A couple of days ago, I looked toward the bee yard. The honey bees were blasting to and from their hives…just as they should have been…and it made me feel really grateful. Thus far, it has been a good season for the bees and we owe much of that success to the Chester County Beekeepers Association (CCBA), our local club. We started going to meetings late last fall. Participating in the activities of this club has made a direct impact on our bees’ health and on their honey production.
We limped out of the winter with four hives. I believe we lost 60% of our hives because of poor management last season; primarily, related to lack of mite control. We have learned a lot this season with the club. No doubt, there are areas where we could be doing more and areas where we should be doing less. We’ll get some real feedback on how we are doing after the winter….but seeing the honey bee activity on a hot summer morning made me feel very, very good.
Some of the things that we’ve learned from CCBA that are making a difference:
- Taking advantage of making nucs to expand the apiary
- Strategies for overwintering hives
- Swarm prevention strategies such as the modified Demaree method. It works!
- How and when and what to feed the bees
- Mite control strategies including removing drone brood and using oxalic acid drip and vapor
- Raising queens
- What to plant for bees…plants that provide the nutrition that they need and the honey that we love.
- When and how to extract honey
Why do we go to the monthly meetings?
- We need to learn What we should be doing to keep the bees healthy and producing lots of honey…and When and How and Why.
- Camaraderie. Making connections. We love being around these people!
- Enthusiastic information exchange.
- Opportunities for us to share our personal interests and experience with the club. This club makes us feel that we are important to the life of the organization.
- We get access to vendors and bargains and resources.
- There are door prizes!
- Encouragement and inspiration and, sometimes, a little hand-holding
- Great monthly programs! August’s meeting featured Keith Jardine (the club president) presenting “Making beekeeping simple.” I wish that this entertaining monologue was recorded! Very funny! Aside from the jokes, though, the talk helped to give a realistic view on the tricky art and practice of beekeeping. It put beekeeping strategies into perspective as they relate to the beekeeper’s goals. Great stuff!
Special features of this club include:
- A dedicated beginners club,
- Mentors that have years of experience and knowledge in the practice of beekeeping AND stay active in the club,
- Discounts made possible through bulk purchases by the club,
- Queen breeding program,
- Grant opportunities,
- An outstanding annual beekeepers conference,
- An active mentorship program,
- A swarm help list,
- “Hive crawls,”
- A new dedicated club apiary,
- Bee forage plant, tree, and seed sales,
- A loan program for club equipment,
- and more!
Thank you so much, CCBA!
With sincere gratitude to all the members of CCBA,
Michaelann and Jerome