North Okanagan Bee Keepers Meeting Minutes – November 21

reminder next meeting is Feb 27th 7PM to 9PM Building E; Room E309
North Okanagan Bee Keepers Meeting – November 21 – Okanagan College
President – Keith Rae hosting

1. Introductions of the attendees

2. Keith’s Report

– BCRPA has a slight increase to annual dues, to starting at $50.00 for up to 25 hives. This is to help fund the Tech Transfer Program that the BCHPA has set up. Dues include the Hive Light magazine and twice annually the Honey Council magazine. Ten dollars is directed towards the North Okanagan Bee Keepers Club. Renewal will be in January and will be posted on our Face Book page and the BCHPA website. Please identify the North OK Club in your renewal.
– Notification of the North Ok Bee meetings is posted on the Facebook page and via email. If your preference for notice is by email, go to and request email notification.
– the number of extraction loans from the club were down slightly this year. There were some used extractors for sale on line and perhaps less honey produced. There is a number of used equipment for sale in the region. Contact Keith for more information.
– Bee education courses: Vic Macdonald will offer a course in Kelowna in January and Paul Van Westendorp (Ministry of Agriculture) offers a free on line course beginning in January. Keith may be offering a course in Vernon in conjunction with a high school project. Stay posted.

3. Overwintering small clusters concerns and spring preparation

(A). There were reported small clusters this year heading into the coldest months of winter. A small cluster is about the size of a baseball.

The Concern: Watch for small clusters that can’t warm their honey stores on outer frames or break cluster to feed and still retain heat. In mid-January when warmer temperatures and longer days begin, the queen will start to lay brood. The cluster will remain with the brood, and without honey will cannibalize the larvae and then within a few days starve to death.

Possible Solution: You can bring small clusters into a basement or a winter storage shed to help keep the heat in the hive. The temperature need to be 60F or 15Cor lower, with no windows or light. Install a red light only, feed with sugar syrup (2:1), screen the entrance. Take them outside once the temperature is around 9 to 10C. If there is light in the area then the temp needs to be in the 5C

Possible Solution: If the small cluster hive remains outside, then on a warmer day (above 6 C), gently crack open the hive and add fondant or a sugar candy block for feeding. Try not to disturb the hive. Avoid knocking on the hive or being invasive. Be cautious if using heating coils or other heating devices. If the hive gets too warm, the bees will activate and fly outside to the cold and die.

The Concern: Small clusters coming into spring without pollen and nectar available outside to build up the size of the colony. Most hives die in Feb. and March because of starvation.

Possible Solution: Add a pollen patty to each hive mid-February to stimulate the queen to lay. Check for hive weight. Add sugar syrup feed directly on top of the bee cluster or (on a warm day) add honey frames next to the cluster.

(B). Spring preparation for splitting hives and integrated pest management
-Weather always factors into spring hive health. If it’s cold and wet, queen rearing and mating can be affected. Cold wet weather can also causes low sugar content in the nectar. By mid -February, most frames will have brood on them. If there is no brood, this can signal a queen failed or a poor laying queen. Or a lack of pollen in the hive. But it can also be the genetic race of the bees. Imported queens can be purchased in April to replace the queen and keep the hive viable.
-By mid-March, the healthy hives can be split into two with an imported queen. Or wait until later when pollination begins locally and split and add a local queen.
-By the end of July, when the honey flow is on, watch for swarming vs bee population building up.
– Try to use a variety of mite treatments and check regularly for mite infestations. Oxcylic vapour treatments can be applies in December or January to rid hives of mites prior to spring bee laying, if you can find a day with a +10C temp.

It’s important to remember that the cost of keeping bees alive is less than replacing the hives in the spring.

Next meeting: January 16th, 2023. Cancelled due to security hack at Okanagan College

Thanks Sue for taking the minutes