March 2023 WCBA Newsletter  

Please read the newsletter to the end.  There is a lot of information contained in it.

March 14 Meeting

WCBA March 14, 2023 Meeting 

7:00 to 7:30 Swarm Capture Workshop 

We will discuss capturing swarms and the necessary equipment.  Come visit with fellow beekeepers, ask questions, find a mentor and have a snack.  (no Zoom for social)

7:30  Honey Bee Hygiene to Fight Varroa -  Kaira Wagoner

Kaira Wagoner, a graduate of Guilford College, earned her masters and doctorate degrees from the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). She served five years as a post-doctoral fellow in the UNCG social insect lab and currently serves as a Research Scientist at UNCG. Dr. Wagoner splits her time between UNCG and Optera, a Greensboro based start-up focused on improving honey bee health that was co-founded by Dr. Wagoner in 2020.

Dr. Wagoner will talk with us about her research on the ability of adult honey bees to detect and remove unhealthy brood from the hive. Dr. Wagoner is currently using natural honey bee stress signals to develop novel tools to facilitate apiary management and improve selection of disease and pest-resistant honey bees.

We will be meeting at Wake County Commons Building. 

Address: 4011 Carya Drive Raleigh, NC 27610 

Phone Number:   919-250-1000

There is plenty of parking in front of this building.  There is a guard at the front desk when you walk into the building.  If you put the address into your GPS it will direct you right to the building. 

For those joining remotely for the meeting:

Topic: WCBA March 14, 2023 Meeting

Time: Mar 14, 2023 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 813 9726 6608

Passcode: 645067

Renew your WCBA Membership for 2023 now for it to remain active!!     

  • Need to renew by March 15 or you will be removed as an active member 
  • You can renew your membership now and it will be good through 12/31/2023. 
  • You will need to go to the NC State Beekeepers Association website to renew the NCSBA membership for 2023: 
  • Membership renewal is “easy” on our new website
  • First go to the WCBA home page:

Detail instructions were reviewed in the November meeting and are in the meeting charts.  These charts may be reviewed by logging into the WCBA website using your ID and password.  Then under MEMBERSHIP tab click on Membership Meeting Minutes.   Under year 2022 click on November and you will come to the charts used at the last meeting.  Then scroll down until you come to WCCBA Membershp Renewal for 2023.  The following charts give detailed instructions on how to renew your membership for 2023.  If you have any questions,  send an email to:  or 

It is time to renew your WCBA Membership for 2023   

  • Need to renew by March 15 or you will be removed as an active member 
  • You can renew your membership now and it will be good through 12/31/2023. 
  • You will need to go to the NC State Beekeepers Association website to renew the NCSBA membership for 2023: 
  • Membership renewal is “easy” on our new website
  • First go to the WCBA home page:

Detail instructions were reviewed in the November meeting and are in the meeting charts.  These charts may be reviewed by logging into the WCBA website using your ID and password.  Then under MEMBERSHIP tab click on Membership Meeting Minutes.   Under year 2022 click on November and you will come to the charts used at the last meeting.  Then scroll down until you come to WCCBA Membershp Renewal for 2023.  The following charts give detailed instructions on how to renew your membership for 2023.  If you have any questions,  send an email to:  or 

NC State Fair Preparations 

The NC State Fair is an opportunity for all of us to learn more about beekeeping and the products of the hive.  To help us prepare for the 2023 NC State Fair in October, we will be hosting a series of workshops in 2023.  The first workshop is this coming Saturday March 4 and will the topic will be Mead Making.  We encourage you to participate in these workshops to gain good information, knowledge and to meet some of the members of the Wake County Beekeepers.  Register for the Mead Workshop by clicking on the register link provided at the bottom of this email. 

Making Mead Workshop:

  • Saturday, March 04, 2023

  • 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

  • Location - 1205 Enderbury Dr Raleigh, NC 27614

Register for the Mead Workshop

Swarm Season is coming this month!  

The WCBA Coordinator of the Swarm List for 2023 is Barbara Burgess.  The Swarm List is comprised of WCBA members who collect swarms in the community that are reported to the club.  In 2022, WCBA responded to over 70 calls resulting in 70 swarms reported. 

