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 - January

Well it's almost January again, each year seems to go by just a little faster than the one before. Last year at this time I was working in Truckee and the snow drifts were taller than me while here at home it never seemed to stop raining. It's December 21 as I write this, the shortest day and longest night so it will just get better from here. The temperatures have finally dropped enough to make it feel like winter but the rain just hasn't shown up yet. Hopefully it'll start soon although Murphy's Law dictates that it will start just in time to make the almond orchards a sloppy mess for the commercial beekeepers to wade through while placing hives. We'll have to wait and see what it all means for our honey flow, it's high time we had a good one, I think we all deserve it. Not much to do with our bees, just an oxalic acid drizzle in December and constant monitoring of hive weight, if you don't know what to look for please ask at the meetings. We will be having our next meeting on the first Monday of January in spite of it falling on the first.

Jerry Van Heeringen

Bee Bits - January

I’m typing these words on the shortest day of the year.  You’ll often read that colony broodrearing and buildup are triggered by the winter solstice, but there is little supportive evidence for that claim.  Instead, it’s been clearly shown that winter-bound colonies typically resume a small degree of broodrearing even as the days are getting shorter in December.  And if weather conditions and bloom are such that there is a nectar and pollen flow over the Winter Solstice (as often occurs in Australia, Southern California, and Mexico) colonies will be rearing brood like crazy on the shortest day of the year.  And they will even brood up midwinter if held at constant temperature in total darkness in a wintering shed.

Based upon a couple of interesting studies by Dr. John Kefuss, it appears that bees may be more responsive to the daily change in day length, rather than the number of minutes of day length itself.  Here in Grass Valley, there will be no detectable change in day length the day following the Winter Solstice, but a full 3 minutes per day change at the Spring Equinox.  Up in Canada, the daily change at that time may be up to 5 minutes.  This could be one reason why colonies grow so much more rapidly at high latitudes.
Anyway, as far as bees in Nevada County, their spring buildup is usually triggered by the availability of the first alder pollen.  The catkins on the alders are now fully developed, and I expect them to begin producing pollen perhaps the first week of January (alders are indeed triggered by photo period).  If we get good flight weather during this bloom, our colonies will start ramping up broodrearing with vigor.  But be aware that such an early ramp up will result in two things: (1) early swarming, and (2) an early start to varroa buildup.
So far, this winter has been unusually warm, with very few frosty nights until recently.  Warm winter days without enough pollen to stimulate broodrearing, may tend to wear the bees out as they engage in “fruitless foraging.”  But unless it is rearing brood, the colony has no means for replacing those worn-out foragers.  We were concerned about that, and fed a thousand pollen patties this week to encourage the colonies to engage in a bit of broodrearing, in order to have strong colonies for almonds.  We applied our winter dribble of oxalic acid to control varroa at the same time.

On that subject, we’re trying a different dribble formulation this season.  Based up research and practical experience in Europe, beekeepers are switching to glycerin, rather than sugar, as the humectant in the dribble.  I’ll go into more details after we’ve seen the results this spring.
We’ve noticed that during this warm weather, a number of colonies have gone through their honey more quickly than expected.  It would be wise to heft your hives in order to confirm that they’re still heavy.

Randy Oliver
Grass Valley, CA

In The Yard - January

I have finished treating all my yards with oxalic dribble in December.  If anyone needs enough mixed up oxalic to do a dribble for a few colonies give me a call.  Most yards look strong- but it seems like the ones that get a lot of sun seem to be doing a bit better than the ones that are in the shade.  I am feeding the smaller colonies a pound of pollen patty as a bit of insurance that they make it thru the winter.  It has been so warm that I’m afraid many of the workers are wearing themselves out and wasting resources.  I will feed all colonies 2-3 pounds of pollen sub starting first week in January.  Probably not necessary for hobbyists, but if each of my colonies aren't 6 frames of bees or more I won’t get paid for them by the almond farmers.

Has anyone noticed dead bees with huge pollen loads within a few feet of the front entrances?  I think they must be chilled or exhausted, trying to do ‘just one more’ foraging trip before calling it a day.
Speaking of chilled and exhausted, I have reached an agreement to sell my operation. The buyer is from Marysville area, and will be taking over approximately March 1st, after bees are back from pollinating almonds.  It will be a big change in lifestyle not having 12 million mouths to feed and worry about.  But I’m looking forward to having more free time without an achy back.

Brion Dunbar
Grass Valley, CA