Friday, March 27, 2015

March 2015 Meeting Notes

The meeting started with about 20-30 people present.   Before meeting was called, 
the clock was fixed.  Paul Carter is selling beeswax, $8 for a pound block and 
50 cents for an ounce piece.  They
have been molded and say beeswax on the side of each piece.  Junior was taking
orders before he makes his trip to Mr. Zuch(?) for bee supplies.  
Robbins calls the meeting and introduces himself.  Mentions that he has a
truckload of bees in his truck.  He has brought several nucs from Alabama this
morning for other members that have purchased them.  Chris reviews that the last
treasurers account was about $2000 in the bank.  Mr. Carter says it sounds like
it is party time.
Members that won the hive grant are present.  The state
meeting is today in Murfreesboro.  Chris and Becky will attend and get the hives
for hive grant winners.  Chris wants to show members getting nucs today (that he
picked up in Alabama) how to install them into medium size boxes.
There is a
gentleman present that asks why others think his hive may have failed.  He says
he looked in the hive and at least 3000 bees there are dead.  Chris asks if the
bees were facing in towards the honey cells.  The gentleman says yes, and Chris
tells him he thinks the bees starved to death.  Perhaps they could not reach the
sugar source.
Johnny brought a video on colony collapse disorder.  It is a CNN
report from Inside Man: Morgan Spurlock.  The video explores small and large
scale bee operations.  The video covers the basics of bees and beekeeping.  It
discusses how important bees are to the world food supply.  It talks about how
most of the honey in the US is imported and the source is often not known.  When
honey is heated the pollen is removed and source becomes untraceable.  It seems
more of the colony collapse is happening in large scale bee operations, with 4
main reasons outlined for the collapse: 1) pathogens, especially varroa mites,
2) malnutrition/ lack of food supply, 3) stress from moving (between farms for
pollination), 4) pesticides (neonicotinoids).  There are researchers trying to
create a control, a bee utopia if you will, and then introducing neonicontinoids
and varroa mites to test their effects on a usually healthy hive.  Europe has
outlawed several pesticides and has seen an improvement on colony collapse
disorder numbers.  During each commercial break, Chris asks if anyone has
questions.  He points out that neonicotinoids came about to replace DDT.  He
says that varroa mites came to the US from Asian honey bees.  In Asia, the
varroa mites have a natural predator.  They thrive in the US because of this
lack of predator.  Nick points out that a lot of pathogens likely get spread in
the commercial bee business from bees picking up diseases and spreading them in
new locations.  Chris points out this is why you are supposed to register your
apiary.  Nick discusses the idea of the newer, larger, 5.4mm size bee require 2
extra days of hatching for drones.  The varroa mites need these extra days.  Now
that modern bee society has bred these larger bees (likely for the theory that
they may produce more honey) they may never be able to breed back to the smaller
4.9mm “original” bee size.  There is discussion several times of how many of
these problems come about with men “tinkering” with nature.  Every action has a
Chris gives his opinions on how we can help, which is to educate
consumers that food is okay to have spots and to try to buy produce that is in
season.  This lack of demand from consumers would then decrease pressure on
farmers to use pesticides on produce and for suppliers to import produce from
other countries that use pesticides.  The decrease in need for 
The question,
‘What should we be doing with our bees right now?’ comes up.  Members discuss
how they are going to try to let things grow in their fields.  It has become a
trend to keep fence rows trimmed and tidy, but this actually takes away from
bees food supply.  Richard(?) says he wants to plant Buckwheat and wildflowers
to help his bees.  Johnny says best to wait to plant Buckwheat in May.  
Lavendar and kudzu are great plants for bees.
There is discussion that
honeybees are not the best pollinator.  Theres 15 species of pollinators in our
area alone besides the honeybees.  Chris points out that other insects could be
used to pollenate all these commercial crops.  Another member states he saw a
bumblebee open a flower before a honeybee came behind him to gather the nectar. 
Paul Carter seconds this phenomenon, saying he’s seen the same scenario. 
is discussion of the recent Australian invention, HiveFlow.  Carrie has her
laptop opens the website to pull up a picture of the frames used as Chris
explains how it works.  The frames are wider than usual.  There is a tool that
fits in the middle of each frame on one end.  When it is cranked, it opens the
honey cells and allows the honey to flow to the center and down out of a tube. 
One of the new members, Nancy, says she has purchased some of these and will be
trying them.  It costs about $50 a frame but eliminates the need for extracting
supplies and adding many honey supers during the honey flow.  You can purchase
just the shallow super with frames that will fit a deep brood chamber.  The
HiveFlow system seems to be general accepted as an interesting idea that some
present may try.
Chris asks if anyone else wants to register for the Masters
Hobbyist Course hosted by Dr. Skinner April 2-4 in Clarksville.  It is
$100/person.  Sign up at  Chris says he will be able to host
the same course next year.
Becky has updated the aol account member
Chris gives his email address of    He says if
anyone else wants Buckfast nucs like the ones he has brought today (for members
that ordered and paid for them previously), the same man will have more
available the end of April/ beginning of May.
New member, Nancy asks if she can
act as administrator for Cheatham County Beekeeper Facebook page.
A new member
says he raised bees many years ago and is getting back into it.  He asks about
the breeds available now.  Chris reviews that it is mostly Italians,
Carolineans, Russians.  Theres a lady in Minnesota raising “hygienic”
There is a discussion on bee sizes, 4.9 to 5.4 and small cell foundation.
Chris says studies have found that the bees end up making cells the size they
need from whatever foundation size that is given.  
There is a seed swap
program now started at the Cheatham County library.  If anyone would like to
contribute or trade non hybrid seeds they are welcome.
Paul Carter again
announces he is selling beeswax.  A comment is made that lotions made with this
have proven very effective for dry skin.

