On Saturday Ted and I attended the Advanced Beekeeping class given by the West Sound Beekeepers association. The day started at 8 and ended at 5 with lunch included (delicious homemade pulled pork and coleslaw, with a carrot cake dessert at the afternoon break).
The morning was devoted to presentations by Paul Lundy, president of the state beekeepers associaton, and David Mackovjak and George Purkett, both involved in the queen rearing group and having many years of experience. The material included bee biology, diseases and treatments, seasonal management, and flora that support the bees. Kim Redmond of BEE-IEIO Honey Farm and Darren Gordon of House of Bees discussed honey marketing, and Darren discussed equipment options other than the standard Langstroth, including top bar, Warre, and foundationless Langstroth designs.
In the afternoon Paul, David and George set up stations which we visited in turns to get hands on experience with the procedures. Paul demonstrated hygenic testing designed to measure how good your bees are at cleaning up problems. George showed us two ways to test for the most common pest, varroa mites. David had us open up hives to inspect them and mark drones as practice for marking queens to identify them.
This was a very interesting and informative day. Half the people attending were women and participants spanned all adult age groups. The club’s mentoring focus and openness to new ideas make this a very welcoming place. It’s especially nice to be able to be open about our natural beekeeping approach, as there are many clubs where this is a much less accepted variant.
Ted and I came away with a lot of new information which we hope will help us keep our hives thriving. We now have some ideas about useful things we can do to help the hives. We are setting up a journal to keep our observations of the bees. We also plan to do a baseline inspection of all our combs and make good records so that we can know when something has changed.
We’re deeply indebted to these fine folk in this club. If you are at all interested in keeping bees I highly recommend joining the club, it’s time and money that will save you a lot of effort and puzzlement.