September Meeting: Russian Stock – improving your odds of winter success, the why and how

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, September 9th at Edward Little High School in Auburn.  Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation “Russian Stock – improving your odds of winter success, the why and how.”

Phil the Beekeeper

Our speaker will be Phil Gavin of the Honey Exchange in Portland, Maine.  In the United States, the vast majority of hobbyist and commercial beekeepers manage hives containing the Italian honeybee.  However a small but growing number of beekeepers are moving to other varieties of honeybees.  Phil is an Eastern Apicultural Society certified master beekeeper who keeps stocks of Russian honey bees.  He is also a supplier of Russian bees and educates others in their management. A survey of local beekeepers maintaining approximately 100 hives indicated that about half of the hives succumbed last winter. Phil’s talk will emphasize why Russian bees might help increase survival of hives over the harsh Maine winters.

Phil’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.

Pics from the June 20, 2015 Open Hive at the Hiss Apiary

Thanks to Mary Jane Dillingham for these great pictures from the ABC June 2015 hive opening at club president Bill Hiss’ apiary.  The day way beautiful and turn out for the opening was great.019




Notice the eggs in this frame below.



Bringing in nectar on new comb.




A good queen laying pattern.



Look at the honey!


The bees were covering up the drone comb with honey comb.


These queen cells were chewed open. It looks like the hive probably swarmed  or was superceded. A lot of drone comb too!.


Beautiful spring honey.


These girls are filling every space that they can.




Androscoggin Beekeepers Club Winter Hive Losses 2014-2015

The numbers for ABC members’ hives surviving the winter of 2014-2015 have been tabulated.  Thanks to everyone who participated by sending their hive information.  We had a pretty solid number of hives to track through the winter and, as many would have guessed, our losses were pretty high.

With 84 live hives going into the winter, only 42 (i.e. 50%) survived until early spring.

ABC Winter Hive Loss 2014_2015


Here’s a map showing the relative locations of the Maine towns represented in our 2014-2015 survey:


ABC Hive Los 2014-2015

June Nucleus Colonies

At the May Meeting, several club members asked about possible sources for more bees this Spring/Summer.  We were contacted by someone at Stone Corner Farm in New Sharon, Maine about hives and nucs for sale.  None of the regular club members have experience with bees from Stone Corner Farm, but we wanted to pass this along for interested members.  Here’s the message we received:

Nuc’s for sale for mid June pick up.  $140 with a $35 box deposit which you get back when you return the nuc box.

Hives for sale – top, bottom board and 1 deep and the bees and queen. $225.

Also used equipment including: deeps with frames,  supers, bottom boards, candy boards, shims, tops, inner covers.

All of our hives have been inspected by Tony Jadzack.


email: or call (207) 491-1731 for more information.

May 2015 ABC Meeting Announcement

Kalyn Bickerman

Androscoggin Beekeepers Club May 2015 Meeting Announcement

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, May 13th at Edward Little High School in Auburn.  Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation “The Status of Native Bumblebees in Maine’s Wild Blueberry Fields” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Our May speaker will be Kalyn Bickerman.   Kalyn is a Ph.D. student at the University of Maine under the supervision of Dr. Frank Drummond and works on investigating the health of native bumblebees in Maine’s lowbush blueberry fields. Before arriving at UMaine, Kalyn completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Conservation Biology at Columbia University in the City of New York.

Beyond looking for common parasites (conopid flies) and pathogens (the microsporidian Nosema bombi) in the bees, Kalyn has also looked at a the neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid and its effect on colony development, along with how well individual bees are able to detoxify themselves when faced with pesticide exposure.
Lowbush blueberries are one of Maine’s most important exports and bumblebees are instrumental in their pollination for successful fruit production. Therefore, it is vital to protect our native pollinators, particularly in a time when our managed pollinator, the honeybee, is facing such grave declines.

Kalyn’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.

Because this is the last presentation meeting for the year, it is very important that we line up volunteers for open hives in June, July and August.  For our club “Open Hive” meetings, a club member volunteers to have club members and members come to their hives for 1 -2 hours.  The host will perform a basic hive inspection and attendees can observe and ask questions.  This is a very valuable experience for soon-to-be beekeepers, new beekeepers and experienced beekeepers alike.  We try to schedule one of these open hive meetings to take place on a Saturday or Sunday in June, July and August.

So far this year, all three months are still open.  If you’d like to volunteer, please let me know by email or you can let Bill Hiss know at the next club meeting.  These open hive events are very low key and generally a lot of fun.

I’m also making a Last Call for hive numbers going into and coming out of last winter.  After next week’s meeting, I’ll assume I have all the data I’m going to get and I’ll send it out to everyone in an email and will post in on the club website.  As a reminder, here is the information we are looking for:

1. Your Town
2. Number of hives that went into the Winter of 2014-2015
3. Number of hives that survived until the Spring of 2015.