Respectfully submitted, 

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 2015 Meeting Notes


                                                            JANUARY 10, 2015

                                                           ASHLAND CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY     


16 adults and 1 child attended this meeting. 14 adults were members, 2 others were beekeepers from a neighboring county who expressed interest in joining our association.

Chris Robbins called the meeting to order and handed out the January Meeting Agenda.

The categories on the agenda were:






New Officer Duties: Margaret Beaver, the new secretary, read into the minutes the duties as previously recorded in the November 9, 2013 minutes.

Duties of the president:

1)      Sets agenda for each meeting, which he then sends to both the secretary and the VP. The VP will send the members an e-mail reminding them of the upcoming meeting, including the main topics on the agenda.

2)      Guides meeting discussions, solicits thoughts/opinions of the members

3)      Keeps tabs on membership list/dues payment status.

4)      Coordinates presentations for meetings, transfers all written presentation materials to web site (as available).

5)      Establishes a committee to coordinate the Cheatham county Fair booth – serves as primary contact with fair staff, arranges volunteers for set-up, take-down, accepting entries, works booth during fair, arranges for judges, arranges for volunteer passes.

6)      Arranges for meeting location for December (luncheon).

7)      Answers questions, is our official contact person with the public and with other beekeeping groups.

8)      Is, along with the Treasurer, a signer of checks and also receives from the Treasurer a monthly bank statement.

9)      Initiate and coordinates special projects.

10)   Develop a plan of activity & presentations for the club for a year in advance – creates a road map for the group for the coming year.


Duties of the Vice President:

1)      Works with the Treasurer to keep the membership list updated.

2)      Sends out meeting reminders a week before the meeting.

3)      Coordinates meeting snacks.

4)      Takes care of name tags.

5)      Serves as President’s assistant and may serve as Understudy to President.

6)      Serves as Chair or recruits somebody to serve as Chair of the Cheatham County Fair Bee Booth.

Duties of Secretary

1)      Reserves meeting room at the library.

2)      Takes notes at meeting (facilitated by the President’s agenda/outline of topics)

3)      Types minutes of meeting.

4)      Posts minutes on our web site.

5)      When urgent notices are e-mailed (such as change of meeting location, or a meeting cancellation) telephones those members who do not have e-mail.

Duties of Treasurer

1)      Records income and payments

2)      Balances checking account and forwards copy of monthly bank statement to President.

3)      Reports income, disbursements, cash, and checking account balance at each meeting.

4)      Deposits monies received.

5)      Makes necessary purchases (such as beetle blasters for re-sale to club members).

As of this writing, Becky Harris, last year’s Treasurer, continues to fill the voluntary role of “Webmaster” for the club, posting the minutes the Secretary e-mails to her, as well as watching over and editing the site.


