First, a warm welcome to all our new members, who are now in the process of taking the Short Course and will soon be operating their very own hives. Great to have you as new members of the MCBA. Opening your first hive, installing your first package of bees, the first time you find your own queen running around on a frame, these are some of the best memories that we have as beekeepers. You newbies are stepping into a new world of experiences that hopefully will influence your entire life. I truly enjoy the increased sense of which trees and plants are blooming when and where. I see insects buzzing about that most people have shut off from their conscious thoughts. I’ve also been able to teach others about the importance of bees and other pollinators in our lives...Read More
As I sit here looking out the window at snow, snow and more snow, it is hard to imagine that spring is just around the corner. It’s toward the end of January as my fingers mash the keyboard. Temperatures warm up by mid-March as often as not in our area, but it can also stay cold into April.
Spring is a wonderful season. Everything is coming to life. Bees bring in pollen and a little nectar, birds seeking mates, trees bud, maples, willows, crocus, some early dandelions, and more flowers too numerous to name, begin to bloom. And finally, there is warmth in the air. Ah, a warmth in the air. Hmmm…
But in the meantime, we still have a February between us and spring. Sigh.
Call me lazy. I do my best to ignore beekeeping in December and January. I don’t look at my hives...Read More
Accuse me of going soft if you like, but nothing made me appreciate the normally balmy Southern winter quite as much as the recent spate of cold waves. To put that into perspective, the last time Dothan Alabama schools had a snow day off was before I moved down here 8 years ago. Last week they had three snow days off.
However, in important thing is that we all made it through the cold snaps, and that includes the 14 Miller bee colonies that entered the winter. I consider that an endorsement of good winter preparation. In spite of the cold, early spring buildup has been proceeding, and I expect that once again we will start seeing swarms down here in early March. I had best start into reversing my colonies when I get the chance.
Today (Feb...Read More
This is my first article as president of our club and it makes me a little nervous. You see, I have a long history of learning from my mistakes -- as I make a lot of mistakes -- so I hope you bear with me. I would like to start by thanking all of those who served last year as officers of our club. Club members Jeff Beck, Allison Abernathy, Mary Chretien and Jasmin Lizarazo have served for multiple years and have done many great things for our club. I cannot thank them enough as they move on to more adventures in beekeeping. The man known as Bee George (George Meyers, the rat fink who talked me into, or more correctly, twisted my arm into volunteering as the new president) who, in the past two years of being our club president, has put in an incredible amount of work for our club...Read More
On a very hot Saturday in early October, the Harvest Festival was in full swing. The festival was attended by about 3,336 visitors, mostly young kids with moms and dads in tow. The corn maze, the make-your-own bouquet of flowers for mom and the hay rides were big draws for the kids -- as was, of course, the petting zoo. If you’ve never been to this festival before, I would suggest you give it a try next year as the Montgomery County Parks people do a fantastic job on this. Our club had two tables set up under a tent supplied by Jim Fraser. On display, we had honey recipe handouts, some bee posters, bee veils and a pinned bee and wasp display...Read More
This is my last installment as your MCBA President. I’ve truly had a great time in this special leadership position. It is great fun working with all of you and being involved with the vast array of MCBA activities. I would have volunteered to continue, except that my move to the Eastern Shore of Maryland makes it prohibitive to commute back to Wheaton on a regular basis. My term expires at the New Year. I happily, and with great confidence leave your club in great hands.
I sincerely thank all our members who have worked hard to volunteer time and effort toward making another successful year for MCBA.
Allison Abernathy played a pivotal role in helping find monthly speakers and organize our meetings...Read More
Montgomery County Beekeepers Association (MCBA) Master Mead Maker Yancy Bodenstein again hosted MCBA members at his backyard Gaithersburg meadery to demonstrate and supervise bottling of the mead we started earlier. Yancy had hosted a hands-on beginner mead making class in March. Four of us, Mike Smith, Charles Walter, Jim Fleshman and I, gathered again in September to bottle the mead we had left fermenting in Yancy’s meadery.
We were being coached by a master, as Yancy has won four international awards for his mead in the Mazer Cup Competitions. The Mazer Cup International Mead Competition is held each March in Boulder Colorado...Read More
It seems like yesterday that Jim King passed the editor torch to me. It's been a great year and a half as editor! But, the time has come to pass the torch over to Dara Ballow-Giffen. Dara has assumed the role of editor and the future looks bright! The newsletter is in good hands. Being a newsletter editor requires hard work, responsibility, and accountability. Dara is completely capable and very enthusiastic and I know she'll do a great job! We are very fortunate that she stepped up for the editor position. Thanks Dara!
I would like to share with everyone a story that I heard a while back .... a teacher's lesson using a jar and some golf balls .... this is a very important lesson!
The teacher cleared off his desk and placed on top a few items. One of the items was an empty glass jar...Read More
I trust all of you have gotten your hives all prepped for winter. Here in the South, we don’t get much of a winter, but I still had to make sure all of my colonies had enough feed to make it until the spring. Fortunately, this year the fall flow was excellent. None of my colonies will require supplemental feeding (at least based on present conditions). I’ll look in on the colonies again at the start of December, and I reevaluate the feed situation then. This pattern of monthly checks will continue until the early part of February, when I’ll be starting into spring colony managements.
I spent this weekend at the annual meeting of the Florida Beekeepers Association, which was held this year about 40 miles from my home in Dothan, Alabama ...Read More
When I first started beekeeping five years ago, I had the idea of making a small display of pinned specimens of a honey bee side-by-side with a yellow jacket to take to Tristen’s school (he was only 5 at the time) to show people the difference in these two insects. At some point this was going to get out of control as things tend to do with me. I had never pinned an insect before having only been able to poke myself on occasions with pins. At one point I even looked up on-line some short videos on how to pin insects, but I never got around to really committing myself to pinning any insects. In the spring of 2013, I attended the “University of Maryland Native Bee Workshop” put on by the “PollinaTerps” (I love that name) and heard Sam Droege speak...Read More