OCBA has had a great year so far. We sponsored and organized a 10-week bee school attended by 75 new beekeepers, including two 4-H students that the club is sponsoring and mentoring. As part of the school we held two workshops: one on equipment and one on hive inspections that included locating queens, eggs and larvae, and sugar shake testing for determining varroa mite loads. One of our 4-H students held a hiving packages workshop at his home.
The club sponsored two 4-H students. We provided them each with 2 hives, bees, veils, smoker and hive tools. They worked with 4-H to study and write about bees and will be doing presentations through 4-H to the larger community. Our president, Todd Walker, coordinated this effort.
Our membership has increased to 180 and we are seeing lots of new faces at our spring meetings. Dick Merritt has been keeping up with our membership and our treasury. We have had a range of speakers from research on bees with Julianna Rangel to information on hive management from our inspectors as with Adolphus Leonard. Chris Richmond has been helping to coordinate snacks so they are better than ever. Our meetings have been filled with lots of news, friendships formed and beekeeping shared. ‘Lizbeth Collins continues in her untiring work keeping up with our minutes and keeping us all on track.
Watty Bowes has led our efforts in outreach and we have had numerous members give presentations for schools and clubs. We have also gotten the word out about honey bees through many fairs and festivals including the Chapel Hill Garden Tour, the Orange County Earth Day, Magic Wings and the Piedmont Festival for Wildlife. We are looking forward to presenting a strong presence at the Eno River Festival [see calendar for details].
Alongside our monthly meetings we have just had a joint field day with Alamance County with over 30 people in attendance. The field day included hive inspections in the morning and honey extraction in the afternoon. We have at least two more field days coming up, so keep an eye on the calendar for future dates.
While outreach and meetings are important, beekeeping is really what we are all about. We had a very mild winter with little to no break in brood. Many people reported heavier than usual mite loads. Along with mild weather, we saw bloom times sped up with some blooms coming between 2 to 4 weeks early. While good regular rains provided us with strong nectar flows, the blooms times were very compressed with many honey plants blooming simultaneously. We also saw more than usual swarms which while potentially increasing our hives, can reduce honey crops.
Our pollinator garden is looking beautiful and is full of honey bees. Lucy Wilson has taken over coordinating care of the garden and it is looking better than ever.
Many beekeepers are excited about pulling honey and we hope to see a good harvest this year. Thanks to everyone who has helped and participated in the club this year.