Following the reading of the duties Becky mentioned that previously the club had decided to do away with name tags, with each member being responsible for their own tag. From the nature of this discussion it seems these were re-usable tags, not simply write on sticker tags. Several club members spoke up saying they would find name tags very helpful as they attempt to get to know everyone, and we then did decide to continue using the write on tags.


Then Chris spoke about his recent communication with the TBA. The middle TN regional vice president, Mr. Cantrell from our middle TN region e-mailed Chris wanting to know if he had any information from local clubs, updates, questions, concerns, comments.  Chris used this opportunity to begin discussion about the things the clubs have been unhappy about. The VP is new to the role, and told Chris he had heard similar things from other clubs, and that he would take our concerns back to the executive board of the TBA.  Chris had 2 more correspondences with him subsequently, and feels he is a genuinely nice fellow. So the dialog has been started, the TBA knows we are not happy. Additionally, Chris gave the suggestion that representatives of the TBA could come to one of our meetings, and the suggestion/request that 6 weeks prior to the 2 main TBA State meetings the local associations could be provided with meeting agendas so that there is opportunity for the various clubs to discuss issues of interest and concern to them, which their chosen representative could then take back to the state meeting, thus creating a more authentic voice for the local associations.

Chris then mentioned that we have not had definitive communication from Jim Garrison about the hive grants this year, although he had let him know that we do want to participate.


Package Bees and Nucs: It is time to make your arrangements for getting your bees. Chris shared he has ordered some nucs from a man in Alabama. A man in Canada has developed some “Buckfast queens”.  This line of genetics started out of Fergusen apiaries in Canada. His training was from a monk in England. A man imports some to Florida, and then raises nucs off those queens, and over winters them there. The Alabama man is the Florida man’s brother. The nucs will be ready in March.  Chris and Johnny did the research: if they got the queens from Canada, they would have to come through customs, requiring letters from both a Canadian veterinarian and an American one.  So in the end, getting the entire nuc was only $80.00 more than getting a queen so this is what they have chosen to do. Chris bought 3 @ $195.00 each. The man will give successive price breaks the more that are ordered – with 5 ordered it will go down to $190.00 each,  10 or more down to $185.00 each.  As long as we buy at least 7 he will deliver them to Columbia TN.  Chris continued to explain that they want to find survivor Queens and many people have sworn by these “Buckfast queens” from Canada. If these ones they are purchasing do well then the club could buy needed equipment to start raising our own queens, from this line.

Margaret mentioned she will be getting another package this year from Howard Kerr in Maryville with tentative pick up date 4/3/15 and asks that anyone who also wants a package from Howard let her know ASAP so she can pass the order along. To the best of her knowledge these bees are Italians. Chris also mentioned H&R out of Jessop Georgia as an additional source, as well as Kelleys out of KY. Ed Johnson out of Goodlettsville was another bee source mentioned.  Again it was stressed that the time to order is NOW.


CCBA Beginning Beekeeping Workshop


Chris put adds in the South Cheatham Advocate and the Ashland City Times. In the first 4 days he has had 9 people call. There is no charge but intent is to know how many people will be coming, and to limit attendance to 40 newcomers. Program will run from 9 AM until 2 PM. Club members have chosen to bring light “finger food” snacks to share as we are not going to be serving lunch.

Discussion led to the following plan:

9:00 – 9:10  Welcome and Introduction of Speakers    Margaret Beaver

9:15 – 10:15  Hive set up  and placement video      Johnie Bell

10:25 – 11:25 Do’s and Don’ts of Beekeeping    Chris Robbins

11:25 - 12:25 Beekeeping equipment basics   Junior Morrow

12:35 – 1:35   Swarms/Basic Hive Health          Johnie Bell

1:35 – 2:00    Questions and answer panel          James Hicks, Johnie Bell, Becky Harris, Margaret Beaver,

                                                                                                    And possibly, additionally, 2 others, Paul Carter

                                                                                                                    & Jeff.                                                                                                         



During this final portion the membership program and hive “give-a-way” will be discussed as well.

Chris further suggested that the club purchase of few of the University of Tennessee extension booklets “Beekeeping in Tennessee” to have available. Although the same booklet can be downloaded, for free, the colorful picture and bound format are desirable and many newcomers might want to purchase one.

Members were encouraged to bring any things that had helped them, books and such, and Chris said he would mention the apiary registration process at some point, including having some forms printed out.


