Saturday, March 29, 2014

New Year - New Posts

It's been a busy year so far and I haven't had time to work on this blog lately.  I got razzed a little bit for that Thursday night at the Cherokee Beekeepers Association meeting, so I figured I'd better get on the stick and catch up.  There's been a lot of things happening, and I'll try to catch you up.

Cherokee Beekeepers Association Short Course

On Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, The Cherokee Beekeepers Association, Athens, TN held it's annual Short Course for Beekeepers.  It was held at the McMinn County High School.   Below is a list of presenters and topics:

2014 Short Course Presenters:

9:30-10:15 a.m.   (WHY)
         Keynote Speaker, Charlie Parton, President Tennessee Beekeepers Association
         So You Want to be a Beekeeper?

10:45-11:30 a.m.   (WHAT)
         Getting to know honey bees
         Honey bee activities inside the hive
         Honey bee activities outside the hive
         Presenter(s):  Lynda Rizzardi, Executive Vice-President Tennessee Beekeepers Association

1:00-1:50 p.m.      Two Concurrent Sessions:  HOW/WHERE, WHEN

         The role of the beekeeper
         Intro to hive/beekeeping equipment, tools, protective clothing
         How to cope with stings
         Suggestions about lifting
         Location, location, location
         Time commitments
         Space/storage requirements
         Presenter(s):  Nancy Howard & Greg Whitehead

         Getting honey bees
         The first year
         The second year
         Management:  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
         Pests and diseases
         Presenter(s):  Jim Gentry, Bobbie Burtz

2:00-2:50 p.m.      Repeat of Concurrent Sessions above

3:00-3:30 p.m.      Panel/Open Floor to address remaining questions
         Jim Gentry 
         Nancy Howard
         Mike Coulter
         Myron McCleary

I did a presentation on safety and how to try to protect your back.  I figured since I was down for a month last spring when everything needed doing that I knew first hand how it felt and the effects on your bee yard.

A super full of frames full of honey is heavy.  A 10-frame deep weighs 70 - 80 pounds.  Plus you have to pry it off the lower box and then lift it in an awkward position.

My idea was to build a 10-frame deep, but instead of honey-filled frames, I'd put concrete blocks, so that an accurate training aid would be presented.

I had an extra box, so me and dad cut up a 2x4 and attached the pieces to the bottom of the box.  I wanted it to be sturdy enough to hold the weight and not tear the box up.

Installing the 2 x 4s

 Cutting the top and bottom

 Adding the blocks

 Cutting the shims to stabilize the blocks

The box ended up weighing 72 pounds.  I encouraged people to try to pick it up.  My thought was that it was better for someone to know what it was like before they bought a bunch of equipment.  I'd hate for someone to invest a lot of money just to find out that they couldn't lift the boxes when they were full of honey.

I estimated that there were around 120 people attended (not counting CBA members and other volunteers).  There were great presentations on a variety of subjects.  Lynda Rizzardi, former president of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association, gave another one of her always-motivational presentations.  She never fails to keep your attention, and it's always interesting and informative.

There were displays of equipment, catalogs, vendor information, and lunch and refreshments.  I had a great time, and I think everyone did.  If you didn't make it this year, plan on attending one next year.  You never know who you'll run in to or what you'll learn!

A good crowd

Equipment Display

CBA President Gwen Lane

Attentive audience

I even got my picture in the local newspaper!

February Meeting

On February 27th we had our first regular meeting of the year and over 90 people showed up!  I wish I had thought to take a picture of the crowd!  We didn't have enough chairs.  Lots of folks wanting to try beekeeping!  I know many of them will decide not to, but it's a good sign that there's so much interest.

Our group had four state hive grant winners this year.  They have to join and attend meetings for at least two years, and donate some of their honey (when they get some) back to the association.  They get a starter hive kit, veil, gloves, jacket, smoker, hive took, etc.  One of them lives pretty far north from Athens, and since I was the closest one, I was assigned to mentor that winner.  Luckily, there's another member that has been doing bees for over thirty years that lives down the street from me, so we'll both be available to assist.  The grant winners are really nice people, and I look forward to sharing their upcoming adventure.

March Meeting

On March 27th, we were privileged to have Jim Garrison give a presentation on Pollen and Nectar Sources.  He is a dynamic speaker and explained a lot of things about plants, nectar and pollen.  Since I recently purchased the adjoining 5 acres next to my 5.5 acres, I plan on getting the bush hog attached to the tractor and preparing the field next door for bee forage.  It won't be an all-at-once thing.  It will happen over several years.  But hopefully I can add a lot of things the bees will like.


Near-term plans for the bee hives

 It was an extremely cold winter, but I still have two out of three hives left, and they seem to be doing well.  I gave them a pollen patty the week before last and when I popped the lid for a peek, they were going after it.  Of course things are starting to bloom now, so there's pollen becoming available.

It's supposed to rain today and tomorrow, so hopefully Sunday I can get into the hives and rearrange some boxes.  I hope to treat for mites in a week or so after they settle down from this weekend's inspection.

Hopefully I'll be updating the blog and posting pictures.  Stay tuned!