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

Monday, December 1, 2014

November 2014 Meeting Notes


16 members and one guest were present. While President Chris Robbins was getting needed equipment for a DVD presentation, club members had open discussion. Subjects discussed included but were not limited to equipment supplier Mose Zuck in Lawrenceburg, TN. Several members expressed their feeling that his woodenware is exceptionally good with relatively low pricing, and that they have started to trade with him exclusively. Junior said that he makes a trip to Mr. Zuke’s about every 2 weeks and will be happy to collect things that club members have purchased. Mr. Zuke does not have an on line presence, nor does he work by telephone. For large orders it is recommended to write to him before coming. Copies of the “2014 Cypress Bee Equipment Price List” were given out to several interested club members (and I will make additional copies to keep available during our future meetings).
General discussion also included issues about feeding, including instances where a hive simply does not take to feeding. While some members prefer to always use sugar water, changing the ratio depending upon the season, some members feed with syrup (made from corn syrup).
Johnny then presented a video (DVD) on catching swarms. 10 incidences had been well captured on video, and several techniques were depicted. In the first, there was a swarm right at the truck of a tree. The beekeeper used a frame with drawn out comb, laden with pheromones, and simply gently pushed it right onto the swarm: the bees loved it and readily moved onto it. He did this several times, placing the bee covered frames into a nuc sized box. Once he had several frames in the box, he smoked the tree trunk and the remaining portion of the swarm still there, helping to mask the pheromones that would otherwise keep attracting the bees back. Meanwhile the nuc box was close by, acting to attract the bees.
The next swarm was in a branch of a tree. The beekeeper placed his ungloved hand close to the swarm to test their reactivity. Indeed, in other scenarios, he gently plunged a finger right into the center of swarms! In this case, he simply cut the branch off, and shook the swarm into the waiting box. There was another case quite similar, with the swarm very high in a tree, where he again cut the branch off and carried it down to a box.
There were a couple scenes where the swarm was under a bench, low to the ground. In such a case quite simply place your box below the swarm and gently knock them into the box.
In several scenes one could easily see that as the bees took to their new home they began “fanning scent” to attract the other bees. At the same time the beekeeper continued to use smoke to help reduce the attraction of the spot where they had been swarmed, using the smoke also to essentially help push them into the new hive.
One exceptionally beautiful and unique situation shown was a colony that had freely formed itself, in the open , without a safe surround, and as such would surely perish in the winter. The comb was gorgeous, large circular lobes, looking much the way a wooden honey dipper looks, each ring a bit bigger than the prior one, then smaller again, a large living orb. The beekeeper carefully cut the branches with this colony, and placed it in its entirety into what I recall was a frameless super (perhaps there were a couple outer frames??), stating that in time, bit by bit, he would introduce frame and slowly convert the
hive to a manageable colony. The main point however was that by his ingenuity he save this colony from extinction over the impending winter.
One additional dramatic scene was of a swarm that had made a thriving colony inside the walls of an old barn like building. In all the prior “episodes” our cheerful beekeeper had not worn much by way of protection! In this case, however, he and his help mates were decked head to toe in full bee suits, every inch carefully protected!! Once they had cut into the wall, they worked to cut out pieces of comb which they then attached onto frames (without foundation) with rubber bands. Apparently, it takes relatively little time for the bees to destroy the rubber bands and create uniform comb throughout each frame.

After this great video, the club members discussed our upcoming Christmas Potluck Celebration, to be held December the 13th at the Ashland City library. There will be a brief business meeting at 9:30 with food and festivities commencing a bit later in the morning. (My apologies since I failed to record exact time: I will ask Becky to please post it in the blog!). Chris Robbins will again smoke some beef, pork and chicken. Members spoke up as to what they will bring: every course was well represented, from party ware and beverages, to savory sides, and delightful desserts: my personal suggestion to those of you coming who were not at this meeting, bring whatever you are moved to bring, as surely there will be plentiful delightful offerings covering the full meaning of a feast! Please bring family members, children too. There will be a “Dirty Santa” gift exchange ($10.00 - $15.00 tops discussed). (It seemed that beloved member Nick might have thought this meant an “xxx” gift exchange, so inappropriate for children! If anyone is not familiar, it simply means that even if you LOVE the gift you get, another member may decide to steal it away from you, according to whatever game rules we will be playing by!!!).

Finally there was a discussion about plans for the newcomers introduction to beekeeping meeting this late winter, early spring. Chris shared that TSU is having a 3 day long agricultural fair in Rutherford County February 18, 19, and 20, 2015. We have been offered a spot, and could use it to add to our educational outreach to new beekeepers. Tentative idea discussed was for the club to hold its usual business meeting the second Saturday in January, the 10th and to then have our new comers educational meeting the last Saturday in January, the 31st. This was preferred as the 2nd Saturday in February is Valentine’s day which might adversely affect attendance. This date would also allow those whose appetites had been whetted to make plans to attend the TSU Fair in February.
As per our newcomers meeting the suggestion was made that we have a pre registration, to have a better sense of number of people coming. We discussed serving lunch, then decided rather that members could bring light finger foods to share. Time was suggested as 9 to2, a bit longer than this year. 4 separate segments to the program were discussed: an equipment and hive set up hands on presentation, a video of installing a package, a session about first year care and feeding, and finally, back by popular demand, Roger Senechal’s inspirational slide presentation titled “10 things I Wish I Knew as a Rookie Beekeeper”.

Respectfully submitted, Margaret Beaver