The swarm list is divided into 5 zones covering all of Wake County.  (see map).  When you join the Swarm List you have the opportunity to sign up for up to three zones. 

On the swarm list, we have observer, volunteer and swarm captain roles.  

  • Being an Observer is a great way to learn, to meet other beekeepers, to help document the capture.  
  • Being a Volunteer means that you will make arrangements with the person who called in the swarm to collect it, and report the results to the Swarm Captain. 
  • Being a Swarm Captain means being the first contact from the public about a swarm in your Zone.  The Swarm Captain captures all of the necessary information about the swarm, calls Volunteers and Observers in their zone, and reports the swarm to the Coordinator. Co-captains are possible.

Tuesday February 14 at 6:30 p.m., there will be a Swarm List interest meeting at 6:30pm immediately before the regular monthly meeting at Wake County Commons Building (4011 Carya Drive, Raleigh 27610).  Please contact Barbara if you need to join this meeting remotely or have any questions at: or 571-213-3678. 

To sign up for Swarm Team click on the link below and follow the links to the signup page:  WCBA Swarm List Guidelines

To participate in the WCBA Swarm List, you must be a 2023 WCBA member in good standing. Well worth the $10! 

WCBA Mentor Program

An important function of the WCBA is the annual Mentor Program.  We want new beekeepers to be successful, and learning from others can help you avoid common frustrations that new beekeepers often face.

For new beekeepers we provide the following opportunities to learn from others:

  • ·         Monthly hands-on-the-hive sessions led by Ben Crawley (Mr. Buzz)
  • Beginner workshops at monthly meetings that begin at 7pm, before the start of the business meeting.
  • The Mentor Program’s Mentors and Bee Buddies - Volunteers that are willing to assist new beekeepers in their first year or two.

If you're brand new and want mentorship, join our program. Just remember, you play an important role in your own success, so be sure to attend meetings and other hands-on opportunities offered by the club and club mentors.

Join the WCBA Mentor Program

For more experienced beekeepers, we need you to volunteer!

We need BEE BUDDIES. If you've had bees for even ONE YEAR, you can be a BEE BUDDY to a new beekeeper (even if you are a new beekeeper yourself). BEE BUDDIES can also be in the Mentor Program. You likely remember more about what it's like to be brand new and can offer your own lessons learned to someone new. You will also learn from new beekeepers’ questions and make new acquaintances.

We need MENTORS. If you're a beekeeper with 3 or more years of experience, you're going to make a great MENTOR to a new beekeeper.  As a Mentor, you will benefit as you encounter more challenges and meet others in the program. You do NOT have to visit anyone's bee yard to be a mentor; they will come to you or you can connect through technology. There is also an APPRENTICE HANDBOOK available to Mentors to guide you on topics you can assist with or may be asked about throughout the beekeeping year.

To learn more and to register for the program (in any role) please log in and visit the mentorship page of the new website:

Community Opportunities to speak and share about honey bees and beekeeping:  

We receive requests from different organizations for beekeepers to come and talk about honey bees and beekeeping.  We also receive requests to provide exhibits and people to talk about honey bees and beekeeping at events around the county.  If you are willing to fill this important role for the WCBA, please go to the link or talk with Chris Hagwood.  

   Link to Sign up for Community Coordinator


We will be offering multiple Hands on the Hive sessions with Mr. Buzz, a.k.a. club member Ben Crawley  as OPEN SESSIONS or for the purpose of taking your Practical Test as part of the requirement to become a NCSBA Certified Beekeeper.  

The following dates will be offered and are limited to 25 participants per session:

  • March 19 at 1:30 pm
  • April 16 at 1:30 pm
  • May 21 at 1:30 pm
  • June 25 at 1:30 pm
  • July 16 at 1:30 pm
  • August 20 at 1:30 pm

All sessions will be held at the Historic Oak View County Park, located at 4028 Carya Dr, off of Poole Rd in Raleigh.  Time for each session is 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm. 
Please bring your smokers, beekeeping clothing/gear & Face Masks, as this is a working session to explore the current status of the hives on site you should be prepared.  You do not need to bring a hive tool as they will be provided for your use during the session.  At the end of each session Ben Crawley & Susan Benton will administer the final portion of the Practical Test for those wanting to do so. 

