that beekeepers have either a queen castle (he prefers 3-framed ones), or nucs on hand as the season starts up to deal with swarm cells being created in the hives.  In April, as you start to see swarm cells, pull the frame it is one, check to make sure the existing queen is not on that frame, and add some bees from another frame to start a nuc or place in a queen castle.  OR you can take the existing queen with some attendants and move her, and this will help curb swarming behavior.
  • If you find a drone laying hive, shake the bees out of the hive.  Requeening the hive will most likely be unsuccessful.  The existing workers will find the newly introduced queen and kill her. Laying workers have taken over after a queen failure and you are not able to identify which ones have become laying workers.  The laying workers are no longer able to fly and will not be able to return to the hive.
  • In regard to queen castles: They are easy to construct, especially the three framed boxes.  When using a queen castle, if there are a lot of bees on the “porch” it is time to nuc or hive them up.  The tendency of queen castle is for the different sections to develop unevenly.  Bees tend to do better when they are crowded because there is less room to maintain.  By placing a swarm or swarm cells in a queen castle or a nuc, increases their chances of thriving within a short period of time and needing to be moved to a larger space.
  • When do you stop making nucs? Garrett doesn’t really stop throughout the season.  In June, most hives have stopped producing swarm cells, so he makes them less frequently during the summer.
  • How do you feed a queen castle?  Drill a hole through the lid, particularly effective with the migratory lids, and use a honey bear to feed through the hole.  It does have the disadvantage of being affected by the heat, so to combat that, put the honey bear on in the evening and the bees will use up the feed by the morning.
  • Do you leave the entrances to nucs open after they are made?  Yes.  He occasionally blocks them with screens as they are moved to a new yard, which ideally will be six miles away from the yard that they have been made in.
  • What if only backyard beekeeping and can’t move new nucs six miles away?  Put the newly made nuc in the place of a stronger hive to catch foragers to strengthen the nuc.  Or turn the entrance because theis will force bees to shift jobs to meet their immediate needs.
  • How do you deal with stronger hives robbing nucs?  Place an entrance reducer on the nuc, but there is a lot to be said for the survival of the fittest.
  • If removing a group of bees from a queen castle into a nuc, what happens to the bees left behind?  Bees will find a new home.  The beekeeper can open up the partition so the left behind foragers can into a remaining group of bees in the queen castle, or if you are starting a new group in the space, they will just join that group.
  • When do you take honey off your hives?  15 August at the latest.  If you are going it mid to late September, you are not allowing enough time to treat for mites, put pollen patties on.  Don’t miss the goldenrod flow!  Have to stimulate the hive to prep it for winter.
  • European foul-brood cycle?  Garrett is seeing more EFB in his hives but it is no where near as contagious as AFB.  Seen in brood that is about to be capped over, but dies with tongues out.  If you see a lot of it, call Keith Tingor.
  • When is a bee-yard considered at maximum capacity?  The most hives Garrett recommends is having about twelve strong hives with a few nucs in it.


  • Need more people to sign up for snack!
  • Membership dues for state and local association due at the March meeting.
  • Budget that was passed in January is available to view online.
  • Possibility of shifting venues from BRCC to a larger location in the area is going to be explored.
  • How do we want to develop the beeyard?

21 November 2013, Marcel Durieux–The Bees of Nyungwe Forest

  • The Christmas party time has changed to start at 1 pm instead of 2 pm on 14 December at the Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad building. There is a parade that will finish in the lot across from the building so it may be wise to be gone by 5 pm at the very latest. Bring a side dish and it is optional to bring a honey dessert for the contest. Please remember to RSVP to Sue and let her know if you are bringing a child under the age of 12 to the party.
  • The treasurer’s report was given. We have a balance of $6,224.47 without the profits earned from the state meeting.  It should increase by $1,000 once those are added in.
  • No legislation to report on.
  • No new business introduced.
  • Floor opened for nominations for elections. Motion to vote for all nominees listed on the ballot. Motion seconded. Motion passed. Vote to reelect all current board members. Vote passes.
  • Please sign up to bring snacks to the meetings. February and March are still open.
  • Motion to adjourn. Motion seconded. Motion passed.
  • Meeting adjourned.

17 October 2013, Ann Harman–Bees Around the World

  • Reminder that the VA state meeting is to take place on 9 November at Blue Ridge Community College.  Registration is from 8-9am.  We need at least 10 volunteers to help serve lunch.
  • Please remember to contribute items to the Christmas basket.  Dodge will collect items at the state meeting, at the November meeting, and finally, at the December dinner.  Don’t forget to turn in two identical items and turn in the money from your raffle tickets.
  • The Christmas Dinner is on December 14 at the Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad.
  • New club banner was displayed.
  • Introduced the possibility of using funds to buy a tent to be used for events, but did not vote.
  • The nominating committee reported that all existing board members have agreed to serve a second term.  Elections will be held in November.
  • There is no existing legislation to report on currently.
  • Please send either Bill or Sue information to post on the website if desired.
  • Bee removal list contact details to be posted on website.  Sue will be asking permission from the swarm removal list to do the same.
  • Motion to adjourn meeting.  Motion seconded. Meeting adjourned.
  • Next meeting to be held on Thursday, 21 November, 2013 at Tinkling Springs Presbyterian Church at 6:30.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *