Protecting Beehives During Hurricanes & Spray for Mosquito

Dr. David Tarpy, NCSU, Professor and Extension Specialist (Apiculture) has provided this article Protective Measures of Beehives During Hurricanes and makes the following recommendations:

*Strap down the lid and hive components if they’re not propolized.
*Reduce hive wind profile by removing unnecessary boxes (feeders, for example).
*Hives should be at ground level or on sturdy stands. Be sure solid bottom boards are tilted to let rain out.
*Are your hives in danger of limbs or trees falling on them? Consider relocating hives.
*Move hives from low-lying areas if there’s a flooding danger; bees will drown.
*Register your hives at DriftWatch so you’ll be notified if spraying for mosquitos commences.

Thanks are due to Debbie Roos, Agricultural Extension Agent
Chatham County Center for providing the above links and to Jason Williams,
Pesticide Operations Specialist, NCDA&CS – SPCAP for the following link to “Bee” Kind if You Spray for Mosquitoes” authored by Dr. Michael Waldvogel, Extension Specialist (Household & Structural Entomology), Entomology & Plant Pathology – NC State University.

Healthy Colony Checklist (HCC)

In June (Part 1) and July (Part 2), Bee Culture ran a two-part series about the importance of establishing a framework for conducting hive inspections. “… Hive inspections, coupled with good record keeping of management actions and outcomes, can move us a long way towards better beekeeping.” Authors recommend beekeepers utilize the Bayer Bee Care Healthy Colony Checklist that is discussed HERE and suggested the following approach during your inspections:

1 – Use a buddy system.
2 – Know how to assess the six conditions of colony health.
3 – Take concise notes.
4 – Record any general notes and observations of each hive.

Pesticide Toxicity to Bees “Traffic Light” List

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services website provides a link to N.C. Pollinator Protection Strategy webpage where the Pesticide Toxicity to Bees “Traffic Light” PDF file can be accessed along with other documents. The pesticides listed are arranged by Highly Toxic, Moderately Toxic and Relatively Nontoxic to bees. Specific pesticide uses are categorized as Microbiocide, Miticide, Insecticide, Fungicide, Herbicide, Growth Regulator, or Repellent.

Instructional Beekeeping Videos

The Honey Bee Research Center at The University of Guelph located in Ontario, Canada produced 32 How-To Videos during 2016. They are excellent. You may watch these videos on their website HERE or select them from Youtube HERE. ENJOY!

The Honey Bee Research Center maintains populations of a hybrid strain of honey bees known as Buckfast bees. This is a man-made bee race and is a cross of many strains of bees, developed by Karl Kehrle, also known as Brother Adam, who was in charge of beekeeping from 1919 to about 1995 at Buckfast Abbey in Devon in the United Kingdom, where the bees are still bred today. Notes about the different types of Honey Bees, including Buckfast, are discussed in Beekeeping Notes 1.12 from NC State.

New OSU Bee Lab Varroa Mite Webinar

The Bee Lab at The Ohio State University has made available a Webinar entitledMite Check: Using Beekeeper Citizen Science to Transmit Bee Health Information, Not Varroa destructorby Becky Masterman, University of Minnesota Bee Lab, Bee Squad Associate Director. A PDF handout is also available for download here.

On the above webpage under “UMN Bee Lab” find the following:
  Pest Manual PDF, UMN
  Varroa mite test kit, UMN
   Powdered Sugar Roll instruction sheet, UMN 
And links to Honey Bee Health Coalition and Varroa management links, OSU Bee Lab are also posted.

The University of Minnesota’s Department of Entomology Bee Lab has also posted videos with the following video titles:
 Hiving Bees in Rain and Sleet
 Looking into a New Colony
 Looking at a Frame
 Adding a Brood Box
 Adding a Second Super
 Working Bees Without Gloves
 A Few Words about Comb
 On Frames and Foundation
 Finding the Queen

Links to Historical Bee and Beekeeping Literature

If you have noticed, our newsletter’s editor has an inclination for historical bee and beekeeping literature. If your historic interest parallels that of our editor’s, as it does mine, then I have just the links for you. The last page of January 2017 issue of the Alamance County Beekeepers Newsletter featured a copy of the last page of Volume 1 from the January 1861 issue of The American Bee Journal entitled “Monthly Management.” This page was retrieved from “The Hive and the Honeybee” digital collection that is part of the Everett Franklin Phillips Beekeeping Collection housed in the Mann Library at Cornell University. This site includes access to the complete digital volumes of the The American Bee Journal published between 1861 and 1900. Once a volume is selected from HERE the format for viewing that document can be selected from the menu item entitled “Format” either as an image or text or PDF. Note that text search boxes are available. Currently online there are 48 books and 30 volumes of The American Bee Journal published between 1861 and 1900. 

Another website that may pique your interest can be found HERE at The Charles C. Miller Apicultural Collection at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that currently includes digitized copies of the following 14 beekeeping serial titles HERE:

Western bee-keeper
New England Apiarian
Beekeepers instructor
National Bee Gazette
North American Bee Journal
Queen Breeders Journal
California Apiculturist
White Mountain Apiarist
Pacific States Bee Journal
Western Bee Journal
Pacific Bee Journal
Nebraska Beekeeper
Moon’s Busy Bee

Enjoy some winter reading!

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.


Gibsonville Elementary School


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