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.

President's Message - April

Here in the northern hemisphere the vernal equinox was Tuesday, March 20 at 9:15 am. According to the calendar its spring but the problem is that when I go outside it still feels like winter. Here in Nevada County that winter feel can last all the way into May. I see by the forecast though that we have a stretch of warmer weather coming up in a few days, more “spring” like.

Perhaps our weather pattern is finally changing to something a little more bee friendly, at least for a little while. I’m sure all of our colonies need some flight time to do a bit of housekeeping and also to bring in some nectar and pollen if there is any to be found. We’ll also have a chance to peak inside and see how they’re doing.

My knee surgery was successful and my rehab is going great so I’m hopeful that I be with you at the April meeting. I haven’t done much beekeeping during the last three weeks but I should be able to hobble out to my bee yard this week and have a look.

Jerry Van Heeringen

Bee Bits - April

I’m typing these words as snow is falling in Grass Valley—winter, though late in coming, finally arrived with a bang!  Eric and Ian have been making nucs during hard rain and snow, and we’re now all crossing our fingers that we’ll get a few days warm enough for the queens to mate.

The poor almond growers dread each cold night, since the newly-pollinated nutlets are highly susceptible to frost, and a single night can wipe out the entire year’s potential harvest.  Many growers flood their orchards on frosty nights, or hire helicopters to hover overhead.

Here at home, the nasty weather has sure messed up my pruning and garden work.  But dang but did we need the water!  Although it’s been tough working bees, a long summer drought is even worse.  Let’s hope that this late rain will be enough for a decent bloom this summer.

The weather could return to spring conditions at any time, and our colonies will be back rockin’ and rollin’ as the pollen pours in.  The best time for mite control is early in the season—an Apivar, formic acid, or Hopguard treatment would be appropriate, or the splitting and oxalic acid that I described last newsletter.

There are still a few seats available in my Beginners Class on April 7
Write me if you want to attend. randy@randyoliver.com

Randy Oliver
Grass Valley, CA

In The Yard - April

About 3 weeks ago I got a call from a frantic lady who said she was allergic to bees and there was a swarm (a bit early- I thought) in her back yard.  I went over to investigate, and found that a colony of bumblebees had moved into a birdhouse she had in her garden.  She was very relieved when I offered to remove the birdhouse for the season, and return it after the bees moved out in the fall.  This episode got me interested in learning more about bumblebee societies.

There are some interesting similarities and differences between bumblebees and honey bees.  They both have one queen per colony,  both make wax, both collect pollen and nectar, the queens can lay unfertilized eggs to produce males, and workers live for about 4-5 weeks.

The bumblebee colonies are much smaller, typically 100 to 400 workers.   A common nest site is an abandoned rodent burrow in the ground. See sketch of a typical nest from EO Wilsons ‘The Insect Societies’.  In the spring, a queen emerges from her hibernation, and must build up several wax structures inside the nest.  The first is a honey pot near the entrance.  Next is a nesting cup about the size of a pencil eraser.  She’ll lay about 8-12 eggs inside this cup.   She will feed the growing larvae pollen and nectar she regurgitates.    She will spend much of her time lying on top of the structure, incubating the brood.  The first adult bees will emerge from the center of the cup, where the warmth was the greatest, approximately 22 days after the egg was laid. This is the first generation of the new colony, and these adults will be smaller than later generations, due to less nourishment.   The later generations workers will be almost as big as the #queen.  As the first generation is being raised, the #queen will begin construction on other cups, and the structure begins to gain in size.  She will not reuse these as brood chambers, rather they will be used as honey or pollen storage, or simply abandoned and built on top of.

...full story with images in the newsletter

Brion Dunbar
Grass Valley, CA