January 2021 Meeting Minutes


JANUARY 25, 2021

We met in the horse arena at Jim and Debbie Blando’s place. This gave us plenty of room to spread out. We’re grateful to be able to meet out of the rain.

Debbie showed us her new Slovenian AZ hive which she built from a kit. They purchased the kit from a company in Michigan. Debbie said that it went together easily. The only change she made was to reduce the number of entrances on the front of the hive. She plans to build more of them and install them in her beekeeping shed. She was drawn to this style of bee hive because she wants to eliminate lifting hive boxes.

Announcements from President Rich Farrier:

1. No dues will be collected in 2021 for those who paid dues in 2020. If someone is new to the club, they will need to pay dues in order to have access to the club extractor and club library.

2. We do not have a timeline as to when we will resume meeting at Chemeketa Community College.

3. We will not hold bee school in 2021.

4. We are probably not going to put in a bulk nuc order; rather we’ll send people to Terry Adams, a member in Dalls, and Jeremy Mitchell at Flying Bee Ranch, also a member.

Rich then gave us a very informative talk about queen in general as well as various ways beekeepers can encourage the bees to raise new queens.

In the February issue of the American Bee Journal, the science Insider article written by Alison McAfee, is titled, “The Viruses Hidden in our Queens”. Researchers, (Dennis vanEngelsdorph, et.al), discovered that 50% of their colonies replaced the queen within 6 months. And of the colonies that replaced their queens, they were 3 times more likely to die out within the next 2 months without intervention. This gave Dr. McAfee her “mission to figure out why queens are failing and what can be done about it.” The queens that she tested had lower sperm viability and approximately half of them had heat-shock, which shows up as a molecular signature. Another researcher, Alex McMenamin, (“The heat-shock response in the western honey bee is antiviral”), found that the “heat-shock response is also an antiviral defense”. And “They predict that the heat-shock response is likely antiviral in queens,” as well. Dr. McAfee and others continue to pursue research into queens and their health. To read the full article, subscribe to ABJ.

There are many methods to raise more queens.

Walk-Away splits: Let the colony left in the original position be the one to raise the new queen not the split/nuc that has been moved to another spot because plenty of nurse bees insure well-fed, hence healthier queens. This method does not involve the beekeeper grafting tiny larvae.

Miller Method: This method involves cutting foundation into strips with triangular points on one long side, allow the bees to draw comb and the queen to lay eggs in them. This method does not require the beekeeper to graft larvae.

Grafting: (This is my addition. Here is an article from Randy Oliver of Scientific Beekeeping, “Queens for Pennies”, which details a simple way for backyard beekeepers to raise a few queens each year.)

Rich likes grafting using the Cloake Board system. This article from the Dave Cushman website, has details. The tools needed are:

  • Young eyes-barring that a jewelers’ magnifying headband with light. This can be obtained on-line or from Harbor Freight.

  • Some sort of plastic queen cups and a frame to hold them. Check beekeeping suppliers for options.

  • Cloake Board. Available from beekeeping suppliers.

  • A variety of grafting tools so you can find the one that works best for you.

  • A queen rearing calendar such as the Hambly Honey Bee Dial from Mann Lake, or use an online spreadsheet such as this one from The Beeyard The beekeepers of Susquehanna Valley, or JC’s Queen Rearing calendar, which is a fillable Excel spread sheet.

  • A supply of organic royal jelly purchased at a health food store. Rich has better success with wet grafting rather than dry drafting.

  • A strong colony of bees.

He suggested the folowing books, “Successful Queen Rearing” , by Dr. Marla Spivak, “Raising Honey Bee Queens”, by Gilles Fert, “Queen Rearing Essentials”, by Lawrence John Connor, and “Scientific Queen-Rearing” by G.M. Doolittle.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Dip plastic queen cups in liquid beeswax.

  • Sanitize all tools frequently.

  • Use warm damp towels to keep cells moist.

  • Work in a 77 degree room at 75% humidity!

  • Use a bright light so you can see.

We all hope that Rich will be convinced to give a class in grafting this summer.

Meeting dismissed about 9:00 as we were all turning into ice cubes.

Respectfully submitted,

Anna Ashby, Secretary, WVBA

January 26, 2021