Bee breeding expert to speak at Oct. 9 meeting

adam finkelsteinJoin the New River Valley Beekeepers Association at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., Oct. 9 at the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building at 210 Pepper St., Christiansburg, for a talk by Adam Finkelstein, co-owner of Maryland-based VP Queen Bees.

Finkelstein has owned and operated VP Queen Bees with his wife, Kelly Rausch, for the last seven years. The company produces artificially inseminated breeder queens for the beekeeping industry and serves customers who own from five to more than 25,000 hives.

Finkelstein’s talk is titled “Honeybee Breeding: What VSH Traits Are and Their Practical Use.”

VP has been a treatment-free operation for the past 15 years, and focuses its breeding on Varroa Sensitive Hygienic expressing traits to provide customers with a means to control hive pests without treatments.

Finkelstein and Rausch work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture honey bee breeding lab and several commercial queen rearing outfits to select for hardy, productive queen stock. Finkelstein has a background in biology and agriculture.

Watch a video of Finkelstein and his son working their bees in Maryland.

We’ll also have our regular equipment raffle and a short discussion about fall hive management. Please bring a drink or snack to share.

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September 11 th Meeting

Please join the New River Valley Beekeepers’ Association at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday September 11 at the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building, 210 Pepper St., when we will discuss what we need to do to prepare our hives for the winter.  Mark Priest will give a talk about trapping out some bees at his church.  He will bring in the novel stuff he used for the trap out and talk about what he had to go through.

We’ll have the usual equipment raffle and discuss what we should be seeing in our hives. Please consider bringing a drink or snack to share.

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August speaker: Decoding honey bee dances

VT honey bee researcher Dr. Richard Fell will present the basics of dance communication at the Aug. 14 NRVBA meeting.

VT honey bee researcher Dr. Richard Fell will present the basics of dance communication at the Aug. 14 NRVBA meeting.

Join the New River Valley Beekeepers Association at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 14 at the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building, 210 Pepper St., when Virginia Tech entomology emeritus professor Richard Fell will help us decode the amazing dance language of the honey bee.

The existance of a complex dance communication system in honey bee colonies was first proposed by Austrian researcher and Nobel Laureate Karl von Frisch, and the research was continued by his student Martin Lindauer and later by Cornell bee researcher Tom Seeley.

Virginia Tech honey bee researcher Rick Fell

Virginia Tech honey bee researcher Rick Fell

Fell will teach us the basics of dance language communication, including how bees navigate and reenact their fruitful flights to recruit their nest mates to gather food.

We’ll have the usual equipment raffle and discuss what we should be seeing in our hives, and what we should be doing to help the bees prepare for winter.

Please consider bringing a drink or snack to share.

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Varroa monitoring class set for July 26

(Left ) Ashley Peery and (right) Jackson Means receive their Alwood Extension Awards from Ed Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

(Left ) Ashley Peery and (right) Jackson Means receive their Alwood Extension Awards from Ed Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Join the NRVBA at the Virginia Tech Apiary on Saturday, July 26 for a short course on methods for sampling your colonies for Varroa destructor infestation.

Jackson Means, who recently successfully defended his thesis on Varroa monitoring at Virginia Tech will teach this short course at the apiary from 10 a.m.-noon. The apiary is located at Tech’s Prices Fork Research Center near the corner of Prices Fork Road and Brooksfield Drive.

Sign up by sending an email to NRVBA Program Director Tonia Moxley at tonia.moxley@gmail.com.

Beekeepers of all skill levels are encouraged to sign up for the class, which is limited to 25 attendees. Please remember to bring your own protective equipment (veils or bee suits), and any snacks or beverages you wish to have on hand. These things will not be provided.

Varroa destructor is an invasive mite species introduced from Asia that has decimated European honey bee populations in the U.S. since the 1990s.

varroa on beeThe mite is an arachnid similar to ticks that parasitize humans and other mammals. The mite, like the tick, can vector diseases, such as viruses and bacterial infections. The mites reproduce inside capped brood cells, preferring drone brood but also preying on worker larva and pupa. High mite infestations can weaken and even kill colonies, and in less severe cases can compromise winter hardiness.

