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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New info center for TheHive listserv users published

The New River Valley Beekeepers Association has established a dedicated information page for TheHive listserv, the association’s online discussion forum.

The listserv is available to every dues-paying association member and allows beekeepers to ask and answer questions, read relevant scientific research and news, advertise beekeeping services and products and discuss successes and challenges with their own bees.

The new information page includes instructions on how to manage your subscription (daily digest or individual emails), as well as newly promulgated rules and etiquette that govern use of the listserv.

Please read over the new terms of use, and send any questions to one of the moderators listed on the information page.

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Honey bee package delivery date set

NRVBA member Clem Von Claparede hands out honey bee packages in April 2012. Photo courtesy of Matt Gentry.

NRVBA member Clem Von Claparede hands out honey bee packages in April 2012. Photo courtesy of Matt Gentry.

Those who have ordered honey bee packages from the New River Valley Beekeepers Association should prepare to pick them up on April 20.

These are three-pound packages of Italian bees with a young queen coming from Gardner Aparies in Georgia through Dadant. Pickup will be at 10:15 a.m. in the parking lot of the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building at 210 Pepper St., Christiansburg.

Package orders can still be placed online. Prices are $90 each for NRVBA members, and $100 each for nonmembers. Nonmembers may join the association for $10 and receive the member discount.

To pay by mail, contact NRVBA Treasurer Jack Price at 540-745-3411.

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May queen rearing & grafting workshop is FULL

Virginia Tech honey bee researcher Richard Fell.

Virginia Tech honey bee researcher Richard Fell

The New River Valley Beekeepers Association, in cooperation with the Virginia state apiarist’s office and Virginia Tech’s entomology department will offer a day-long queen rearing workshop from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sat., May 31. The class is now full.

State Apiarist  for Virginia, Keith Tignor.

State Apiarist for Virginia Keith Tignor.

Richard Fell, emeritus entomology professor and honey bee extension specialist, and state apiarist Keith Tignor will teach a daylong, hands-on short course covering the biology of queen rearing. Students will have a chance to practice grafting techniques, but the bulk of the class will focus on information important for any method of raising queens. Read the course syllabus for more information.

Classroom portions of the course will be held at 220 Price Hall on the Tech campus in Blacksburg. The hands-on session will be held at the Tech apiary and research station off Prices Fork Road.

Courtesy of Richard Reid

Courtesy of Richard Reid

A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Tuition is $20 for NRVBA members and $40 for nonmembers. Registration is closed.

Questions or interest in future workshops can be sent to NRVBA Program Director Tonia Moxley, 540-320-6838.

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