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Spring Meeting Part 1

Highlights of the 2019 Spring NCSBA Conference in Monroe, NC
This event had a simpler schedule than last spring, with all the talks located in the main auditorium. This had the advantage of the attendees more easily hearing all the speakers.
The vendor areas opened early each morning and remained open throughout the event, except for the bee bowl, but I will go over the vendor and product highlights in another blog.
Morning Day 1:  Paul Newbold, NCSBA President announced upcoming events to start the day. Quickly approaching events include testing on April 27 at both Newbern and Morganton. Then the summer convention in Hickory, NC August 8, 9, and 10. The EAS will be holding its summer convention in nearby Greenville, SC in June. This is a 22 state organization, and so having the event this close is special.
The first guest speaker to the platform was Jay Heselschwerdt, a state bee inspector for Tennessee. Jay’s topic was “To Feed or Not to Feed Your Bees.” The statistics for his beehive …

End of January update

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Well, it has been 21 days since we last checked our hives. Since it is mid-winter 2019 and a nice day, we decided to weigh them today, January 28.
We started in the home yard and found five with nearly ten pounds of weight loss so far this winter. The others either lost six pounds or less or even gained (probably from robbing other hives and/or drifting). A few hives were defensive on one stand, so we used smoke to weigh them.
While most of them were quite active, one was not, so we decided to take a quick look inside. Just barely opening the top we could see that it was either a dead out or abandoned.  Upon inspection, we found less than 100 bees dead on the bottom of the hive, and a few dead on one frame. There was very little uncapped brood, a few frames away from the dead bees.  One frame near the opposite side had not been worked out, but most of the remaining frames were nearly full of stores except where brood had emerged. Two frames of stores were about 75% consumed. The top…

January Update

We are continuing to monitor our hives this winter.  We started winter with 31hives and when we went and inspected all the hives on January 7th and 8th; we found that one hive had absconded.  There was a small patch of capped brood, and they still had about 9 lbs. of sugar in the top of the hive.  There was no sign of moisture and only two dead bees on the bottom board.  There were wax cappings on the hive floor, signs that the hive had been robbed, but probably after they absconded.  The insulation on the front of the hive was damaged, so we believe that a varmint harassed the hive enough that they left.
Our hives continued to use supplies very slowly, another three weeks and we were down an average of less than two pounds.  For the period Nov 17 through January 7, our hives have used an average of 3.5 pounds of stores.  I am convinced that changing bee breeds and insulating the hives is paying off.
Our focus in our apiary is changing from honey production to focus on raising queens an…

Late Winter 2018

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Late Winter 2018 We survived the hurricane season with no damage, and heading into winter we focused on accomplishing several tasks.  First and foremost, we fed and fed our hives to get the hive weights up for winter.  Also, we also made some other changes to help with winter survival. Changes to How We Winter Bees Insulated Hives One issue that hurt the bees last year was food and specifically food not being where the bees could access it late in the year.  When we inspected hives, some were out of food, but more had food at the edges and couldn’t get to it during the last cold spell.
To help reduce the need for food and to make food more accessible, we added 2” foil backed polystyrene insulation to all of the hives.  We made this a permanent change and used construction adhesive to attach the foam to the hive.  I believe this will help in two different ways.  First, the bees will not have to burn as much honey trying to stay warm.  Also, they will have more days where they can brea…

Late summer update

Late summer has been busy for beekeeping in the Piedmont.It seems that the frequent rains this summer have helped with forage for the bees better than the past few years. So feeding our bees this summer has kept the hive quite full of bees, pollen, and food stores.
Because we started feeding too late in the dearth last summer, this summer we fed our bees earlier and in greater quantity.So we have been inspecting them every ten days to 2 weeks this summer. This is working well except for the toll the heat and humidity have taken on us. It seems that most of the hives are becoming quite used to inspections and they go quickly. Also, we have been able to do better at keeping propolis build up to a minimum at the top of the hives. The canvas covers we use when we are not bucket feeding are working so well. The bees hardly notice when we open the hives.
Here in late summer during the dearth, it can be difficult to obtain a well-mated queen on short notice. So it is important to know right aw…

A year in the life of a North Carolina Beekeeper

Welcome to my blog.  I will be writing about the next year in my beekeeping journey.  It is possible that the blog may continue on, we will see. 

You may be wondering about why I am starting the blog now, instead of the spring when the bee season begins in earnest.  It is because now is the time when we have to make the preparations for the winter.  We are in a nectar dearth, the bees are getting frustrated and the decisions we make will shape the future of our apiaries.

Why would I want to write a blog?  Well, I decided to keep a diary of what I did and how it worked out.  I am always on the quest to improve my skills and my success with the bees. Last year was a disaster, not only for my bees but for many in the Piedmont of North Carolina.  I live in Asheboro, in Randolph County, right in the middle of the state.  Last winter I lost 20 out of 25 hives, in the majority of the cases, it was because I split the hives too late in the year, and so as a result, the hives were weak and the…