Recent November Happenings

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If you attended our last meeting, we were treated to four different presentations. Our President, Ira Poston, initially introduced Mr. Richard French, the coach for FIRST LEGO League team of four kids from Alamance County. Each year FIRST LEGO League releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic.
Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. The Challenge this year is entitled Animal Allies. Teams of up to ten children, with at least one adult coach, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST LEGO League Core Values. Teams may then attend an official tournament, hosted by our FIRST LEGO League Partners. The four team members shared their Project dealing with the relationship between humans and honey bees. The team developed a bee friendly smoker fuel which they shared with attendees as well as their recipe for the fuel. The team posted a short survey at their website entitled Mission-Possible hoping for feedback from those who tried the fuel.

Since the team had not yet had an opportunity to test their fuel on a hive of honey bees, I invited the coach and team to visit my apiary on Wednesday, November 23rd, so that they could test their paper fuel puck in their smoker on a hive of my bees. The test went well. They lit the fuel and I used their smoker as I demonstrated and explained the smoker’s use during a hive inspection. The bees exhibited normal behavior to the added smoke generated from the paper fuel and when a deep frame was removed for a closer examination, bees were occupied with feeding from uncapped cells with nectar. I think this test was reassuring to both the team and to me.

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FIRST LEGO League team at the ready to test their smoker fuel. (Photo: Richard French)

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Lighting the fuel puck. (Photo: Geoff Leister)

The next three presentations during our meeting by 1st-year beekeepers Sally Bryan & Darrell Holt and 2nd-year beekeeper Zivon Price were both informative and entertaining.

During the Burlington Christmas Parade on November 19th the Alamance County Beekeepers introduced Sweet Betsy (aka Jennifer Welsh) to the city. Our mascot’s name is from the native red flowered sweet betsy bush (Calycanthus floridus) pollinated by sap beetles belonging to the genus Coleoptera. Nectar is not present. This shrub is also known by another common name of Carolina allspice because the highly fragrant twigs, leaves, and flowers. Additional info about Calycanthus floridus can be found USDA Forest Service and NC State University Plants

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During the parade Sweet Betsy was transported in Randy Stinson’s float (aka BMW). Sweet Betsy made her first appearance to the public during the Farm-To-Table event on September 20th & 21st at Historic Cedarock Park. Members Ira Poston, Corey Gillespie, Mike Ross, Randy Stinson, and Charles Black also participated as some 800 fourth graders experienced ever so briefly the wonders of honey bees, beekeeping and pollination services.

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Gibsonville Elementary School

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Jennifer Welsh, Linda and Geoff Leister

Jennifer Welsh, Linda and Geoff Leister

Members Jennifer Welsh, Linda Leister and Geoff Leister participated in Heritage Day activities at Gibsonville Elementary School on Thursday, November 10, 2016. A PowerPoint presentation designed for grades Pre-K, K, 1st & 2nd, covered basic information on honey bees and pollination. A second PowerPoint was presented to 3rd, 4th & 5th grades. That presentation included images of a natural hive, as well as, ancient, traditional and modern artificial hives. Paul Jollay loaned us his Plank Bee Gum which was compared to an 8-frame Langstroth hive. A mock hive inspection was demonstrated on a hive, with frames, tools, and smoker. The ever favorite observation hive ended each of the twenty-two 10-minute sessions.

Hexagonal Wax Cells

We were challenged with questions by some bee informed students. One of the most challenging questions was asked by several students: “Why do honey bees build hexagonal shaped cells to create their wax honeycomb?” Great question! Lack of time prevented us from answering in detail, but some followup research on-line found the following that may be of interest to some of our members as well as students:

On National Public Radio’s Robert Krulwich Wonders on Science:
 What Is It About Bees And Hexagons? 

On TED Ed: Why do honeybees love hexagons? 

On BBC Behind the Beehive:
“Why bees choose to use a hexagon to build their honeycomb structure rather than a triangle or a square” 

Wikipedia: Honeycomb 

Beginning Beekeeping Course – 2017

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ANNOUNCEMENT OF

BEGINNING BEEKEEPING COURSE – 2017

 

We would like to announce that starting on January 17, 2017 the Alamance County Beekeepers would start the 26th consecutive year of offering a Beginning Beekeeping Course.  The objective of the course is to create an interest in beekeeping and provide information needed for a person to become a keeper of honey bees, a beekeeper. No prior experience is required to take the course.

This is a 24-hour course, 20 hours in the classroom and 4 hours in the field.  The structured classes start, as noted above, on January 17, 2017 and will continue each Tuesday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. through March 21st.  All class sessions will be held in the auditorium of the Ag Extension Office located at, 209 N. Graham Hopedale Rd, Burlington, NC 27217.

At the completion of the classroom instructions, we will have a Field Day on Saturday, March 25 or April 1st, depending on weather.  During the Field Day, we will spend 4 hours in a bee yard to gain hands-on experience in working with the bees.
It’s best to register in advance to assure you have a seat and course materials.  The room can only hold 50 people comfortably, so be sure to register early. The cost of the course is $75.00.  This includes $10.00 building usage fee, $21.00 for Local and State dues and hand books. If your spouse or other member of your family wants to take the course and you can share the books, then the cost for the additional person would be $31.00. To register in advance, please send you name, address, telephone number, e-mail address along with your payment to:  Zivon Price, 421 Canterwood Drive, Mebane, NC 27302.  Please make check payable to Alamance County Beekeepers.

