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 - September

First let me thank everyone who volunteered to staff the NCBA booth and demonstration hive at this year’s Nevada County Fair. This year all the time slots were filled quickly so if you were unable to find a time that fit in your schedule try again next year especially if you haven’t done so before. It’s a lot of fun and even if you’re not an expert you’ll be surprised at how much you know. Thanks also to all who attended the booth clean up and BBQ although the great food was incentive enough to be there. Special thanks to Leslie Gault for stepping in to organize the BBQ.

Congratulations to all who were awarded ribbons for their honey entries. I was glad to see our club so well represented in all categories. I heard from several first year beekeepers who wanted to participate this year but didn’t have any honey yet so next year it looks like we may have even more entries.

As usual our September meeting is on Labor Day, I know many people are out of town or have guests but try to make it if you can. The attendance is typically low making it a fun intimate meeting, and it’s a great time to ask questions if you are hesitant to speak up during our usually well attended meetings.

Bee Bits - September

Although the hot weather did not help during our main honey flow, cedar honeydew kicked in last month, and our hives in a number of locations stored a great deal of strongly-flavored “honey.”
Thanks to all for helping at the Fair—it takes a team to pull it all off each season, and I’m greatly appreciative of Rob Slay for volunteering to be NCBA’s Fair Coordinator.  
Jeez, it just seems hotter these days than it used to be—is it just because I’m getting older?  Well, there are taxpayer-funded scientists who actually keep track of temperature anomalies.  You can view a scary animation of worldwide temperature anomalies from 1880 through 2016 at https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=4546. It’s pretty obvious that our Earth is getting warmer—quickly!  Keep an eye on California in the animation.  And it doesn’t even show our record-breaking 47-day stint of high temps that we’ve recently gone through.  We are leaving our bees (not to mention our children) an environment quite different that that in which we grew up.

I point out the above shortly after driving to Idaho with Stephanie in order to be in the path of the moon’s shadow during the solar eclipse.  Some beekeeper friends had invited us to join them, so a group of us camped out in the mountains and shared the experience.  As we sat baking in the high-elevation sun in the early stages of the eclipse, we were sweating.  And then the temperature started dropping as the moon began to block a portion of the sun’s rays.  In a few minutes, it got so chilly that Stephanie went to our car to get a heavy shirt.  The experience really brought home how dependent we are on receiving (and trapping) just the right amount of the sun’s energy to enjoy a comfortable climate.  We humans are really screwing things up, and I’m proud to be a voter in a state that is actually doing something positive with regard to the climate and the environment.
If you haven’t already got varroa under control in your hives, please be a good neighbor and do so NOW.  For most colonies, you’ll need by some means to reduce the mite population by ~90-95% at this time of year in order for the colony to survive the winter.  The best way to tell is to perform alcohol washes or sugar shakes.  Since you’ve already got your computer fired up, you may wish to watch a 36-second video of how I, along with helper Rachel, performed mite washes on an entire yard of hives on a recent hot day here.

It takes me 4 minutes per hive to perform a mite wash (2 minutes with a helper).  And what an eye opener those washes are—a few rare colonies keep the mite in check without help, but more troublesome are the 10-20% that become “mite bombs” (collapsing from varroa and flooding any surrounding hives with mites).  PLEASE CONTROL YOUR MITES, since mite bombs hurt us all.

And on that subject, we’re getting very good results from our experimentation with oxalic acid/glycerin towels and strips.  If the team with whom I’m working can get this application method approved by the EPA, I suspect that it will be a real game changer as far as varroa control—it’s safe, inexpensive, easy, and uses only natural food-grade ingredients.  Here's a photo of a nice brood pattern in an OA/gly-treated hive.

We're now experimenting with using a different matrix than shop towels, and will let you know how it works.


In The Yard - August


It looks like my bees are making some honey and I will start extracting soon.  I have finished up my midsummer mite treatments, two successive rounds of a single MAQS formic acid strip.  I swore two years ago I would never do the recommended two strips because of some heavy queen and worker losses.  I sample each yard doing alcohol washes on two or three colonies before and after treatment.  The mite counts before treatment were all over the map- many at less than 2%, but enough at 7-8% to cause insomnia.  I even saw one poor colony at 18%!   Treating with the formic in most cases knocks the percentage in half or better.  My thoughts are that this is just buying time until the all important August treatment, which will be Apiguard thymol gel.

Speaking of mites I ran across a wonderful video showing the life cycle of the mites.  Don’t watch it before bed or you might have mite nightmares!


Brion Dunbar
Grass Valley, CA