Beginning Beekeeper’s Course

Members of the New River Valley Beekeepers’ Association will present a Beginning Beekeeper’s Course at 220 Price Hall on the Virginia Tech Campus, Blacksburg, VA. The course covers everything a beginner needs to know to start keeping honey bees, and lasts two Saturdays, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm: the first will be 7 February 2015 to enable students to learn how to acquire honey bees and equipment in time to get them for use this spring; the second date is 11 April 2015 and will include how to handle and care for honey bees along with hands-on time in an apiary. Cost is $55 for the first member of a family; $25 for each additional member (with a single set of books/handouts).
Those interested can sign-up and/or view a syllabus on-line at https://secure.west-point.org/nrvba
Pre-registration not later than 1 February 2015 is mandatory. Address questions to Jerry Borger, twoltcols@verizon.net 540-382-1798.

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SO, YOU WANT TO BE A BEEKEEPER?!

  • How much does it cost?
  • How much honey will I get?
  • How much time does it take?
  • Is honey really as good for you as they say?
  • How important are honey bees for pollination?
  • Can I make beeswax candles?
  • Won’t the neighbors object?

Now is the time to start for 2015. Get the answers to all your questions!

Saturday,  January 17 @ 1:30 pm
Christiansburg Library, 125 Sheltman Street
Presenters
Michael Barrett and Ellen Burch

Saturday, January 17 @ 1:30 pm
Jessie Peterman Library, 321 West Main Street, Floyd
Presenters
Clem Von Claparede, Sam and Jack Price

Sunday, January 18 @ 1:30 pm
Blacksburg Library, 200 Miller Street
Presenters
Bob Whiton and Glenn Buss

Saturday, January 24 @ 10:00 am
Meadowbrook Public Library, 267 Alleghany Spring Road, Shawsville
Presenters
Fred Jones and Jebb Brumback

For more information contact Jerry Borger, twoltcols@verizon.net, 540-382-1798. No Pre-registration necessary.

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Nov. 13 meeting: Bear expert to talk about apiary protection

Black bear investigating a fenced apiary.

Black bear investigating a fenced apiary.

Join the New River Valley Beekeepers Association at 6:30 p.m., Thurs., Nov. 13 at the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building at 210 Pepper St., Christiansburg to learn more about protecting your bee colonies from bear damage.

Andrew Trent, post approval monitoring officer for Virginia Tech’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and a bear researcher will talk about bear behavior and ways to help prevent apiary damage.

Bear researcher and New River Valley beekeeper Andrew Trent will talk about bear damage prevention at the Nov. 14 NRVBA meeting.

Bear researcher and New River Valley beekeeper Andrew Trent will talk about bear damage prevention at the Nov. 14 NRVBA meeting.

Trent’s research has included ways to manage and prevent conflicts between bear and humans. He recently worked on a study of bear behavior to help the N.C. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reduce bear-vehicle crashes on U.S. 64 near the Outer Banks, according to Tech news release.

In addition to his wildlife research, Trent and his wife, Tiffany Trent, live in the New River Valley, where the couple keeps bees.

Black bears were nearly wiped out in most areas of Virginia by 1900, but since the 1950s, land reclamation and bear restoration efforts have expanded their range and number.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (read the state’s bear management plan) estimates bear population densities from about 1.5 bears per square mile in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to about 3.5 bears per square mile in some Alleghany Mountain areas of Rockingham County.

Their increasing numbers across the state pose damage risks to crops and livestock, as well as managed honey bee colonies in rural and forested areas.

In addition to Trent’s talk, we’ll have the monthly equipment raffle and a discussion of managing colonies going into winter.

Please bring a drink or snack to share at the last NRVBA meeting of the  year.

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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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