November 2023 WCBA Newsletter  

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

November 14 Meeting

7:00 pm - Reading a Frame (Zoom available) - Susan Benton

There are many things that a beekeeper needs to see when checking a frame. Susan Benton will show the different kinds of cells that you find and what to look for to determine the health of the colony.  This will be a “picture tour” of frame reading. 

Susan Benton will lead this session.  Susan has been a beekeeper since 2010.  She is a Journeyman beekeeper.  She has helped organize Bee School, volunteered at Bug Fest, State Farmer’s Market, Heritage Day, and the State Fair for the WCBA.  She served as club Secretary 2016 – 2018, then Treasurer since 2019 - 2022.  She coordinates the club’s Certified testing and interfaces with the NCSBA so members receive their certification

7:30 pm - Apiary Inspection Update for 2023 (Zoom available)

Don Hopkins, Apiary Inspection Supervisor for NC

Apiary Inspection services are provided by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), Plant Industry Division, Plant Protection Section, Apiary Services. The strength of the beekeeping industry in North Carolina is in large part due to the historical close cooperation between the NCSBA, local beekeepers and the Apiary Inspectors.

We are pleased that Don Hopkins, Apiary Inspection Supervisor, will join us this month to give us an update on the 2023 beekeeping season, review key observations and talk about the latest beekeeping news from around the state. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Don Hopkins started working with bees at around 10 years old. His parents were pretty tolerant about that sort of thing, and he started selling his own honey. He became a junior member of the Morris County Beekeeper Association (New Jersey). After college, he decided he could keep bees again. Don moved to NC in 1988 and started working with the NCDA in 1989. He took over as the chief apiary inspector in the early 90’s.

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 via Zoom:

Topic: WCBA November 2023 Monthly Meeting

Time: Nov 14, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 831 2727 8148

Passcode: 388210

WCBA Membership

The WCBA Executive Committee would like to propose changes to bylaws to allow for both INDIVIDUAL and HOUSEHOLD membership options. We will vote at the November meeting on the following change to membership in the bylaws:  

Article 4  DUES
  • The annual dues shall be $20.00 per year and shall be due on January 1 of each year.  Anyone living permanently in the same dwelling may pay $30 per year under a family/household membership option.  

  • Any member of the Association who does not pay dues by February 1 shall be dropped from the membership roll.  A person may be restored to active membership by paying the current year’s dues.  Payment of dues at the regular rate on or after September 1 is considered payment for the remainder of that year and all of the following calendar year.

  • Dues reflected in this Article are inclusive of any costs associated with payment processing.

2024 WCBA Executive Committee

 In the October meeting, the Following WCBA members were elected to be the 2024 WCBA Executive Committee.

  • President – Chris Hagwood      
  • Vice President – Lee Clark-Sellers 
  • Secretary – April Reeves 
  • Treasurer – Tony Gaddis 
  • Sergeant-at-Arms – Jill Perkins 
  • Program Chair – Krissy Ross 
  • Selva Ganapahy (2024)
  • Susan Benton (2024 and 2025)
  • Erica Adams (2024-2026)

In addition Jim Blye will continue to be Past President and a member of the WCBA Executive Committee 


We have only had EIGHT members submit nominations so far!!!

This is an easy way to say Thank You to those who have helped you become a better beekeeper! Please go to the Membership/Awards tab on our WCBA website to nominate a member for one of the 2023 Awards but hurry because nominations close at our November 14th Club meeting!!!  The nomination process is quick and easy!  Awards will be presented at our December 12th meeting.

We will recognize Volunteers of the Year (multiple recipients possible), New Beekeeper, Outstanding Sponsor, Beekeeper of the Year and the Pioneer Award. You may even nominate yourself. Former awards recipients can be nominated again! See the website for more information about each award category.

Please consider those who have helped with swarms, teaching, meetings, State Fair, Bugfest, Farmer’s Market and our many other Club activities! Recognitions are based on your nominations so please complete a nomination form TODAY!

Contact Tom Wells or any Officer/Board member with any questions.

WCBA 2023 Potluck Holiday Gathering

December 12

Come join us for fun and food at our 2023 holiday gathering on December 12 at the Wake Commons building. This is a perfect time to visit and catch up with fellow club members.

We will publish an online signup later this month. There will be two parts to the sign-up:

1.    Number of people attending with you.

2.    The food you plan to bring and share.

It would great if you can bring a main dish or two sides/deserts.

The club will provide paper products, plastic-ware, bottled water and a portion of the main courses.

NC State Fair

First let us give a big shout out to Christin Danchi, Chris and Stacie Hagwood, Joe Tripp, Jennifer Ingraham, Lisa Mitchell and Tony Gaddis for their help with the booth this year!  Booth set up was a lot of fun again this year.

