Friday, August 12, 2016

Foulbrood Alert!

Dear Members of the Bennington Beekeepers Club,

We would like to inform you that American Foulbrood has been found on Harwood Hill in Bennington/Shaftsbury.  All beekeepers in Bennington County should consider asking the state for an inspection of their hives before the end of the current season.  

American Foulbrood is a condition that is fatal to bees and can spread.  First hives weaken; then they are raided by other bees who carry the disease back to their homes so that it spreads.  There was a case of American Foulbrood in Old Bennington this past spring, and we have no way of knowing whether this current case traveled from Old Bennington and developed this summer on Harwood Hill or not.  As a result, we recommend that everyone in Bennington County have their hives inspected for their own safety.

To contact the Vermont State Apiculturist and arrange for an inspection, use the following information:

State of Vermont Apiary Inspection Program:
Vermont State Apiculturist:  David Tremblay at or 802-793-2517

We hope your bees are not affected by this recent outbreak.


The Bennington County Beekeepers Club

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Berkshire County Beekeepers to present Mite Assessment Demonstration August 13th.

Chris Cripps will be making the presentation at Sheep Hill on 8/13 at 1 pm to demonstrate how he does a mite assessment. He'll do short presentation and then move to the apiary where he'll demonstrate a sugar shake. He will also talk about organic, chemical and IPM methods to deal with mites. Sheep Hill has limited space because of parking and other activities taking place, so if anyone  from the Group is interested, contact the BCB at 
Sheep Hill is located at  671 Cold Spring Rd. in Williamstown,

Free Conserving Bumble Bees Workshop at Harvard University

Boston, MA  
Saturday, August 27, 2016
9:00 am - 4:00 
You have heard about the status of the European honey bee, and maybe even learned the fate of some of our 3,600 native bees. The truth is that bees are in trouble and in need of our attention. The good news is that there is much that you can do to help. Come join in this unique opportunity to learn from the Xerces Society about the status of our native bumble bees, the threats that they face, and what you can do to help. Included will be information on basic life-history and ecology, as well as learning which species are most imperiled throughout the eastern U.S. You will also learn about the threats they face, and what can be done in your yards to help protect them. A focus of the workshop will be training participants how to identify the bumble bees in their backyard, and throughout New England.
This day-long workshop will include classroom sessions in the morning, and a field visit to nearby habitat at the arboretum where we will practice bumble bee identification and survey techniques in more detail, while we sample the local area for foraging bumble bees. Participants will also be instructed in how to participate in a collaborative citizen science project called Bumble Bee Watch.
This workshop is free and open to the public. Lunch will not be provided, so please bring a sack lunch. A recommended book for this workshop is Bumble Bees of North America by Williams, Thorp, Richardson, and Colla.
Instructor- Rich Hatfield, Senior Conservation Biologist, The Xerces Society
Rich has a Master’s degree in Conservation Biology from San Francisco State University. His degree focused on the habitat requirements of bumble bees in the Sierra Nevada. He has authored several publications on bumble bees, including a recently published set of management guidelines entitled Conserving Bumble BeesHe is the Red List Authority for the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Bumble Bee Specialist Group, and recently facilitated an assessment of all of the bumble bees of the New World. He has investigated native bee pollination in agricultural systems in the Central Valley of California, and studied endangered butterflies in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to his work as a research biologist, he has extensive classroom teaching experience with a focus on conservation biology, ecology and sustainability.
registration is available at this link:  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Bennington County Beekeepers Club
August Meeting
Thursday August 11, 2016

Our August meeting will take place at the home and apiary of Club treasurer David Sicko, where we will begin with a hands-on hive examination and end with a pot-luck picnic.  You are welcome to join us for any or all parts of the meeting that interest you.  

5:30-6:30 pm:  Hands-on Hive Examination.  Hive safety and assessment at the end of the harvest season.  Please be sure to bring safety gear (veil and gloves) if you plan to participate.

6:30 pm:         Business Meeting

7:00 pm:         Pot-Luck Picnic.  Please bring a dish to share.

7:30 pm:         Beekeeping Q & A.  Follow-up discussion and fall readiness.

Location:        17917 NY Route 22
            Berlin NY 12022

(David’s house is just south of the village of Berlin and the Sedgwick Inn.  His driveway is directly opposite Lanphier Lane, and there is a green with white letters 911 sign on a big maple tree next to his driveway.)

For more information, please contact Julie Cassiday at or 802-447-1194.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Honeybee Pest and Pathogen Workshop
An Intermediate Beekeepers Class
with Samantha Alger and Alex Burnham, University of Vermont

June 16, 2016 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm in the Crispe Room at the Vermont Veterans Home  
This special workshop will require pre-registration and will cost of $6 per person (payable in cash or check). These fees will support Samantha and Alex’s research on honeybee and bumblebee health.