If you have not taken your certified beekeeper written test and would like to take that test, please contact Susan Benton directly to make those arrangements.

Charity Raffle of bees and equipment

A critical objective of this organization (YOUR bee club) is to encourage the study and research of the honeybee.  In that regard, ALL proceeds from this raffle will be donated to the endowment for the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association Distinguished Professor in Apiculture.

One ticket will win ALL of following (10-Frame equipment):

  • Approximately one nuc of bees, including marked queen
  • Two (2) Used Bee Smart Hive Stands (Dadant – 10-Frame Beemax Deluxe Hive Stand currently priced at $106.95 each)
  • Two (2) Complete Used Hives, both assembled and painted with two (2) deeps and landing boards, one without frames
  • One (1) Used Ultimate Hive Cover (Dadant – currently priced at $41.75)

Total new purchase value is estimated at $1,000.

The raffle tickets are $5.00 per ticket or five (5) tickets for $20.

You may purchase raffle tickets during the remaining classes of our bee school, at our March monthly meeting and up until the raffle commences at our April meeting.

We will have WCBA T-Shirts and Hats for purchase at the December Meeting!  T-Shirts are $15.00 and hats are $12.00.  

March 2023 in the Bee Yard
Chris Hagwood

Our bees are finally getting the nectar sources they need and are taking advantage of the food and good weather to expand rapidly in population.  Swarm season is upon us already, so it’s time to get into your hives and do a good check on colony welfare.

Overwintered colonies are building their population ahead of the main nectar flow for two reasons. 

  • Primarily, they will want to swarm.  Swarming is the honey bee’s method to reproduce as a species, since the queen is only supplying a single colony with new bees.  By swarming, bees double, triple, or even quadruple the number of colonies in the area.  For this reason, when a queen leaves behind bees and queen cells or virgins to remain in the old colony, we call this a reproductive swarm.  Leaving the nest behind with few bees and/or no queens or queen cells is more aptly called absconding, not swarming.
  • The second goal of the colony is to have a large enough population that they can take advantage of the main nectar flow to store surplus honey.  Bees instinctively know that the good times are short, so they want to pack away as much honey as possible to survive the dearth and winter all in one.  They try to time their population buildup so they have more than enough foragers during the main nectar flow.  Since it takes 3 weeks for workers to emerge, the bees are working a month, at minimum, ahead of the flow to maximize their population.

So, as beekeepers we can do two things to help our colonies and to maximize our own honey harvest.  First, we inspect frequently to detect early signs of swarming.  I find that in March, bees aren’t keen on building comb and will not take advantage of frames of foundation.  When nectar is present in empty brood cells, and you’ve provided them with honey supers, you may have a swarm building in that colony.  Swarming is triggered when the population is high, and seems to be aided when there are more foragers than there are jobs to do.  Even when there is ample room to store excess nectar, the bees may want to swarm because they want to take advantage of an even heavier nectar flow coming later.

If you have empty hives, and you see lots of bees, flying drones, and the weather outlook looks mild for the coming weeks, you may want to consider a split by removing your existing queen and taking a few frames of bees with her.  If you spot any swarm cells with larvae inside, you will want to do this same split immediately, as the bees may swarm before you have an opportunity to return.  Relocating the old queen and some of the population of bees will, we hope, satisfy their urge to swarm again after you’ve found them a new hive and location to grow.  The existing colony, with swarm cells or lots of bees and young larvae, will raise their own queen, but will not have new brood for 3 to 4 weeks.  You cannot be impatient with this process if you’re letting them raise their queen.  Resist the urge to inspect for 3 full weeks so you’re allowing the queen to take her mating flight(s) and begin laying her own eggs.

An alternative to letting the colony raise its own queen (referred to as the walk-away split) is to purchase a mated queen and introduce it to the existing colony within a day or two of removing the old queen.  This gives the colony a supply of new brood within a matter of days instead of weeks and can help keep the colony population high.  If the colony considers this replacement queen a product of swarming, they may not want to swarm again right away.  The biggest advantage to using a mated queen early in the season is that the drone population is not nearly as high as it will be in a few more weeks.  Therefore, the mating results of early queens is not typically as good as it is for queens reared in the main nectar flow.  In our climate, we get our best, most productive queens from mating flights in mid to late April, May, and June.  Queens purchased in early March are typically mated in Georgia or Florida, where their drone population is already high enough to support queen rearing.

