Recent November Happenings

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.


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


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


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.