With the anticipated arrival of spring, Pocahontas Beekeepers gathered at the Marlinton Community Wellness Center Wednesday evening to prepare for the upcoming season’s buzz.
The meeting’s first order of business dealt electing the organization’s first officers. Matt McPeak was elected as President, with Wayne Pollard serving as his Vice President. Greg Hamons was voted in as the group’s secretary and Gene Tracy was chosen to serve as Treasurer.
According to Hamons, the group – which is open to both beginning and experienced beekeepers – has conducted several educational sessions over the past year and a half, but it was only recently that the Pocahontas Beekeepers made the decision to become a formal organization.
By formally organizing, the group will be allowed to become a part of the State Beekeepers Association. Additionally, the Pocahontas Beekeepers will be able to access state equipment, as well as have buying power should the group wish to purchase equipment.
Once the business portion of the meeting was over, Tim Bender, of S&T’s Bees out of Elkins, took to the floor.
An experienced beekeeper, Tim and his wife, Stephanie, have opened themselves up as a resource for the Pocahontas Beekeepers. Local beekeepers draw on their advice and knowledge of the beekeeping industry in order to further their own hives.
“They have been instrumental in creating the group,” Hamons said of Wednesday’s speaker. “They had encouraged us to not only continue with the educational component that we’ve been doing, but to take it one step further.”
Throughout the duration of Wednesday’s meeting, Tim spoke on a number of topics – including caring for both bee and hive, and issues with mites and pesticides. One topic of interest for the beekeepers in attendance was how to handle swarms and, if possible, recapture their bees.
For those who are not familiar with beekeeping, swarms occur primarily during the spring and summer and happen when the queen bee and two-thirds of the worker bees leave in search of a new hive.
“There’s no specific time frame for how long a swarm will linger,” Tim said. “Sometimes you can have two days, or sometimes you’ll only have two minutes. It all depends on how long they want to stay. I’ve had a swarm stay for a week and then they left.”
Beekeepers can lose their bees because of this, but for the swarms that linger, they can be recaptured using a bee vacuum – which can be built at home or purchased in stores – or you can imitate thunder.
According to Tim, bees don’t want to get caught in a rainstorm and will move closer to the ground in order to avoid being hit with rain. In doing so, beekeepers are given a better chance to recapture their bees.
Another way to keep swarms from leaving is to saturate them with sugar water, which leaves the bees temporarily unable to fly. Beekeepers can then gently knock the swarm into a bucket and replace them in the hives.
“Swarms are one of the best things you could ever witness,” Tim said. “They’re amazing, they’re loud, and the dance the bees do is gentle. In a way, it’s a wonderful thing to watch, but when they’re flying away from you, it’s not so nice anymore.”
The Pocahontas Beekeepers will meet again Wednesday, May 20, with the location and time to be determined.
Cailey Moore may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org