In conclusion, beekeepers with overwintered colonies should be looking for early signs of swarming such as:

  • A crowded colony that suddenly starts massing on the front of the hive in cool or mild weather.
  • A colony that starts packing in nectar in empty brood cells.
  • Stay alert if you see a rapid buildup of drone brood.  All colonies will be making drones, but the ones preparing to swarm will want to make as much as possible.
  • The presence of queen cups (dry, empty cells on the bottoms of frames facing down) are not necessarily a sign of swarming.  Most colonies will keep queen cups ready almost year round.  But queen cups with larvae inside are a sure sign of swarming soon.

If you see bees flying near the entrance of the hive, and it seems to be more than usual, this is not typically a swarm.   Orientation flights, and really crowded orientation flights are normal for this time of year.  Once you witness a swarm in progress, you will not mistake anything else for a swarm.  It is unique in the sound and volume of bees that leave the hive and begin to go into the air above the bee yard.

Lastly, now is a good time to check the colony for its overwintered varroa mite population.  If you’re lucky, your mite population in your sample is zero or 1 (statistically the same) and you can relax on your spring treatment plans.  I would suggest you make time to check every single colony for mites.  Do it now!.  A few outliers with large mite populations can lurk undetected if left unchecked. 

NCSBA beekeepers,

The secret is out that the NCSBA intends for NCSU to be a national leader in apiculture research and extension.

The success of our efforts to fund the new NCSU Apiculture field research lab is well known in the greater beekeeping community across the nation. In the fall of 2024, we will bear witness to the construction of a brand-new facility at the Lake Wheeler Research Complex in Raleigh.  This will signal a new day for NC State Extension Apiculture.  The new lab will offer a better equipped facility to restart formal extension training- advanced bee schools, field days and workshops. Local clubs will be able to tour the new facility and experience the apiculture program firsthand.  There are other possibilities to be worked out depending upon facility resources such as virtual and hybrid events and opportunities for beekeepers to be involved with research projects.

Also making news is the initiative to fund an endowed professorship in apiculture.  This endowment will be specifically for apiculture research; the only such endowment in the nation. Proceeds from investment of the endowment will be used to support the apiculture program and ensure that the program will never be phased out at NCSU.  A Ten Dollar challenge has been initiated to urge everyone to please consider a $10 or more contribution upon renewal of their membership for 2023.  A contribution of $10 or more from a significant portion of the 4700+ members of the NCSBA will make a huge difference for the endowment.  Chapters that have three-fourths of their members to contribute will receive recognition in the NC Bee Buzz and at the NCSBA Spring Meeting.

The combination of the new apiculture lab and the endowed professorship will enable the NCSU Apiculture program to consistently attract top level research associates and visionary faculty.  In addition, the program will be better positioned to be more competitive with other Universities for larger and more prestigious national research grants.  Please join me and the beekeepers of the NCSBA as we make it happen.

Doug Vinson, NCSBA President

Resources for Beeks
There are many opportunities to keep learning about keeping honey bees.  Here are a few:  

WCBA Meeting Videos and summary starting with 2022Login and then visit

Webinars from NCSU
Webinars from NCSU and Dr. David Tarpy are archived online and new ones are added monthly.  Learn more here.
Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum podcast:  
 A new podcast of short in-depth review of all things honey bees hosted by former Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum and Emeritus faculty member of The Ohio State University Dr. Jim Tew is available at:
Two Bees in a Podcast
from the University of Florida.  This podcast has over 50 episodes.
Beekeeping Today Podcast
from the folks at Bee Culture.  3 seasons of episodes and interviews!
Get help diagnosing problems in your bee hive.

Upcoming Conferences:

NC State Apiculture Program Latest Newsletter
Greetings from the NC State Apiculture Program! You can now access our program's newsletter, the Wolfpack's Waggle, which can also be found as usual through:    Waggle_2022-3 (

4/11/2023 - WCBA Meeting - 7:00 pm.  Wake Commons Building

5/9/2023 -  WCBA Meeting - 7:00 pm.  Wake Commons Building 


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