Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mass Bee Field Day - June 23

Every year the Mass Beekeepers Association sponsors a field day. This is an all-day activity held at the UMass Agronomy Farm in South Deerfield, MA. It's a hands-on geek fest for the beekeepers. I had missed the last couple of field days, but made a point to keep this weekend free.

The farm focuses on farm-type learning, and I took some pictures of the facility:

The program contained some basic and advanced topics - here's the program.

There aren't normally bee hives at the farm; members of the Mass Bee association brought in hives to use for the various programs.

There were a lot of people attending from all around the area, including NH and CT. I took a picture of this couple of beekeepers to show that we have "all kinds" of beekeepers :-)

There were 4 sessions offered, so I thought I'd talk about the ones I attended.

Hive Inspection 101

Ken Warchol gave a session on inspecting beehives. You'd think that would be one of the first things a beekeeper learns to do, but Ken focuses on what to look for during the various stages of the year.

I always enjoy Ken's presentations - he brings things down to earth.

My Hive Swarmed so Now What?

None of the offerings of the second session tickled my fancy, but I stopped in to listen to this one. The presenter was a Master Beekeeper, and there aren't too many of them around. She talked about what to do after a swarm - whether to re-queen, let them make a queen, etc. It appeared to be geared to beginners.

Over lunch they hold the annual Smoker contest. One of the more difficult things for beekeepers is keeping the smoker lit. This contest is for bragging rights!

Queen Rearing and Grafting

Dr. Callahan is a member of the Worcester Beekeepers, and I would put him in the "advanced" category. He has a PhD and knows a ton about bee physiology and lifecycles. His presentation was on how to graft and raise queens.
There are a variety of methods for raising queens, and I've read about most of them.

This is one of the 4-frame nucs that Dr. Callahan likes. He said he likes it because of the handles! It's plastic as well.

I like learning about new things. One of the things Dr. Callahan had was a special nuc used for "cell starting." This is where you put a nuc absolutely overflowing with bees, and no queen. Then when you put in the larvae, the bees are very good at starting the queen cells.

What is interesting about Dr. Callahan's nuc was that it was extra tall, and had screens over openings in the bottom part. This was so you can add a bunch of bees, and the bees won't overheat.

Here's the nuc with a Nicot queen rearing system, the system he uses.

I'd like to make one of these.

Using the Snelgrove Board

Roland Sevigny (also in my bee club) talked about using the Snelgrove board. I made one of these last year, but haven't used it yet. It was fascinating to listen to his ways of using it.

Since this is a farm, I thought I'd take some pictures of some of the livestock I saw. My son especially likes cows, and I was fascinated by the markings of the cows here.

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