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”

April 20 Club Meeting

Greetings fellow beekeepers!

It’s time to check your bees, feed the light hives, and analyze why your hives did (or did not) survive this long, cold winter. If you need help with this, the Club is offering our first, hands-on Deadout Clinic on Saturday, April 19 at the Cooperative Extension building. Check out the information below for details.

April’s meeting will happen as scheduled on April 20, from 2-4pm at the Cooperative Extension building. We hope this doesn’t conflict with Easter plans for you. We did a quick poll and rather than reschedule (which has not worked well in the past) we decided to keep the regular meeting date.

For our April meeting, we have invited Janet Allen to talk about pollinator gardens. Whether you keep bees for honey, or simply for pleasure, you can also cultivate your garden or garden box to support native pollinators. Janet is president and co-founder of the local Wild Ones chapter Habitat Gardening in Central New York. She is a past member of the Wild Ones Board of Directors.

From Janet’s web site:

Our yard, located in Central New York, is more than just a place to sit and relax, more than just a garden.

It’s a habitat where birds, butterflies, bees, toads, and other little creatures can find food, water, cover, and a place to raise their young; a place where there are no pesticides or herbicides used that would be unhealthy for these creatures or for people.It’s a place that’s full of life—a very exciting place to be.

It’s the kind of place you, too, can have in your own yard, whether you have an apartment balcony, a city lot, or acreage in the country.

We will be reaching out to gardening groups in the area, so expect this meeting to be well attended.

This will be our last indoor meeting — next month we’re back at the hives!

Geneva Bee Conference

Geneva 2014

The Geneva 2014 Bee Conference was quite a success, with 118 attendees from all over the Central New York region.

  • 78 of the 118 signed in.
  • 13 from FLBC
  • 29 from OFLBA
  • 13 from various clubs, schools, (WNYHPA, Mid York, Steuben Cty, ESHPA-Syracuse, Cornell, Hobart, etc)
  • 23 did not designate a club, school or city

Thanks to all who attended! We look forward to an even more successful event in 2015.

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.

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. This year will also feature a silent auction, and debut the Great Honey Swap!

The 2014 Geneva Bee Conference (GBC) has three great speakers lined up: Dick Rogers (Bayer), Katie Lee (Bee Informed), and Chris Harp (HoneybeeLives.org).  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 22th, 2014.  For information on how to get to the college, click on Directions.  Cost for this great event will be $30/individual or $50/couple, but if you volunteer you get a bit of a break on the cost.

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.


FLBC Deadout Clinic

On Saturday April 19, 2014
, from 1-3 pm, the FLBC will host a NY Bee Wellness-supported deadout clinic to evaluate why ONE of your hives did not survive the winter. THIS IS A TEACHING CLINIC! The instructors will teach YOU how to autopsy your hives, and therefore you will gain important skills you can carry back in to you apiary for years to come.

We have a limited number of spaces to accommodate participants, and a few spots available for people to just come, observe and learn. Priorities for all slots will be given to FLBC club members.

We do have space for non-members as participants! Our observer slots are FULL, so we are wait listing folks for observers.

You will receive a confirmation email within a week of registration, with important instructions on what you need to bring to the clinic, and where to mail your registration fees to secure your spot in the clinic. The fees collected will cover the costs of the room rental, light snacks and Bee Wellness supplies and expertise.

Registration fees: $5 per observer, $15 FLBC member ($20 nonmembers, space permitting). Light snacks will be provided.

Register online here.

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: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gOf1lkmoGO5hh8Tvts25I5hGn3BfM8bKOy8A0AOr2HI.

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 eleanor.snow@gmail.com.

Elections were held.
President: Shelley Stuart 
First VP: Peter Loring Borst
Second VP: Lesli Sagan
Treasurer: Marjorie Pryse (mpryse1@twcny.rr.com).  You can send her checks for $10 for your yearly dues (more information is on the website, http://flbeeclub.com/). 
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 (http://flbeeclub.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=37&Itemid=54).

February Meeting

Our next club meeting will take place on Sunday, February 16 from 2-4pm at the Cooperative Extension building downtown. The topic of this meeting; MENTORING, as led by Monika Roth. Monika is the Agriculture & Horticulture Program Leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and among many other programs, has taught mentoring to farmers. The FLBC would like to nurture this talent within the club. Many of us have started mentoring others naturally; we hope this adds to your skillsets, and encourages others to try it out.

At the Club meeting we should also have more information about (and hopefully registration forms for) the Club’s first deadout clinic, where Bee Wellness folks will teach you how to analyze your deadouts. This will be a hands-on workshop with your bees and your deadouts. The goal is to give you skills to confidently understand why a hive didn’t survive the winter, and prevent the same from happening in the future.

Also, don’t forget about the Geneva workshop on March 22!

See you on the 16th!

Where to Buy Bees – 2014

Before you decided what kind of bees to buy, peruse this helpful resource from the Bee Wellness folks.

Nucleus packages

The Club will be buying 40 nucs again from Wixon’s. After our January 19 meeting, we will post information on costs and how to reserve them. This service is available to Club members only and limited to three nucs per person.

We have sold out of nucs for 2014.

If you ordered one and were uncertain about needing it, you will certainly be able to sell it by posting to the Club list. Just please let Marjorie Pryse know so that I know who will be picking up the nuc you ordered.

If you are in a place where you need more than three nucs, here is a list of apiaries from 2013. This doesn’t constitute an endorsement by the FLBC, just a resource to help you source bees for your hives.

Company Location Contact
Anarchy Apiaries anarchyapiaries.org
Betterbee Greenwich, NY www.betterbee.com
Dadant Waverly, NY www.dadant.com
HoneyRock Farm Ithaca, NY www.honeyrockfarm.com
Johnston’s Honeybee Farm
(Sold out 2014)
Eaton, NY www.johnstonshoneybeefarm.com
Morse Mills Honey Co Moravia, NY 315-497-0549
Natures Way Farm Lowman, NY www.natureswayfarm.com
Wixon’s Honey Dundee, NY www.wixsonhoney.com


Package bees

Thanks to Club member Christina Wahl for providing this list of package bee suppliers.

Aaron Morris will have packages from Wilbanks (Georgia) by May 2.  He will charge $105.

Betterbee will have Italian packages, also from Wilbanks, for delivery on the last weekend in April.  They will also offer Russian bees later in April, depending on the supplier’s schedule.  See their website for details.  Prices are about the same as Aaron’s.

Mann Lake’s new facility in Wilkes Barre will have packages April 5, 9, 26, at $99.50, with a $20 gift certificate to their catalog.

If you sell bees near Ithaca, NY and you would like to be listed here, please email us with your information.