We won ribbons on almost all the individual class items that we entered in the booth.  Here is a summary:

Chris/Stacie Hagwood

  • One frame of comb for extracting 4th place
  • Three section of comb honey 2nd place
  • Three jars light amber extracted honey 1st place
  • Three jars amber extracted honey 3rd place
  • Display of extracted honey (50lbs) 4th place
  • Pure Beeswax, single block (>10lbs) 1st place (Second year in a row!)
  • Quilt 4th place

Cindy Blye

  • Molded Candles 2nd place

Julie Cooper

  • helped construct the gift basket 6th place

Christin Danchi

  • designed the pollinator plant banner that got 2nd place

Tony Gaddis

  • Two bottles dry mead 2nd place
  • Decorative Item 2nd place
  • Decorated hive 2nd place

Jennifer Ingraham's WCBA Photo Competition

  • Black and White photo 6th place
  • Color photo 2nd place

We learned this year that booth items are judged against items from other booths and the individual entries are judged against each other but not the booth entries.

There were several great individual entry results:

Katie Webber 

  • Quilt 1st place (it is a beautiful quilt!)
  • Light amber honey 2nd place

Jennifer Ingraham

  • Salad dressing 4th place
  • Muffins 4th place

Fred Tarver (the club's mead wizard!)

  • Sweet Mead 1st place
  • Dry Mead 2nd place
  • Fruit Mead 4th place

Cindy Blye

  • Molded wax objects (plain) 1st place - beautiful peonies
  • Molded wax objects (maybe painted)  2nd place - beautiful tulips
  • Cosmetics cream 2nd place
  • Lip balm 5th place

Jim Blye

  • Light amber honey 1st place

Kylie Wester (Greg Morrison's granddaughter) - Junior Honey Division

  • Extracted Dark Honey 1st Place

Well done and great work by everyone!  Competing at the NC State Fair is a lot of fun and we encourage you to decide now to compete in 2024.  We will have some workshops during the coming year to help all of us with our work for the competitions at the NC State Fair.  

WCBA 2023 Financial Update through October 31

Income -                       $12,774.95               


  •     Beekeeping School -                     $3,904.00
  •     Memberships -                              $3,252.00
  •     General Donations -                      $1,159.54
  •     NCSU Endowment Fundraising-   $3,587.00

Expenses -                   $15,141.94


  •     General Expenses  -                      $2,235.73 
  •     Beekeeping School -                      $1,221.63 
  •     Swarm Capture Poles -                  $  159.85    
  •     NCSU Endowment Donation-        $7,800.00
  •     Wild Apricot                                    $2,856.00

Current Bank Balance $18,085.39 

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

After having our initial order of T-Shirts depleted, we have a fresh supply of colors and sizes for all T-Shirts and a lot of hats to keep sun off our heads.  They will be for sale at the June meeting.  If you want to make arrangements to purchase outside of the meeting, contact treasurer@

  • November 2023 in the Bee Yard
Chris Hagwood

I got a surprise in my apiaries when inspecting recently.  The initial inspections were going to be limited to follow-up mite counts on some that needed formic acid treatments in mid September.  But the resulting mite counts were not encouraging, so I expanded my mite counts to the entire apiary as a result.  Perhaps fortunately, the majority of the bee colonies were in, or had just experienced, their own brood breaks.  This brood break made it a little easier to both accept and to deal with the elevated mite counts.

Let’s look first at the lack of brood in the majority of my colonies.  I observed one of two situations in most of them:  Either there were no eggs or larvae, and very little capped brood, or there were some frames with eggs, but no larvae and almost no capped brood.  This told me that new brood production had been halted for 2 or more weeks.  My assumption at this point is that the colonies that stopped brood rearing did so due to the approach of winter.  Pollen and nectar were available due to the goldenrod, but asters had not yet come into bloom when the breaks started.  We had experienced some sharp reductions in temperature, so I believe the colony reacted by sharply curtailing or stopping altogether new brood production.  I had noticed this in years past but didn’t know how widespread it was until this year.  I will take this into consideration from now on and be prepared for it.

I think less experienced beekeepers, on finding no eggs and no larvae may react with an assumption of no queen, but I sometimes found the queens in the hive and the rest I have assumed are going to resume brood rearing shortly.  I am not panicking, but in fact am using it as an opportunity to reduce the mite load on the colony.

I also sampled nearly every colony for mites and found the levels to be disturbingly elevated, often above 10/300 bees.  However, I think the consolation on these results is two-fold:

  • First, the elevated mite sampling rates are likely due to the lack of capped brood and larvae.  With no brood in which to hide, nearly 100% of the adult mites are on the adult bees.  The situation in an active colony with brood is different, with 70% of mites occupying brood cells at any given time.  Therefore, my mite levels may in fact be holding steady, but the rates they show up on the tests are elevated, but that’s just my educated guess at this point.  I know that most had been consistently low all season until this testing period.
  • Second, the lack of brood presents an opportunity to apply oxalic acid, a highly effective organic treatment that will kill mites without harming bees.  While not particularly effective with brood present, I am hopeful for good results while the colonies have either little or no brood.  I applied an oxalic dribble at the close of each inspection.  To do so, I dissolved 45 grams of oxalic acid crystals in 2 cups of hot water.  Once dissolved, I further dissolved 2 cups of sugar in the solution.  I applied approximately 5ml of this solution to each seam of bees (the space between frames) in the brood box of each hive using a 60ml syringe.  The bees will groom this solution from themselves and other bees, and while doing so it will kill many of the adult mites.  The dribble method is NOT less effective than the vaporization method.  I use both, but I prefer a dribble if I already have the hive open at the time. 

