Sample Newsletter

Richmond Beekeepers Association Newsletter

In this Newsletter

  • Message from the President
  • Next Meeting:
    • allergy specialist (to be confirmed)
    • Coaches Corner
  • This Month In Beekeeping
  • What’s in bloom
  • Beepolitical: Neonics and Bayer Pharmaceutics
  • Seed Exchange update
  • Upcoming Events

Sun! Yes, slowly, it is warming up and the apple trees are blooming. With the weather warming and light intensifying, colonies are dancing in the sunbeams, building comb, gathering pollen and the first nectars. The queen is laying both workers and drones and the potential for swarming is in the air.
A proverbial beekeeper’s saying from the 1650’s is still applicable today.
A swarm in May is worth a load of hay,
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon,
A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly….
A swarm in May is most valuable because the bees have time to build up for the winter. Please contact Eric Crosby if you have a ladder, equipment and would like to be on the Swarm Call List.
We received news that the Liberian beekeepers did not receive their visas for Canada so we have changed the speaker for May. We have invited a physician who is an allergy specialist and are just waiting to hear back. This would be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding beestings.
Because this is our last RBA meeting before the summer we will also have a Coaches’ Corner where you can ask any beekeeping questions you may have. Our confirmed beekeeping mentors will be our very own club members: Amanda Goodman-Lee. Eric Crosby, Julia Common, Steve Bailey. Lindsay Dault and Lianne Shyry may join this crew. Thank You!
Remember we have an extra May Iotron run. Please check RBA website for details.
Mark May 28th in your calendars. Have a picnic, eat honey and say hello to a bee. It is Day of the Honeybee. You can visit the observation hive at Trout Lake.
June 17th is the Field Day co-hosted by the Surrey Bee Club and Vinoscenti Winery.
Please remember this is the last meeting before the summer. Bees and Beers is a good way to stay in touch with other beekeepers over the summer. We will reconvene at the Kinsman Nature House September 12th and will focus on fall preparation.
Look forward to seeing you on Tuesday,
– Fiona Gold

For many beekeepers May is one of the busiest months in the beekeeping year. This is the month the bees are mirroring nature and like plants, are growing with such force. (Do keep in mind this year because of the rain and cool weather we are about 3-4 weeks behind.) Beekeepers are installing new packages, creating nucs and watching the bees carefully to make sure they are building up but are not about to take flight.
If you are in the city a swarming hive can send out close to 30,000 bees onto a street or near a school and this is somewhat of a responsibility for the beekeeper to ensure that swarming is controlled. If you missed that queen cell and your bees have swarmed it is good to remember bees are usually gentle while swarming because they are full of honey. Swarming is one of the most remarkable events to witness but many urban beekeepers are a bit nervous when so many bees take flight naturally.
To keep the swarming event under control be diligent with your hive checks. Check your bees every week to 10 days. Check that the queen is laying and that there is a healthy brood pattern. If you have a hive which keeps popping into your mind listen to your intuition and check them.
If you have not already split your hive and you intend to do so, queen cells are a lovely gift. It is good to be clear why the colony is creating queen cells. Are they overcrowded or is the original queen failing? Be very methodical in your inspection.
Check the brood pattern. A good brood pattern is probably an indication that the bees think they need more room in order to expand. If you have a hive that is boiling over and has numerous queen cells and a good brood pattern all is well and you can create several (1-3) nucs, placing a few queen calls in each nuc. They need to be sealed and close to emerging. When they hatch the strongest of the queens will kill the others. Be careful to watch these sister hives carefully to make sure they have enough nutrition. They need pollen and lots of honey to build more wax comb. Sometimes you will have to supplement feeding. You also need to watch carefully that the virgin queens return from their mating flights and don’t get eaten by a bird en route. If your newly hatched queen has disappeared-darn!-you can add extra eggs from the original hive and let the bees try to make another queen or you can buy a mated queen. Keep in mind every queen rearing cycle takes time and your goal is to have lots of nice fat winter bees going into the fall.
Original Queen Failing
If things do not look right, the brood is spotty and there are several supersedure cells it is good to analyze what is going on. Is the queen old and not doing well? Is she injured? Is she laying at all? Does she just need a nutritional boost? What do you need to do to create a healthier hive? The bees will quite naturally supersede a failing queen and again the beekeeper’s worry is that the new supersedure virgin queen becomes a tasty morsel for a bird on her mating flight. This is a difficult situation because there are no more eggs to create a second supersedure. In this case you can take a frame of eggs from another hive (no bees) or you have to find a mated queen to introduce to the hive. Again time is of the essence if you are encouraging the bees to create their own queen. The bees often indicate whether the situation is bad. They will be quite growly if they are having queen issues. If they are are surprisingly calm my experience is that they have a plan. It is easy to miss a slim virgin queen on an inspection.
Split For a Normal Thriving Hive (and Brood Break)
2 weeks after first signs of mature drones (May 18th ish…maybe a bit later this year). Make sure the colony is no less than 8 frames of brood. Take 2 frames of brood of either capped or open brood with the old queen and place in a nuc. (The theory is that capped brood will harbour a higher percentage of mites per colony but transferring open brood will also reduce the mite number.) Shake additional bees into the nuc and add pollen and honey as needed. Keep the bees well fed.
Take the 6 remaining frames of brood and notch cell walls down on to midrib on proper larvae. Do it at least on 4 cells on 2 different frames. This will encourage the bees to make queen cells. One week later make sure only 2 queen cells exist to prevent swarming. Allow the hive to produce a new queen.
Give both the nuc with the old queen and the original hive with new queen lots of room to grow. And remember bees need food in order to produce new wax.
Fiona Gold
Split For a Normal Thriving Hive (and Brood Break) – from notes by Garret Wilkinson