This program will focus on identifying honeybee pests and pathogens using microscopes.  We will be looking at samples of nosema, waxworms, small hive beetles, and foulbrood.  There will be a presentation, as well as hands-on activities looking at pest and pathogen samples.  We will also discuss and practice a technique for standardized mite counts.  If you have samples of bee diseases from your own apiary, please contact club president Jeanne Davis, so that we can plan on including them in the day’s program.  

To sign up, please contact Julie Cassiday at or 802/447-1194 or Jeanne Davis at or 802/823-7955 by June 9th.  Class size will be limited to 30.  Those with at least a few years beekeeping experience are most likely to benefit from this workshop.

Our presenters will be:
Samantha Alger (PhD candidate) is researching bee viral diseases in Vermont, the role of plants in virus transmission, and the effects of pesticides on bee health and behavior.  She leads Vermont’s involvement in the U.S. National Honey Bee Survey, gathering baseline data on diseases and pathogens, and she works closely with Vermont beekeepers, providing educational workshops on bee health and disease management practices.
Alex Burnham, a junior in the University of Vermont’s Graduate College’s Accelerated Masters program, studies bee viruses and parasites with Samantha Alger and serves as hive inspector and sample collector for the National Honey Bee Survey. 

In addition:

  • In our last newsletter, Jeanne was not recommending the Thermosolar Hive as a product to invest in; she was sharing information about a new way to look at mite management.  Please don't feel encouraged to support their fundraising.
  • Our next club meeting on Thursday, August 11th will be an outdoor picnic and tour of David Sicko's hives in Petersburg, NY.  Mark your calendars!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Two upcoming events from the Northern Berkshire Beekeepers

Over Wintering Nucs Demo 
Antoine Fahey is doing a presentation on overwintering nucs at Sheep Hill, Williamstown Rural Lands, Route 7, Williamstown, MA on June 18th.  He's going to do the demonstration in the bee yard. He'll also have queens for sale there if beekeepers want to order them. Space is limited and there is a $2.00 donation to Sheep Hill because they're unable to rent the property because of bees flying. Due to this event’s guidelines, there can’t be any walk-ins on that day.  Email to register and to place an order for queens. 

Mite Monitoring

Chris Cripps is doing mite assessment on August 13th that will demonstrate a sugar shake in the Beeyard at Sheephill (see above for location details), which should be helpful for new beekeepers. Email for more information.
Welcome to our busiest time of year! 
So much to do and so many decisions to make.  

I've been making splits and pulling brood frames to interrupt the brood cycles of varroa.  I know that I'm also interrupting the brood cycles of the bees and I wish it weren't so but it may inhibit swarming.  One of my hives had 8 queen cells, they're now in nuc boxes with brood, honey, pollen, nurse bees, foundation and empty frames.  I'll be keeping an eye on that colony, they may still want to swarm.

I've gone through my hives inspecting for healthy laying patterns and for the overall size and temper of each colony.  So far they look good.  The photo above is of an evening grosbeak eating drone larvae that I had first frozen... They and the chickadees are such careful eaters, the comb looks perfect when they're done.

One experiment I'm doing this spring is trying a fungi tea with 3 colonies.  Last October Cindy Conry provided some Northern Berkshire beekeepers with an extract of 3 fungi that grow on dead birch trees.  I saved mine all winter in the fridge (Bruce tasted it but the rest of us stayed away, he said it didn't have much flavor) and this spring I mixed it as 10% of a sugar/honey solution.  I'll let you know if I can figure out if those hives are doing better that the others.  The theory is that they will be healthier and more able to defend against illnesses.

My next task is to do mite count checks of all my hives.  I'll do a sugar roll test, I'm hoping to get really good at it and to get results I can rely on.  I'll then decide if I should do a spring treatment.

Speaking of mite checks... please don't forget to sign up for:
The Bennington Beekeepers Club Workshop: Honey Bee Pest and Pathogen.
Intermediate Workshop, June 16, 6:30 -  8:30PM,
VT Veterans Home,
$6 fee and no potluck supper. Presenters- Samantha Alger and Alex Burnham, UVM.

The workshop will include a slide-show of common bee diseases and pathogens.  There will be several stations where participants will get hands-on experience looking at pathogens under microscopes.  We expect to have examples of Nosema, waxworms, small hive beetles and hopefully foulbrood.  There will be a demonstrations of how to do standardized mite load counts.

The $6 fees will be directly used to help fund Samantha and Alex's research studying pathogens in bumble bees and honey bees. Alex and Samantha are funding all of their own research on small grants. 

Call or email Jeanne (802-823-7955 or or Julie ( 802-447-1194 or to reserve your spot.