Traditionally, synthetic and naturally-occurring miticides have been used to reduce mite loads in hives, but experts have found high levels of mite resistance to synthetic treatments and negative side affects with natural miticides. Experts now recommend monitoring coupled with integrated pest management techniques such as drone brood removal to control mite populations. Chemical treatments are recommended only as a last resort, and only when regular monitoring shows a need.

Means will give a short lecture on Varroa, demonstrate various methods for sampling hives for infestation levels and discuss the recommended thresholds for treatment.

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2014 Beekeeper’s picnic set for July 12 in Blacksburg

Join the NRVBA for the 2014 beekeepers' picnic on July 12 in Blacksburg.

Join the NRVBA for the 2014 beekeepers’ picnic on July 12 in Blacksburg.

Mark your calendar for the annual New River Valley Beekeepers Association picnic from noon-3 p.m. on Sat., July 12 at Nellie’s Cave Park in Blacksburg!

The park has a walking trail, playground equipment for the kids, horseshoe pits, restrooms and a covered picnic shelter. Click for directions.

The association will provide BBQ ribs and fried chicken, drinks and incidentals. Please sign up to bring a side dish or dessert to share by sending an email with your name and the dish you plan to bring to member Luke McCoy.

We’ll also have our annual door prizes, equipment raffle ($1 tickets) and a special live bee raffle ($5 tickets). If you would like to donate queens or bees for the special raffle, please contact Luke McCoy.

Thanks to the picnic committee for their help and support. This year’s event wouldn’t happen without members Luke McCoy, Sue Hossack, Jennifer Lanter, Mark Priest, Richard Reid and Tonia Moxley.

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Blacksburg beekeeping field day set for June 14

NRVBA President Richard Reid will hold a field day at the Hale-YMCA Community Gardens on June 14.

NRVBA President Richard Reid will hold a field day at the Hale-YMCA Community Gardens on June 14.

New River Valley Beekeepers Association President Richard Reid, owner of Happy Hollow Honey and Apiary will host the second in a series of informal beekeeping field days on Sat., June 14 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Hale-YMCA Community Garden at 300 Maywood St., Blacksburg. The membership is welcome; no sign-ups are necessary.

The field day will include inspections of up to eight of Richard’s treatment free hives with discussion afterwards. Please bring your own veils and protective equipment, and attendees are encourage to bring their own drinks and snacks. These items will not be provided as part of the event. Carpooling is encouraged, as parking is limited.

Richard has kept colonies at the community garden, a project of the YMCA at Virginia Tech for several years, helping to pollinate the vegetables, flowers and fruit trees grown there. The garden – started decades ago by the late Emily Stuart, the first woman to direct the YMCA in Blacksburg – is a 15-acre site that includes the Roper Solar Greenhouse, community garden plots, demonstration civic agriculture gardens, permaculture gardens and a bluebird trail.

Inclement weather notice: If it is raining in Blacksburg on the day of the event, it will be postponed.

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June meeting to feature experts in raising local bees

Learn about the hows and whys of local nuc production at the June NRVBA meeting with speakers Pat and Jim Haskell. Photo courtesy of Richard Reid and happyhollowhoney.com.

Learn about the hows and whys of local nuc production at the June NRVBA meeting with speakers Pat and Jim Haskell. Photo courtesy of Richard Reid and happyhollowhoney.com.

Note: Read the minutes from this meeting.

Join the New River Valley Beekeepers Association at 6:30 p.m. June 12 at the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building, 210 Pepper St., Christiansburg for an evening dedicated to the why and the how of raising locally-adapted honey bees, with speakers Pat and Jim Haskell.

Links and other resources from their presentation are available here and here (resource links).

Pat and Jim Haskell operate Massanutten Mountain Apiaries located in Page and Fairfax counties, which produces nucs and queens for beginning beekeepers and honey and other hive products that sell at local farmers markets.

Jim and Pat Haskell will headline the June NRVBA meeting, talking about the importance of nuc production.

Jim and Pat Haskell will headline the June NRVBA meeting, talking about the importance of nuc production.

An Eastern Apicultural Society Certified Master Beekeeper, Pat organized the Northern Virginia Beekeeping Teaching Consortium several years ago. Today it is a nonprofit organization providing textbooks and other educational materials to over a dozen local beekeeping clubs throughout the state. The consortium is currently involved in developing and sponsoring club-based nuc production and queen rearing programs for beekeeper education.

