September 2015 Meeting Minutes

Wannabee Hobby Beekeepers

Meeting Minutes – September, 2015

President Bob Asheim called the meeting to order at the Canyon Lake Senior Citizens Center on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, at 6:00 PM.  Approximately 43 people were in attendance.

Bob introduced Treasurer Kia Smith, Secretary Jan Snedigar, Program Director Tina Mulally, Librarian Dan Mulally, and past presidents Jerry Owens, Lee Alley, Bill Clements, and Tom Allen.  Vice President Susan Nolan was absent.


A Treasurer’s report was not read.

Bob asked to go AROUND THE ROOM for members to report on the status of their bees. Reports from members about the honey season and well-being of their hives is mixed.  Some members’ reports were as follows:

–Jon and Lynette Epp of Black Hawk have harvested 23 gallons of honey from their two hives, and might get another 10. They state they have not yet gotten their bees through a winter, and have had to start with new colonies each Spring.

–Teri Sheets of Caputa has gotten 19 pints so far; a super is full again on one hive, but the bees haven’t capped it yet.

–Steve Ayers of Mystic states this is his first year having bees in the Hills. They had a slow start, but the last 3 weeks have gone gangbusters–all supers are filled.

–John Hauge of the Custer Peak area has 2 hives, one doing real well, the other not so good.

–Kitty Roberts has 4 hives by Terry Peak which are in good shape, and 3 hives by Hermosa which are not doing very well.

–Bob and Sharon Strickland of Newcastle have 6 hives; they have taken off 18 frames of honey.

–Dennis and Linda Masteller of Piedmont started with 4 hives, and had a number of swarms, one of which returned to the hive.  They have harvested 8 gallons of honey and have on 4 more supers.

–Dan and Tina Mulally of Rapid City have 4 hives, 1 which was a swarm from another hive, and have gotten 260 lbs of honey so far. They also report excessive mites–they are concerned about using the Quick Strips as they have heard they are hard on the bees.


–According to our July statistics,  there are now 139 colonies within our Club, 57 of which are new, and 44 colonies have been lost since September 2014.

–The Honey Bee Appreciation Day held at the Game, Fish and Parks Outdoor Campus on August 22, 2015, went very well. It made the evening TV news, there was an article about it in the Rapid City Journal, and Melissa Hammersma of SD National Public Radio was there gathering information for a video she is preparing on honey in South Dakota.

Bob gave special thanks to Tom Allen, Jerry Owens, Lynette and Jon Epp, and Kia Smith for their help at the event.

–Members were reminded about the “Made in South Dakota” event (formerly known as ‘Taste of South Dakota) which will be held on Saturday, October 10th, 2015 from 12 to 6 pm at Main Street Square in Rapid City.  A sign-up sheet for anyone interested in selling honey was put out at our last meeting, but so far no one has signed up. Last year we had honey sticks, and sold a lot of honey. If anyone is interested, talk to Jerry Owens. We need to know how much room we will need to reserve.

–Members were also reminded about the South Dakota Dakota Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA) Local Foods Conference that will be held on Sunday, November 6, 2015, at Cadillac Jacks in Deadwood. Our Wannabee Hobby Beekeepers Club is invited to have a table at the event.  This is a statewide conference and will be attended by 80-100 producers of horticulture in SD. They are very interested in bees to help with their crops and also to produce honey. Jerry Owens will be giving a talk on “Getting Started in Beekeeping”  which he has asked to be in exchange for their fee for having a table.  All members who are interested in being part of this event, talk to Jerry Owens.


Several members stated it would be very helpful to have a microphone to use during our meetings.  Bob thinks the Senior Citizens Center has ones we can use, and will check with them.


President Bob Asheim presented tonight’s program: 


What you and your bees do in the next 6 weeks will determine your success for next year.

“Shutting Down the Honey Harvest and Preparing for Winter”

Objective of the Fall Beekeeper is to help the colonies make it through the winter, disease free, with enough winter bees, and with the mite level below danger level.

Supers should be taken off over the next 6 weeks, and a full inspection done by the end of October.