Now that each colony has had an initial dose of oxalic acid, I plan to apply one or two more doses using a vaporization method to each one about 5 days apart to continue killing mites before they have a chance to occupy brood cells.  I expect brood rearing to resume in those that took a break already, or to slow or stop in the rest by early December.  I find that bees in our area are already rearing new brood by January of our winters.

Also during my inspections, I needed to remove some unoccupied brood boxes of a handful of colonies.  I prefer to remove it now (it is usually on the bottom of the stack) and preserve it over winter.  I can use the frames or entire boxes of brood comb in the spring for splits. In warmer weather, unoccupied boxes of brood frames can invite wax moths or hive beetles, but our cold weather approaching should prevent you from losing comb to these pests if your colony is otherwise healthy.

Other than emergency feeding, I do not plan to further inspect or change anything in any of my colonies for the rest of winter.  November is usually when we will find out if our colonies will survive winter.  If my colonies survive the first hard freezes of November, they usually survive the rest of winter just fine.  The early cold nights separate the ones with weak bees from the hardy ones. 

While there has been an emphasis on reduction of moisture in the hive for winters here, I have not found this to be necessary.  I have my own line of thought with regards to moisture in winter, and find that the colony usually runs a moisture deficit.  Cold air that needs to be heated loses what little moisture it contains.  Since our bees insist on rearing some brood in the coldest months, on days they can fly I see bees collecting water to take back to the hive on those days. I have never found a colony experiencing condensation to the degree that it collects and drips onto bees, so I do not provide quilt boxes or allow excess ventilation in my hives.  I think that so long as your colony is healthy, the winter cluster is large (4-5 frames of bees) and they have adequate stores of honey, they will maintain the moisture and temperature levels on their own in an unventilated space.  

In summary, you have only a few tasks for November in your bee yard:

  1. Feed those that still aren’t heavy with stores.
  2. Reduce space in the hive, as you will notice a drop in population in most colonies. All of my honey supers for harvest are in storage, and I will be removing my queen excluders next so they won’t radiate heat and will allow the winter cluster to move up if needed.

  3. Mite control, if done already through the summer months, may prove more difficult now.  Bee colonies are about to set up for winter, and early December is a great time to apply a vaporization of oxalic acid to eliminate mites.  If you can get your actual mite numbers as close to zero as possible over winter, your control during spring will be easier.

WCBA New Beekeeper School in early 2024

We are planning on having our 2024 New Beekeeper School on Tuesday evening starting on January 23 and running through March 19 for a total of 9 weeks.  We will overlap with the February and March meetings and course content those evenings will be adapted to allow attendees to attend the WCBA monthly meetings.  Details will be forthcoming.  

NCSBA Master Beekeeper Program

Some of our WCBA members who attended WCBA Bee School in 2023 took (and passed) the written test to become a Certified Beekeeper through the NCSBA Master Beekeeper Program (MBP). The next step to become Certified was to keep bees for at least 4 months, then pass a Certified Practical test.  Many have fulfilled the four month requirement and now wonder how to study for and take the practical test.  Here is a link to the practical test and we recommend that you review it before taking the test.

The practical test may be administered by any Certified Beekeeper who is also a member of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association (NCSBA). Ben Crawley administers the practical test at the monthly "Hands on the Hive".  However, those sessions have ended for this season.  If you are working with a mentor, you may ask your mentor to administer the test.  The results should be reported back to Susan Benton. If you don't have a mentor, but want to take the test before it gets too cold, please contact Susan Benton to arrange to take the test.  She may be reached by text at 919-961-5600 or 

The written scores are good for 4 years, so you have plenty of time left to take the practical test in the spring or next summer.

  • January 4-6, 2024 - Hive Live Conference and Tradeshow 2024, Sevierville, Tennessee
  • January 4-6, 2024 - North American Honey Bee Expo 2024, Louisville, Kentucky (Kamon Reynolds).
  • March 7-9, 2024 - Spring NCSBA Meeting New Bern Waterfront Convention Center, New Bern, NC 
  • July 11-13, 2024 - Summer NCSBA Meeting 

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 2023Login 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.


This message was sent to you by Wake County Beekeepers Association, Inc.

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, you can unsubscribe at any time

The Wake County Beekeepers Association – Wake County Beekeepers Association