March 8, 2012

NRVBA Minutes of the Meeting, March 08, 2012:

NRVBA Vice President Richard Reid called the meeting called to order at 7:00 p.m.

Richard held good discussion of what beekeeping procedures are appropriate for this time of year.   There was good new member participation — excellent questions, with good input from other more-seasoned members.

A few members paid dues, others paid balance on bee packages, purchases pollen patties.

Catching swarms was a topic of discussion — pheromones, quick “bait” box construction, etc.

Treas. Report – Jack Price – sent to all via email;  voted approved.

Minutes – in Newsletter – please read.  Minutes approved.

OLD BUSINESS:
Bee Packages – final balance on bee packages is due March 31st.  NRVBA needs to pay Dadant in advance of delivery.  Packages will come to HHS Building (where meetings are held) on 17th April, 2nd delivery will be April 30, 2012.  Watch email for announcement of any change in this schedule and which day to pick up your bee packages.

Mark talking to Dr. Fell about Q. Course – no firm date.  No date for Master Beekeeper test.

REMINDER TO ALL MEMBERS:  Mark wants stories and other info for the newsletter!  Please contribute your own experiences, jokes, recipes, etc.

Members were reminded of a VA State Beekeepers meeting 23/24 March at ACCA Shrine Center, Richmond, VA.

Pollen patties – Jerry reports most of a full box are on hand.

The NRVBA has ordered a container of 20 Mite-Away Quick Strips for mite treatment.

The NRVBA has ordered a container of Mite-Away Quick Strips for mite treatment, per Jerry Borger. Mite-Away strip contains formic acid, which is not harmful to the bees and doesn’t build up in the wax.  Strips can be used while honey flow is on.  Jerry has used with good results.

Mite-Away Quick Strips are now repackaged for purchase – each container will treat (2) hives and includes manufacturers info on use. Use during 50-70-degree temperature.  Package price is $10 per container; there is an expiration date . . . good for at least a year.  

NOTE:  There is no worry (about mites) for new hives, but check in late summer, closer to fall, about AUGUST.

A member asked what kind of critter he might expect to find (as new beekeeper)?   Answer:  If hive is failing or weak, may see small hive beetle.

Jerry Borger advised use of Guard Star – spread around hive to soak ground.  It is supposed to kill larvae in the ground.  length of effectiveness.  It’s supposed to kill larvae in the ground?  What about using regular garden chemical to do this – less expensive.  If lime – what kind?  Varroa mite still biggest problem.

MISCELLANEOUS:
Herbs – planting sage around hive bodies will get rid of wax moths.

Store empty hive boxes in light with air able to circulate – few if any predators will bother it.

SPEAKER:    DAVE KNIGHT – – – ECONOMICS OF SMALL BEEKEEPING

You are not going to get RICH doing beekeeping on a small scale.
How to start small and make a profit.

Short-Term Goals:
1.  Take advantage of beginner beekeeping class – or study on your own.
2.  Determine how much $ you are prepared to put into the venture:  i.e., how many hives, etc.   Start small.
3. When you decide – be organized.  Build a task list – find one in early beekeeping information book.
4.  Launch – install first colonies.
5.  Spend time watching your hives!

YOU can make your own hive bodies, etc., buying woodware for self construction, instead of already built.

INCREASE your hives by splitting hives, hive swarms, learn to process honey and wax, print your own labels, etc., etc.

NOTE:  Swarms are good bee stock – having survived on their own, they’re a hardy lot.

Sell high-quality products — this insures folks will come back to buy your products.  Bottles should be clean, honey clear, etc.   Don’t heat higher than 140 degrees.  Can make lip balm, candles, etc.   Find a venue — farmer’s market, etc. – retail, select clientele, have money.  Talk up product with neighbors, at school, etc. – take to work and sell – or church, etc.   Consider wholesaling your product to local shops.  Know the legalese info required on labels.  If you don’t have a state-inspected honey house, label must reflect that honey was processed in a non-inspected facility.

Watch bees – you learn a lot – and you don’t bother your (wife/husband).   Watch bee behavior – cleansing flights, what kind of pollen bringing in, etc.

Suspect a problem?  Don’t procrastinate in determining what’s wrong and how to deal with it.

Keep good records.  If something goes wrong, something you noticed may help determine what – when/if you invite the bee inspector to come.

Identify your markets – sell wholesale or retail – to whom.  Develop marketing “patter” – something you say over and over to potential customers.   Farmers markets are good.  Local food shops and restaurants — latter will feature local honey on their menu, in their cooked food, etc.  Consider sales to neighbors, business and social acquaintances.   Samples are good:  “taste this – best honey you’ll have this year!”   Note value of honey – local honey is good for those with allergies,  etc.

Get handle on recurring costs – sugar to feed, medications if using, foundation to repair damaged or broken frames.

Size matters – Know your limitations – do what you CAN; don’t expand too much for YOU to handle.   It’s a SLOW process; be patient.

Plan to replace queens, or buy queens (especially if you’re raising nucs), bottles, labels, etc., expand # of hives, etc. annually – to grow apiary.

Probably 5 years to actually making a profit.

Feed 1:1 syrup now; expect good spring honey for extraction.

A fair-to-midlin’ beekeeper can make a small apiary profitable. Good beekeeping practice will improve skills, satisfaction and profitability. Make some woodware – reduces cost. One or more RETAIL sales venues are essential. Identify and stay within your comfort zone!

Thanks, Dave!

Raffle  – 6 items.

Adjournment – 8:45.

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