Jim helps in Pat’s educational and extension endeavors whenever possible, and he does a lot of the heavy lifting and frame scraping. In his former life as an agricultural economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jim helped build agricultural cooperatives in the U.S. and abroad. He thought then that among the most difficult groups to assist in initiating self-help programs were independent Texas cow/calf producers. That was before he confronted independent beekeepers.

Pat and Jim received the Virginia State Beekeepers Association Langstroth Award for the advancement and promotion of beekeeping this past year. Pat also was recognized by the Maryland State Beekeepers Association with the George Imirie Award for excellence in beekeeping education.

The Haskells regularly give talks about nuc and local bee production across Virginia and have been featured at the American Beekeeper Federation conference.

We will also have announcements and our regular beekeeping equipment raffle. Please consider bringing a snack or drink to share.

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Beekeeping field day set for May 10 in Blacksburg

NRVBA President Richard Reid will hold a field day at the Hale-YMCA Community Gardens on May 10.

NRVBA President Richard Reid will hold a field day at the Hale-YMCA Community Gardens on May 10.

NOTE: This event was canceled due to inclement weather. It will be rescheduled at a later date.

New River Valley Beekeepers Association President Richard Reid, owner of Happy Hollow Honey and Apiary will host the second in a series of informal beekeeping field days on Sat., May 10 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Hale-YMCA Community Garden at 300 Maywood St., Blacksburg. The membership is welcome; no sign-ups are necessary.

The field day will include inspections of up to eight of Richard’s treatment free hives with discussion afterwards. Please bring your own veils and protective equipment, and attendees are encourage to bring their own drinks and snacks. These items will not be provided as part of the event. Carpooling is encouraged, as parking is limited.

Richard has kept colonies at the community garden, a project of the YMCA at Virginia Tech for several years, helping to pollinate the vegetables, flowers and fruit trees grown there. The garden – started decades ago by the late Emily Stuart, the first woman to direct the YMCA in Blacksburg – is a 15-acre site that includes the Roper Solar Greenhouse, community garden plots, demonstration civic agriculture gardens, permaculture gardens and a bluebird trail.

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Pulaski queen producer to speak at May 8 meeting

Karl and Beth Hunter own Hunter Apiaries in Pulaski County, where they produce queens, nucs, honey and wax products for sale.

Karl and Beth Hunter own Hunter Apiaries in Pulaski County, where they produce queens, nucs, honey and wax products for sale.

Karl Hunter of Hunter Apiaries in Pulaski County will headline the May 8 New River Valley Beekeepers Association meeting with a talk about what it takes to raise queens on a larger scale.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building, 210 Pepper St., Christiansburg.

Hunter, along with wife Beth Hunter are dedicated gardeners who raise Varroa Sensitive Hygienic Italian-derived queens throughout the beekeeping season, as well as selling nucs, honey and wax products.

Karl “attended the Georgia Master Beekeepers course. He has served as president of a local beekeeping association in Georgia. He has written and taught classes for local beginning beekeepers.  Karl especially enjoys giving beekeeping presentations to school children at Radford University’s Selu Conservancy.  Beth and Karl also serve as the beekeeping presenters at the annual Appalachian Festival at Radford University,” according to the Hunter Apiaries Website.

In addition to the speaker, we will have our monthly equipment raffle, discussion of what beekeepers should be doing for their colonies this time of year and answers to beekeeping questions. There will also be a short business meeting. Please read the minutes from last week’s meeting.

Please bring a snack or drink to share.

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April meeting: Planting for pollinators with Holly Scoggins

hollyfindsanacornNRVBA member and Virginia Tech horticulture professor Holly Scoggins will talk about gardening for honey bees at our April 10 meeting.

Join fellow members at 6:30 p.m. at the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building, 210 Pepper Street, Christiansburg, VA.

Holly’s talk will cover “great garden plants that honeybees (and other pollinators) can’t resist!” she said. And she would know. Holly not only teaches horticulture, she directs Tech’s Hahn Horticulture Garden and co-owns a Giles County blueberry farm.

Download a copy of Holly’s pollinator plant handout from the meeting.

Holly will show us how to “grow as many (or few) bee-friendly plants as your garden space allows to help provide nectar and pollen from spring until fall.”

We’ll also have our monthly equipment raffle,  information on what we should be seeing in our hives this month, and suggested management techniques for early spring.

Consider bringing a snack or drink to share.

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