Beginning Beekeeping Workshop

Beginning Beekeeping Workshop
Presented by the Finger Lakes Beekeepers Club

with generous support from the Cayuga Nature Center

Learn about honey bees and the joys of beekeeping, and network with beekeepers of all experience levels. Our speakers each have decades of personal experience with bees and beekeeping, and all enjoy sharing their love of the hobby!

The Beginner’s Workshop has reached maximum capacity.

If you would like to be placed on the wait list, please email

Workshop raffle update!

We will once again offer a raffle table at the workshop. Tickets will sell for $5 each or three for $10 (cash only for the raffle). This year we have:

  • One package of bees ($110 value, arrives in May)
  • An observation hive from Dadant ($100 value)
  • Gift bag from Avital’s Apiaries, and skep-shaped sandwich cutter
  • Smoker from Dadant
  • A one year subscription to the American Bee Journal
  • Bee brush, and several bee books
  • a $20 gift certificate to Edible Acres


Gizmos, gadgets, gewgaws, and weird looking hive tools!

GaringJoin us on Sunday, November 16, for the next Club meeting! Beekeeper and Empire State Honey Producers Association Treasurer Sue Garing will start a conversation about home grown gizmos we’ve created to improve beekeeping task efficiency. Sue will bring a few of her own gizmos and some photographs of ones too large for table top for show and tell.

Please bring and share your novel feeders, tools, varroa traps, tool caddies, and other thingamabobs that make keeping bees easier.

Immediately following Sue’s presentation, we’ll have a short business meeting that will include a treasurer’s report, update on the Club hives, a reminder about January officer elections, and updates on the Beginner’s Workshop and Geneva Conference. If you have any additional club business you would like to discuss, please email Shelley at


If you’re interested in bringing a dish to pass, bring a honey-based snack! We’ve all had time to harvest; show off something you make with your honey!

Minutes from the 2014 Geneva Bee Conference

Ellie Andrews (Secretary) attended the Geneva Bee Conference at took copious notes. Here is a link to the document online, or you can scroll through the information below.

Geneva bee conference

March 22, 2014


Dick Rogers (Bayer Bee Care Center): “Healthy bees and healthy crops”

Katie Lee (Bee Informed): “Tech-Transfer teams”

Chris Harp: Why Natural Beekeeping Matters

Dick Rogers, Bayer Bee Care Center: “Healthy bees and healthy crops”

Keeping bees since ‘73

Diversity of climates in North America, extremes that bees are able to live in

Over 4 years of inspections, 50-60% of the hives he saw (’05-08) were dead/dying or had serious issues.  Good management prevents many of those hives from dying.

Main factors in hives that were less than healthy: management-related, environment-related, in-hive related.

  • Inspections
  • Apiary suitability?  Beekeepers need to assess the bee yard – its air drainage, etc.
  • During inspections, estimate area of brood (capped, open), pollen, and honey in the comb.
  • Use tools, e.g., dead bee trap.  Dead bee count over 24h or 1 week.  Look for what stage they’re in, are they drones, do they have deformed wings, etc.  12 categories of dead bees.
  • Deformed wing virus (DWV) – spread by Varroa.  Affects queens.
  • Queen issues in general can result from viruses.
  • Sampling bees (pollen, honey, wax, too) for pesticides, etc.  Can check for 200 diff products all in the same analysis – but very expensive.
  • Highest residues from stuff beekeepers use in their hives.  Neonics are at the lowest levels or don’t show up at all.
  • Levels of concern (with different thresholds): dead/dying, very sick, not well, excellent
  • To evaluate a hive’s health, look for: percentage of the frame covered by bees, honey, pollen, etc.; whether the queen is present/absent; diseases like AFB, EFB, Varroa, HBTM, nosema, deformed wing, CPV, K-W, SHB, snotty brood, etc.
  • Health usually gets worse as season progresses.
  • Hobby, sideliners hives usually better condition – they’re not moving around; they’re getting more attention.
  • Multiple stressors – parasites, etc. (long list)
  • 6 P’s: parasites, predators, pesticides…
  • Enemy #1, vampire of the bee world: Varroa.  There are no ‘healthy’ colonies since it’s in nearly every one.  It’ll get into ones that are mite-free.

Continue reading “Minutes from the 2014 Geneva Bee Conference”

Meeting Minutes, February 16, 2014

Shelley is drafting a pilot mentoring plan.  She will be in further touch with those of you who expressed an interest in being a mentor or a student by signing up at the meeting.  If you’d like to sign up and haven’t yet, please let one of the officers know.

In short, the club is starting a pilot program, in which first-year beekeepers are partnered with members who have more experience and who can help them install their bees and make a few follow-up visits.  We will match people who can get acquainted and talk about equipment, etc. before the bees arrive. Feel free share your comments and ideas on the listserv, so that we can collectively build the program.

*Mentors* – we hope to provide a checklist for you as a resource.  Please keep track of what works and how much time you spend doing this, so we can continue to improve the program in the years to come.

*Students/newbees* – think about how you can acknowledge the work of your mentor.  Consider helping out with your mentor’s hives or making other kinds of fair trade arrangements.

The club’s mentoring program is intended to keep just a few experts from fielding all the calls, and to reveal our own wealth of expertise on a range of topics – so, for example, if you want to ask someone about rearing queens, you can find a list of people to call about it.  In the discussion that followed Monika’s presentation, members discussed how we might match mentors and students/newbees based on skill/experience levels and geographic proximity.  The sense of the group seemed to crystallize around the idea of having a password-protected (members only) page on the website with little profiles that include members’ names, contact info, and relevant expertise (what they do, what they can provide advice on, what they might want advice on.  This would create a library of both ‘expertise’ and ‘help wanted’.  This information could be linked to a (Google?) map, so
that members can find mentors who are based nearby (the little pins on the map could have these profiles linked to them).  Geographic proximity is important.  Some folks suggested that the club could help organize smaller groups than usually attend the meetings at the club hives, drawn from a smaller area.  This might look like the hive tour that was organized a few years back.

