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!

April Club Meeting


Our next meeting will be on April 21 at the Cooperative Extension Center downtown from 2-4pm.  (Officer’s meeting starts at 1:00, and all are welcome to attend.)  This should be the last downtown meeting, and then we will move out to the club hives.  Our speaker will be Bryan Danforth, from the Department of Entomology at Cornell.  (His web site:  His talk summary follows.  Feel free to bring a snack to pass, and your own drinking vessel for tea or water.

Our business meeting will include selecting a member to coordinate the Club hives this summer.  Our Spring newsletter will go out to all members by mail soon — see that for additional details.

If you would like to contribute to the April Speakers Thank-You bag, please send an email directly to  Even a small jar of your honey is welcome!  This is an opportunity for you to boast about your hive products, and to a very easy way to volunteer to the Club’s overal operations.  We are slowly starting to put together some really nice bags for our speakers, thanks to our members!

April Talk Title: Quantifying the importance of native bees in apple pollination in central NY

Summary: My laboratory has been conducting a long-term study of the abundance, diversity, and importance of native bees in apple pollination in central NY since 2008. We have found that apple orchards in central NY host an enormously diverse native bee fauna – nearly 100 species of native bees have been collected in our surveys. We have also found that native bees are abundant in most orchards, suggesting that they are likely contributing significantly to apple pollination. Finally, we have found, based on careful field experiments, that native bees deposit significantly more pollen than honey bees on a per-visit basis, indicating that native bees are effective pollinators of apple flowers. Taken together, our studies are suggesting that native bees are providing a significant service to apple growers in central NY. Our results underline the importance of maintaining habitat for native bees in and around apple orchards as a strategy for maintaining long-term pollination services by native bees. While honey bees remain important pollinators under some circumstances, we are finding that native bees can be relied upon to provide sufficient pollination services for many NY State apple growers.


Winter Loss Survey for Stationary Beekeepers

winter hive Once spring arrives, you’ll open up your hives and (hopefully) do a post-mortem on those that didn’t make it through the winter.  This year, the Club will collect data on how our Northeast bees overwintered.

Please take the time to complete this online survey. Base your response on any single (or each) apiary and/or outyard that you manage — so wait until you look at all of your hives before sending in the info.  If you have many outyards, and can take the time, feel free to submit data on all of them.  Otherwise, pick what you consider your main apiary.

All data is collected anonymously and will be made publicly available so that the results may be used by number-crunchers, data-lovers and researchers to further our beekeeping knowledge.  At the end of the survey, you’ll have the chance to see a compilation of the submissions.

If you would like access to the raw data, please email for the read-only access link. We would love to see this data plotted graphically, using the zip code information available.

UPDATED: April 2, 2013
We’ve now added a simple map of respondents, with a hand-picked selection of survey responses displayed.  Click here to see the map. Just click on the dots to see the survey responses.

November meeting

Our November meeting will be on November 11 at CCE.  Note the alternate date!

Erin Irby

Erin Irby, a senior communications student at Ithaca College, vividly remembers the day when she was in elementary school in south Georgia and her mother explained that bees were disappearing in droves due to a then unknown cause.

Since that day, she has been intrigued by bees, their complexity, and their system’s endangerment on a global scale-yet she was unfamiliar with the plight of the beekeeper.

When studying abroad this past spring in the Pyrénées-Orientales, she was able to devote herself to learning about the traditional and modern-day techniques of beekeepers in a small village along the frontier between France and Spain known as Laroque-des-Albères. There, she was introduced to and documented a variety of methods and techniques that were aimed at embracing the local environment and improving bee health on a small-scale.

October meeting

Fall leavesThe FLBC will have its October meeting on Sunday, October 21 at 2:00 PM at the Cornell Cooperative Extension building downtown.  Yes, like our bees, we are tucking inside for the winter!  Officers will meet at 1:00pm; anyone is welcome to join us to discuss the nuts and bolts of Club affairs.  (I promise to not volunteer you for anything.)

At this meeting, we will talk about what we would and wouldn’t do again next year.  This is the opportunity to share your war stories about what went right and wrong in your apiaries this year.  And I hope both new, and veteran beekeepers participate — I know I have a tale to tell (I’m still trying to fix a mistake I made in JUNE)!

We will also talk about winter preparation and share ideas about how to maximize your hive’s potential to survive a harsh winter.

Since we are at the CCE building, we again have the opportunity to share a dish to pass.  Feel free to bring munchies!  I still have a tupperware cake container looking for its owner, so  if you’re missing one from the spring, send me a message.

See you on the 21st!

Varroa mite treatments

VarroaAfter an inspection of the hives Sunday, September 16, the Club members present decided to treat three of six hives with the next level of IPM treatment: ApiGuard.  The treatment involves two work sessions at the hives, which should be quick and informative.  All are welcome to attend, to see how to manage mites with this particular product.

The first treatment will take place on September 23, at 2pm at the Club hives.  The second will happen two weeks later (October 7), same time, same place.  Look for more information posted to the Club list.

Three of the hives will not receive treatment.  Two had very low levels of mites, and one re-queened within the past week (theoretically breaking the mite cycle).

The bees are arriving!


Peter Borst and David Hopkins will pick up the nucs on Friday, May 4. You will be able to get your bees Saturday evening (at dusk) and beyond.  Please make every effort to pick them up right away, in consideration of our host.

***Nucs will be at Peter’s house, since Max will be out of town this weekend.  See below.***


Honey beesFor first-time beekeepers, your journey into beekeeping will really start!  Here are some tips and info about what to expect.


Click here to download these instructions as a PDF.


You will be contacted by phone and/or e-mail when we know the exact night. Then you will be able to pick your nuc(s) up either that night, or on one of the following evenings (typically close to or after dark). Peter Borst, our vice president and long-time beekeeper, will host the nucs this year.  He lives at 128 Lieb Road in Spencer, 8 miles outside of Ithaca.


Here is a link with the Google Map


Transporting your nucs:


It is preferable, both for you and your bees, to transport your nucs outside the passenger compartment of your vehicle – but not in the trunk (where they might suffocate). We advise picking up your bees at or near dark, to make certain that all of the bees in your nuc have found their way back to the hive and to facilitate closing up the entrance at pick-up, then opening up the entrance when you get the nuc “home.”

Items to bring with you for the trip home:

(1) newspaper to stuff into entrance to keep bees inside nuc (or flexible screening for the entrance if you live more than 20 minutes away so that they won’t suffocate)
(2) Bungee cords, ratchet straps or some other way of securing your bees in or on your vehicle
(3) Bee veil/suit (just in case)
(4) Smoker, fuel, matches (in case)
(5) Duct tape
(6) A large garbage bag-to contain your nuc in the event of an accidental breach
(7) A flashlight, if needed, to help you move your nuc into their new location at “home” (see below).

When you get your bees home:

Continue reading “The bees are arriving!”

April Bee Club Meeting

Bees on the moveThe Finger Lakes Beekeepers Club will hold its next meeting on Sunday, April 15 at the Cooperative Extension building from 2-4pm.  Officers will meet at 1pm; members who want to join the officer meeting are welcome to attend.  This will hopefully be the final meeting downtown, as we move summer operations out to the apiary at the Cayuga Nature Center.

On the business end of things, we need to discuss how to manage the Club apiary this summer, and tag someone formally to curate them, pending the outcome of our discussions.

Then we will talk about swarm catching.  Free bees!  (But at what cost?)  While we may touch on cutouts, an in-depth talk about breaking into buildings for a hive will happen later in the year.

As always, feel free to bring a snack to pass.  See you on Sunday!