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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
For more information: