January meeting

Our winter meetings resume on Sunday, January 19, from 2-4 at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building in Ithaca. Leslie Sagan, founder and COO of Avital’s Apiaries will talk about lotions, soaps and balms. Her product line started with sales to friends and family, and is quickly blossoming — if all goes well, Avital’s will sell products online this summer.

In addition, we will conduct the following Club business: annual officer elections, and dues collections. If you haven’t already paid for 2014, now’s the time!
See you at the meeting!

That’s a Wrap!

Thank you to all who have attended the meetings for 2013. I personally am repeatedly inspired by the enthusiasm of those new to keeping bees, and heartened by our members who support each other no matter what the question and how experienced the authors.

As a reminder, we have NO MONTHLY MEETING in December — it’s just too busy! Our next meeting will be at the Extension building on January 19. At that time we will either talk about observation hives, or have Lesli’s postponed talk on lotions, soaps and balms from hive products.

At January’s meeting we will also hold elections for 2014 officers, as well as collect club dues. If you are interested in running for an office, feel free to raise your hand in January. You are also welcome to contact me to see what is involved.

Happy holidays!


Regional Fall Meeting

The Empire State Honey Producer’s Association promotes the interest of New York State beekeepers on many levels. This state-wide organization holds meetings in the summer and the fall. The fall meeting will be on Friday and Saturday, at the Comfort Inn & Suites, 6701 Buckley Road in North Syracuse.

Officer elections will take place on Friday, and include two local candidates: Peter Borst and Rob Sorenson. There will be FLBC members in attendance; please feel free to use the list to arrange carpooling for the meeting!

In addition to officer elections, which will inform the associations future endeavors, this fall’s speakers include:

Dr. Jerry J. Bromenshenk received his Ph.D. in insect ethology (behavior) from the University of Montana .  He co-founded Bee Alert Technology in 2003 and is the statewide director of Montana’s EPSCoR program (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research). His research focuses on insect behavior, ecotoxicology, population dynamics, and environmental chemistry

Dr. Beth Holloway is a Research Molecular Biologist at the USDA Baton Rouge Lab.  She has a diverse genetics background ranging from understanding genetic components responsible for development of zebrafish embryos, an analog system for human development, to understanding gene expression and regulation in corn as a means for crop improvement through breeding.  Her research at the Honey Bee Breeding Lab focuses on developing molecular markers useful for marker assisted selection, identifying genes responsible for important colony traits, and elucidating how regulation of those genes contributes to overall colony health.

Peter Borst. Mr. Peter Borst has worked in the beekeeping industry since his first job working as beekeeper’s helper in Wolcott NY, in 1974. Since 2006, Peter has been a regular contributor to the American Bee Journal, writing on topics as diverse as beekeeping technique, the value of pollen for bees, and the history of bee breeding.

Kristine Jacobsen is a member of the American Apitherapy Society and the Michigan Beekeepers Association.  She has been practicing apitherapy since 2005 and is happy to give presentations on apitherapy to clubs and   organizations when invited to do so.  Best of all, she gets to experience the joy on people’s faces from their healings and good health, where before there was pain and suffering. There is nothing small about a honey bee.

November meeting

Club meeting

Our November meeting will take place on Sunday, November 17, 2pm at the Cooperative Extension building downtown. There is an adjustment to the speaker schedule. Lesli Sagan, originally scheduled to talk about soaps and lotions, will be selling her soaps and lotions at an all day fair (go, Lesli!). She will give her talk tentatively in January.
Our VP, Peter Borst, will instead give us a presentation about the History of Beekeeping, a reprise of the talk he will give at the ESHPA meeting on Friday. Much of his talk involves Tompkins county beekeeping history. It will be fascinating to learn about the roots of our craft.

Beginners workshop
Normally I would be arranging the details of the February workshop now. With my Mead Magic endeavor taking up 110% of my free time, I am unable to give the workshop the attention it needs and deserves.
I need someone to take over the workshop organization this year. I can be an advisor, helper, tip-giver, but not the organizer. There’s a lot left to do, but most importantly line up speakers and do advertising. Email me if you are willing to take this on, or have more questions.
If we don’t end up with an organizer, I will move the mentor talk from the workshop to the February meeting. I think there’s enough interest from folks at the last meeting to make that happen one way or another!
See you on the 17th!

October Club Meeting

Mead magicHello fellow beekeepers!

Our next Club meeting takes place on October 20, from 2-4pm at the Cooperative Extension Center downtown (here’s the Google Map link).  I will spend the first hour talking about how to make mead, or honey wine.

Mead is a very ancient drink — possibly the oldest fermented beverage.  We derive “honeymoon” from mead: in medieval times, newlyweds would drink mead (“honey”) for a month (“moon”).  My talk stays small — I approach this as an introduction to the art where you make one gallon of mead with only necessary ingredients and equipment.  Depending on how resourceful you are, you can make a gallon (about 8-10 beer bottles) in under $10.  If you can make coffee, you can make mead — it’s just that easy.

