Beginning Beekeeping Workshop

MBA President Johnny Thompson and Dr. Jeff Harris will be hosting the second annual workshop for beginners at Broke T Honey Farm on December 9th! This is an all-day workshop that will give “new-bees” a thorough introduction to everything they need to start colonies of their own, including hands-on experience with bees in an established and professional beekeeping operation.

Follow the link below for more information:

Beginner Beekeeping Workshop


MSU Extension Beekeeping Series

Mark you calendars for September 25th and October 24th if you want to attend the MSU-EXT beekeeping series, “Fall Management Strategies” at the Monroe County Extension Office. Classes begin at 6:30, and registration is required. Click here for the event flyer and contact information.

Mid-winter colony inspection

Winter mortality claims between 25% and 30% of managed honey bee colonies across the United States every year. Sometimes it is the result of high pathogen loads in the winter bee population; sometimes it is due to starvation. The short, mild winters we experience in Mississippi would lend one to believe that starvation is less likely an issue, and yet it does occur; usually during late January and February. Granted, winter mortality is more common among beginner beekeepers, but some years the losses are widespread in the beekeeping community.

Dead worker honey bees in a colony that starved due to inadequate honey reserves.
Dead cluster in a colony that starved due to inadequate or inaccessible honey reserves. Photo credit Alex Wild.

The most frustrating discovery during winter colony inspection is a small, dead cluster of bees in the brood box, and a full super of honey above them. The combs surrounding the cluster are probably empty. Especially if the cluster is quite small (i.e. softball size) this could be a case of poor access to food. It is important to note the size and position of the cluster at the beginning and end of the overwintering phase.  Bees begin to form a cluster when daytime highs are consistently about 60 F. This happens around mid-November in most of Mississippi. The colony gathers around the remaining capped brood in the brood nest, so it is important to locate this area when preparing hives for winter. You will want to place capped honey comb above and directly beside the cluster, as bees naturally eat their way up through honey comb. A very small cluster may not be able to travel far to reach honey stores, so if you are using a syrup feeder, make sure it is located proximate to the cluster.

Temperatures fluctuate quite drastically between December and March; there are periods of 70 F daytime temps that may last a few days to a week, followed by a sudden drop to sub-freezing night time temperatures. These huge temperature gradients will cause bees to break cluster and feed heavily, then reform a cluster, often somewhere else in the hive. It is very important to perform an inspection mid-winter to ensure bees have not eaten back too much of their stores due to these warm intervals. It is also important to rearrange honeycomb for better access if the cluster has moved away from the honey.

I usually perform our winter inspection during the mid-January warm spell (guess what I’m doing this week), and almost always feed 1:1 sugar syrup to compensate for high bee activity.  Once the maples and redbuds start to bloom in late February, I will go back through our hives and feed a thinner syrup to encourage wax production for brood rearing. Bees are bringing in pollen during this time, but I will typically supplement with 1/3 to 1/4 of a pollen patty.

The take-home message here is to be sure to do a January inspection, even if you think your bees had plenty of stores going into winter. Starvation is not just a problem for northern beekeepers!


Fall Beekeeping Classes

Cooler weather is just around the corner, and so are a few great opportunities to hone your beekeeping skills and broaden your knowledge! Check out the Events Calendar for upcoming workshops around the state, as well as our annual Mississippi Beekeeper Association conference. Details will be added as they become available to me, so keep checking back. Some of these events require pre-registration; be sure to contact the event coordinators to claim your spot!


Beekeeping Workshop Series in Monroe County

The Monroe County Extension Service is hosting a series of three beekeeping workshops this spring at their Aberdeen office. Click here to learn more.

(The course description below is from Randall Nevins)

1st Meeting Topic: Spring Bee Preparation and Buildup

This workshop is specifically for local private beekeepers that want to learn how to promote and manage bees on their property! We will cover early spring inspections, rules for modern beekeeping, splits, summertime chores, tactics and ideas for success. We will also have demonstrations on beekeeper equipment needed, bee hive box parts and establishment, pest management and much more. Some parts of these sessions will be a “hands-on” learning experience through a series of lessons. Please wear appropriate clothes.

 The first workshop will meet at the Monroe County Extension Office on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 6:30 PM.  Registration is required for attendance, but there is no fee. Refreshments and reference materials will be provided. So please call (662-369-4951) to register by April 5, 2016

Mark your calendars: Beekeeping Spring Series Dates (all sessions will be at the local Extension office, except where noted):

If you want to have more hives of bees, you will find this workshop series very helpful.  See you there!

Randall Nevins

Extension Agent/County Coordinator

Monroe County MSU Extension Service

517 Highway 145 North, Suite 1

Aberdeen, MS 39730

Office  (662) 369-4951

Fax      (662) 369-3682

Cell     (662) 769-9924

Beginner Short Course Registration OPEN

Our first beekeeping course of the year will be on March 19th in Jackson, MS.  Check out the Events page on our blog site to download a copy of the registration form. Details of the workshop, directions and contact information are listed on the form. YOU MUST BE REGISTERED TO ATTEND THE WORKSHOP. This is a first-come, first-serve event, so get your registration forms in early. Call before you walk-in to be sure we have seats if you are planning to register on site.

See you there!


The MBA Annual Conference is Just Around the Corner…

If you have not already registered for the 2015 Beekeeping Conference in Ellisville….it’s time to get those forms in! Look under the References tab for a downloadable registration form.  Also, information about hotel registration and additional details about the conference are available at the link below.

2015 letter of invitation to attend the annual meeting and workshop

Beginner Beekeeping Workshop Series–MSU Extension Service

This fall, the Monroe County Extension Service will be hosting a series of three free workshops, offered to local beginning beekeepers. Weekday classes begin at 6:30 p.m. and preregistration is mandatory.  Click on links below for more information:

Beekeeping Series_flyer 2015

Beekeeping letter_Beginner Series wksp_Monroe2015

Splits and Swarms Workshop This Weekend

If you haven’t already signed up for this Saturday’s workshop on making splits and managing swarms, we have 6 spots left!! Visit our Events page for contact information. This is a FREE EDUCATIONAL EVENT, so please don’t pass up the opportunity to learn from expert beekeeper and head of MSU’s honey bee research program, Dr. Jeff Harris. Bring your bee working gear (if you have it).  Lunch will be on your own.