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Beekeepers begin preparations for honey season
Beekeepers to meet April 7
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 Area beekeepers will take a refresher course Sunday on the proper procedures for adding new starter colonies to their bee yards. Veteran beekeepers will review the procedures at a meeting of the Ridge & Valley Beekeepers, beginning at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, April 7, in the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center.

For most beekeepers, “installing” new bee colonies is only done once a year and the job will come later this month.

“It’s an exciting time for us,” said Sue Sharp, president of the Ridge & Valley Beekeepers. “It can also be a little scary because we don’t do it often enough to get used to it.”

The beekeeper group, which will collectively purchase more than 150 new bee colonies – that’s more than one million new bees – will review the procedures in detail, especially for the more than a dozen new members of the group who will be undertaking the job for the first time.

Starter colonies, known to beekeepers as “packages,” come in special boxes about the size of large lunchboxes. The boxes, with two sides screened for ventilation, will be shipped from central California. Each of the boxes contains 7,000-10,000 worker bees, a queen bee in its own compartment and a supply of sugar syrup to sustain the bees during the three to five days they are in transit.

The training at the beekeeper meeting will cover how to safely transfer bees from the box to a hive; how to “introduce” the queen to her new family; and techniques for feeding and medicating the new colony to keep them healthy until nectar is available for gathering from local flowers.

Meetings of the Ridge & Valley Beekeepers are open to anyone interested. More information on the club and its meetings can obtained at and