If you live in the Burlington area, you most likely won’t need directions to the Ag Building; however, if you are coming from out of town one simple way to get to the Ag Extension Office is to get off I-85/1-40 at exit 145 and head toward downtown Burlington.  This street is Maple Avenue.  Stay on Maple Avenue through the center of Burlington until you get to Church Street, turn right travel approximately 2.1 miles until you get to Graham Hopedale Road, turn left, travel one block and the Ag Building is the first building on the right.

We would also like to announce that in 2017, the Alamance County Farm Bureau would again be sponsoring a Cost-Share program.  This is a program where a number of people are awarded two hives each, along with a package of bees for each hive. Applications for this program will be available on the first evening of the class.

Even though you have registered in advance, we would like for you to come a little early, maybe 6:00, on the first night, January 17th, so that we will have time to issue nametags and handbooks and still be ready to start our class at 6:30 p.m.

If you know someone interested in taking this course, we would appreciate you sharing the above information with that person.

This course announcement will also be posted on the Alamance County Beekeepers Web Site: http.alamancebeekeepers.org
Hope to see you on January 17th

Download 2017 Course Registration Information PDF Here

North Carolina State Fair Booth 2016

Members Zivon Price and Sheyenne Michelizzi assembled and created the following display that was delivered to the fair grounds on Tuesday, October 11 with the help of Ira Poston. 

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Photo by Zivon Price

Our booth received 4th place overall.
Zivon & Sheyenne’s display of Geoff Leister’s (No.’s 1 – 12) Nectar and Pollen producing plants received a 1st place. Posted images HERE.

Geoff Leister’s Black & White photo (No. 13) received a 3rd place ribbon
Mike Ross: Chunk Honey received a 3rd place ribbon.
Keith Elkes: Pure Beeswax received a 2nd place ribbon.
Sylvia Willis: Gift Basket received a 6th place ribbon.

Honey Bee Swarming Chart

There could be no better time to introduce Vita Europe’s poster on swarming.

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It is free and downloadable as a PDF from Vita Europe after you register your name, email address, country, zip code and select a password:  HERE  This gives you access to an amazing group of 100’s of honey bee, bee, plant, and beekeeping related images. It is well worth a look. You may have used Vita’s Apiguard or Apistan products for control of Varroa mites.

New Links Added to Resources

I have added several NEW links to our Resources webpage that you are invited to explore. First, the following link was suggested to me by visitors using our Resources page to further their interest in honey bees, beekeeping and insects in general. Through additional research they discovered A Guide to Beekeeping from Flowers to Harvesting and they wanted to share this helpful resource with our members.
The Strathcona Beekeepers Association of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada are “dedicated to the support of bees (both native and honey) and beekeepers. Their site is “intended to be a resource for gardeners, educators, farmers, beekeepers and anyone interested in creating a healthy, sustainable environment.” I have added the links to their menu entitled “The Beekeepers’ Library.” This is a “must see” webpage that will take you hours & hours of your time to examine and digest. In addition, I added a link to “A Quick Reference Guide to Honey Bee Parasites, Pests, Predators, and Diseases” from Penn State.

 

Star Tribune Documentary: “Bees at the Brink”

The following links lead to an extremely well written 4 part documentary that includes amazing images and imbedded videos posted on Star Tribune website. Enjoy!

Nature’s Dying Migrant Worker Part 1
Battle For Our Hearts And Mind Part 2
Fields Of Green A Desert For Bees Part 3
A Scientist’s Aim: Save The Bees Part 4

For a clearly presented explanation of the Waggle Dance be sure watch this 5-minute video on the Waggle Dance on Vimeo HERE.

Heritage Day at Gibsonville Elementary School

Tony Abbruzzi introduces tales about honey bees, with Cynthia Pierce and Linda Leister.

Tony Abbruzzi introduces tales about honey bees, with Cynthia Pierce and Linda Leister.


Our club was invited to talk for about 15 minutes about honey bee anatomy; general beekeeping tools and equipment; and the importance of pollination during the newly resurrected Heritage Day Event at Gibsonville Elementary School on November 13, 2015. Our team was composed of Cynthia Pierce, Tony Abbruzzi, and Linda & Geoff Leister. The morning sessions included 10 classes of well behaved and attentive students from Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. The afternoon sessions were attended by 8 classes of equally attentive 3rd and 4th graders, as well as very engaged and honey-bee-savvy 5th graders who tested our bee grey matter databases. As usual, the most exciting part of our presentation came near the end of the talks when the suspicious red cover was removed from an observation hive containing a deep frame covered with hundreds of worker bees, larvae and a laying queen.

Cynthia introduces the kids to some basic honey bee anatomy.

Cynthia introduces the kids to some basic honey bee anatomy.

 

Discussion by Cynthia about the bee stinger and its removal kept the kids attention.

Cynthia talks about the bee stinger and its removal that kept the kids’ attention.