I’ve been brewing mead since the 1990s, starting with a distressingly large 5 gallon batch.  I got the bug, and have made all sorts of mead variations (with varying successes as well).  I started beekeeping in order to have free honey to make more mead.  (We all know how that works out!)  I’m now taking homebrewing further with my meadmaking kit, Mead Magic (at the last meeting, some of you heard my pitch about Mead Magic on Kickstarter).

We will have an officer’s meeting before the event, and afterward, Ellie Andrews would like to talk with small groups of beekeepers about the resilience of beekeeping locally, which is part of her research at Cornell.

Since we are back inside, we’ll have the teapot fired up, so bring your own mugs.  And, given the topic, there might be other beverages to sample as well.

See you on the 20th!

September club meeting

Have you caught the unmistakable smell of goldenrod honey curing in your hives yet?  There’s no surer a sign of fall than that, for a Finger Lakes Beekeeper!

Our next Club meeting will happen at the hives on September 15 — it’s early this month, so don’t let it catch you by surprise!  This will be our last regular meeting at the hives, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be talking about mites, and wintering, and not wintering mites!  We’ll assess the honey situation, then see what it will take to button up the hives.  (We may have a work session in early October to finish things up.)
After September we move back to the Cornell Cooperative Extension building for our monthly meetings.  Our winter topics, as currently scheduled:
October 20: Making Mead
November 17: Balms and lotions from your hive products
December: NO MEETING
January 19:  Observation hives
February 16: [TBD] (February will also be our beginners workshop)
March 22 (tentative): our joint meeting in Geneva
April 20: Planting a pollinator garden
One note — I am going to start announcing our monthly meetings to the general public, via various sites available to us. We may see an increase in attendance, if all goes well.  If the response is too positive, I’ll have to revisit the publicity.
At the meetings, I’ll have a donation jar for non-members to toss in a fiver or two, to help offset the costs of speakers, the cost of our meeting space, and hopefully establish funds for things like the proposed AFB fund.  Members are welcome to contribute to the funds, but it will absolutely not be necessary.  If anyone has the talent to create an encouraging sign to accompany a donation jar, contact me offline.
See you at the hives!


Varroa raffle!


The FLBC is pleased to introduce our first club raffle!  Anyone may participate, but only paid-up Club members will be eligible to win.  (Remember, membership is a bargain at $10/year for a family membership!)

The prize: one order of HopGuard or ApiGuard (your choice).

1.  To participate in the first-ever Varroa raffle, all you need to do is check your hives for mites!

2.  Submit your mite count via this closed form by Saturday, July 20. You can enter data starting today.

That’s all there is to it!  Wewill enter all participating club members’ names into a raffle, which will be drawn at our annual picnic.  (Yes!  There will be a picnic!  Just as soon as the President figures out the details…)

You can check as many hives as you like, and enter the data on all of these hives as well, but multiple entries don’t increase your chances of winning.  We’ll share the count data (not names) at the end of the raffle.

How to make step #1 happen:

A very easy, non-lethal method to check for mites is the powdered sugar shake method.  If you haven’t seen this demonstrated at the hives, you can find many good resources online like this one from Bee Wellness.  You may find you have everything you need already on hand!  (If you don’t have hardware cloth — and you don’t want to buy a complete roll — check your colanders or strainers and see if they might be the right size.)

Please submit your mite count per 100 bees. About 100 bees fits in 1/4 cup, so no matter what method you use, or how many bees you sample, submit your count on a per 100 bee count.  We’ll be able to compare apples to apples this way.

Why are we doing this?

Mites took at least 20% of our members’ hives this winter.  That number might be closer to 30 or 40%, if mites weakened a hive, causing it to succumb to nosema or the winter clime. We want to raise your awareness about your own mite levels, and get folks into the habit of testing.  We know it’s easy, and a lot of beekeepers will “get around to it”.  The raffle is just to give you an incentive to finally get out there and DO it!



June 2013 Club Meeting


Block off 2-4pm on Sunday, June 16 for the next FLBC meeting at the club hives! For those interested, we’ll do a short & sassy demo on how to use the club extractor. If you have the extractor and can’t return it, PLEASE let me know ASAP so I can throw my beastie in the car for folks to look at.

We will also look open up the hives and see how things are going. I’ve seen some pictures of gorgeous basswood flowers in town, so we might have some flow on. We’ll evaluate the hives, and then decide what to do about what we see.  It’s a great chance to get hands-on with someone else’s bees, so bring your suits, your veils, some water (for you to drink) and your questions!

In July the club will have our first mite count raffle! Open to current FLBC members only, if you check your hives for mites, you’ll be eligible for a raffle for free varroa treatment supplies.  Details will follow at the next meeting, and the contest won’t open until after the June meeting. If you want to participate, but you’re not sure about how to count for mites, this will be the time and place to learn.

Finally, please return your empty nuc boxes! We’ll check your names off of our nuc box list, and preserve our good standing with our nuc supplier for next year.

See you on the 16th!

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!