Don’t forget to mark your calenders and mail in your registration forms for our first Beginner Beekeeping Workshop, Saturday March 14th at the Jackson Ag & Forestry Museum! This will be an all-day event featuring lectures, lunch and hands-on learning. Registration forms are available under the “Resources” tab in the main menu bar.
I have had a few emails from members of new regional or county beekeeping clubs who would like for their club to be recognized by the Mississippi Beekeepers Association, and until now I have not known what to tell them. There was some confusion among MBA board members about the process, but the wrinkles have been ironed out and an official document generated. Look under our Resources tab (Resources–>MBA Rules and Regulation) for information on how to become a bonafide MBA affiliate. The deadline for club registration is April 30, so don’t delay!!
The moment you have all waited for…a date has been decided for our first Beginning Beekeeper Workshop! The Central Mississippi Beekeepers Association will be hosting the workshop and field day on March 14th in Jackson, MS. The morning will be filled with informative lectures from seasoned beekeepers and guests such as Dr. Jeff Harris from Mississippi State University. After lunch we will have a “field day” with live colonies for you newcomers to try your hand at working our little fuzzy livestock. Check out the Events tab for details and the Resources tab for a downloadable registration form.
I have also posted information about an Intermediate Beekeeper Workshop, which will be held in April in McComb, MS. This will also be an all-day event, geared towards beekeepers in their second or third year of managing colonies. Again, live colonies will be featured, so bring your hats and veils!
For those of you who have been inquiring about them of late, we are out of MS Bee Stewardship Program brochures and “Bee Aware” flags (“Nooooooo!!”).
However, that does not mean they are unavailable. I have posted a pdf of the brochure and a flyer with ordering information for flags under the Resources tab. I know you are all wanting free flags, but the freebies were only available through a one-time Farm Bureau grant. We are hoping to find some funding with which to order more brochures and flags this year, but as of now this is the best we can do for you.
In order to better serve the Mississippi Beekeeping Community, we have put together a questionnaire that will tell us about your current beekeeping practices and help to direct our research and education efforts. The survey applies to all Mississippi residents who keep bees within the state and/or proximate to the state, and also to out-of-state beekeepers that manage bees in Mississippi apiaries for at least part of the year. NOTE: If you are an out-of state participant, please enter the MS zip code where your apiary is located.
Please take the time to fill out the 20-question survey posted in the menu bar under “MS Beekeeper’s Survey”.Thank you!
It is time to get your essay contest entry forms filled out and mailed in. Download the form from our “Resources” page. The deadline for entering the contest is January 20th, so don’t delay…..this is your big chance to win up to $750!!!!!
Lois Connington, Joe MacGown and I were asked to “man” an entomology exhibit at the second annual Mississippi Food Summit and Agricultural Revival in Jackson, MS this Saturday.
The event was held at the Ag & Forestry Museum, and filled three days with a variety of learning (hands-on and seminars) and vending opportunities for the public. The weather was perfect on Saturday–blue sky, bright sun, mid 70’s–and our exhibits were well-attended by youth and adults, alike. Lois brought examples from our live Insect Zoo, as well as baked goods made with insects (mmmm!); Joe set out several drawers of beautiful pinned insects from all over the world; and I brought my beekeeping bag of tricks, which included everything but live bees (the Central Mississippi Beekeepers Association hosted a live beehive demonstration elsewhere on the Museum grounds).
I was amazed how interested and knowledgeable several of the children were about bees…and even more amazed that the vast majority of the visitors to my booth were girls–Hooray! When I wasn’t talking to kiddos, I got to walk around and meet some of the farmers and vendors attending the event, and every one of them had something to say about honey bees. Two beekeepers from Louisiana were raising “survivor bees” from feral colonies. One beekeeper integrates honey bees with his free-range chicken operation, claiming that the chickens control small hive beetles in his small apiary, and their presence does not upset the bees. There was an overall vibe of good health, community and genuine interest in the ideas and information presented at the Summit…and I found it indescribably refreshing to be in the midst of “bee friendly” farmers!
Jeff and I were invited to share our honey bee knowledge with our Arkansas beekeeping friends on October 10 & 11 in stunning Mountain View, AR. As usual, this group was focused and full of relevant questions. Jeff gave three bee management talks: VSH Bees, Medicating Bees, and Managing Nutrition; I gave two bee biology talks: Caste Differentiation and Foraging Behavior. They were all well-attended and most of them stimulated good discussion….in some cases, very lengthy discussion. We heard several opinions on optimum grafting techniques and the best way to prime queen cups, following my Caste Differentiation talk. This is what makes giving presentations worthwhile to me–when it gets people talking and sharing ideas!
Despite the wild thunderstorms Thursday night and Friday, we enjoyed staying at the Ozark Folk Center, a quaint village in the mountains where, when you are not attending a bee conference, you can take classes in metalsmithing, brick-making, glass-blowing and a variety of other trades that preceded the technology era. Definitely worth a trip back! Friday evening, Jeff and I met up with Jon Zawislak (Arkansas State Apiarist) and David Burns (Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, Fairmount, Illinois) for dinner to catch up on old times and discuss ideas for beginner beekeeper educational materials. David and Jon host a regular podcast, “HiveTalk”, a fun and informative call-in show that airs about every three to four weeks. Check out Episode 10 to hear Jon, David and Jeff at the EAS meeting in Kentucky!
Jeff judged honey entries on Saturday morning, I talked, and we said our farewells to our Arkansas friends. Hopefully though, one of our friends, Jon Zawislak, will be joining us as a guest speaker at next year’s MBA Conference!
Our new grad student, Heather, and I have been trying to raise queens for the past two months, and we have had no end of fits with our cell builders. No matter how strong we make them, how much we feed them, or how earnestly we plead with them, they have only been giving us about a 10-20% take. Frustrating.
So, Jeff finally got down and dirty with the “queenless” cell builder we keep at the entomology building and completely took it apart, dumping all of the bees on the patio in front of the hive and forcing them to re-enter the 2-story cell builder through a medium super equipped with a queen excluder….just in case there was a virgin running around in there.
This is about the messiest way to ensure your cell builder is completely queenless, but we were running short on time to reach our quota of fresh queens. It was a desperate last measure. I grafted another 30 larvae into this “filtered” cell builder today, and I will check tomorrow for success. If nothing else, our fruitless late summer queen-rearing endeavors have given Heather an opportunity to do several grafts and experiment with different grafting tools and media!