BEES Academy Offers Training for Experienced Beekeepers

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On September 16-17, 2022 the NC State University Apiculture Program teamed up with the Chatham County Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension to conduct the 2022 Beekeepers Education Engagement System (BEES) Academy at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro, NC. About 60 experienced beekeepers from across the state attended to deepen their understanding of honey bee biology and behavior and learn advanced honey bee management techniques. There was a mix of lecture and hands-on breakout sessions for small groups. At the end of the two days over 20 attendees took an exam to advance their standing in the Master Beekeeper Program.

Lecture topics included:

  • Honey bee anatomy
  • Division of labor & bee behavior
  • Queens, drones, and mating
  • Diseases, parasites, and disorders
  • Advanced management techniques
  • Varroa integrated pest management
  • Improving diversity of honey bee forage
  • Africanized honey bees
Beekeeping lecture

NC State Apiculture Specialist Dr. David Tarpy  lectured on a wide variety of beekeeping topics throughout the two days. Photo by Debbie Roos.

honey bee on flower

Chatham County Agriculture Agent Debbie Roos (that’s me!) gave a presentation on improving floral diversity for honey bees. Photo by Debbie Roos.

BREAK-OUT SESSIONS

Tools of the Trade: Master Beekeeper Greg Wolgemuth had a room full of various beekeeping tools that he used for an entertaining “show and tell” for his breakout session. He discussed hand tools, hive components, and tools for queen-rearing, honey harvesting, and pest management.

Breakout session about beekeeping tools

Master Beekeeper Greg Wolgemuth (right) did a breakout session on Tools of the Trade. Here he is discussing the pros and cons of a spacing tool, used to uniformly separate the distance between frames in a hive. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Stinging Insects: Master Beekeeper and NC State Beekeepers’ Association Piedmont Region Director Randall Austin taught a hands-on session on stinging insects. It’s important for beekeepers to be knowledgeable about all the different stinging insects to be able to educate the public who often have a fear of bees. Many people mistakenly think all stinging insects are bees, and attribute all stings to bees when in fact they are often stings from yellow jackets which are wasps. This can cause many people to have a negative or fearful view of honey bees. For more information, check out this NC State University website on Non-Honey Bee Stinging Insects in North Carolina.

breakout session on stinging insects

Master Beekeeper and NC State Beekeepers’ Association Piedmont Region Director Randall Austin taught a hands-on session on stinging insects. Attendees were asked to match the insect with the nest. They also viewed specimens of various stinging insects. Photo by Debbie Roos.

hornet and wasp nests

Nests of the European hornet (left) and bald-faced hornet (right) from Randall’s breakout session on stinging insects. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Mite Counts Using the Sugar Shake Method: NCDA&CS Apiary Inspection Supervisor Don Hopkins led a breakout session on using the sugar shake method to count varroa mites. Varroa mites are the most serious pest of honey bees because they vector pathogens, primarily viruses, that make bees weak and sick. For every mite a beekeeper can see within a hive, there are almost 50 that they can’t see! This is why it’s important for beekeepers to routinely monitor and measure varroa mite populations so they know when it is time to intervene and treat. One easy way to do this is the sugar shake test. The beekeeper removes about 300 bees and places them in a jar with a screened lid with about two tablespoons of powdered sugar. The jar is gently rolled for about 20 seconds to coat the bees in sugar. The sugar dislodges the mites from the bees, and the jar is shaken over a white piece of paper or white bucket lid with a little water to catch the mites. The economic threshold for treatment is >5% mite infestation which would be 4-6 mites per 300 bees (depending on the time of the year).

removing frame from honey bee hive

Apiary Inspector Supervisor Don Hopkins opens up a hive and removes a frame of bees to prepare do do a sugar shake test. Photo by Debbie Roos.

looking at a frame of bees

BEES Academy participants gather around to inspect the frame of bees. Photo by Debbie Roos.

showing a bee frame to the group

BEES Academy participants gather around to inspect the frame of bees. Photo by Debbie Roos.

shaking bees from frame

Don shakes some bees off of the frame so he can collect about half a cup, or 300 bees, for the sugar shake test. Photo by Debbie Roos.

sugar shake test

Don discusses the process for doing the sugar shake test. Photo by Debbie Roos.

doing the sugar shake test for varroa mites

Don shakes the jar of sugar-coated bees over a white bucket lid. If there are any mites on the bees, they will be dislodged by the sugar and fall through the screened jar lid and onto the white surface where they can be counted. Photo by Debbie Roos.

honey bees covered in powdered sugar

The sugar does not harm the bees, which are returned to the hive after the test. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Nutrition and Pollen Patty Making: NC State University Professor and Extension Apiculturist David Tarpy shows participants how to make pollen patties as a supplemental feed for bees. Pollen is gathered by honey bees to feed their brood (larvae) and pollen patties can be an important supplement for bees at different times of the year when foragers are not able to collect enough pollen.

making pollen patties

NC State University Professor and Extension Apiculturist David Tarpy shows participants how to make pollen patties as a supplemental feed for bees. The patties are made with purchased bee pollen, sugar, and sugar syrup. Photo by Debbie Roos.

making pollen patties

Participants make their own pollen patty to take home. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Bee Diseases: Jennifer Keller, NC State University Apiculture Technician, led a breakout session on identifying bee diseases. Participants rotated through different stations with photos of bee diseases to identify.

learning about bee diseases

Jennifer Keller, NC State University Apiculture Technician, led a breakout session on identifying bee diseases. Photo by Debbie Roos.

For more information:

NC State Extension Apiculture & Beekeeping

Cooperative Extension’s Pollinator Paradise Demonstration Garden

North Carolina State Beekeepers Association

NC Master Beekeeper Program