Monika suggested that we seemed to be discussing three different ‘tracks’ of mentoring: 1) helping first-year beekeepers get set up, 2) helping less (and more!) experienced beekeepers manage crises, and 3) sharing information about particular interests, e.g., rearing queens.  Her presentation focused on how to institutionalize a mentoring program: formal applications, possible fees for students/newbees, and formal agreements that plan for scheduled check-ins and site visits (with time limits) and clear statements about how mentors and students/newbees are going to communicate.

Other ideas and comments:

– We need to distinguish between what the mailing list does and what a mentor can do.

– The officers could scour YouTube and put together a list of recommended videos.

– Mentoring in whatever form should start well ahead of time – before the bees arrive!


Bryan Danforth is looking for citizen scientists in May to collect data.

Honey Rock Farm will be selling nucs for $130, with Italian queens.

January 2014 meeting notes

January’s meeting was a busy one!

AvitalsA fantastic presentation was given by Lesli Sagan, of Avital’s Apiaries, on running a small business based on bee products.  She shared ups, downs, and things to keep in mind, while trying not to inspire too many of us to become her competitors.  Lesli’s handout is available here:

A brief presentation was given by Ellie Andrews, on the results of last year’s winter loss survey (71 respondents).  Now we can prove statistically that beekeepers who checked and treated for Varroa mites had a greater percentage of their hives survive last winter.  If you have any suggestions for revising the survey or want to see more results from last year, please email me at

Elections were held.
President: Shelley Stuart 
First VP: Peter Loring Borst
Second VP: Lesli Sagan
Treasurer: Marjorie Pryse (  You can send her checks for $10 for your yearly dues (more information is on the website, 
Secretary: Ellie Andrews

Dues were collected.
Many thanks to everyone who updated their membership for this year.  An annual family membership (September 1 through August 31) costs $10.  Members have access to club equipment, may vote in elections, and may purchase nucs through the club in the spring.  To join the FLBC, mail a check made out to Finger Lakes Beekeepers and mail it to Marjorie Pryse (her address and other information is on the website (

May Club Meeting – Comb Honey

comb honey flckr user Nate GrayWelcome spring, and welcome new beekeepers!  Club nucs will arrive sometime this month (we’re still waiting on the exact date), so I hope you have your gear ready.

We are officially moving out to the Club hives for the summer!  The hives are located on the “back 40” of the Cayuga Nature Center.  Meeting times remain from 2-4pm.  We will be working bees.  YOU could be working bees! Bees will be flying around, and probably miffed that we’re interrupting their routine.  Please dress appropriately — the Club does not have a supply of protective gear to borrow.

During the summer meetings, you get the chance to get hands-on with bees under the supervision and support of many veteran beekeepers.  This meeting, members Duane Waid and Rob Sorenson will talk about making comb honey.  Come with some water, your protective gear, and your questions!


Geneva Bee Conference

beelogoThere will be no March meeting in Ithaca. Instead, join us for the Geneva Bee Conference, presented by FLBC and the Ontario-Fingerlakes Beekeepers Association.  Many conference vendors will take orders and you can pick up your orders at the meeting, to save on shipping costs.

The 2013 Geneva Bee Conference (GBC) has two great speakers lined up: Dr. Deborah Delaney and Dr. Tammy Horn.  For information on the speakers and the talks they are giving, click on the Speakers link.

The GBC will be held on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges located in Geneva, New York, in the Vandervoort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.  The date is Saturday, March 16th, 2013.  For information on how to get to the college, click on Directions.  For a PDF flyer of the event, click on Flyer.

The GBC is a free event.  However, if you can donate $20 to help defray costs, it will be appreciated!

For the lunch break, people bring a dish to share (or cups/napkins/plates/utensils, or bottles of water, or…) and we’ll have coffee available.  We’ve always had a good variety of savory and sweet dishes that folks have brought.  If you prefer, you can brown bag it or there are places near the campus where you can go to get lunch.


February Bee Club Meeting

Peter SielingSpring approaches, and the bees are going to be building up soon!  Whether you are just beginning, or anticipate expanding your apiary, you’ll want to come to the Club meeting on February 17, from 2-4pm.

We welcome back Peter Sieling, lifelong beekeeper, regular contributor to Bee Culture for 15 years, and a woodworker. He owns and operates Garreson Lumber Company in Bath, selling cabinetmaking hardwoods to hobby and professional woodworkers.

Peter will talk to us about making your own woodenware, making them in a home workshop, hive assembly and the history of the modern beehive.


Honey, beer, and honey!

Beer glassFor the first Club meeting of the year, we invited Glenn Bucine to share his experiences with brewing beer with honey.  Glenn has brewed for many years, and describes himself as a “brewer, garlic grower, and humble gardner”.  Glenn will cover the basics of brewing beer, and then expand on to how to flavor your brew with honey.

After Glenn’s talk, we will dive into our honey sampling party!  The club will provide crackers as a palate cleanser, and if you want to share your honey please bring some in a squeeze bottle.  It could be a bear, or any other bottle that lets us share honey without sharing germs.  Bring a water bottle or other mug to have a supply of water or tea at hand.

Finally, for the first meeting of the year we will hold club elections.  Anyone interested in serving as an officer should feel free to contact me or the group.

I hope to see you at the Cooperative Extension Building at 2pm on Sunday (January 20).  Officers meeting will start at 1pm.