A lot of people talk about neonicotinoids (neonics). But it has been some time since anybody did anything about that whole family of chemicals which are widely regarded as detrimental if not fatal to the health of bees.
And what has been done, a patchwork of proposals to either ban or allow the chemical, has done nothing to eliminate the confusion over its impact.
While in 2013 the European Union placed a two year moratorium on neonics, it allowed a chemical called sulfoxaflor. In the USA, in 2015 a federal court banned the use of sulfoxaflor because the Environmental Protection Agency used “flawed and limited” data when approving it. But neonics are still being widely used.
In the last week of April neonics and one of its major manufacturers, Bayer Pharmaceutics were in the news again. There were protests in Bonn, Germany by beekeepers among others and a series of seminars. All of this was in advance of Bayer’s corporate annual general meeting and the expectation Bayer would be detailing its plans to take over that global producer of GMO seeds Monsanto. Now there is a combination that should give the environmental movement heart palpitations.
A move to limit neonics was introduced by the Ontario Government in 2014. They were hoping to reduce the use by 80 percent by this year, 2017. Not sure how that is turning out but corn and soy bean farmers were not amused.
And at this point, while the two year moratorium placed on three types of neonics by the European Union expired in 2015, it is under review.
Meanwhile two cities in Canada, Montreal (2015) and more recently Vancouver (2016) have banned the use of neonics. In Vancouver attention was drawn to the fact that folks were using a product containing neonics for purely cosmetic purposes by drenching their lawns to destroy the larvae of chafer beetles either the before the larvae destroyed their lawns by feeding on the grass roots or crows or raccoons destroyed the lawns by tearing them up in search for those tasty larvae.
The same time that Vancouver banned neonics, Health Canada in November 2016, proposed a ban on neonics with a three year phase out.
Nothing yet. And a Canadian Senate committee on the subject of neonics and honey bee health said it wanted to study the matter further.
As you might suspect, Bayer’s website says their field studies show that neonics have “no adverse effects to bee colonies.”
Bayer, however, is the same drug company when in the early 1900’s it was aggressively marketing a drug called heroin, it was telling people heroin was a non-addictive substitute for morphine; ideal for the treatment of bronchitis and tuberculosis. The American Medical Association approved its use in 1906.
Allen Garr

Seed Exchange
Thank you to everyone who participated or contributed to the seed exchange last month!
As a group, we managed to compile dozens of seed varieties of bee friendly flowers and vegetable/garden plants. Let’s make the second month of this new project even better!
More surplus seeds donated means more seeds to spread to other members.
Expect to visit the seed table and pick up a bag or two of some new seeds that might grow for you and our little pollinating friends this summer.
They thank you and we thank you, too!
Winston Wong

June 17, 2017 Field Day
The Surrey Bee club is hosting this summer’s Field Day. Speakers will include Heather Higo, Paul van Westendorp and Don Carter. Try and make it! The address is: 15560 Colebrook Road, Surrey BC. Further details are on the RBA website.
Bees and Beers (B&B)
B&B is a casual social gathering held on the 4th Tuesday of each month, where you can meet local beekeepers, ask questions, and socialize. Come out for dinner or just a drink. If you would like to suggest a location, please email me at the below address.
Dates for Spring/Summer: May 23, June 27, July 25, August 22
Time: 6:30
Location: To be determined, location will be posted on the web site under Events.
Day of the Honeybee – May 28th, 2017
Traditionally the Richmond Bee Association has set up an observation hive at the Trout Lake Market. Gus Axen is willing to do this on May 27th. We need a few volunteers to help him.
May Iotron Run
Drop -off is May 8, 9, 10, 11
The Equipment will be processed May 12th and ready for pick-up May 15th.
Please check our website for details about payment and wrapping.
Kirk Webster Visit
Kirk Webster is coming to Vancouver. Keep October 14th and 15th, 2017 in your calendar.