The Nevada County Beekeepers Association is a diverse group of professionals and hobbiest, men and women, young and old, with a keen interest in promoting the well being of honey bees and their habitat while enjoying their amazing benefits. The NCBA strives to promote education on beekeeping and agriculture by providing the latest news and techniques in these fields. 

The club members meet once a month on the first Monday at 7pm and visitors are always welcome. All meetings are held in the Veterans Memorial Building at 255 South Auburn Street, Grass Valley, CA. Entrance is off the back parking lot, in Grass Valley at 7pm.  The August meeting is always moved to the County Fair Grounds with a fair booth clean up following by a barbeque social. 

  • Any questions about bees?
  • Always wanted to get bees?
  • Questions about honey production? 
  • Have some information to share?
  • Wondering about pollination in your garden or orchard?
  • Have some bees or equipment to sell?
  • Want to meet some great folks?

Join our lively question and answer session starting promptly at 7pm followed by refreshements, brief business discussion, raffle and a great program.

Become A Member!

President's Message - May

Can you believe it, a week of warm sunny days! What a relief that winter of seemingly endless cold rainy days is finally over. According to the calendar spring came on Wednesday, March 20, at 2:58 PM. but according to my thermometer it came in this past week. The real sign of spring to us beekeepers is the increasing reports of swarming. Everywhere I look there is an abundance of forage for our bees, its no wonder colonies are blowing up everywhere. In spite of that I understand there may be a shortage of bees or queens for sale this year so if you need either I hope you already bought yours or you have your order in with someone.

If you have a chance to be around a swarming colony its really quite exciting. You hear this loud buzz and walk out to see the air filled with a swirling mass of bees. Though it’s a bit unnerving you can walk right into the middle of them as they are just looking for a new home and have no interest in you at all. They rise up into the air like a tornado of bees and if you’re lucky the queen lands on a low branch nearby. The tornado shrinks as the bees slowly cluster around her leaving just a few hundred scouts looking for a place to live.

Don't forget the California Honey Festival is Saturday May 4th from 10:00 am to 5:00pm in Downtown Woodland California. The schedule is packed with events and I'm sure there will be plenty of vendors as well.

Jerry Van Heeringen

Bee Bits - May

Sunshine at last!  As I type these words, the last of manzanita is still in full bloom, well over a month beyond “normal.”  And plums, apples, and pears are all blooming on top of one another, rather than their blooming periods being spread out.  The nectar flow is amazing!

Swarming has hit us hard, since it had been too cold for queens to take their mating flights, we put off splitting our hives.  Then this sudden warm weather and intense nectar flow caused them to immediately plug out, and we haven’t been able to keep ahead of swarming.  I’m now concerned about how many of those swarms are going to establish colonies in whatever cavities they can find, only to become a source of mites late this summer.

If your colonies have not yet swarmed, I strongly suggest splitting them.  Either include a swarm cell with the splits, or make sure to include at least one frame with eggs with each split.  Then be sure to give all your hives plenty of room to store the incoming nectar.  We usually have spare queen cells for sale at this time of year, but because of the issues above, may not have any available for another week or so.  Once we catch up, I’m happy to supply queen cells from our mite-resistant breeder queens, free of charge, to any hobbyist with hives in the County.  If you’re interested, please email me with the words “Queen cells,” followed by the number that you want, in the subject line, and I’ll put your name on a list (Example “Queen cells, 3”).  Please do not put any other words in the email. I’ll raise a batch to order as soon as I’m able, and give you a few day’s notice of when you can pick them up.

This season may well offer us the best honey crop in quite a few years.  For those who need more equipment, a member getting out of bees has asked me to sell her equipment at reasonable prices.  If you’re interested, please email me with the word “Equipment” in the subject line, and no other words.  I’ll send you back a list of what’s available.

Happy beekeeping!

Randy Oliver
Grass Valley, CA

In The Yard - May

Some of you know I decided to sell my bee business last year about this time.   I wanted to have more free time to travel and relax, and that is still the case.  However I can’t deny that I miss working bees regularly, and so have decided to get back ‘in the game’ just a bit.  I ended up last year with 8 colonies that did make it to almond pollination.  This year maybe 25 colonies and 50 next year.  But that’s it!

What an amazing last month for nectar and pollen flow!  Don’t leave your colonies alone for too long- they may be filled to the brim with honey! I had left one mating nuc colony without 2 or 3 frames in the hive body.  When I went back 19 days after placing queen cells, there were 2 ten inch high combs attached to the lid, half full of honey!

Another bee that seems to be having a banner year is the local carpenter bees- genus Xylocopa.  I was out in the back pasture this last week, and amazed at the number of them in our old barn buildings.   Dozens of black shiny bees hovering around certain areas inside and outside the buildings.  Apparently the male bees are ‘claiming’ a territory just outside the holes in the wood that the females have made nests into.  These bees can do serious damage to wood structures, though a good coat of paint is all that is needed to deter them.  The tunnels are about 1/2 inch in diameter, go in an inch or so, then turn 90 degrees and can be as long as 4 feet!  I’m not to worried about them inhabiting these structures as they are going to come down at some point.  Xylocopa pollinate large or open flowers that can support their heavy weight.  Some species put their strong jaws to use and chew holes into the sides of smaller flowers, like blueberries, to rob nectar.  They are really beautiful bees, and only the females have sting capability, though they rarely use it.  The males seem aggressive when protecting their territories, but it is just ‘bluffing’.

Brion Dunbar
Grass Valley, CA