The four Clermont hives were checked yesterday and found to be in good condition. All have plentiful stores, solid bee cover, and some brood. There is no evidence of any disease or serious queen issues. Brood production has slowed and is located mostly in the center frames of the middle supers. Pollen was observed, both stored and being brought in. The pollen feeder had no activity.
As there is not much training left for 2017 Clermont beekeeping, the discussion centered on what 2018 activities would be the most advantageous. Last Wednesday’s BONS management meeting brought forward data as to how poorly BONS sourced package bees perform. The main area of discussion at the BONS management meeting centered on why 2nd and 3rd year beekeepers buy packages to replace package hives that did not survive. Package queen issues and disease as the cause of failure was the fundamental conclusion.
In 2017, the BONS Club sold about 150 packages to experienced BONS beekeepers for a total cost to these club beekeepers of around $18,000. BONS has been selling roughly this amount to experienced club members each year for many years. In light of this package bee loss data, alternative methods for bee replacement were discussed. Since there is no specific BONS training for the production and seasonal care of nucs, it was decided by the Clermont group that nuc and queen production would be the focus of Clermont’s 2018 training yard activity.
The plan is to produce Clermont nucs using purchased queens and hive resources from the over-wintered 2017 Clermont hives. In addition to standard medium 5-frame nuc hives, using 3-frame medium queen castles for the production of local queens will be introduced. Swarm traps will again be installed.
This Clermont plan should dovetail well with the 2017 VSBA Fall meeting agenda topics, No-Graft Queen Rearing and Organizing a Second Year Bee School.