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In Defense of Stained Hands by BeeGeorge

Part of the appeal of keeping bees is to help get us out of our offices and away from florescent lights.  As beekeepers, we start to notice rhythms other than the 9 to 5 commuters’ morning rush hour rhythms.  We start to hear the music of our natural environment.  Even in our large cities, nature speaks to us. Part of becoming a beekeeper is learning how to listen.

We see that different flowers bloom at different times and intervals.  We notice the dandelions, the Bradford pears and the wild apples that are in full bloom as I write this.  We look at trees; we notice the reddish tint of the maple and the soft green of the willow in bloom.  We notice that our bees are bringing in different colors of pollen and wonder which plant is producing it...

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MCBA Earth Day by Mary McQueen

On Wednesday April 23rd, Jim Fraser and Mary McQueen represented the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association (MCBA) at the 11th annual Earth Day Celebration at Fort Meade. There were approximately 2,000 people in attendance including 245 students from 3 elementary schools, soldiers, their family members and Department of Defense personnel. MCBA was one of 51 exhibitors at this year’s event.

A new MCBA tri-fold display made by Kristin Dill, Jim Fraser and Mary McQueen had its debut.  Jim Fraser also brought a frame of bees for observation using a club display box..  It was entertaining to see some soldiers peering at the bees from a comfortably remote distance while there were babies with their faces up to the glass plus a full range of other reactions...

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EAS 2014 at Eastern Kentucky University by Timothy McMahon

Would you like to take part in one of the most extensive beekeeping conferences in the United States?  EAS (Eastern Apiculture Society) is one of the largest noncommercial beekeeping organizations in the United States and one of the largest in the world.  Every summer EAS conducts its week long Annual Conference of lectures and workshops in one the 26 member states or Canadian provinces.  This year’s EAS conference will be held at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, from July 28 through August 1.  The conference theme is “Esprit de Bee”.  The conference usually brings in about 600 to 800 beekeepers from around the world to attend.

The conference is made up of the Short Course, running from Monday to Wednesday, and the conference proper, running from Wednesday to F...

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May Letter from the South by Bill Miller

For all those who think that laws and covenants restricting beekeeping were only a problem in urban and suburban areas, I have a cautionary tale for you:

For the record, where I live has a 3.8 acre lot with a hayfield on one side, and a pasture (complete with cows) partially on the other side.   I have five neighbors who all live on similar size lots.  As you can see, we are pretty much in a rural area.

When Mary and I were looking for property, we specifically said that we wanted to keep bees on the land, and we were told there were no issues with keeping bees on this site.   We specifically asked about covenants and we were told there were none.  I even went further:  I asked the neighbors – the neighbors all said it was OK to keep bees here...

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May President’s Message (Spring Management and “The Plan” )

Spring is finally here and the bees are booming.  I got the observation hive in my house restocked and installed and got the new observation hive at Brookside Nature Center, that was donated by our club, all set up.  Well, by now all of us are in full spring mode, watching the bees collect pollen and nectar.  Watching the queen lay and the brood area increase daily.  We see the different color pollen coming in with each worker returning to the hive.  It’s the best time of the year for a beekeeper.  Hopefully you carried most of your hives through the winter and are setting into motion your plans for how you will manage your bees this season.

This is the time to clearly set out what you plan to do for the upcoming seasons...

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Just How Much “Stuff” Do I Need? by BeeGeorge

[My proofreader, Mrs. BeeGeorgeHoney, wanted to make sure that everyone understands that I am really not complaining but just being my normal sarcastic tongue- in-cheek self].  

Come on, this is getting ridiculous.  How much beekeeping equipment do I really need?  Well, let’s talk about feeding because that’s all I’ve been doing lately.

I’ve always done fall feeding.  When I had just a few hives I used gallon pickle jars.  There used to be a wonderful Greek Pizza place in Takoma Park that offered several different types of pickles in gallon jars.  They were happy to hand over their empties.  How many pickle jars can a beekeeper store?  Plus, if you think about it, you really need two jars for each hive...

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April Letter from the South by Bill Miller

My beekeeping March is best summed up by a phone call I recently made to our County Extension Agent: “Please take me off this year’s swarm catcher list.  All my available slots for new colonies are filled, and all my spare equipment is now in service.  I can’t run an animal rescue shelter for homeless bees”.  For some reason the extension agent thought that last sentence was funny.

As for the month’s totals, I normally figure on catching 2 or 3 swarms in a season.  This year I caught 10.  I started out March with 13 colonies, and now I have 20 (three swarms were given away to other beekeepers).  All the increase came from swarms.  Yes, I had a few of my own (see the picture), but most of the swarms came from another beekeeper who had 6 swarms come out of 4 colonies...

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April President’s Message

Well another month and another snow storm!  Last month as I sat here and wrote this letter it was snowing and now today, it’s snowing again.  I love/hate this weather.

What are the advantages of belonging to a beekeeping club such as ours?  Well the answers are many and diverse, but at last month’s meeting another opportunity showed itself to our club.  Our speaker was Izzy Hill, from a group called Bugonia, who talked to us about something that we could do as a club that could benefit all of our hives.  Izzy Hill spoke about using nematodes to control small hive beetles.  I believe that this would be a great project for us as to undertake as a club...

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March Letter from the South by Bill Miller

I just finished looking at the National Weather Service page for Montgomery County MD, and I see the Winter That Wouldn’t Quit is still in business.  I am reminded of the time I sat on an oral exam board for the EAS Master Beekeeper exam.  We were asking a candidate from Main about early spring management, and he told us that in Maine beekeepers didn’t typically look into their hives until early May.   Take heart – spring will come.

To put the winter in perspective, normally in Dothan we will be looking in our hives occasionally in January, at more regular intervals in February, and be expecting swarm calls in early March.  This year I was able to do occasional hive inspections in February, and as of last weekend (Mar. 1) I did not see any signs that swarming was imminent (e.g...

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