Chris intends to have a flyer available for the 2/20/15 presentation in Murfreesboro. He elaborated on his keen interest in going well beyond beekeeping basics into more advanced areas of bee management.


James Hicks then led the club then into a spontaneous discussion about the problems associated with not having enough bee friendly cover to support our bees. One thing mentioned was changes in land management where so many wild areas have been bush hogged and similar, destroying valuable sources of vegetation. He stated his intention to start planting lavender. Chris knew of a series of webinars dealing with attracting pollinators and said he would attempt to find a way to get these programs on a DVD to better share the material with the club. 

Chris then suggested by virtue of his position at the University, he would be in a good position to write up a grant program, a collaboration between our club and the extension,  where we could actually create a demonstration garden to introduce people to the best kinds of plants to have to support pollinators.  Tentative size might be a quarter of an acre. 

James hicks further suggested he might get the man from Bates nursery to come make a presentation to the club about beneficial plantings. Club members liked this idea very much.


We then discussed the upcoming schedule of educational topics we want to present at our meetings in 2015. We had set this up last year and have not yet completed the months we had previously outlined.

February: repairing and preparing equipment for spring.

March:  Foundation selection and preparation. Review of hive set up as introduced the 31st.

April:  Prepare for the honey flow.

May: beneficial bee crops, possibly to the farm.


Further topics for the rest of the year will be addressed in May .


Finally, Becky Harris made the generous and much appreciated donation of a voice activated digital tape recorder to the club for the secretaries use in keeping the club minutes!!!



Respectfully submitted, Margaret Beaver

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

December 2014 Meeting Notes

                                        CHEATHAM COUNTY BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION

                                                          Minutes December 13, 2014


Members, and several family members, all in all a total of 26 people gathered at the Ashland City Public Library for our annual Christmas Party complete with an immense amount of incredibly delicious food and beverages.

Festive decorating had been done by Robin Johnson and Morgan Turpin, adding much pleasure to the gathering.

Feasting was followed by a dirty Santa round with several “steals” including a clever carpenter beetle trap, which the original recipient was surely sad to see stolen!!


Finally, Chris Robbins called a brief business meeting to order.

He first announced that membership dues are due at this time.

There was then somewhat lengthy and animated discussion about whether we as a club would like to continue our membership in the Tennessee Beekeepers Association. Our membership in this statewide organization is what has provided us with our hive grant. To continue with the hive grant program seven of our club members must belong to the state association. Amongst those must be the mentors assigned to the recipients. However, it would be possible for us to create another way to continue this enticement to membership on our own. Chris Robbins outlined the path of money from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to the State Beekeepers Association. He pointed out that we can choose our level of participation with the association: we can continue to be simply passive, retaining membership as way to receive the hive grant, or we might choose to become more assertive, and work towards making the association more responsive, guiding it in directions we foster and endorse. He was very careful in his presentation striving to separate his report of how the association currently operates from his personal opinion about it. He spoke of how the group has thus far in his experience not been receptive to new ideas, to input from clubs about innovative ways to foster and promote better  beekeeping  practices in Tennessee.

At the end of our discussion, the group voted to retain our membership in the Tennessee Beekeeping Association.

The next item on the agenda was selection of Club Officer for 2015. We quickly made a series of nominations and voted: these are our 2015 officers

                      President            Chris Robbins

                      Vice president    Carrie Nelson

                      Treasurer             Morgan Turpin

                      Secretary              Margaret Beaver

While preparing these minutes I came across notes written previously by Diane Senechal  “Draft Guidelines for Club Officers”. It is my intent to review these with the other officers after our January meeting to assure that we are all aware of the scope of our roles, creating a smooth transition into the New Year.


Next we spoke of making a donation to the Library in thanks for their hospitality to the club. We unanimously agreed to do so, and passing of the hat yielded (as I best recall now) a bit over $100.00.

Finally, we made quick review of our plan to hold the beginning beekeeping introductory meeting on 1/31/15, and Chris again spoke of the Tennessee department of Agriculture Intermediate Beekeeping Workshop we have been invited to participate in on 2/20/15 in Murfreesboro . This workshop will draw from more than our county, and would be a good additional learning experience for people who want to add to the introductory information they receive from our group on the 31st.


Respectfully submitted,

Margaret Beaver