6:30 President, Doug Galloway, gave the invocation and started the meeting. New members and visitors introduced themselves briefly and were welcomed.
Guest Speaker Nancy Ruppert, NCSBA Inspector (Sandhills Region): Seasonal Hive Management for Summer/Fall
Because of Nancy’s long drive home, she spoke at the beginning of the meeting rather than after the business portion. Nancy is the NCSBA Bee Inspector for the Sandhills region and has a background in nursing.
Nancy opened her talk by asking a deceptively simple question: Do you really want your bees to survive winter? She elaborated that the point of the question was whether you’re fully willing and able to do what it takes to keep your bees alive through the winter. She advised us to know ourselves– are you a procrastinator? Are you too busy? Do you think you don’t have any need to learn? Nancy says that bees are fragile and will need help—most colonies can’t do everything themselves. She reminded us that bees follow a different calendar than we do—they’re already in fall. There is a calendar available at ncbeekeepers.org; it’s specific to the Piedmont region, but can be adjusted as needed for other regions.
Nancy identified three key areas that affect winter survival:
- Food supply in summer/fall
- Productive queens
- Influence of pests on the colony
This time of year, pollen is still readily available, but nectar is less available unless you’re in a sourwood area. Bees are still flying and using up nectar, and a calorie deficit can lead to death. If you feed dilute sugar water (1 part sugar : 2 water) during summer, bees will leave their capped honey stores for winter, but it can also provoke robbing, so be careful. Ideally you should remove all the honey you intend to harvest before feeding any hive in the same apiary, but if you must feed some hives while others still have frames you intend to harvest, consider adding food coloring to your sugar water so that you can identify frames containing “honey” made from the sugar water and avoid harvesting those.
It’s hard to find good queens after August, and local colonies won’t want to raise them, either, so any queen issues need to be addressed now. Nancy recommends queens raised on site as a first choice, and if buying queens finding a source within the local region. She stressed the importance of learning to recognize a solid brood pattern, and also learning to recognize the diseases that can lead to a spotty brood pattern. If in doubt, check the egg pattern as well as the brood pattern—if the brood pattern is spotty but the egg pattern is solid, this indicates hygienic behavior in response to a disease or pest issue, not a queen issue, and the disease or pest needs to be addressed rather than simply replacing the queen.
Uncontrolled pests can set back or kill a colony. Most pests target weaker colonies, but even strong colonies can be taken out by varroa. Most pests peak in summer, although yellowjackets peak in fall.
Small hive beetles can fly several miles, can smell week colonies, and love shade. They are worst in July and August, and a severe infestation can cause absconding in ten days. To avoid SHB problems, maintain strong colonies without too much extra space—if extracting honey at the end of the nectar flow, don’t stack a pile of empty supers on a hive that’s going into a dearth—and keep your hives in the sun. To deal with SHB, squash every adult you see, and use beetle traps.
Varroa and the viruses they carry kill more bees than all other causes combined (except possibly human ignorance and neglect). Winter bees with varroa won’t be fat enough to live all winter, leading to small clusters that cannot generate enough heat—healthy colonies with sufficient bees should not freeze in our climate, but colonies with varroa can. Nancy emphasized the importance of learning everything you can about varroa—the Honeybee Health Coalition (https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/) is an excellent resource, and is regularly updated with new research. She also emphasized the importance of acting in a timely manner. Treatment thresholds are lower (1% – 2%) when virus symptoms are present. There is no one best treatment; it depends on the circumstances. The Honeybee Health Coalition has a decision tool online. Do not blindly apply treatments—read the label instructions and follow them carefully. Remember to check mite levels after treatment, and if they’re still too high, try something different rather than a second round of the same thing.
- Summer and early fall are critical for winter survival.
- Nutrition is key, and honey is better than sugar.
- Colonies need a productive queen—now is the time to replace queens if necessary.
- Pest pressure must be minimized.
7:45 Five minute recess
7:50 Business meeting
We are in the process of registering as a non-profit corporation with the IRS and the NC Secretary of State. As we have no signed copy of our original Constitution and By-Laws it is necessary that this gathering of members approve of the new Constitution and By-Laws the attorney has drafted for our chapter. Sara Kennedy read out the Constitution and By-Laws, and they were approved by unanimous voice vote of members present.
Officer’s reports were skipped because of time constraints and will be carried over to next month.
The Practical test for Certified Beekeeper (for those who attended the class and passed the written test) will be held in Mack’s beeyard this Saturday, June 22, weather permitting. Meet at the south entrance to the fairgrounds to follow Mack to the beeyard. Contact Doug if you can’t make it.
Remember to please contact your state congressperson in support of House Bill 334, which will provide $2 million in funding to replace and upgrade Dr. Tarpy’s lab and support his continuing bee research. You can find your representative and their contact information at ncleg.gov.
As a reminder, we are donating a basket of honeybee related items for the Silent Auction at the NCSBA Summer Conference. Proceeds from the Silent Auction go to support Dr. Tarpy’s lab. If you have an item you wish to contribute, please bring it to a meeting and give it to either Doug or Tracey.
We are still looking for a candidate (or candidates) to take on the presidency starting in 2020, and Doug would like to have them shadow him for the remainder of the year to assist in a smoother transition. Please contact Doug if you are interested.
We need volunteers to work the NCSBA booth at the State Fair in Raleigh in October. We may choose one day that our chapter will be responsible for. This will require a minimum of ten people, with at least three people staffing the booth for each shift. Sara will coordinate this and will look for a date that will work for the most people. Volunteers receive free admission to the fair on that day.
As per our newly approved Constitution, we need a nominating committee of at least three members to nominate officers for next year. Doug solicited volunteers for the committee. Mack Whiteside will chair. Travis Sholar and Danny Jaynes will be the other members.
We will have a silent auction at our July meeting. Please bring anything you would like to donate to the auction—bee related or otherwise. Proceeds will be split evenly between our club and Dr. Tarpy’s lab.
Redwood Park in Hudson has been reserved for our August picnic.
The Caldwell County Fair is in September (exact dates TBD?). We need to decide in July if we want to have a booth—we will need at least 12 volunteers to do so.
Doug called for volunteers to form a Set-up Committee to come early and set up chairs and tables for our meetings. Patrick Muldoon, Ron Cifu, and Edwin Miller volunteered. Doug and Mack will also assist as needed.
A suggestion was made that we form a food committee to share the burden of providing snacks for the meeting. This will be considered further in the future.
There was a request to provide a microphone for speakers, as the acoustics of our new space are more challenging than at the library. Doug has a microphone and will bring it in the future.
Scott Barlow needs someone to do a cutout in Morganton. Please contact him for details.
Meeting Adjourned at 8:45.
Minutes submitted by Sara Kennedy, Secretary
Future Chapter Meetings at 6:30 pm, United Presbyterian Church, 415 Pennell Street, Lenoir
2019 Chapter Meetings/Tentative Schedule of Speakers
July 25: Tim Sider / Catching Swarms (Note date change because of EAS)
Aug 15: Annual Picnic
Sept 19: Emily Trescot / Wax Comb and Candles
Oct 17: Robert Smith / How to Build Affordable Woodenware/Sizes
Nov 21: Debbie Mitchell
Dec 19: Annual Christmas Dinner
Caldwell County Beekeepers Class 2019
Practical Test June 22, weather permitting
Rain date June 29
Future Conference Meetings
Eastern Apiculture Society Meeting from July 15 -19, in Greenville SC
Summer 2019 NCSBA Meeting, August 8-10 in Hickory NC.
Caldwell County Fair, September (exact dates TBD?)
NC State Fair, October 17-27, in Raleigh