Feel free to email your hive survival/loss information to:

April 2015 ABC Meeting Announcement

April 2015

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, April 8 at Edward Little High School in Auburn. Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM. This month we will be treated with a pair of speakers giving the presentations “Pollen and Nectar Nutrition for Bees” and “Mapping How Wild Bees Use Maine’s Landscape” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Our April speakers will be Megan Leach and Brianne Du Clos. Megan and Brianne are both graduate students in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program at UMaine Orono. Both scientists work as part of a large research team that studies both pollination of the wild Maine blueberry crop and native bee conservation.

Megan is particularly interested in plants and plant-insect interactions. She notes: “Plants and insects have so much influence on our daily lives, most of which we don’t regularly think about or even know about.” Megan’s research and the topic of her talk focuses on pollen and nectar nutrition and the influence they have on bee foraging behavior.

Brianne, a biology graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, received her MS from UMaine in Forest Resources in 2012. Her present research focuses on landscape ecology–specifically how wild bees use the landscape around blueberry fields. Megan’s presentation will describe a mapping tool for landscape analysis of pollinator habitat.

Megan’s and Brianne’s ABC sponsored presentations are open to the public.

Now that everyone who went into the winter with bees has had a chance to check for survivors, we’d like to take a poll of colony survival numbers for the 2014-2015 season. If you can’t make the club meeting next week, it would be great if you could send an email to with:

  1. Your Town
  2. Number of hives that went into the Winter of 2014-2015
  3. Number of hives that survived until the Spring of 2015.

When the numbers have been tallied following next Wednesday’s meeting, I’ll post them on our website.

Hope to see everyone next Wednesday.

March 2015 ABC Meeting Announcement


Androscoggin Beekeepers Club March 2015 Meeting Announcement

The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, March 11 at Edward Little High School in Auburn.  Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation “Spring Hive Maintenance” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Our March speaker will be Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) master beekeeper Chris Rogers of Backwoods Bee Farm in Windham, Maine. Chris’ presentation “Spring Hive Maintenance” will describe what Maine beekeepers should be doing to prepare their hives for the coming Spring.  Chris’ ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.
For those of you interested in making some pre-Spring equipment purchases, contact Chris to let him know what you would like and he can package it and bring it when he comes to speak to the club next week. For the Backwoods Bee Farm catalog and Chris’ contact information, check out the Backwoods Bee Farm website:

We hope to see everyone at ELHS next Wednesday!

Flow Frames Information

2015-02-17_1515ABC members have expressed a lot of interest in the recent announcement of the forthcoming (February 23)  Kickstarter campaign for Flow™ Honey frames.  The basic idea is that you can collect honey from your supers without removing the honey frames from the hive.  Sounds too good to be true, but I guess we get at least one of those in a lifetime.

If you are not familiar with this purported revolution in beekeeping, you can check out the company’s web site here:

As I searched for more information about the technology behind this new method of honey collection, I came across a posting of a letter from the company to an interested beekeeper.  If valid, the letter appears to be a part of their ongoing marketing campaign.  It provides some believable details about how this technology might work.  I’m not so sure about collecting the honey in an open container, though!

Here’s the text from the letter (as copied from the Forums):


Thanks so much for your interest in the Flow hive. We (Cedar, Stu and our whole beekeeping family) are so excited to be letting you and the world know about the invention we have been working on for over a decade. The response has been quite overwhelming, thanks for all the amazing comments. We are working as fast as we can to complete a video that will show you all the details about the technology.

We want to tell you a little more about the Flow frames/hives, how they work, what we think this will mean for beekeeping and where we are at with producing them.

How do the Flow™ frames work?

Continue reading

Androscoggin Beekeepers Club February 2015 Meeting Announcement

frank drummondThe next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, February 14 in Room 118 of Edward Little High School in Auburn.  Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by a public presentation by Dr. Frank Drummond of the University of Maine (Orono) titled “CCD and ME: How Colony Collapse Disorder affects Maine Honey Bees” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Dr. Frank Drummond is a professor of insect ecology and insect pest management at UMaine (Orono).  Frank also serves as director of the Pollinator Security Project (PSP) for Fruit and Vegetable Crops in the Northeast.  The USDA funded PSP involves more than 20 researchers with the goal of uncovering ways to protect crop pollinators and to ensure profitability of fruit and vegetable production in the Northeast.

Frank’s expertise on honey bee health and his entertaining speaking style have resulted in requests for presentations throughout the United States.  Closer to home, Frank speaks regularly with blueberry growers, honey bee keepers, and Maine state and non-profit agencies.  If you have questions about CCD or honey bee health in Maine, please join us for Dr. Drummond’s ABC sponsored public presentation.

For those looking to take a bee class this winter/spring, Phil Gaven of the Honey Exchange in Portland (and an upcoming speaker for our club) made us aware of several classes with room down at the honey exchange. For more information, you can investigate at:

I hope everyone has finished digging out from the most recent snow storm and has made room for what is coming in the days and weeks ahead. We hope to see everyone next Wednesday for Frank’s presentation. He’s coming from a ways away and it would be great to have a big turn out. Tell your interested friends!