This time of the year, each colony should have approximately 30,000+ bees, 20 Fully drawn deep frames, and 50 to 60 lbs of honey.  To estimate how many bees in a colony, a deep frame fully covered by adult bees will be about 1,500 bees per side of 3,000 total. 7 to 10 deep frames covered by bees would indicate between 20,000 and 30,000 bees present. There should be about 5 or 6 frames of partially capped and uncapped brood at this time of year.  To estimate how much honey is in a colony, see ‘starvation’ below.

The biggest killers of colonies are 

Varroa mites–if you have a large number, you will see deformed wings and bodies on your bees, and may see bees in the grass, trying to climb out, but crashing and unable to get airborn. Varroa mites weaken the bees and make them more susceptible to disease and infection.

Varroa mites only reproduce when brood is present, so since there are fewer eggs now, there are fewer mites too. Drones are mite factories, and since they have been expelled from the hive by now, that also reduces mite numbers.  It is important that mite populations be low before and during the fall brood build up – September – Mid November.  Without management this is when mite levels usually peak.

Tracheal mites–the worst time for tracheal mites is now until Spring. With large numbers you will see wing deformities, and your bees will look ‘greasy’ and be hairless, and unable to fly.

Testing for and treating mites allows the beekeeper to make a responsible decisions for the well-being of the hive. If the number of mites is below danger threshold, no treatment is necessary. If the number is greater than danger threshold, then treat.  Hives which have large mite loads going into winter are likely to fail before spring.

Fall Mite Treatment Options:

–Grease patties  They should be put over the brood nest, or slipped in the front entrance. The patties need to be near the brood so that the nurse bees eat it.  Mites know by smell when and where to find the bee larvae and crisco messes up the smell. It helps with both tracheal and Varroa mites.

–Screen Bottom Board.  Early Fall, the Varroa mites fall through to the ground, in late Fall they fall through to closed floor. In Northern areas, this can reduce winter colony loss up to 12%.

–Soft Chemicals–temperature sensitive products

–Hard Chemicals

For comparison of treaments and their effectiveness, these are excellent sources of information:

–Google “Varroa Calculator”

Starvation–we have such long winters in this area, each colony needs about 90 lbs of honey. To estimate the amount of honey and pollen the colony has, a fully capped deep frame of honey weights 6+ lbs, so 10 of these frames in the upper hive body would equal 60 lbs.  The outer 4 frames in the lower hive body adds up to 24 lbs, and the 6 inner frames with brood in the lower deep could have as much as 1.5 lbs each, for a grand total of right around 90 lbs.

Poor ventilation–for every 10 lbs of honey the bees consume, they give off 2 lbs of water. If there is not enough ventilation, the water collects on the inside cover, drops back down on the bees, and they freeze to death. Wet is more dangerous for bees than cold.

Poorly organized internal hive structures–Check Brood. If NOT centered in the lower deep box, move brood frames to this location. Check the brood pattern–it should have mostly capped areas, surrounded with pollen and capped honey. If mite levels are very high, the brood pattern will be very spotty, possibly indicating Parasitic Mite Syndrome (PMS). If brood is spotty and mites are low, this could indicate the possibility of American Foul Brood, referred to as AFB. This is very serious, and should be investigated. AFB is highly contagious, and if it is proven to be in your colony, you must report it to the State, burn the hive, and kill the bees. You must also de-contaminate all equipment that has come in contact with the diseased hive.

Other hive organization factors to check when you inspect the hive, is that the maximum amount of frames of honey, and that they are in the center of the hive. The winter cluster of bees will normally move up as it uses its honey that is close above them, so you want a vertical column of honey near the cluster.

The meeting was adjourned @7:30.

Minutes submitted by Jan Snedigar, Secretary

Disclaimer:  If I have misquoted you, misnamed you, didn’t quote you, didn’t name you, or otherwise made mistakes in these meeting minutes, I apologize. Please feel free to send me the corrections and I will correct/publish them in the meeting minutes on the web site.  Send to



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